A few days after locking down Sam Reinhart for 2020-21, the Buffalo Sabres signed Victor Olofsson for two years at a $3.05 million cap hit. Signing Olofsson for two years breaks slightly from the Sabres’ trend of one-year deals, but maintains Kevyn Adams’ patterns of short commitments.
While signing Olofsson crosses off a pressing item on the Sabres’ to-do list, it’s possible it may open the door for buyout, possibly of someone like Kyle Okposo. (Would it be worthwhile to buy out Okposo? That is a debate for another day.)
Sabres sign Victor Olofsson: two years, $3.05M cap hit
Back in mid-October, Olofsson set an NHL record by becoming the first player to score his first seven career goals on the power play.
Now 25, Olofsson made a late 2018-19 splash with two goals and four points in six games, then maintained that early success to start 2019-20. Through the first 41 games of last season, Olofsson scored 16 goals and 34 points. While he settled down once the calendar hit 2020 (four goals, eight points in 13 games), it’s easy to see why the Sabres made this low-risk investment.
As the Sabres noted in that contract announcement, Olofsson realizes that consistency is the next step.
“I think that’s something I’ve got to learn, just to be at a high level and be a threat all the time throughout an 82-game season,” Olofsson said. “I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for me because I feel like I have the capability of scoring a lot of goals. So, I’ve just got to learn to manage the amount of games. That’s my biggest challenge.”
The Swedish winger already came a long way as a seventh-round pick (181st overall) in 2014. In another savvy touch, the Sabres set things up for Olofsson to be an RFA after this two-year contract expires.
For that next contract to grow, Olofsson might want to plug away at his all-around game. By a variety of measures, Olofsson could use work defensively, and also maybe on impacting offense beyond shooting. Consider his chart from Hockey Viz, which does note his strong shot:
Like Sam Reinhart, he also may have some work to do to show he can score without the benefits of Jack Eichel (though that, naturally, hinges on Ralph Krueger’s lineup decisions).
Early returns from Adams as Sabres GM
So, sure, there’s room for improvement. Yet, at this affordable $3.05M price — and for more than one season — it’s a nice deal for the Sabres. (Meanwhile, Olofsson can again feel pride in working his way to this level after barely being drafted.)
Even if Olofsson “only” remains Goalofsson, that might not be such a bad thing for him and the Sabres, either.