Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – Less than a week after being drafted 16th overall by the Sabres in the 2022 NHL Draft, Noah Ostlund was in Buffalo taking part in Sabres Development Camp.
The experience gave the center a chance to meet some of the players he’s going to be coming through the ranks with, and also gave him an opportunity to see the city that he’ll play in once he goes through the ranks on the way to the National Hockey League.
With Buffalo drafting three centers in the first round this year, two of them likely will have to shift to the wing once they enter the league. Ostlund probably is the one player that will stay down the middle.
While Ostlund was here, he also got the chance to sign his first NHL contract.
“I couldn’t even believe it myself. It was a very cool experience,” said the 18-year-old more than three weeks ago at development camp.
It’s always fun to ask players to self-scout themselves right out of the draft.
“I think I’m a player with a great hockey IQ, and my skating is one of my best assets too," Ostlund said of his game. "I’d describe myself as a small, two-way centerman.”
It wasn’t just unproven guys that were at this year's development camp. Ostlund got a chance to be with guys like Peyton Krebs, Owen Power, Mattias Samuelsson, Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka, who have all played in the NHL. Ostlund didn’t waste that experience.
“I looked up to the older guys that have played in the NHL to see how they prepare for everything, and to see how professional they are not just as hockey players, but (people) too,” he said.
Ostlund didn’t know much about the Sabres organization before being drafted, but now that he’s been around the prospects, he knows there’s more talent here than he thought.
“It’s a lot of younger guys that are very skilled, and I think it will be a very fun journey. I really like it,” Ostlund said.
Last season, Ostlund played with the men in the Swedish Hockey League with Djurgardens IF. He didn’t have any points in 11 games, but he also played with Djurgardens' junior program and with players his own age. While there, he netted nine goals and 33 assists for 42 points in 32 games.
On the day Ostlund was drafted in Montreal, he spoke about maybe being two years away from playing in the NHL. After Sabres Development Camp, he hadn’t changed his mind.
“Maybe one or two years, but two years would maybe be the best for me," Ostlund explained. "To take one year in the second division in Sweden, and then a second year in the best division in Sweden.”
As far as playing in the SHL last season, that’s the top professional league in Sweden, where he played against men.
“It was good playing in the best league, and I think I grew a lot as a player and a person,” Ostlund said.
The Sabres have quite a few Swedish players on the roster and in the pipeline going forward. Already on the roster in Buffalo are Rasmus Dahlin, Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Asplund. In Rochester, that includes Linus Weissbach, Filip Cederqvist and Isak Rosen. Others in the system are Erik Portillo, Gustav Karlsson, Joel Ratkovic-Berndtsson, Linus Sjodin, William von Barnekow and Albert Lyckasen. Having that many of his fellow countrymen around excites Ostlund.
“They’re great players, and I’ve really liked watching Buffalo," he said. "I feel very good about being drafted by the Sabres.”
Ostlund says he does know Rosen - Buffalo's first-round pick in 2021 - and has played a few games with him.
***Photo: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)