Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images
Laaksonen prepares to come to North America
The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of seven staff writers and over 250 fans that ranked players under the age of 25 as of July 15th, 2020. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player. This is our 2020 pre-draft rankings.
Oskari Laaksonen is preparing to come to North America for the 2020-21 season. The Sabres signed the young prospect to a three-year entry level deal — just one day before GM Jason Botterill was fired.
Laaksonen, 21, dropped a little bit in this year’s T25U25 rankings, but that’s not entirely surprising given that he battled injuries. His offensive production also dropped slightly, as he went 39 games without scoring a goal and had 11 fewer assists.
Laaksonen spent this past season with Ilves Tampere, along with fellow Sabres prospect Arttu Ruotsalainen.
Your daily Finnish lesson is brought to you by Oskari Laaksonen and his simple shot through traffic. Laaksonen’s second goal and 12th point of the year puts Ilves up 2-0 on SaiPa at the 2nd intermission. Arttu Ruotsalainen picks up his 25th helper of the year on the play. pic.twitter.com/MUMgUgtqOI
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) February 22, 2020
The Sabres’ decision to sign Laaksonen to an entry-level deal this summer, which will bring him to North America to presumably play with the Rochester Americans next season, may have been fueled – at least in part – by Lawrence Pilut’s decision to head overseas.
When I spoke to Randy Sexton a few weeks back, chances were already good Oskari Laaksonen was coming to North America. With Lawrence Pilut off to Central Russia, that decision was a lot easier for the Sabres to make.
— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdon) June 15, 2020
Assuming Laaksonen makes his North American debut next season – whenever that may be – it’ll be interesting to see how he transitions from the European game. The altered season schedule will also undoubtedly have an impact on many players, but as the years go on, will Laaksonen pan out as a gem or will he be just another prospect in the Sabres organization that fizzles out?