Bad news for the Western Michigan Broncos, as one of their top players won’t be returning for his junior year. Mattias Samuelsson has agreed to terms with the Buffalo Sabres on a three-year entry-level contract. Sabres GM Jason Botterill explained his excitement:
"We are very pleased with Mattias’ growth both at Western Michigan and on the international stage. He possesses a unique combination of size, speed and skill, and we look forward to working with him on his next steps as a pro."
The 20-year-old defenseman was selected 32nd overall in 2018 and is the son of Kjell Samuelsson, who played nearly 1,000 games as an NHL defenseman and is now a development coach with the Philadelphia Flyers.
While his father stood at a towering 6-foot-7, Mattias Samuelsson hits the ice with plenty of his own size. At 6-foot-4 220-lbs you may expect a bruising, plodding player, but Samuelsson is anything but. The left-handed defenseman has the speed and puck skills to play at the next level, even if his best attributes are still on the defensive side. In 30 games for Western Michigan this season, he scored 14 points, but was a finalist for the NCHC Defensive Defenseman of the Year award.
There is likely still some development to be done with Samuelsson, but the Sabres will take over direct control of his path now that he’s under contract. Even if that means he starts in the AHL, you can bet that his name will be on the back of an NHL sweater before long.
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An asterisk (*) indicates the player never played for the franchise in its current location.