Larsson, Ruotsalainen, Kulich and the Dog Days of August
We’re deep in the dog days of the NHL calendar with the World Junior Championship now behind us and NHL training camp still a month away. This is prime cottage time for NHL general managers to relax on the dock with a cold refreshment in their hand after having already largely solidified their rosters ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. That’s not to say there aren’t any interesting Sabres-centric tidbits floating around though.
Former and current Sabres forward Riley Sheahan joined Brian Duff and Marty Biron on Sabres Live today and expanded on the process that brought him back to the Sabres for a second go-around after having last suited up for the blue and gold during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. He cited proximity to his family in St. Catherines, Ontario as the primary driving reason that led him back to Buffalo. The most intriguing bit of cryptic knowledge he dropped, however, had less to do with him, and more to do with management’s original plan for the bottom-six this season.
“(My representation) had a handful of teams that were sort of interested and talking ‘we’ll keep your name in mind,’ that kind of thing,” Sheahan told Duffer and Biron. “And then Buffalo came about. I think there was a signing when someone decided to go to Europe or whatever, and then it sort of opened up the conversation.”
Curiouser and curiouser.
There were a few players who opted to go to Europe this off-season rather than try to latch on with an NHL team, but goaltender Mikko Koskinen doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as the player Sheahan is referencing.
Johan Larsson, on the other hand, does make a lot of sense as the player who opted to play in Europe rather than North America this season. Larsson, of course, played parts of seven seasons in Buffalo during which he amassed 97 points in 392 games, largely in a shutdown-center role. It would make logical sense that General Manager Kevyn Adams likely wanted to a defensively minded center to his bottom six, even if Larsson doesn’t provide the faceoff acumen the team needs. The Swedish forward has posted a career 47.8% win rate on the dot if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
His time in Buffalo ended two years ago when Adams and former de facto assistant general manager Ralph Krueger (remember, Adams had no official assistant general manager at the time) decided to move on from Larsson and sign Cody Eakin to a two-year contract instead. That didn’t work out all that well. If Larsson is indeed the player that Sheahan is referencing, then it’s interesting that he opted to go back to Sweden after having also been courted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, based on an Elliotte Friedman tweet from July 13th in which he said “Sounds like Johan Larsson to Pitt.”
Larsson ended up spurning that deal (if it ever was a deal), and he instead signed a three-year deal with Brynas in the SHL. It appears there will be no Angry Larry reunion in Buffalo – for now.
It's also possible Sheahan is referencing Arttu Ruotsalainen who left the organization this summer for greener pastures. We may never know for sure.
Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich – selected 28th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft – acquitted himself very well at the World Juniors tournament in Edmonton, Alberta earlier this month as he potted 7 points in 7 games on route to a 4th place finish for Czechia. There’s no medal for fourth place, of course, but if there were, maybe it would be a copper medal.
Anyway, last week, Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News dropped a nugget of information that Rochester Americans coach Seth Appert expects Kulich to be part of the Amerks this season, and why not? He’s 6’0”, 180 lbs., and he is seemingly ready to make the jump to the smaller ice surface in North America. If Kulich does indeed join the Amerks this season then it’s conceivable that he may even get a couple NHL games here and there as injuries arise, and that would be fun for fans who don’t want to wait two or three years to see first-round picks make their NHL debut.
This next news item isn’t related to the Sabres (or even hockey) strictly speaking, but it is hockey adjacent as both hot dogs and beer are available at hockey games. Twitter lit up last night after a video surfaced showing a New York Yankees fan drinking a beer through a hot dog. This man’s ingenuity must be discussed.
Here’s the video:
It's hard to know whether to be horrified or impressed by this man’s bold foray into culinary innovation. That’s not to say that we here at the Sabres HockeyBuzz page endorse what this man has done. He got his beer warmer and his hot dog colder, and neither of these outcomes are optimal for their respective consumability.
It must, however, be acknowledged that the combination of beer and tubed sausage is indeed a respected duo, as evidenced by the time-honored tradition of beer-braised brats which are a staple at most sporting events (or at least sporting events in Western New York).
Now, because this blog is dedicated to getting the entire story, it’s important to know whether our hotdog sucking friend here had access to beer-braised brats at Yankee stadium, or whether his brazen act of abuse was a result of the Bronx Bombers not offering our man a proper brat with peppers and onions.
It appears that Sumo Dog at Yankee stadium offers a plethora of interesting hot dog options, including “The Godzilla: Beef chili, togarashi cheese sauce, wasabi relish, pickled peppers, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce, wasabi furikake, minced onion, jalapeño, kizami nori,” but I see no mention of beer-related brats on the various Yankee Stadium concession pages. Perhaps our misguided friend here is just making a case to include some real brats.
It is also the editorial opinion of this page that hot dog straws may very well be superior to paper straws. There’s only one way to find out, and the man in the video may be one person who can properly answer that question.