Linus Weissbach is just one of many promising young forwards in the Buffalo Sabres pipeline. The 23-year-old left winger from Gothenburg, Sweden was drafted in 2017 and is now playing his first season with the Rochester Americans.
Through four years at Wisconsin, Weissbach was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, and was the co-recipient of the team's Mark Johnson Rookie of the Year award. He was also named to the All-Big Ten Academic Team in back-to-back seasons.
In his final year, he was selected for the Second Team All-Big Ten and earned Second Team All-American honors.
In April 2021, Weissbach signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
Through 11 games in his rookie season with Rochester, Weissbach has six points (3+3).
Sabres.com chatted with the forward about his year so far.
Back in 2017, you were drafted in the seventh round by the Sabres. Tell me about that draft process for you and how it came to this point, of you signing your first NHL entry-level deal with the team that drafted you?
Like you said, it was back in 2017, I finished up my first year in the U.S. playing in the USHL. I got passed over in the first draft at home in Sweden, then left for the U.S.
I was home and it was a great moment, didn't really know what was going to happen, so I was overwhelmed and happy for that. Then, I was able to take the next step this spring after a good senior year at Wisconsin, so I am really happy about that too.
What was the communication like with management and coaches as you were in the process of signing your first entry-level contract in the NHL?
It was a little bit new just because it wasn't the same management that drafted me, so that was a bit of a whirlwind just because there were a lot of new people to talk to. They were going over things, just things to expect and what can help me to have success with the Sabres.
So, I signed the contract and the opportunity that was here in Buffalo, with the new management and everything that has been going on here, it's a good fit for me and for them as well.
You played four years of hockey at the University of Wisconsin under Tony Granato, Don's brother. Have the brothers said anything to you or messed with you at all since you've now played under both brothers throughout your career?
Yeah, obviously getting to know the Granato family a little bit over my four years has been great, and just this past camp in Buffalo it was funny because Tony was texting me every day asking how it went.
One of the days, Donny came up to me and said, "Hey you gotta tell your old head coach to stop texting me, because he keeps wondering how you're doing." Obviously, they keep close contact and I'm sure they are just as happy as I am that I'm here.
Throughout training camp and preseason, have you noticed any coaching similarities or personality traits that are the same between the two brothers as head coaches?
Personality-wise, they're just overall great people. It's easy to play for someone that you respect and that respects you back.
Coaching wise, the first couple days of camp, I texted Tony and I laughed and said "Hey, now I know where you get all your drills from" because a lot of drills we were doing at the Buffalo camp were the exact same that I did for four years in Wisconsin.
When the pandemic started, there were questions about whether the college hockey season would happen. You had a choice you go play in the European Pro-Hockey league or come back to Wisconsin once the season was officially going to start. What helped make your decision to want to go back to Wisconsin for another year and play with your team again?
I think the biggest thing was, I kind of knew what I had at Wisconsin. Like you said, there was some uncertainty about when the season was going to start, but when I got the word that there was going to be a season eventually, that was a very important decision that I had to make.
At the end of the day, the biggest thing was that I want to play in the NHL. That is my biggest goal in life, and my dream, so I thought Wisconsin was going to set me up for the most success towards the NHL.
Like you mentioned earlier, the last year at Wisconsin was successful for us and I couldn't have asked for a better year there.
It was a very successful season for you - a career high 41 points (12+29), you were second in the NCAA in assists, averaged 1.3 points per game. It was a breakout season for you. What do you accredit the great success that you had in your final season at Wisconsin to?
There's a lot of things, I think the biggest thing is how you get the team together. You can always have individual success, but great individual success doesn't come without great team success.
As long as you have a good team on the ice, I think individually you can succeed as well. We had a lot of good players that year and playing with the good players help to set you up for success as well.
I think those are the biggest factors, and at the end of the day we didn't reach our final goal but, in a few years, I'll look back at it and be grateful for the experience I had.
It's your first year in Rochester and the team is pretty stacked with talent. You have yourself, Jack Quinn, Krebs, Peterka, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, you can go on and on with the list of talented players on that roster. What does that say about you guys hopefully being able to play in front of these great fans in Buffalo, and the future of the Sabres?
For everyone around the team, in Rochester and Buffalo, these are exciting times.
It's great to have a good team down here, everyone is fighting with, and I guess against, each other every day to get better. We all want to prove that we are good players here but also that we're ready to take that next step. I think that sparks good habits and things that will eventually lead to Buffalo.
I think for all of us that are here right now, we focus on being a good team here. Like you said, we have a lot of good players, and it all comes down to being a team and showing what everyone can do.
Ultimately just becoming close as a team, and I think we've done a pretty good job so far but it's obviously early in the year, but we're looking forward to the rest of the season.
Training camp and preseason was kind of your coming out party. It gave Sabres fans a chance to see you for the first time really, and you took the opportunity and ran with it. You had a great preseason - it seemed like every game you had a different highlight play - and every practice there was something to talk about that you did. What did that do to give you the confidence to know that you impressed management and the fans so much?
I think coming in, you don't really know what to expect, and being a seventh-round pick from 2017, I don't think a lot of people really knew too much about me as a player or person. You always want to make a good first impression, and I know what I'm capable of doing and I showed glimpses of that.
I definitely have to keep working here and make progress in my game and be ready for when my opportunity comes. Overall, it was a great experience in Buffalo, getting to know everyone and getting a few games under my belt to try to get a feel for what it's like, but now it's back to work here.
If you had one message for Buffalo Sabres fans, what would it be?
I would say, stay patient. We got a lot of good players that are fighting for success. I think patience is the goal for now. It's been looking really promising at the start of the year for the Sabres and we're doing well down here, so there are a lot of things to be excited about.
Luukkonen earns AHL Player of the Week honors
The American Hockey League announced Monday that Rochester Americans goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been selected as the AHL Player of the Week for the period ending November 14, 2021.
Luukkonen made three starts last week and faced a fusillade of 117 shots, allowed five goals on 117 total shots (1.68, .957) He recorded the first shutout of his AHL career and wrapped up the week with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
On Wednesday, Luukkonen turned aside 41 shots and was named the game's first star as Rochester posted a 5-1 victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He made 39 saves in a loss to Cleveland on Friday before coming back with a 32-save performance in a 4-0 victory over the Monsters on Saturday night.
Luukkonen, 22, has a 4-4-0 record in eight appearances for the Amerks this season with a 3.37 goals-against average and an .891 save percentage - including a 1.77 GAA and .949 save percentage so far during the month of November.
The week ahead
The Amerks continue their four-game homestand Wednesday when they host the first-place Utica Comets in a North Division showdown at Blue Cross Arena. Game time between the intrastate rivals is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
Rochester will host Lehigh Valley on Friday and then travel to Utica to face the Comets on Saturday.
|Player ||GP ||G ||A ||PTS |
|1. Jack Quinn ||11 ||9 ||7 ||16 |
|2. JJ Peterka ||11 ||3 ||10 ||13 |
|3. Michael Mersch ||11 ||7 ||5 ||12 |
|4. Sean Malone ||11 ||2 ||6 ||8 |
|Player ||GP ||W ||L ||OTL ||GAA ||SV% ||SO |
|Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen ||8 ||4 ||4 ||0 ||3.37 ||.891 ||1 |
|Aaron Dell (currently with Buffalo) ||3 ||3 ||0 ||0 ||.905 ||3.01 ||0 |