Rasmus Asplund and Victor Olofsson formed a natural friendship upon leaving their native Sweden for North America at the start of last season. They became roommates and linemates in Rochester, and successful ones at that. They spoke of one day being teammates at the next level.
So, when Asplund learned he was being recalled to the NHL for the first time on Friday, of course it prompted a text message to his friend in Buffalo.
"He texted me pretty early this morning that he was coming up," Olofsson said after practice on Friday. "It's fun. I'm really happy for him. I think he really deserves it. He's been working very hard for a long time and I'm really happy he's here."
Video: Ralph Krueger after practice
Whether Asplund makes his NHL debut against Ottawa on Saturday will depend on the status of Johan Larsson, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury after scoring the tying goal against Carolina on Thursday.
Coach Ralph Krueger said that Larsson will be evaluated Saturday morning and could still play against the Senators. Asplund practiced in Larsson's usual spot Friday, centering a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo.
Should Asplund be called upon, Krueger expressed confidence that the 21-year-old's versatility will be an asset. Asplund impressed while skating on a line with Olofsson and Marcus Johansson in training camp and plays the sort of two-way style that should make him a natural replacement for Larsson between Okposo and Girgensons.
"His ability to move to the wing, center, his penalty killing ability and overall what he's been doing since he's come here from Sweden and the work that he's done in Rochester confirmed what we saw in training camp," Krueger said.
"He's somebody who can help us in multiple roles and if we need him tomorrow, he would be ready to jump in. It's good to have players of that ability and that flexibility in Rochester."
Asplund, a second-round pick in 2016, tallied 41 points (10+31) in 75 games as a rookie in Rochester last season. He has eight (1+7) through 13 AHL contests this season as he's begun to take on a leadership role, having worn an "A" the past two contests.
Video: Americans Made: Rasmus Asplund
"He's a very smart, hardworking, two-way center," Olofsson said. "He takes responsibility all over the ice. He's a very skilled player, sees the game very well, a great passer. I think he's, overall, a very consistent and solid player and I think he can do great things here."
Asplund said he emphasizes strong defensive play, and his offense usually benefits. Like fellow forward Curtis Lazar - who scored in his Sabres debut on Thursday - he said he used his assignment to Rochester this fall as a chance to keep improving in hopes of earning a call to Buffalo.
"I'm just trying to be that player you can trust every night," he said. "You know what you're getting when you're putting me on the ice. … You know what to expect of me. I think that's the strongest part of my game."
Meet Emmett and Andre
Video: Sabres in :50 - Meet Emmett and Andre
With the Sabres set to hold Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday, the team welcomed two special guests to practice on Friday. Emmett and Andre, patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center, watched the Sabres skate then interacted with players once they came off the ice.
See more from their day in today's Sabres in :50 (above), and check out the special masks Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark had made for Saturday's game below.
Video: Hutton and Ullmark's Hockey Fights Cancer masks
Lines at Friday's practice
68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 43 Conor Sheary
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 27 Curtis Lazar
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 74 Rasmus Asplund - 21 Kyle Okposo
19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 62 Brandon Montour
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju
58 John Gilmour - 33 Colin Miller / 4 Zach Bogosian
40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark