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Sharpen Up: April 29, 2019

Here's what you need to know this week

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Rasmus Dahlin will be in Las Vegas in June during the 2019 NHL Awards ceremony. He's a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy (along with Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues and Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks), which is presented "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition." 

Here's what you need to know.

 

Dahlin's incredible rookie year

From our story on Saturday…

After being selected with the No. 1 overall pick last June, Dahlin turned in one of the best statistical seasons by an 18-year-old defenseman in NHL history. His 44 points were the second-most by a defenseman ahead of their 19th birthday, trailing only Phil Housley (57 in 1982-83). 

Dahlin's point total led rookie defensemen and ranked third among all rookies, behind Pettersson and Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk. His average ice time of 21:09 ranked second to Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen, and he was one of six rookies to appear in all 82 games.

Video: LOCKER CLEANOUT: Dahlin

Zach Bogosian, Dahlin's defense partner for much of the season, explained why the rookie's workload was no small accomplishment. 

"From the time you come in at 18, from your draft, to the combine, to development camp, to rookie camp, to training camp, to preseason, to the season - it adds up," said Bogosian, who came into the NHL as an 18-year-old rookie in 2008.

"He's handled it well. I think over time, as a veteran, the more and more games he plays, he'll get more comfortable and know situations, know how to take care of himself more, how to be more professional. It comes with just playing games, and he's done an amazing job of it." 

The award was voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the conclusion of the regular season. 

Stay tuned for more on Dahlin's candidacy here on Sabres.com.


Injury report

A pair of players in the organization underwent successful hip surgery last week. 

Defenseman Zach Bogosian, who previously had hip surgery in February 2018 and returned to play 65 games this past season, his highest total since 2011-12, had another procedure done. He missed the last seven contests of the season and said that surgery was on the table during his interview on locker cleanout day. 

When he was on the ice, the 28-year-old defenseman posted one of his most consistent seasons in a Sabres uniform. His point total (19) and average ice time (21:38) were his highest since 2015-16. 

"I'd like to play all 82 [games]," he said during his end-of-season interview. "I think I took a step in the right direction, just playing more games and trying to find a routine that works. As an athlete, that's what you're always looking for, is something that works. I think I took a step in the right direction but there's still a lot of work for me ahead."

We have more on Bogosian's season here.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (second round, 2017), who made his professional debut with the Rochester Americans in their final game of the regular season following a season for the Sudbury Wolves that led to him being named the OHL's Goaltender of the Year, also underwent hip surgery.

Tweet from @OHLHockey: Congrats @ukkopekkaluukko!@BuffaloSabres prospect unanimously voted #OHL Goaltender of the Year making more @Sudbury_Wolves history.DETAILS: https://t.co/pL6zfqLI7E pic.twitter.com/bSbizqvmak

He posted a 38-11-2-2 record in 53 appearances while leading the OHL in in both wins (38) and shutouts (6). He also finished second and third among all league netminders with a .920 save percentage and a 2.50 goals-against average, respectively, while his 38 wins set a franchise record for the Wolves, who advanced to the postseason for the second time in three years following a second-place finish in the OHL's Central Division.

Video: BBG: A Study In Development

"Ukko-Pekka underwent hip surgery in New York and is expected to make a full recovery within the next six months. We were very pleased with his professional debut in Belleville and look forward to a strong offseason of training as he begins the rehabilitation process," Amerks general manager Randy Sexton said.


Season ends for Amerks

Watch: Youtube Video

From Amerks.com's recap of Game 3...

Despite registering 16 shots during the third period of Wednesday night's Game 3 of the North Division Semifinals, the Rochester Americans (0-3) fell 3-1 to the defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies (3-0) at Coca-Cola Coliseum. The Marlies win the best-of-five series 3-0.

Forward Tage Thompson scored his second goal of the postseason in the second period from C.J. Smith and Kevin Porter while netminder Scott Wedgewood made 17 saves but suffered the loss in the Amerks crease, his third of the playoffs.

"It's extremely frustrating," Zach Redmond said when talking about the team's second straight three-game sweep. "The last two seasons, I thought we had a really strong group who could have made a deep run, but that's the playoffs. Getting swept is about as bad as it could possibly get."

"I thought in the first two periods we were a little tight," Amerks head coach Chris Taylor said after the game. "I felt we kind of sat back at times and were nervous to make a mistake. In the third period we had some opportunities but just could not get one by their goaltender."

"We had the intensity and the desperation but just could not find a way to win," Thompson said. "It was a do-or-die situation for us, obviously, but a disappointing ending. The guys had such a great regular-season and it stings really bad."

Watch: Youtube Video

Watch: Youtube Video

Watch: Youtube Video

Watch: Youtube Video

Watch more videos from the Amerks' locker cleanout days here.

Sharpen Up will return next week.

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