The Buffalo Sabres have drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL (Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Dylan Cozens), and the club under former GM Jason Botterill and current GM Kevyn Adams have been able to replenish the organization with young prospects. Throughout the month of August and leading into training camp next month, we will rank the club’s top prospects over the upcoming weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe, ECHL, or AHL and their potential to make the Sabres roster and make a contribution in the future. Players are eligible for the list if they have not played more than 40 NHL games and are 25 years old or younger:
#28 Viljami Marjala
The Sabres have the luxury of having their prospects overcook in the minors and in Europe over the next few years to mature and gain experience. The Sabres had 11 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, including a pair of picks in the first three rounds. Owen Power stayed at Michigan after being selected first overall and joined Buffalo late in the season, first-rounder Isak Rosen and second-rounder Aleksandr Kisakov stayed another year in Europe before heading to North America and playing a full season in the AHL with Rochester, second-rounder Prokhor Poltapov will play another season in the KHL, while third-rounder Stiven Sardarian shifted from the USHL to the University of New Hampshire. In the case of fifth-rounder Viljami Marjala, the 20-year-old has returned to Finland to play for TPS in the SM-Liiga after two seasons in the QMJHL.
Viljami Marjala (20) wins the draw, seconds later applies stick pressure to force the turnover and get the goal to give TPS U20 a 2-0 lead on IHFK. Marjala has been a dominant offensive figure at the U20 level, and has performed well when called upon for Liiga duty. pic.twitter.com/z6iXpE3Xvh
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) March 8, 2023
Hockey Prospect’s Black Book says that Marjala has “excellent puck skills, good hockey IQ, and can be very valuable on the power play. He however has issues with his skating, compete level, and play away from the puck. The young Finn is very poised and smooth with the puck on his stick. He plays at a low pace on the ice; he likes to slow down the play when making zone entries which also gives him extra time to find his linemates. An excellent playmaker with good on-ice vision, the type of player who is going to hurt you if you offer him more time and space on the ice.”
After scoring 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 68 games for Quebec in the high-scoring Q in 2022, Marjala returned to Finland and excelled at the Junior level for TPS, with 51 points (18 goals, 33 assists) in 32 games and had nine points in a brief 15-game stint at the pro level. Based on pre-season reports, it appears that Marjala will be playing full-time for TPS this season.