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Sabres Grades: Lukas Rousek

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Lukas Rousek Buffalo Sabres grades

As a surprise riser through the organizational ranks, Lukas Rousek comes in at number 19 in the Sabres Grades countdown. The former sixth-round draft selection led the AHL Rochester Americans in points per game in 2023-2024 but managed only two in 15 NHL games. Unable to muster up a single above-average game, Rousek has some work cut out for him next season if he wants to return to the top level.

The Grading System

If you missed the introduction to the grading system, I’ve assigned letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played

It’s important to understand that these player performance grades are solely based on the algorithm created, with the one exception being a game shortened by injury. A player who missed significant ice time due to injury was not docked for fewer minutes played. This eliminates the confusion of how well a player performs when available.

I went back and graded all 82 games this season for every player. This way, we fully understand the progression of each player’s performance on a game-by-game basis.

Also, a big thanks to Evolving-Hockey for the individual game data. They’re among the best in the business.

Here’s the grading scale in table form, for reference:

GradeLower LimitUpper Limit
A+92%100%
A85%92%
A-77%85%
B+69%77%
B62%69%
B-54%62%
C+46%54%
C38%46%
C-31%38%
D+23%31%
D15%23%
D-8%15%
F0%8%

Previous: Sabres Grades: Ryan Johnson

Lukas Rousek

Season Grade: C-

Average: C-

Consistency: A+

Boom %: F [0%]

Bust %: D+ [20%]

To Rousek’s credit, the Sabres knew what they were getting each night out of him. On the other hand, what they were getting wasn’t quite up to par. Rousek’s workhorse mentality limited his “bust” games but resulted in no “boom” games. This kept him in a strict bottom-six checking role without an opportunity on special teams.

The skill and vision in Rousek’s arsenal disappeared during games and he never seemingly got comfortable. He’d show flashes of offensive upside in practice but performed at a replacement level when it counted.

Lukas Rousek Buffalo Sabres season grades

This past season, Rousek had two spaced-out stints with the big club with similar results. Since he just turned 25, he’s reaching the peak of his development. The coaching staff was able to rely on him thanks to okay defensive play, but to carve out a future roster spot he’ll have to show the new staff some untapped potential.

Grade Distribution

Lukas Rousek 2023-2024 grade distribution

Rousek recorded a “C” or “C-” in 10 of his 15 games. That’s 67% of his games in the “C” range, and 80% out of “bust” territory. That kind of consistency helped rank him ahead of the other forwards in and out of the lineup.

Lukas Rousek Buffalo Sabres 2023-2024 1st half grade distributionLukas Rousek Buffalo Sabres 2023-2024 1st half grade distribution

The splits don’t alter the narrative, posting nearly equal grades in both halves of the season. What’s more interesting than the mirroring effect, is what Rousek brings to the table as an NHL forward.

Player Comps

Lukas Rousek Buffalo Sabres player comps

Except for Blake Wheeler, Rousek’s closest comps were AHL-NHL tweeners this past season. This indicates that his playing style and performance don’t combine for sustainable success at the highest level.

Shane Bowers and Jakob Pelletier are former late first-round picks still trying to prove they belong in the NHL. Matthew Phillips is an undersized late-bloomer claimed on waivers twice this past season. Oskar Lindblom was an established NHLer until a rare form of bone cancer derailed his career. He’s cancer-free now but hasn’t been able to return to form.

Wheeler is aging out and on the brink of retirement. All he could manage in a supporting top-six winger role was quality defense. He’s a long cry from the eight-time 20-goal scorer he once was.

Out of these comparisons, Pelletier probably has the most hope for NHL competence. If Rousek can show any signs of contributing on offense, he’ll have a much better chance of making a positive impact.

2024-2025 Early Outlook

As for Rousek’s future, he’s entering a contract year in 2024-2025. He’ll have a lot to prove, not only to the Sabres but to the hockey world. He’ll be jockeying for another NHL contract and an eventual spot on the Czechia national team.

Rousek will have ample opportunity to do so, with the Sabres only returning nine forwards from the end-of-season roster. He outscored his major competition – Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen – on a per-game basis in Rochester, giving him an edge for one of the three spots.

Offseason additions will impact the depth chart, so Rousek will likely have to earn the job in training camp.

 

Previous Sabres Season Grades

Prospects and Depth

Casey Mittelstadt, Kyle Okposo, and Erik Johnson

24. Jacob Bryson

23. Tyson Jost

22. Victor Olofsson

21. Eric Robinson

20. Ryan Johnson

19. Lukas Rousek

18. Connor Clifton

17. Zemgus Girgensons

16. Bowen Byram

15. Peyton Krebs

14. TBD

13. TBD

12. TBD

11. TBD

10. TBD

9. TBD

8. TBD

7. TBD

6. TBD

5. TBD

4. TBD

3. TBD

2. TBD

1. TBD