Isaac Rosen prepares for ‘big opportunity’ with Cypress after difficult year in Sweden | Buffalo Sabers news

Isaac Rosen was planning to stay in Sweden for another year.

No longer limited by the hand injury that ended his season in February, Rosen put in an effort at the gym this spring to gain strength. Every workout was done to help him succeed against older, stronger men and earn a prominent role with Leksands IF in the fall.

Rosen wasn’t thinking about the NHL just yet. He didn’t expect the Buffalo Sabers to want to sign him after a short injury season as he played sparingly for his hometown side Leksands.

Then came the call that changed Rosen’s plan. On May 31, the 19-year-old winger signed a three-year junior contract with Cypress, who picked him in the first round, 14th place, in the draft last July.

“It was a little unexpected but really fun,” Rosen told The Buffalo News in a video conference call. “It’s a big, big opportunity.”

Rosen will try to get the Cypress roster out of the training camp, where he will line up with or against capable players Taghi Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin, Jeff Skinner, Alex Tosh and Kyle Okposo. An immediate jump to the NHL is unlikely.

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Although Rosen has played 51 games in the SHL, he needs ice time and opportunity, neither of which was available at the Leksands last season. The Sabers can provide both in Rochester, where Amerks coach Seth Appert has helped prospects Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka become NHL rookies.

And although the challenge ahead will be very different from the one Rosen had been anticipating, the lessons learned in Sweden will still apply.

“I am so excited,” he cheered. “It’s starting to become (a reality) now. The first few days, I didn’t think it was real. I’m so excited now that we came this summer for camps and meet everyone. Then try to do my best to be the team.”

Rosen was a 16-year-old playing under-20 hockey for Lake Sands when his future SHL coach, Bjorn Hellqvist, was sitting in the stands. Hellkvist was fascinated by Rosen’s skate. The diminutive winger cut through the defense and his hands were fast enough to play the ball at full speed. Rosen’s talent is bewildering, even when playing on a streak with Nils Amann and Emil Heinemann, who are now potential prospects with the Canucks and the Canadians, respectively.

Rosen describes the 2019-20 season as the beginning of his rise as a potential in Sweden. That was when he saw that he had the talent to make it into the NHL one day. Hellqvist, who at the time was Modu’s coach in the SHL, walked away knowing it wouldn’t be the last time he saw Rosen.

“All I can say is, ‘Wow, this kid can play,'” Hellqvist said in a phone interview from his home in Sweden. “He made his buddies better and helped them score. …I think Isaac is the catalyst. It is the mind. He always helps other players improve too.”

Hellkvist was appointed as the Leksands coach for the following season, when Rosen secured a spot on the SHL roster. He only made one pass while playing limited minutes in 22 games but he learned more about the professional game and showed that he was explosive enough to excel at this level.

Rosen emerged as a high-profile prospect for the 2021 draft and established himself as a first-round pick last spring when he played against his peers at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Frisco, Texas. With Cypress’ hockey operations in the building, including general manager Kevin Adams, Rosen led Sweden with seven goals and nine points to help his team win the bronze.

NHL Central Scouting ranked Rosen as the No. 8 international skater in the draft, one place behind Alexander Kisakov, who would be chosen by the Saber in the second round. Adams had the #1 option – which was later used to pick defender Owen Power – and drafted Rosen into 14th with the first rounder obtained in Rasmus Ristolainen’s trade with Philadelphia.

Rosen gained more ice time at the start of the 2021-22 season. His fitness tests were on par with his teammates – he was the “most explosive” on the roster, Hellqvist said – and at first, he worked the right wall in the power game. The Leksands were determined to win, not develop. The club signed a veteran player who took Rosen’s place and his icy time decreased.

“Of course, it’s hard,” he recalls. “You just want to play. You always want to play as high as possible, and I also felt like I could get more icy time in the SHL. The longer it takes, the more frustrating it gets.”

“At the beginning of the league, he made great leaps in his development, especially offensive,” Hellqvist explained. “He owned his own ice time, owned his own ice and took charge of his actions on the ice in a mature way. But you know, in a professional league full of guys, after a while, if you’re too young, it swallows you up. He did it with Isaacs this year. But this Not a bad thing, I think. He has proven that he can play at that level. And if he can play at that level and score goals in SHL, there aren’t many players who can score in SHL and not continue to score in NHL. It’s a tough league in Sweden “.

Rosen has averaged just 7:53 of ice time in 28 games for the Leksands this season. A total of two goals and four points. His role went to the play of power. He trained with the SHL group every week but didn’t know if he would be on the ice or not. The Leksands made him play eight games for the Under-20 team, where he was dominant against his peers.

The experience at SHL was still informative. Rosen has played central midfield this season and bolstered his defensive game. He saw his speed as a threat against bigger and stronger opponents.

His skill level is very high,” Hellqvist said. “What he needs is to age like wine. He needs more time. Every year given now will work for him. It will get better and better every year.”

“I would say his work ethic is basically impeccable. The way he sees the ice with and without the puck, you might just think he’s an offensive-minded player but he’s not. His hockey IQ and the way he sees the ice is very useful defensively. He’s He grew up, but he will continue to grow.”

Unable to get double-digit minutes in a game for two months, and scratch for four straight games, Rosen finally got the chance he had been coveting when he was named to the Swedish Pro League’s second-tier Mora IK in February. He played over 12 minutes in each of his first two matches, totaling a goal and two assists while playing midfield.

It all ended during his third game on February 13 when Rosen lost coverage in the defensive area and found himself in front of goalkeeper Moura. Rosen blocked the shot that followed, but the disc hit him on his right thumb and forefinger, breaking the latter and the joint of the first. He needed end-of-season surgery.

“It was very difficult because I felt throughout the season that I just wanted to play more and more,” he said. “It was great to come to Mora and play. I had a lot of fun there. It was very challenging. Now when I look back I needed to play but you have to see the positive things too. I spent a long summer here in the gym and that’s really important to me.” Mine “.

Rosen is back to normal and he plans to attend Sabers development camp in Buffalo next month. On Tuesday, Rosen was named to Sweden’s preliminary squad for the IIHF World Junior Championships, which is scheduled for August. He appeared in two matches for Sweden in December before the tournament was postponed due to Covid-19 cases.

Next, Rosen will take part in the Sabers Horizons Challenge, a junior camp that features opponents against other NHL prospects, and his first NHL training camp under coach Don Granato.

The Cypresses signed Rosen to control his development. They no longer hope that a coach in Sweden will give him the chance. However, he is not sure what to expect when he arrives. His knowledge of Sabers is largely based on shader reels, social media, and phone conversations with management.

Even with a clearer development path, Rosen didn’t lose this determination to earn his icy time.

“It feels like they have something really good, a really strong group and they’re starting to build something,” he said of the Sabers. “It’s really fun to see.”