By Erica Whyte (Posted on May 29, 2019)
After being held off the scoresheet just twice and notching 22 points (3+19) in his first 15 games of the 2018-19 regular season games in the United States of America, the buzz around undrafted defenseman Lawrence Pilut began immediately.
As the reigning SHL Defensemen of the Year, Pilut took no time to adjust to the small ice size and systems of North American play, splitting the season between the Rochester Americans and the Buffalo Sabres.
With the Amerks, the 23-year-old blueliner tallied 26 points (4+22) in 30 games, which included six multi-point efforts, and in 33 contests with the Sabres, the Tingsryd, Sweden native recorded six points (1+5).
The 5-foot-11, 181-pound blueliner spent three months with the parent club and continued to boast the Amerks second highest on-ice plus/minus rating with a plus-22 despite being in the NHL. For his success in the early portion of the slate with Rochester, he was named to the North Division to represent the Amerks at the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic but was unable to attend as he remained in Buffalo.
However, when asked about his season, Pilut shied away from his accomplishments.
WATCH: LAWRENCE PILUT YEAR-END INTERVIEW
“It was an up and down season for me,” admitted Pilut on locker clean out day. “When I first came here, I had a good camp. I felt like I transitioned pretty quickly and learned everything pretty quickly, but again I had an up and down period. I went up to Buffalo, played pretty well, then continued the up and down stretch. It has been a learning process the whole year.”
The developmental year, spearheaded by coaching staff and players is what made his first North America year a memorable one.
“It is been amazing,” explained Pilut. “The coaching staff and everything around it, has been really good. All the guys we had so much fun together. It is been really good.”
Perhaps the most impactful members of the Amerks group for Pilut may have been the other Swedes; Victor Olofsson, Rasmus Asplund, and Alexander Nylander. All of the four have embarked on their professional journey together after playing with or against each other in their homeland in Sweden prior to this season.
WATCH: LAWRENCE PILUT YEAR IN REVIEW WITH ERICA WHYTE
“It is been easier transitioning over with those guys because it is always nice to have a little piece of home with you,” said Pilut of his fellow Swedish teammates. “We came together pretty early in the year, and we had fun together.”
Following the completion of his first campaign in the United States, Pilut, like many other professional hockey players, have off-season plans which include going home and getting bigger, faster, and stronger.
“I am just going to work on getting more explosive and getting a little stronger,” said Pilut, who will also be recovering from successful shoulder surgery that is expected to take five to six months of recovery. “Bulking up a little bit, that will be a big part of the summer for me.”