The third time was a charm. Finally. After finishing in last place for the third time in five years, the Buffalo Sabres won the draft lottery and will have the first overall selection this summer.
While there are many great prospects to choose from, Rasmus Dahlin has been the one player that many have wanted. All of the attention and talk about him for the past year is warranted. Buffalo has a promising pick in their hands, and there are no reasons why they should pick anyone else.
The Swedish defenseman is listed at 6’2″, 182 pounds and he just turned 18 years old. He’s been compared to players such as Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman, but many think he has the potential to be even better than that.
“He is a franchise-defining defenceman with an unprecedented ability to control the game in all areas. The last blueliner I saw with that capability at this age was Victor Hedman.” – Craig Button (TSN)
While he won’t even be 20 years old for another two years, he could very well crack the Sabres lineup in October. Whenever he does, if it’s then or later, he is going to make an immediate impact and instantly improve Buffalo’s defense as a whole.
— Buffalo Wallpapers (@BuffaWallpapers) April 29, 2018
If you’re looking for a weakness in Dahlin, there’s not much to find. He’s young, hasn’t proven anything at the NHL level, and can make mistakes. That may be about it. The Sporting News summarized Dahlin’s skills:
The worst thing to say about Dahlin’s defensive game is that he isn’t perfect — which is true of any athlete in any sport. But his defensive ability is well beyond his years. His understanding of gap control and defensive coverages is will beyond his years. His skating ability is as good as anyone’s, and while Hedman has great straight-line speed, Dahlin displays agility and puck poise that Hedman could have only wished to possess at the same age.
There are no flaws to his game. At an age where virtually every other top defensive prospect is still awkwardly figuring things out at a lower level, Dahlin is one of the top defensemen in arguably the second-toughest league in the entire world.
The Sabres lucked out with the lottery, and while Jason Botterill has a lot of work to do this summer as far as reshaping the team, getting Dahlin accelerates everything. There’s renewed hope in Buffalo.