Alex Brasky | @BataviasBest
Saturday, June 30, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
One day for the rest of our lives.
That’s what Buffalo Sabres fans experienced this past weekend at the 2018 NHL Draft, when the team made Rasmus Dahlin the number one overall pick. The Swedish sensation comes to Buffalo as the hopeful ‘savior’ of the franchise, and will pair with top-talent Jack Eichel in hopes of working towards becoming one of the top-duos in the NHL.
For years, Rasmus has been viewed as a prodigy, a player beyond his years, a future star. All of those expectations came to a head this past Friday night, but that wasn’t before a long hockey life had been lived.
Dahlin grew up in Trollhättan, Sweden as the youngest of two brothers within a hockey family. His father played professionally, and his older brother Felix also played professionally, which left little doubt as to what the future would hold for young Rasmus. In essence, he was born to play hockey.
“There has always been hockey in my family,” Dahlin has said previously. “My father played when I was born, my brother played. So it was completely natural and obvious for me to begin playing hockey.”
On skates at the age of two, Rasmus quickly caught on and developed a love for the game which overtook his passion for activities.
“Rasmus played all sorts of games,” Martin Dahlin, Rasmus’ father has said. “He always played soccer. He was even playing a couple of years ago. He played bandy and liked table tennis and cycling… But it was always hockey that he came back to.”
Following a successful youth career with HC Lidköping, Dahlin broke into the Swedish Hockey League at barely 16-years old and was quickly considered one of the league’s top-talents within his first year on the ice. Drawing comparisons to Victor Hedman, former 2nd overall pick by Tampa Bay, many view the young Swede as having more mobility, and better puck skills than the Lightning defenseman.
With that being said, according to those who have watched him/played with him extensively, Dahlin’s most-impressive attributes lie in his intangibles.
“His skating is off the charts,” Dahlin’s Frolunda HC teammate Jonathan Sigelet told sportsnet.ca. “So are his skills. But there’s some stuff that you can’t teach or work on and it’s hard to describe but you know it when you see it.”
His first season with Frolunda was the 2016-2017 campaign, during which he played in 26 regular season games, recording just a single goal to go with two assists. During 14 postseason games Dahlin scored three goals, and chipped in two assists. All in all, it was an underwhelming year when it came to his production, but the young prospect was setting the stage for a breakout campaign in ’17-’18 – a year which would lead to his top-selection in the 2018 NHL Draft
According to many analysts and experts, Dahlin had all but locked-up the top-pick in the upcoming NHL Draft in December/January of the ’17-’18 regular season, but went on to play in 47 total games, scoring eight goals to go with 15 assists – both well above his previous season’s totals. His performance throughout the year left no doubt as to who would be taken atop the draft.
It was just his second time in a suit and tie, but the new Buffalo Sabres’ defenseman certainly looked the part on draft night in Dallas. Golden hair flowing, dressed to the nines, Rasmus Dahlin looked ready to take on the world this past Friday night.
“It’s the coolest thing I’ve done, or will do,” Dahlin told the media after his selection. “To hear my name, to stand here, just to be a part of the organization means a lot to me. It’s hard to take in, but I’m trying.”
Not only was it a big night for Rasmus, but the 2018 NHL Draft was a huge night in Buffalo, as the hometown fans tuned in in droves to watch the Sabres select their newest sensation. In fact, in Buffalo, the 30 minutes before, during, and after Dahlin’s selection was the highest rated period of the coverage by cable’s NBC Sports Network’s hire – according to the Buffalo News.
To put it plainly, Buffalo Sabres fans are pumped to have another elite talent join the likes of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen – the last four first round picks made by the Sabres – on their way to revolutionizing hockey in Buffalo. It’s been years since the fans have had a winner, but success may finally be around the corner.
We all know how things have gone for the Sabres over the past several years.
In a word, it’s been shitty.
However, a player like Rasmus Dahlin doesn’t come around very often and with that being said, I expect Buffalo to make the playoffs this year. Yes, I believe a single player can make that big of a difference for this team.
The Sabres have been starving for any semblance of a culture over the past few years since selecting Jack Eichel with their first round pick (second overall) in 2015. They’ve changed GMs, they’ve changed head coaches – yet nothing has produced anything tangible to hold on to when it comes to thinking about the Sabres.
They’ve been dreadful to watch, reading about them is a bore, and thinking about them has made me want to off myself.
They’ve #$%*&@! stunk.
But enough, before I go off the deep end. Back to the subject at hand.
Dahlin brings with him not only his talents, but an overwhelming sense of hope to the city of Buffalo – which has been searching for a winner on the ice for too long. Positivity will return to the Key Bank Center this year, and it will be courtesy of young Rasmus.
“You know, it’s a great pick. I’ve been watching a lot of tape on him, he’s just a phenomenal player and I think he’s going to help the team make the playoffs this year,” said Sabres fan James Urban to WIVB.
It looks like at least one fan agrees with me.
In the end, I can’t wait for this season to start, and reports of offseason camp are already making me sweat.
The ‘Dahlin Era’ is underway. Let’s hope I’m right about what the future holds.