This is the start of a new series in the run up to the 2018 NHL Draft in a couple of weeks. Until June 22nd we’ll be taking a more in depth look at 10 of the most notable prospects who’ll be taken in the first round in Dallas later this month.
And what better place to start than with the consensus number 1, Rasmus Dahlin.
Let’s be honest, he’s the newest member of the Buffalo Sabres, he’s been making highlight reel play after highlight reel play in the SHL for the past two seasons, he is the best defenceman in the NHL Draft since Denis Potvin in 1973.
Craig Button of TSN described him as “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”
As a boy in a league full of men in the SHL, Dahlin stuck out for all the right reasons, representing his nation at the Olympic Level too shows the calibre of a player who hasn’t even hit his full potential yet.
The 18-year-old from Trollhättan, Sweden has featured for Frölunda in the SHL for the past two seasons, posting 3 points in 26 games in his first year, improving to 20 in 41 this past season, earning the most points by a U18 player in the league while also being named Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year, an award won previously by players currently in the NHL like Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, as well as Swedish greats Peter Forsberg as well as Henrik and Daniel Sedin. So it’s safe to say Dahlin is already in good company.
Dahlin was everything you’d need out of an NHL ready defensive prospect, he’s incredibly creative with the puck and can not only start any rush up ice but lead the rush.
He’s one of the best skaters in the draft, earning comparisons to the skating ability of Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, as well as his defensive game being compared to the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom.
Most of the highlights you’ll find on Dahlin show his impressive play with the puck and ability to score like a forward, but without the puck he’s just as effective, really proving himself useful across the entire playing surface.
He plays a smart game, making the correct decision in a split second more often than not. He knows when to join the rush, identify any play and when to not pinch, but even when he does make that rare error he recovers remarkably, never quitting on the play.
Sure he didn’t have a great combine, but coming in with as much raw talent as Dahlin it’s not going to raise any questions about his future, he is the first pick this year.
Dahlin won’t walk into the NHL and be a superstar straight away, but just give it time before you hear his name among the conversation as one of the best defenceman in the league.