NHL Draft: Sabres turn page with Dahlin

By Howie Mansfield, BBM Staff Writer

The Buffalo Sabres selected 18-year-old Rasmus Dahlin (Daw-leen) with the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The 6'3" 185 lb. Swedish defenseman has been called by some analysts as a "generational" player, one that can change the face of a franchise. For the long suffering fans in Buffalo, could the tide really be turning?

Dahlin has played in the Swedish Pro league since he was 16. Former NHL Executive Craig Button said in a recent interview that Dahlin has skilled far beyond his age, and you would never know it was a 16-year-old playing with these adults. Dahlin is physically gifted - an aggressive player that knows how to move the puck but stay at home and defend.

Rasmus Dahlin (photo credit: Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
Here's what we know: The Sabres have been horrible and in an organizational downward spiral. There are many that have questioned the team's character and fortitude as they race to the bottom year in and year out. They have drafted at or near the top of more drafts over the last several years, including drafting Jack Eichel with the second pick in 2015 NHL Draft.

Dahlin's selection allows the Sabres to focus on defense. The team chose not to re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner, and will likely allow backup Chad Johnson to leave the team as well. With a young core of defensemen such as Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe and Victor Antipin, Buffalo knows a elite goalie is needed to take the pressure off the talented scorers on the team.

Dahlin can move to the puck into the offensive zone, and said in an interview on Sabres.com that he actually excels there. His stick handling is one of his trademarks. Dahlin's highlight goals are on the internet, and prove that he can lead the charge on the power play for a team that has lacked special teams punch. Last year, Dahlin played in 41 games for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League, netting seven goals and 13 assists.

Buffalo hopes that the page has finally been turned toward better days. As a player called "franchise defining" according to Button, Dahlin will be part of the new face of positivity and hope that the Sabres desperately need.

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