When the Sabres found out they won the NHL Draft Lottery two months ago, it was no secret who they were going to take. Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was one of the best draft prospects in years and Monday he marked his first time in Buffalo as a Sabre.
The Sabres' future a few months ago seemed bleak. But then a bouncing ball did something for the Sabres they haven’t done in years: win.
Fast forward a few months and Rasmus Dahlin is introducing himself to Buffalo for the first time. He already has the basics down on the Sabres' main rival.
“I heard that Buffalo and (the) Toronto Maple Leafs are having some hard games," said Dahlin. "So that will be fun. I’m looking forward to that.”
Dahlin spoke enthusiastically about playing in Buffalo in a news conference held at KeyBank Center alongside general manager Jason Bottterill.
“Finally I get on to the ice and start developing me,” said Dahlin. “I start to train with the Buffalo Sabres. It couldn’t be better.”
When he’s not playing hockey, Dahlin finds himself thinking about it while playing other stick-based sports.
“I’m a regular hockey guy. Pretty boring guy," said Dahlin. "I used to play some golf and hang out with friends. Yeah. I love to play hockey. That’s my 100% thing I usually do. Like I said, I’m a pretty boring guy.”
Dahlin was part of the second-place Swedish world juniors team this past year and notably refused to wear the silver medal. Sabres GM Jason Botterill doesn’t foresee any character issues with the 6'3" defenseman.
“Throughout the entire year whenever you watched him live or watched him on film you were impressed with him," said Botterill. "Then you go through the interview process after the season and it just reassures you that we are making the right decision.”
“It’s a huge honor to play in that World Junior Tournament as a 17-year-old. Then to be named the best defenseman in the entire tournament? Same thing. Just an entire year. There are other 17-year-olds who play in the SHL. But to be such an impact player on his team in Frolunda is something that just continually amazed us,” he said.
Many fans are calling the talented defenseman a savior, but Botterill says Dahlin is joining plenty of other young talent.
“I think communicating and talking with other players, they are certainly excited to bring Rasmus into our group here and just how they can grow together as a core,” said Botterill.
Dahlin will wear the number 26 this upcoming year. For fans looking to see him in action right away, he and all the other Sabres prospects will be at the Harborcenter from June 27 to June 30.
With Dahlin's arrival, at least for the moment, fans don’t feel like they’re in last place.