Welcome to the 2018 edition of the Hockey Wilderness mock draft. A group of Hockey Wilderness writers are tasked with selecting a player every day for the next 31 days, based off the final draft order - NO TRADES! - culminating with the 31st pick right on draft day.
After finishing up the season dead last in the league, the Buffalo Sabres beat the odds and landed the number one pick in the upcoming draft. “Beat the odds? I mean they did have the best chances of landing that top pick,” some might say. But the past hasn’t been too kind to the Sabres in recent years ousting them from a top pick before.
As some might recall, Buffalo lost the lottery the previous two times around that they finished dead last, both in 2014 and in 2015. Although, those picks may have worked out in their favor as they selected the deadly Jack Eichel and young gun Sam Reinhart.
Getting this years top pick was something of great magnitude and of utmost importance, especially this draft year as prospect Rasmus Dahlin is on the board and has quite a bit of hype surrounding his name as an elite, top-end defenseman. And Buffalo could certainly use his talents on the blue-line to help secure Buffalo’s number one need, a top pair defenseman of the future.
While many could attest to Buffalo’s need of some help in scoring up-front and Andrei Svechnikov could be an answer, as the Sabres, these past three years haven’t quite found a mate to pair up with Eichel. Yet there is no way the Sabres pass up on a defenseman of this caliber at this age. That and with Dahlin being part of this new generation of defensemen, he can bring a great deal of offense into the Sabres lineup to help out Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen on the defensive side as well.
And that is why the Buffalo Sabres select, with the 1st overall pick in the Hockey Wilderness NHL Mock Draft select, Rasmus Dahlin, defenseman, from Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League.
The Scouting Report
Dahlin has always been a flashy player ever since entering the Swedish Hockey League with Frolunda a couple years back when he was 16. Creating highlight reel moments seems to be his thing as this blue-liner brings a great presence both offensively and defensively.
The 18-year-old is consistently ranked as the number one prospect throughout many outlets: HockeyProspect.com, Future Considerations, ISS Hockey, McKeen’s Hockey, and NHL Central Scouting. If one thing is as clear as day, its that Dahlin is the go-to guy in this years draft prospect pool.
Offensively wise, Dahlin has great vision and awareness on the ice, always making the heads up play as his understanding of the game is bar none. A Future Considerations scout mentioned that “He’s able to move laterally, escaping the puck-chasers and opening up passing lanes.” With his awareness and mental fortitude of the game, it seems as if Dahlin is never under duress. He can bring the puck up ice with ease and open up lanes to thread the needle.
Defensively wise, his pace on the ice and his long strides are why Dahlin is able to close gaps with ease. “No opponent sneaks by him,” Future Considerations mentioned. Dahlin is not going to be the biggest boy on the back end, but he is also not the smallest as he is 6’2, 180 pounds and can play soundly defensively when it comes to being physical and getting on the boards. To cap it off, Future Considerations also noted that, “His defensive game, overall, and his positioning are greatly improved. Occasionally, he’ll jump out of position to pursue a possible attack, but he’s very reliable. Impossible to beat one-on-one.”
Rasmus Dahlin brings a great deal of offensive prowess to the table while being defensively sound in all areas in the back-end. Much like this future generation of defenders we are seeing nowadays in the NHL like John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars for example.
How He Fits The Wild
Does Rasmus Dahlin fit the Wild? Absolutely, he is a defenseman who skates well in all directions that has great pace offensively and defensively, is a left-handed shooter, and thinks offensively. Someone Bruce Boudreau would absolutely love to get his hands on and mold into the next star blue-liner In of the league.
Bringing in a top 4 defenseman would load the Wilds roster on the defensive side to 11 guys, that is if Matt Dumba, Nick Seeler, and Ryan Murphy re-sign as they are restricted free agents. But defense isn’t a number one need in my mind as to what the Wild need going into this off-season.
Although, It still is a need in Minnesota as Ryan Suter had surgery recently and is looked at as being replaceable in the off-season and the Wild still do need some size on their back end to get more physical play on the boards which Dahlin could provide. That and Chuck Fletcher traded picks for rentals previously, yet now with a new GM changes could be in the works no doubt about it, anything is possible.
How Could the Wild Get Him?
Oh wow, this question stumped me and really it would be anyone’s guess as to how. But in my mind, there isn’t a way the Wild could string something together to pull in Rasmus Dahlin to Minnesota.
In a best-case scenario, the Wild would not only have to throw their 2018 first pick over to Buffalo but also throw some future picks their way as well. I don’t see the Wild being able to send over in Prospects in return as well only because the Sabres are getting an NHL ready defenseman in Dahlin and won’t want to wait a year or two to see their asset fully bloom. So, Minnesota would have to negotiate hard and would ultimately have to give over a top 4 defenseman, their 2018 1st round pick, and future picks in order to start thinking about seeing Dahlin dressed in a Wild sweater.
The Wild would have to give up talent/picks exponentially to even get a shot at the number one overall prospect in this years draft class. Guys like Dahlin with this much hype surrounding their name as the number one guy usually become staples on rosters of who they are drafted by so a trade would be out of the question.