Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin can have an immediate impact

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 5: Rasmus Dahlin
BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 5: Rasmus Dahlin /

The general consensus among European scouts is that Buffalo Sabres’ prospective draft pick Rasmus Dahlin will be ready to contribute from day one.

There are still many Buffalo Sabres fans who wonder about what might have been, in respect of Connor McDavid. No matter how good Jack Eichel is — and he is well on the way to becoming a superstar in the NHL — McDavid is on another level.

Now though, three years after missing out on the Edmonton Oilers’ center, the Sabres have another chance at a franchise-changing player. In addition, it’s someone who — like McDavid — has the ability to make an immediate impact in the NHL.

On June 22 in Dallas, Buffalo is projected to select Rasmus Dahlin with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. And given the Blue and Gold’s desperate need to improve their blue line, there is no real reason to not take him.

However, even if the Sabres weren’t so ineffective defensively, there would still little to no justification not to draft Dahlin. He really is that good.

And as far as the director of NHL European Scouting is concerned, the 18-year-old is ready to play in Buffalo right now. As reported by John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Goran Stubb said:

"“I’m not saying he will be a god for the Buffalo Sabres, but he will definitely help them in his first year…He’s a very smart guy. He knows what is waiting for him this summer. It’s the Combine. It’s the Draft. He will definitely attend a rookie camp”"

An anonymous head European scout for an NHL team agreed that Dahlin can contribute right away. Speaking to Vogl, they said:

"“He can play big minutes already now. He’s an athlete, and he’s in good shape all the time. Everything is good in his game.”"

If you’re looking for an intriguing angle, consider that the last time Sabres’ blue liner to be drafted and start right away was a certain Phil Housley. And, as noted by Vogl, Housley was excellent from the word go, with 66 points (19 goals and 47 assists) in 77 games.

The anonymous European scout believes that Housley is just what Dahlin needs. Again reported by Vogl, they said:

"“Phil is going to be a perfect coach for Dahlin to get better. The expectations are always very high on those kids. Of course it’s going to take awhile. I don’t think he’s going to run the league his first week, but he’s going to be very good.”"

As for Housley, he admits he’s extremely impressed with Dahlin, having watched numerous video clips of the young defenseman. As reported by Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, the Sabres’ coach said:

"“I know these are highlights and he’s a young man and has to mature and really get to the NHL and North American game, but just seeing his poise and his hockey IQ of processing the game at a high speed is really, really something. I’ve been watching on YouTube and, boy, it’s incredible. He’s going to be a complete package in today’s NHL.”"

All eyes were on Dahlin during this year’s NHL combine in Buffalo, between May 27-June 2. And as you’d expect, he was worked hard during the event, which took place in HarborCenter.

The Sweden native admitted the combine was tough going, but he enjoyed the experience. As reported by Harrington, he said:

"“It was fun and it was kind of hard. The Wingate (bike test) is pretty tough. I rode the bike a lot. I’ve trained overall, but not specifically for the Wingate.”More from Buffalo SabresBuffalo Sabres and Victor Olofsson making progress on contract extensionBuffalo Sabres still need goaltender help despite re-signing AndersonBuffalo Sabres: Time to close book on the Jack Eichel chapterBuffalo Sabres receiving interest in members of defensive coreBuffalo Sabres focused on youth during another disastrous season"

Dahlin will travel to Washington for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday night. It has become part of what is now an annual prospects trip for the projected top picks in that year’s draft.

The countdown is on to June 22 in Dallas. In truth, however, there is little drama for Buffalo Sabres fans; they know who their team is going to pick.

Instead, any drama will come from waiting to discover what kind of impact Dahlin is going to have next season. While everyone believes he will have an immediate influence, we won’t know for sure until he hits the ice in regular season action.

Everyone raves about the youngster’s vision and anticipation. However, even he can’t project that many steps ahead.

Next: Could Ryan O'Reilly be traded to Montreal?

What are you expecting from Dahlin if and when the Buffalo Sabres draft him? More to the point, what kind of success are you predicting for him during the 2018-19 season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.