With some NHL franchises, the race for the first overall pick in the 2018 Entry Draft started many months ago. Ever-rebuilding teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes just can’t get it together and build a team that benefits their many young talents. This season, the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings will likely join them among the best odds in the NHL Draft Lottery, but the Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadians have fallen into the mix as well.
Despite their many seasons of disappointment, neither the Sabres nor the Coyotes have been able to corral a first overall pick over the last five years. This year, they both have another chance to turn their franchises around or see a coveted young defenseman slip past them once again.
Franchise altering potential
Coming into the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, 17-year-old Rasmus Dahlin is the consensus first overall pick. While the young Swede isn’t as raved about as some other recent first overall picks, he certainly has the potential to be a minute-munching top pairing blueliner in the NHL.
Dahlin plays in the top division of men’s hockey in Sweden, the SHL, for Frolunda HC. Playing alongside veterans of the game, some with NHL caps, you would never think that he was the youngest player on the ice
. The Trollhattan-native is already displaying high-level fundamental skills for his role as a two-way defenseman. Dahlin’s greatest asset, which his first NHL team will look to harness as soon as possible, is his skating and puck moving skills.
Already standing at 6’2’’, 183 lbs, Rasmus Dahlin is set to be an imposing figure in the NHL. Given that the Swede already shows that he can defend in any situation and is strong when joining the attack, it’s easy to see why almost all scout rankings have him at number one.
Rings of Aaron Ekblad
In 2014, one Aaron Ekblad was receiving a huge amount of hype coming into the NHL Entry Draft. Picked by the Florida Panthers, Ekblad became the first defenseman to be selected first overall since Erik Johnson in 2006, and the third since Chris Phillips in 1996. Ekblad was granted exceptional status coming through junior hockey and was only the fourth player
ever to get such a status.
Taken first overall, the Panthers were sure to nurture the talented young defenseman. He didn’t have a huge impact in his first season alongside many other young, high draftees. But in the following season, he led Panthers' defensemen in points en route to winning the Atlantic Division.
Amidst many, many big-name injuries, including Ekblad, the Panthers returned to the basement of the Atlantic Division. But, this season, with Ekblad notching points regularly since February, the Panthers look to return to the playoffs. Clawing their way into the playoffs, the surging Panthers are at +2100 to win in the Eastern Conference finals and are an attractive option when it comes to sports betting via BTC
. With Ekblad and their other top young stars playing very well, it’s not beyond the Panthers to go deep this year.
Now 6’4’’, 216 lbs, and just 22-years-old, Ekblad has proven himself to be an almighty two-way defenseman. Even though Rasmus Dahlin isn’t eligible to be granted exceptional status – because he doesn’t play in the junior leagues of Canada – his skill set and incredible hockey IQ rings of the praises sung for Aaron Ekblad when he was coming through to the NHL.
Great future ahead for Dahlin
Both Aaron Ekblad and Rasmus Dahlin are exceptional skaters, great on the puck, and strong in all three zones. Ekblad joined a batch of highly-rated young players and looked to be one of the catalysts to making them a playoff team once again. Both the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres are stacked with young talents who boast high picks, but both need someone to galvanize the team and secure the defensive side of the puck.
Neither team has been very lucky in the Draft Lottery in recent years. But, if one could win it and go on to pick Dahlin, with some transitional moves to build a better-suited unit around the young Swede, some good seasons could be on the horizon.
There’s very little doubt that Rasmus Dahlin will be selected first overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Already plying his trade in men’s hockey, he looks ready to tackle the NHL head on. If picked by a lower team, he could very well start on NHL lines in 2018-19. Down the line, Dahlin looks to be considered among the best defensemen in the league, with franchise-altering ability.
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