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2018 NHL Entry Draft: Rasmus Dahlin stands head and shoulders above the rest

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Consensus No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin
Photo Credit: Patrik Bexell

Ramus Dahlin, the consensus number one pick in the draft is a Swedish defender that has ruled the ice in almost any competition he has participated in over the past few years. The big, smooth skating defender has silky hands and can hit like a freight train at full speed. He has been likened to Niklas Lidström, Erik Karlsson and Niklas Kronwall, but Rasmus Dahlin is his own and will be the player that new players are measured against when the future comes.

Birthplace: Trollhättan, Sweden

Shoots: Left

Position: D

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 192 lbs.

Youth team: HC Lidköping, Sweden

Pro team: Frölunda HC, SHL

Having watched Rasmus Dahlin over the last two season, it is easy to see his development; at first you saw the skating, the silky hands and the confidence, but this last season Dahlin has matured into a very good defender on top of all the offensive upside he possesses. This was most evident when he took a step back and played defence first in this year’s World Junior Championship, where he still managed six assists over seven games and vas selected as the best defender of the championship.

Dahlin bulked up over the summer of 2017 and this helped him develop into a more complete defender. It also helped him to develop his physical play and the comparisons in the Frölunda locker room has been more in regards to the reputation of being “Kronwalled” and comments as such being “running into a brick wall”, “moving an immobile object” or “being run over by a truck” after having been hit by Dahlin in practice.

Strength:

Skating, vision, hockey IQ, you name it Dahlin has it in spades. Every highlight reel will include his dangles and that also points to his confidence. Here is is important that to make Dahlin succeed in NHL you have to let him make some of the high risk plays and look more to the rewards than the errors that might happen because of the play. As Frölunda’s defensive coach Pär Johansson told EyesOnThePrize in an interview a year ago

“We are pushing him every day to try things, but also to learn from his mistakes. He has scored three goals this playoff run [2017], and he hasn’t cost us more than three; that means he’s still on the plus side of things. That’s all we can ask for since he is good for the team.”

Weakness:

His weakness was said to be a tendency toward a high-risk game, and that’s something that has also changed this past season. Dahlin isn’t afraid to play a safer style — he is keenly aware that not every play has to make the highlight reel — but Frölunda has asked him to play that more-involved game at all times because that’s where his strength lies.

From my point of view, the biggest weakness for Dahlin is his shot. It is not a heavy slapshot that he possesses, but rather an accurate release in a similar style to Niklas Lidström’s (who also had a heavy slapshot besides). Dahlin’s attempts on goal are surgical strikes for a deflection, or well-placed shots rather than ones relying on sheer force.

Rankings

Future Considerations: #1

Hockey Prospect: #1

ISS Hockey: #1

McKeen’s Hockey: #1

NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): #1

Thoughts

Dahlin has used the Coach Rönnberg’s School of Hockey with one goal in mind - the NHL. There is no doubt that he is ready to take the next step and move across the Atlantic and make an impact in NHL already in his first season.

His strength lies in his understanding of the game and the vision he possesses, which makes him stand out in all situations on the ice. His physical game is underrated because of his awareness and hockey mind; he doesn’t have to use it as much because of his other strengths. With a move to a smaller rink I am sure that the one thing that will be a surprise for many experts and opponents is the physical play that will be on display.

Dahlin matched Victor Hedman and out performed Erik Karlsson in their respective draft years, and it will be against these two Norris Trophy nominees that Rasmus Dahlin will measured against during his career. There is no doubt that Rasmus Dahlin is a foundation piece for an NHL team to construct a team to challenge for the cup because his vision, skating and passing will benefit a team in all aspects of the game.

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