Sabres pick Dahlin first, Hurricanes get Svechnikov second in NHL Draft
No one reasonably expected the Buffalo Sabres to pass on Rasmus Dahlin for the first pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. The Carolina Hurricanes selecting Andrei Svechnikov second overall was very predictable, too, although some wondered if new management might set the stage for a swerve.
The top two teams went with slam-dunk choices, so now the best defenseman (Dahlin) and best forward (Svechnikov) are off the board.
A generational defenseman?
Dahlin stands as the first Swedish player to be selected first overall since Mats Sundin. He’s the most hyped defensive prospect since at least Victor Hedman, while some argue that we haven’t seen this level of excitement for a blueliner since Denis Potvin. Yes, he’s a big deal.
The Sabres might have more big moves coming soon. There are some rumbling about Ryan O’Reilly being traded, while they opted not to qualify RFA goalie Robin Lehner.
Adding Dahlin to the mix - he’s likely to make an immediate jump into the NHL, and instantly become one of the best Buffallo blueliners - makes everything run more smoothly.
Credit Dahlin for scoring points with Buffalo sports fans early on, as he was sporting a Buffalo Bills hat during a Sportsnet interview that aired before the draft.
“It’s amazing to put on the Buffalo Sabres jersey,” Dahlin said after being picked. “I’ve been there twice. I love that city and I can’t wait to get everything started.”
What the Hurricanes needed
For all the justifiable worries about Carolina’s goaltending, the Hurricanes struggled to score goals in 2017-18.
It’s unclear where exactly Svechnikov will fit into the lineup next season, but he’ll probably provide an upgrade right away. Barring surprises, the Russian winger should slide in somewhere in the team’s top three forward lines.
If the pieces fall the right way, it could be quite the debut season for the sturdy scorer.
“That team’s on the way up,” Svechnikov said. “It just suits me.”
The floor is pretty high for Svechnikov. Ultimately, the biggest question is: “How high is his ceiling?”