After what many scouts considered to be a relatively weak draft year in 2017, the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is poised to be a particularly deep draft, and will boast a sizable number of high end prospects, particularly in the top 60. At the very top of this talent pool is Swedish superprospect, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who is somebody you should be drooling diluvial buckets over, particularly if you’re a fan of a team that hasn’t had a legitimate #1 defenseman in 5 years and counting. Dahlin has the makings of a prodigy, taking the hockey world by storm last year when he played in Sweden’s highest professional league at the tender age of 16, becoming the first player born in the 21st century to play at the highest level in Sweden. What is truly impressive is that he has thrived in the SHL while playing against grown men. While Andrei Svechnikov is a spectacular talent himself, Rasmus Dahlin has probably made the best case for himself to be considered for the 1st overall pick in 2018. So, without further ado, what kind of player is Rasmus Dahlin?
Name: Rasmus Dahlin
Date of Birth: April 13, 2000
Birthplace: Trollhättan, Sweden
Current Team: Frölunda HC
Weight: 181 lbs
NHL comparable: Erik Karlsson
Future Considerations: 1
Rasmus Dahlin is an incredibly polished prospect in a myriad of ways. He gets around effortlessly on the ice, and has superb agility in all directions on the ice. His skating abilities are extremely elusive, as he has clearly put in a lot of work fine-tuning his edgework, as he moves east to west very fluidly. This lets him change directions and cut across the ice very quickly, which he uses to open up the ice for himself. He has a quick, powerful first step, and can reach top speeds very quickly. He often puts his skating abilities on full display in games. One of the first things you’ll notice when he has the puck is how ridiculously difficult he is to contain, as he can outmaneuver forecheckers in his defensive zone and start the transition up ice, and break defender’s ankles in his offensive zone to create passing and shooting lanes for himself. He has a very creative bag of stickhandling tricks, and has puckhandling abilities that are perhaps even better than his skating abilities. There are times when I watch him that I almost forget that he’s a defenseman, or that he was only 16 years old last season, just based on how he leads highlight reel rushes up the ice like this:
Video Credit: Mr Hockeymannen - YouTube
Offensively, as you have just witnessed, he possesses an excellent shot, along with the other tools that I have been talking about. His wrist shot is very accurate, and has a heavy release on it. When he’s playing from the point, he has a hard, accurate slapshot, but is also good at getting his wrist shot on net through traffic, and often places his shots in spots where they can be redirected, or create a rebound. Dahlin sees the ice extremely well, and also has high-end passing abilities, making him an invaluable presence on the back end in the cycle game.
In the defensive zone, Dahlin makes very good reads, and anticipates the play very well. He is very positionally sound, and likes using his stick to force players wide, taking away their room to skate with the puck. Dahlin also has a developing physical component to his game, and has shown himself to be adept at lining opponents up in the open ice. On the transition, his first pass up the ice is very accurate, and easy to accept, and, when a breakout pass is not as easy for him, he can rush the puck up the ice himself.
Overall, Dahlin is an extremely skilled, cerebral young defenseman. It is extremely rare to see a defensive prospect as developed as he is at his age. Dahlin will only continue to get better as time goes on, as he fills in and adds more muscle to help him battle in front of the net and win puck battles along the boards. He has the potential to be something truly special at the NHL level, and deserves every single accolade that has been heaped on him so far in his young career.
Video Credit: Bobby Ryan - YouTube
Video Credit: SEER VIDEO - YouTube
Dahlin is a talent whose likes we have not seen in a very long time on defense. He is indisputably the most talented D prospect that I have ever scouted, and I would do horrible, unspeakable things to see him wear the Winged Wheel for the next 20 years. For Dahlin, the ionosphere is the limit, and anything less than becoming a franchise defenseman would probably be labeled a disappointment for him. Dahlin has all of the skill, smarts, and work ethic to become the next big thing on defense. Between him and Andrei Svechnikov, if you are picking 1st overall, and the choice is between a franchise winger and a franchise defenseman, the decision is a no-brainer. Unless something seriously changes, Dahlin is the undisputed 1st overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Period.
Anyways, that’s all I had for today. Next, I will be discussing another potential top 5 pick in the upcoming draft, and perhaps one of the best (if not THE best) center prospect for next year, Joe Veleno. Stay tuned!