The moment has finally come, we can officially say that Rasmus Dahlin is a Buffalo Sabre. It’s been the inevitable for the past few months now after the late April draft lottery win, but Sabres fans have been dying for the selection to be set in stone.
The feeling of optimism and rejuvenation is similar to that of 2015 with Jack Eichel, but a little more rewarding of a situation. The 2014-15 season felt like the Sabres worked for something all season while still coming up short after losing the lottery. Everyone knew they were going to be bad and just accepted the idea that they were going to devote the season to try to get Connor McDavid. In 2017-18 the team and fans had expectations of improvement, and maybe if they were lucky, a playoff appearance. In hindsight – those expectations were crazy, but the optimism going into the season fueled by a new coach and GM, a full year of Jack Eichel, and the hope of off-season trades and acquisitions working out put an even bigger damper on the season when the Sabres fell flat on their face.
The team reached a point where many deemed them unwatchable. The hockey was uninspiring, slow, and depressing – especially when Jack Eichel went down with injury.
A flash of hope shined on the Sabres dark season in Casey Mittelstadt. Mittelstadt was a steal at pick #8 just a year ago and his brilliant vision, puck handling and release will play a big part in the Sabres future.
April 28th and the NHL Draft Lottery came along and led to this point now. The Sabres and their fans needed to win the lottery – even though this time around, no one seemed to expect it. Losing, and losing draft lotteries specifically, had become something far too familiar for the Sabres and their fans. Following 2014 and 2015 draft lottery losses with the odds only decreasing into 2018, the dampened mood around the Sabres lingered to the hopes of a draft lottery win. If you thought the Sabres were going to get Dahlin you were basically looked at as psycho despite them having the best – yet still slim – odds at a franchise changing defenseman.
It was kind of the moment everything changed. That dark cloud that followed any Sabres discussion was suddenly lifted, and the thought of a core featuring Eichel, Mittelstadt, and now Dahlin set the stage for the next generation.
Dahlin sets the Sabres over the top moving forward. It sounds crazy considering the Sabres historically bad 2017-18 season – but it’s reality. A lot of NHL teams can’t find a #1 Center or #1 Defenseman and the Sabres have both moving forward and maybe a 1B Center in Mittelstadt.
The Sabres have been dying for help on the blue line and in the words of WGR’s Jeremy White, “Poof, a generational defenseman.”
Today, the Sabres, the fans, and the city of Buffalo have been granted a gift. It was no one but the Sabres’ fault that the team was as bad and depressing as they were and the fans deserved better. The deserved tonight and they deserve Rasmus Dahlin changing the franchise.