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Five Questions with Rasmus Dahlin

Defenseman prospect, projected No. 1 pick in 2018 Draft, on if he's ready for NHL, training in Sweden

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Rasmus Dahlin said the Buffalo Sabres provided no hint he would be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft during his interview with their representatives at the NHL Scouting Combine on Wednesday.

The Sabres hold the No. 1 choice in the draft. The Carolina Hurricanes have the No. 2 pick and the Montreal Canadiens have the No. 3 selection. Dahlin, an 18-year-old defenseman, could be the first Sweden-born player taken No. 1 since forward Mats Sundin by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.

Sabres general manager Jason Botterill was seen walking with Dahlin following their meeting at KeyBank Center, making their way to the ground floor and heading to the locker room area. Dahlin said Sabres coach Phil Housley was not present for the meeting, which was attended by Botterill and several scouts.

Video: Taking a look at the #1 draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin

"It was like every other interview I had this week," Dahlin said. "They wanted to know who I was, get to know me. It wasn't anything specific that they wanted to know. They asked me what kind of person I am, what I like to do; wanted to know everything about me. They asked what I did on my days off and stuff like that. We went through the locker room area too."

Dahlin (6-foot-2, 181 pounds), No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of International skaters eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas on June 22-23, is the projected best player available after playing with men the past two seasons as a 16- and 17-year-old for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.

Dahlin completed the functional movement screen (FMS) examination Thursday, a test he said was new to him. The FMS doesn't necessarily pinpoint an injury but can show the need for further examination. If there's a range imbalance, or if one side of the body is stronger or weaker than the other, the test helps determine that.

"I think I did pretty well," Dahlin said. "It was different and a lot of fun. They tested flexibility and wanted to see how far you could stretch. Most of it involved the hips."

Here are Five Questions With … Rasmus Dahlin:

 

How close were you to being a forward instead of a defenseman?

"It was close. I think I started to realize, though, that as a defender you could also play offensive but also defensive, and I like to help the team. I felt there was more responsibility as a defenseman and I liked that. I played center a lot until I was 13- or 14 years old and it was a lot of fun. But defense has always been a lot more interesting to me. I feel playing center helped me become a better D-man with all the skills I learned, and I know what the forwards are doing when they come in over the blue line. Knowing what they're going to do is probably the most important thing."

 

Do you think you are NHL-ready and what does it take to become an NHL defenseman?

"I told myself that if I get the chance I will do everything I can (in training camp) to play in the NHL and then we will see what everybody (in the organization) says. I'm feeling as ready as I can be. I think in order to play in the NHL as a defenseman today you need to skate well, pass well and have good strength in the defensive zone."

 

In addition to training in Frolunda, where else did you train or work out in your spare time in Sweden?

"When I was younger, I trained at a quarry that was full of sandhills that was an hour and a half away from home in Gothenburg. It was a hard way to train in the summer because it consists of huge sandhills. When you're running in straight lines, in sand, it's not easy. You have to run up and sometimes get stuck. It helps build the body and it's mentally challenging."

 

What other non-hockey athletes do you enjoy watching? Also, rumor has it you were a pretty good BMX biker. Is that true?

"I'm a fan of many great athletes. I played a lot of soccer as a kid and I'm a big fan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the L.A. Galaxy. He's a Swedish god in our country, such a good athlete. He's like the (Lionel) Messi of Sweden. And everyone knows Messi is one of the greatest soccer players in history. As far as biking goes, I don't think I do great things on the bike. I just like jumping high."

 

Do you think you play this game with an edge, and what type of shot do you prefer from the point when you get an opportunity?

"Of course, I love to compete. It's how I've played the game my whole life. I know you have to give it your all if you want to win. My favorite shot from the point is a hard one-timer; that's the coolest way to score a goal. It doesn't matter if the coach puts me on the left or right point because I can play both sides. I will do my best in any situation."

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