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NHL Combine

NHL Scouting Combine, Day One: Dahlin remains in spotlight

Defenseman expected to be first pick in 2018 Draft by Sabres; Svechnikov, CHL's top prospect of year, has busy schedule

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

The 2018 NHL Scouting Combine is taking place this week at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo. The combine will allow NHL teams an opportunity to conduct interviews and provide physical and medical assessments of 104 prospects eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. NHL.com will bring you all the sights and sounds.

BUFFALO -- Rasmus Dahlin, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, said he was nervous in the early stages of interviews with NHL teams to begin the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine on Monday.

The 18-year-old defenseman, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of International skaters eligible for the 2018 draft, is in the spotlight as one of 104 players invited to the combine at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter this week.

Dahlin (6-foot-2, 181 pounds), who played for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League, has nine scheduled interviews, including Wednesday with the Buffalo Sabres, who have the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Carolina Hurricanes have the No. 2 pick, and the Montreal Canadiens have the No. 3 selection.

 

[RELATED: Dahlin expected to be No. 1 pick in 2018 NHL Draft]

 

"I just want to show who I am; just be myself," said Dahlin, who shoots left-handed. "I was nervous in the beginning, but when you get into the conversation, you're not as nervous anymore. Of course, I want to get good results with the testing (on Saturday). But back home in Sweden, we trained to get stronger every day, so I'm confident."

NHL teams have the opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the invited prospects at KeyBank Center, Monday through Friday. Medical examinations for each player will be done Wednesday, and eight of the 11 fitness tests will take place Saturday at HarborCenter.

"I'm looking forward to all the interviews here at the combine," Dahlin said. "I'm happy to have a chance to talk with all of the teams."

The breakdown of combine invites includes 82 of the top North American prospects and 22 top international prospects. There are 60 forwards, 37 defensemen and seven goaltenders.

The 2018 draft will take place at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23.

Here are four takeaways from Day One at the Combine Monday:

 

1. First-round feedback

Barrie right wing Andrei Svechnikov, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, has 11 interviews this week.

Svechnikov (6-2, 188) was named the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospect of the Year on Saturday. He led all rookies in the Ontario Hockey League with 72 points (40 goals, 32 assists) in 44 regular-season games. He missed 17 games after injuring his hand Oct. 14 and had 58 points (30 goals, 28 assists) in 34 games after returning from the injury.

"It was a great season in Barrie and I adjusted pretty quick," Svechnikov said. "Winning the prospect of the year was huge for my confidence. It was a long season but I got the trophy and now the draft will be exciting and I'm looking forwards to seeing what team selects me. I'll just give it my best shot."

 

2. Scouts honor

Dallas Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell believes Dahlin will have an immediate NHL impact.

"It's becoming a young man's game now, with the salary cap," McDonnell said. "It's something where young kids can come in with the way the rules are and size isn't even an issue for anybody. The strength might be, but they're going to get better as they get older just because they're going to get stronger. But I have no doubt Dahlin will step in next year and have an impact; no question about that."

 

3. Top underrated prospect

Forward Philipp Kurashev (6-foot, 190), No. 61 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, had 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 59 regular-season games in his second season with Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He's a playmaker with a great shot; his slap shot registered at 98 mph in Quebec's 2017 skills competition.

Kurashev, who had three points in five games for Switzerland at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, skated on a line with New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier for Bern Under-20 in Switzerland's Elite Junior A League in 2014-15. 

"We're good friends," Kurashev said of Hischier, who was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. "We had a good connection together. It doesn't surprise me all the success he's had."

 

4. Question of the day

Niagara center Akil Thomas, No. 15 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, was asked if he would rather play one year in the NHL and win the Stanley Cup, or 10 years and never win it.

"Kind of interesting to think about because everyone wants to play in the NHL to win the Stanley Cup but then it's one year and you're done," Thomas (5-11, 171) said. "My response was to play 10 years because if I played 10 years I'd be making a career out of hockey and doing the job I love. If I only played one year, I would have to make a career out of something that maybe I didn't love as much as hockey."

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