Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, a candidate to become the first Sweden-born player in 29 years to be chosen No. 1 in the NHL Draft, is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of international skaters.
The 2018 NHL Draft will be held June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Dahlin (6-foot-2, 181 pounds), 17, won a silver medal with Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship earlier this month and next will play for Sweden at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, which will take place Feb. 9-25.
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"Dahlin is the real deal and the clear-cut No. 1, pro-ready prospect for the 2018 Draft," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "His play at the World Junior Championship solidified that fact. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations.
"The icing on the cake with Dahlin is that he's an ultra-competitive player and the ultimate high-character person who leads by example."
The last Sweden-born player to be selected No. 1 was center Mats Sundin, by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.
Dahlin has 12 points (five goals, seven assists), 57 shots on goal, 24 hits and 25 blocked shots, and averages 19:11 in ice time in 30 games for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.
"He's a spectacular player," said Frolunda assistant coach Pär Johansson, who oversees the defensemen. "We were hoping and believing that he would make the Olympic team because I think he's good enough to play in that tournament, but it's a big thing for the national team to name a 17-year-old kid to the roster because we have a lot of good players. Knowing the type of player and person Rasmus is, he's going to do great too. I'm looking forward to watching him."
Dahlin is the youngest player on the Sweden Olympic roster by seven years.
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At the WJC, Dahlin had six points, all assists, 25 shots on goal and a plus-7 rating while averaging 23:08 of ice time in seven games. He was named the tournament's best defenseman.
"Dahlin is in a class of his own," said Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting. "Then it's wide open. There are no superstars outside of Dahlin but many good, reliable prospects."
Two other Sweden players are ranked behind Dahlin, defenseman Adam Boqvist of Brynas' team in Sweden's under-20 league, and Lulea center Isac Lundestrom.
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Boqvist (5-11, 168), a right-handed shot, currently is on loan from Brynas to Almtuna in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division. He missed time earlier this season because of a concussion, but is a dynamic talent. He has 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) for Brynas' under-20 team and had one assist and a minus-1 rating in eight games with Brynas in the SHL.
"He has a very good understanding of the game with tremendous on-ice awareness that allows him to move the puck extremely well," Stubb said. "He has a good shot and his overall skills are outstanding. He plays bigger than he is and that has resulted in some injury problems."
Lundestrom (6-0, 185), a left-hand shot, has 10 points (three goals, seven assists), 29 shots on goal, and a plus-2 rating while averaging 16:23 in ice time in 28 games for Lulea. He excelled on a checking line for Sweden at the 2018 WJC, and scored twice in a 3-2 win against Slovakia in the quarterfinals.
"He's a strong skater with a lot of speed, very poised and patient," Stubb said. "He's very responsible in all areas of the ice, is reliable and consistent."
The top international goalie is Jakub Skarek (6-3, 196) of Jihlava in the Czech Republic. An athletic, butterfly-style goalie, he is 7-11 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in 18 games. He played five games for Czech Republic at the 2018 WJC and had a 5.19 GAA and .848 save percentage.
"He was inconsistent at the World Juniors and is better than what he showed in that tournament," Stubb said. "He's as solid a competitor as you'll find among goalies."