Video: 20180601 - Combine Scrum - DahlinWhile the rest of the hockey world labels him as the consensus top prospect in this year's NHL Draft, Rasmus Dahlin is staying in the moment. But while the defenseman wouldn't go so far as to say he expects to wind up a Buffalo Sabre come June 22, he did say he'd welcome the opportunity.
"If I'm coming here, I would love to be here," Dahlin said. "I hear they have great fans and everyone loves hockey here. It seems like Buffalo is a great city."
Dahlin has spent the past week in Buffalo for the NHL Scouting Combine, which concludes with fitness testing at HarborCenter on Saturday. His week included a meeting with Sabres brass led by general manger Jason Botterill.
Video: 20180601 - Combine Scrum - Dahlin
Speaking to a large gathering of media on Friday, Dahlin displayed a balance of humility and confidence while fielding questions about his ability. He believes he can play in the NHL next season, but he blocks out the noise when it comes to being labeled a franchise-altering talent.
"I've learned not to think about it and just to focus on what I can do every day," Dahlin said. " ... [There's] so many other things to think about."
That mindset could have something to do with his development in Sweden, where he began his SHL career at age 16. NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr, who described Dahlin as the "undisputed top prospect" in the draft, said the defenseman's pro team, Frolunda, provided an ideal environment for him to grow.
"He hasn't been put on a pedestal there," Marr said. "You can see when he was with the men's team there, they didn't throw him into the fire. He had to earn his ice time and sometimes didn't play as much. That's a nice way to develop a young prospect."
Meanwhile, Dahlin said the opportunity to play with and against men paid dividends on the ice.
"Oh, I learned so many things," he said. "I was competing against men. It wasn't easy in the beginning. I learned, I did more weights and (worked on) my body. At the end of the season, I was feeling kind of comfortable on the ice. So, it was awesome last season."
He believes that experience has him prepared for the NHL, although he still believes he has room to grow, particularly in his own end. The one thing he can promise to bring to the team that drafts him?
"I'm a player that wants to win, hates to lose," he said. "I think I can just bring myself and my competitiveness."