DALLAS - An NHL-record 14 defensemen were selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft last night at American Airlines Center, starting at the top when the Sabres took Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 overall pick.
Dahlin became just the first Swedish player to be taken first overall (after Mats Sundin in 1989) and the third Sabre (after Gilbert Perreault in 1970 and Pierre Turgeon in 1987).
Here's what you need to know.
Video: RECAP: Sabres select Dahlin
For starters, be sure to check out all of our draft coverage presented by New Era over at our Drat Central hub. There's so much Dahlin-centric stuff you won't know where to begin. So let us help guide you through it…
Dahlin was thrilled in finally knowing for certain that his career will begin with the Sabres and in turn, the Sabres front office was ecstasic to have him join the organization.
"We're well aware we have a lot of work to be done here in Buffalo and it's been tough to be a Buffalo Sabres fan," Botterill said. "But today's not a day to look back on the past. Today is an exciting day for our organization.
" ... I think you've seen it in his quotes, how excited he is to come to the city, be a part of not only Buffalo, be a part of the Sabres organization, be a part of our community. And that gets the Pegulas and that gets me very excited."
Video: Jason Botterill After Round 1
Dahlin truly does seem pretty pumped about the prospect of living and playing in Buffalo, and meeting Sabres fans:
"It's been a long waiting and you can't really plan anything, but finally today, I can plan my future and I love to call my new town Buffalo," he said.
Sabres.com shadowed Dahlin throughout the night and you can read more about that here.
Video: Dahlin 1-on-1 with Duffer
So what can fans expect from Dahlin moving forward? Well, he may not be a box-office blockbuster right away…
…But he certainly has scouts and analysts all over the world getting their popcorn ready.
"If you didn't know how old he was, you would not say that that was a [teenage] defenseman," Craig Button, TSN's director of scouting, told Brian Duff. "It's one thing to have the obvious skills and to be able to master the game, handle the puck, skating. But his ability to understand what he can do and what he can't do, that's very uncommon for most players at that age.
"He's got a poise about him and an understanding of how he can make the play that is right in front of him at any time."
Back on the clock
The Sabres are slated to make six Day 2 selections:
- 2nd round, 32nd overall
- 4th round, 94th overall
- 4th round 117th overall (from Minnesota)
- 5th round, 125th overall
- 6th round, 156th overall
- 7th round, 187th overall
Round 2 starts at 11 a.m. ET and you can watch it on NHL Network. Buffalo is once again slated to open the day with the first pick, but that doesn't mean they won't take some phone calls on the 32nd overall pick.
"We'll go back, grab a bite to eat and reevaluate with our amateur staff," Botterill said last night. "We've always known at number 32 we're going to get a quality player. There's still some players that we're very excited about that are still on the board. We'll communicate that a little bit more make our decision."
SabresProspects.com's Kris Baker identified his Top 31 prospects for us and those still on the board include defenseman Bode Wilde (#18), defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (#20), center Jacob Olofsson (#21), center Akil Smith (#23), right wing Serron Noel (#26), defenseman Jared McIssac (#30), and defenseman Calen Addison (#31).
And from his Next Baker's Dozen list, there are plenty of quality players to choose from - just make sure you cross off centers Liam Foudy (drafted 18th overall by Columbus) and Jay O'Brien (drafted 19th overall by Philadelphia), and defensemen Jacob Bernard-Docker (drafted 26th overall by Ottawa) Nils Lundkvist (drafted 28th by Tampa), and Alexander Alexeyev (drafted 31st overall by Washington).
Looking back at Round 1, was Botterill surprised that there weren't any trades made until the Rangers moved up to pick No. 22?
"There's obviously a lot of talk. Sometimes things come to fruition, sometimes it's just nice talk that's going on out there," he said. "You never know what things are going to get set up possibly for tomorrow or even next week as we move forward. But I think it was a situation where maybe after the first couple picks, a lot of teams' lists were different. You can say, 'Oh, I'm surprised more teams didn't trade up,' but I also think a lot of teams just felt, 'Hey, I'm going to get one of the players that I really like if I just stay where I'm at.'"
Were the Sabres close to making any trades of their own?
"Nope," he said. "We certainly had communications throughout the day on some different things, but overall, we just enjoyed picking Rasmus."
Video: Jason Botterill Before The Draft
Botterill addressed the media yesterday morning and confirmed two reports that had been swirling. The first is that the team will not extend a qualifying offer to goaltender Robin Lehner, making him an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"It was a scenario where, you finish 31st, you have to make some difficult choices," Botterill said. "We have informed Robin that he will not be coming back next year. Part of it that was so disappointing and difficult was that I know Robin is passionate about the city of Buffalo, passionate about helping this organization. We felt we had to make some adjustments and that was one of the areas."
Linus Ullmark, who was named the Rochester Americans' Most Valuable Player last season, is expected to compete for the starting job in the fall. Botterill will be on the lookout for another netminder to add to the mix.
The Sabres will also not be using any buyouts this offseason.