Granato has shown time and time again that he can bring out the best in his players, and that he can take advantage of their talents and build on them. With Dahlin, he did all this and more. Under Kruger, Dahlin was stuck in a purely defensive role, forced to let plays happen in front of him rather than being the one setting things up. Under Granato’s leadership, Dahlin’s creativity has returned and he is back to experimenting with jaw-dropping motions, delivering some great plays. This season has been the real showcase of what he’s capable of, and where his development is heading. It’s something Sabers fans should be excited about, as Dahlin’s magical hands will make even Pavel Datsyuk’s jaw drop.
Dylan’s optimistic forecast
Last season, as soon as Granato asked Dahlin to play his game, I felt he had unleashed him. There is no longer any hesitation. He put his legs under it and it made a world of difference earlier this year. With Traded for the 2021 Draft to the Flyers, Rasmus Ristolainen has had the opportunity to become the Sabers’ best defender and establish his own role on the team. This translated into a consistent contract extension that “proves it” written all over it.
During the off period, he seemed to be working on his skate more as his transformation improved significantly. He had a new leap in his stride as he was no longer obscured by another star or high-ranking players. He can take the reins and firmly establish himself as one of the best players overall on the team. Once the Jack Eichel trade was made, it seemed like a weight was lifted from his shoulders, and his expectations only rose for the rest of the year.
Dahlin year of awards
From the start, Dahlin had some difficulties with his defensive play, but his offensive instincts were set to 11. He was preparing things to his end and finishing plays at the opposite end, as he began to look like a player who was drafted first overall. He was clearly in the area every night trying to put on the best plays possible, and was offensive. Early in the year, he was one of the Saber’s biggest defensive opponents, but as the year progressed and gained more confidence, Dahlin found himself a reliable two-way defender.
This all came together to give Dahlin his career peaks in all of the major offensive categories. By the end of the season, he had a total of 13 goals, 40 assists, and 53 points. These numbers combined with his growing national popularity earned him a place in the NHL All Star Game as a representative for the Sabers.
It’s all come together under Granato’s leadership for Dahlin this season. He brought out his effortless reel playing, became a consistent defensive choice, and made his stride on just about everything on the ice. This made a difference to everyone around him and allowed the technical staff to confidently put anyone into the defensive duo.
Final season scores
There have been so many good things for Dahlin to close this season that his start is easily overlooked. He’s done the work and improved ten times what he was showing just a year ago. His skating was amazing, but his speed could still be improved. His shot was more accurate and heavier than before, and his passing ability was something to admire. With all that being said, here’s what his final grades look like.
- Play Industry: A +
- Driving: b
- Defense: B +
If Dahlin continues to advance in his development, Sabers will have a stud on the blue line for many years to come. With the kinds of plays he does and the raw talent he possesses, he could easily find himself competing against Norris Trophy for the next two seasons. His offensive numbers will continue to rise, and his defensive numbers will definitely improve alongside them.
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He has proven himself as the defensive leader of the Sabers without any dispute. Next season’s numbers will be evidence of his growth. If he continued to improve his skating, rise a bit to be more physical, and manage to increase his speed, he would be a force to be reckoned with. Combine his talents with the growth of the rest of Cypress’ youthful core, and he’ll be one of the biggest pieces toward an inevitable watershed push.
I’ve been a fan of hockey and the Buffalo Sabers since I was in middle school. During the good times and the very bad times, I’ve been stuck by this team with the hope that one day we’ll be a force in the NHL. Now I join The Hockey Writers as I hope to talk about this team of Buffalo Sabers on the rise. I love this team with all my heart, and take pride in being able to know the players, the prospects and so much more. As a hockey fan, I have a special taste for young players and prospects; Doing mock drafts, looking up stats, guessing potential, and making comparisons between players, it’s all. The idea of a future skill in the NHL is one of my favorite things to think about, write about, and talk about. I’m also an avid NHL player with a top-ranked team in the “Threes Eliminator” mode.