Buffalo Sabers Player Season Report Card: Rasmus Dahlin

Going through three different coaches is tough for any young player, but going from one to the next was no more of a rollercoaster ride for anyone on the Buffalo Sabers than it was for Rasmus Dahlin. He came to the League with every conceivable praise; Draw comparisons to Niklas Liedstrom and even Eric Carlson. By the third year of his career, he had lost nearly every semblance of his amid the appointment of Ralph Krueger and former coach Phil Husley’s lead faded. Once Krueger was sacked last season and current coach Don Granato took over, Dahlin seemed to find himself once again.

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.

Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabers gets a chance on Peter Mrazek of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2022 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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.

Rasmus Dahlin Buffalo Saber
Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabers (Amy Irvine/The Hockey Book)

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.

  • Scoring:
  • Play Industry: A +
  • Driving: b
  • Defense: B +
  • Teamwork:

Dahlin’s outlook

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.

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.

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