Tag: Rasmus Dahlin

Rasmus Dahlin named Rookie of the Month (November)

It is probably hard to forget about Dahlin but with the Sabres recent success there has not been a ton of buzz circulating around the first overall pick. With the Sabres 10-game win streak and top-five ranking in the NHL, we cannot forget about one of the reasons the Sabres have been so good this year. 

As we are remembered that although Dahlin is behind Elias Pettersson by 8 points for the rookie lead in points. Dahlin was recently crowned rookie of the month for November. In the month Dahlin managed one goal and nine assists in 15 games. Dahlin has not been a human highlight reel in the NHL like he was in international play last season but the rookie is a major reason the Sabres are 17-7-3 with 37 points tied for first with Tampa Bay. Just the sheer fact that at 18-years-old Dahlin can be an impactful player and play many roles on the Sabres blue line adds a ton of depth and versatility to the Sabres defense now. This sure won’t be the last time we hear Dahlin’s name in relation to the NHL acclamation’s/awards. Dahlin is tied for 23rd in the NHL among the point leaders for defenseman. 

Sabres win six straight, two points behind Toronto for the Atlantic lead

The story of the NHL this season, the Buffalo Sabres and their 28 points in 21 games. They have won six straight and head back home for two games vs the Flyers and Canadiens. The Sabres sixth straight win and 13th on the year came off the stick of captain Jack Eichel in overtime. The Sabres fell into a three goal hole early in the second period. They trailed the Penguins 4-1 with nine minutes remaining in the second.

Note: Three goals this game came off the fault of rookie Rasmus Dahlin (1) Derek Brassard beat him to the inside cause he was caught cheating. (3) Bad front net positioning and kicked the puck the Jake Guentzel. (4) Shot from the point from Penguins Jack Johnson again Dahlin could not get good front net positioning, didn’t tie up the forward and Tanner Pearson scored. 

The Sabres quickly answered back with a goal from defenseman Zach Bogosian. Off a Jack Eichel forecheck and Jeff Skinner puck protection/foot work, Bogosian stepped in and let one loose to make it 4-2. 

The Sabres struck late in the second period off a broken play, Sabres defenseman took a shot form the point and what looked like Conor Sheary tipped it, it seemed it hit off the skate of defenseman Jack Johnson infront to make it 4-3. 

Mid way through the third the Sabres tied it off a terrible break out attempt by the Penguins that led to open ice for Casey Mittelstadt and sure goal with the amount of room he had. Mittelstadt tied the game at four. Note: that was the Penguins second break out blunder that lead to a Sabres goal. (1) Penguins forward tried to chip the puck out was kept in to Sam Reinhart to Tage Thompson. (4) Again a bad break out attempt on the wall that lead to a keep in by Dahlin to Kyle Okposo and Mittelstadt goal. 

Eventually the game would go to overtime which only needed about 40 seconds as Evgeni Malkin was entering the zone and tried to delay for time in the neutral zone, coughed the puck up Ristolainen passed to Jack Eichel for the game winner and the Sabres sixth win. 

NHL News: Is it to early to jump the gun on the Buffalo Sabres?

I am ready to throw off a knee-jerk reaction, the Sabres are legit. They are making the playoffs, the wild card or three seed in the Atlantic. Going to lose in the first round, get back to the drawing board. Cup Champions in 2020. Well, that escalated quickly.

Buffalo Sabres team stats

In all reality though the Sabres have looked exceptional this season. They rank FIFTH in the NHL in points right now with 24 points. They sit 18th in the NHL in goals for(55), 18th in goals against(54). Only average 2.89 goals for per game(21st), allow just 2.84 goals against per game. Have the 20th ranked power play(18.5), 9th ranked penalty kill(82.1). As you can tell by the numbers they are a middle of the pack team performing at a crazy rate. In my eyes this is a HUGE step forward for the Sabres. They allow just 2.84 goals against, they used to be one of the worst ranked teams in the league. Last year they allowed 3.39 goals per game and only scored 2.41 goals for.

It is still early in the year but the Sabres newly formed blue line of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, a healthy Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella and a third line of Rasmus Dahlin and Nathan Beaulieu this blue line is deep and it is because of two reasons. The addition of Dahlin and emergence of McCabe. Not to mention , Carter Huttons 2.48 goals against and the Sabres forward line one of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart can have some credit to. The Sabres have not seen this much production from a line since maybe coach Phil Housley was on the team. 

Sabres second/third line depth

We can also mention that the Sabres have three forward lines that can score and no line is ever a liability out there. With Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, James Pominville, Kyle Okposo, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka. The Sabres do not need to worry about line one doing all the work anymore. When you have 10 players with 6+ points and Jack Eichel is not your only guy with 20+ points on the year it makes it a lot easier to win games. 

The Sabres took two games from the best teams in the league, the Lightning Tuesday night and Winnipeg Friday night. They have Minnesota Friday night and the remaining of their November schedule looks like the Penguins, Red Wings, Flyers, Canadiens, Sharks, Lightning and Panthers. They play four road games in the remainder of November but the Sabres can very well come out of November into December with some confidence and a serious shot at the wildcard/postseason play.

Fantasy Hockey rookies looking to make an impact from the start

Rasmus Dahlin (D, BUF): The sky is the limit with this rookie defenseman, being compared to Nicklas Lidstrom and one of the best defenseman to emerge in the league in quite sometime has set others on their high horse about Dahlin. He will 100 percent play right away too, and right in the top four mix. Dahlin is slotted on line two right now with Zach Bogosian. These two will be eating up 20+ minutes per game, while Dahlin will also be working on power play with Rasmus Ristolanien. Dahlin as we all know is a very solid offensive defenseman, who will learn the importance of being as solid on both ends of the puck early on. He picks up on things quickly and is an extremely quick learner. While he may not be the biggest guy on the ice, he is not afraid to be physical although his speed and awareness is the biggest part of his game. Dahlin is capable of 45 plus points this season and an early Calder favorite.

Andrei Svechnikov (RW, CAR): The second most highly sought after rookie coming into the draft, the Hurricanes number two overall pick and top three forward will be thrown into the mix right away. Svechnikov is coming off a 40 goal season in the OHL with the Barrie Colts and 11 points in 8 playoff games with Barrie as well. Svechnikov played in 16 International games between the U18 and U20 Russian team and in those 16 games he collected a total of 20 points. This is a good sign for Carolina as they may be able to add another scoring forward to their offense to help supplement Sebastian Aho as well. Svechnikov is slotted with Aho and other Russian counter part Valentin Zykov as well. Between seeing first line time and power play time, Svechnikov has the potential for a big rookie season a player you for sure will keep an eye on in the draft.

Brady-Tkachuk-SenatorsBrady Tkachuk (LW, OTT): After telling Boston University he intends to sign with Ottawa for the 2018-19 season and signing an entry level deal it is apparent Tkachuk wants to make an impact on the Senators line up right away. Withdrawing from BU and jumping into the NHL will be a big transition for the young forward. Tkachuk is coming off a 31 point season in 40 games with BU and 9 points in 7 games with USA’s U20 team during the World Juniors. Tkachuk is a little different than the Tkachuk we know on Calgary, Brady is more of a playmaking, scoring type of forward, where his brother is known for his offensive ability as well as his on-ice antics. Brady is slotted with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ryan Dzingel as well as the second power play right now. Tkachuk may not have the best tools around him but he does have some solid line mates to help him ease his way into his first year, to start Tkachuk may be a little snake bitten but once he gets comfortable I think we can expect a 35 point season out of him.

Filip Zadina (RW, DET): This kid is on a mission. With a couple teams passing on Zadina and falling to sixth overall Zadina even said he is out to make those who passed on him feel sorry for it. Zadina is an all around forward who can play two sides of the puck very well while also being a dynamic goal scorer. Zadina is coming off a 44 goal and 82 point season in 57 games with Halifax in the QMJHL. He has signed with Detroit and as of now he is slotted to make the opening day roster but we may not know about Zadina’s situation until early September. Zadina could potentially play with Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Vanek or Henrik Zetterberg a lot of question marks for this roster. Either way, if Zadina is playing with a puck moving forward and someone able to help the scoring winger get his chances we may see a solid first year out of Zadina. If he does play the full 82 games Zadina has potential for a 40 plus point year.

Elias Pettersson (C/RW, VAN): The 2017 5th overall draft pick, spent his time in the SHL last season 56 points in 44 games. After a full year of development and Vancouver scouts analyzing his game it is apparent they believe Pettersson is ready for the next level. We saw a lot of Pettersson during International play where he tallied 14 points in 21 games. Pettersson is a very solid forward with ability to play all three zones, luckily he will be with other young prospect Jonathan Dahlen and veteran Loui Eriksson to start. If Dahlen and Pettersson get off on the right foot they will be making noise from the start. Being on a team like Vancouver is tough but Pettersson is capable of being a top six forward in Vancouver for many years and a player we will being hear a lot of over the next few years.

Eeli Tolvanen Nashville PredatorsEeli Tolvanen (LW, NSH): Tolvanen was drafted late in the first round in 2017, and being on a team like Nashville it is tough to crack that line up. Tolvanen played a few games late in the year last season and some playoff games but not enough to get an idea of what type of NHL player he. Tolvanen is slotted on the third line with Ryan Hartman and Nick Bonino, two very solid counter parts for the young forward. During the 2017-18 season he played in the KHL scoring 36 points in 49 games, and most known for his World Junior play with Finland. Tolvanen is a little under sized but being on a team like Nashville will really help his confidence and development. If all goes right and he sticks in  the NHL next season Tolvanen could be a solid 3rd line 35 point guy next season.

Casey Mittlestadt (C, BUF): Mittlestadt spent his time last year with the University of Minnesota, the highly sought after prospect went 8th overall to Buffalo in 2017. Being passed by some teams due to size and physical ability, Mittlestadt will have a lot to prove at the NHL level. As Buffalo continues to improve on both ends of the puck this is an exciting time for Buffalo fans and players. Mittlestadt emerges at the same time as Dahlin so the attention may not be all on him, which is a good thing. Right now he is slotted next to Connor Sheary, a player who learned a lot from the best forward in hockey and Kyle Okposo a veteran, will be good for Mittlestadt. Mittlestadt played in six games last season scoring 1 goal and 4 assists, as well as 30 points in 34 games with Minnesota and being the MVP of the World Juniors tallying 11 points in 7 games. Mittlestadt will be a sure fantasy option next year for teams, he may get off to a slow start, or “slower” start than many expect but when he gets situated and settles in look for a solid 50 point season out of Mittlestadt.

Potential to crack the line up

  • Quinn Hughes (D, VAN): Drafted by Vancouver in the first round in 2018, Hughes has potential to crack the line up due to Vancouver lacking defensive depth but it may be best for the young defenseman to develop a little more and see more minutes at the NCAA level.
  • Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C, MTL): The most infamous pick of the draft as the Canadiens really stretched on Kotkaniemi it would be weird to not see him on the Canadiens roster as their offense has very little depth and they could some more solid center pieces. 
  • Noah Dobson (D, NYI): Maybe late in the season but the Islanders are in no rush with Dobson as they know this kid will be a solid counter part to Ryan Pulock and the Islanders defense.
  • Oliver Wahlstrom (RW, NYI): No rush here with all the Islanders offensive prospects but Wahlstrom did sign an entry level deal and we may see him later in the season.
  • Adam Boqvist (D, CHI): As the biggest reason Chicago failed last season was due to lack of defensive depth it may be smart to play Boqvist but as the young defenseman is ready for the NHL level it may best to let him see more minutes elsewhere.

 

Buffalo acquires Jeff Skinner; Sabres top six lining up nicely…

The Sabres had a similar offseason plan last year, they stacked up some solid defensive pieces, acquired two forwards and hoped for a better season, yet they fell short by a long shot ranking 31st in the NHL with 25 wins and 62 points.

The Sabres have this sort of persona to them that people know they can be a legitimate team but it seems like year in and year out they deal with injuries or have some issue. Last year it was Robin Lehner not rising to the occasion, Zach Bogosian missing 64 games, Ramus Ristolainen missing a few games, Jack Eichel missing 15 games, players like James Pominville falling short, Kyle Okposo still not rising to the occasion. Well this year, it seems a bit different for Buffalo they have players to replace those struggling veterans on their team now and a pretty solid line one and top nine also.

Sabres offense has high expectations with all the talent added…

Jeff Skinner Buffalo SabresWith the addition of now Jeff Skinner, who will more than likely play along Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, this could finally be the year, Eichel does not fall apart mentally and actually has someone to look forward to playing with. This could be Eichel’s 30-goal season we’ve all been waiting for! Skinner will bring a ton of speed and be a great line mate for Eichel, he has scored 30+ in his career three times and 20+ three times so he can surely put the puck in the back of the net. Also with Connor Sheary, it may help bump Okposo down or give him something to play for, with a line two looking like rookie sensation Casey Mittlestadt, Connor Sheary and Kyle Okposo the Sabres have another scoring line. With a third line of Patrick Berglund, Evan Rodrigues/Vladimir Sobotka and James Pominville there is a ton of moving pieces in this line up something the Sabres never had.

Carter Hutton will have his hands full… is he ready? 

Carter Hutton Buffalo SabresA lot of the pressure will be on the offense to produce but the Sabres will need a full and healthy season out of Zach Bogosian, Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella, these three combined last year for 63 points. Hopefully the addition of Swedish star Rasmus Dahlin will really push this defense in a new direction. A lot will come on the shoulders of Carter Hutton though, the Sabres newly acquired goaltender will have high expectations heading into this year. With the addition of Mittlestadt, Dahlin and Skinner the Sabres are hoping for a MUCH better season than last. Hutton will have his hands full next season with an easy 50 plus starts coming his way. After a 26 start season Hutton will be looking at a lot more work in Buffalo, to say the goalie cannot do it is one thing but we have to assume Hutton may not be the goaltender many are expecting him to be.

Predictions? 

If Ottawa continues down this direction and Montreal does not get any better the Sabres could possibly make a 6th maybe even 5th place finish for the year. I could easily see the Sabres with 75 points, a couple of games under .500. The playoffs may not be in reach yet due to Toronto, Boston and Tampa Bay still being much better than Buffalo but things are on the up let’s say this, Buffalo will make the playoffs by 2020.

Biggest winners and losers of the 2018 NHL Draft first round

As expected the horse Rasmus Dhalin landed in Buffalo first overall, the second pick went on par with how we all thought it was going to with Andrei Svechnikov to Carolina but basically from there on it was a bit of a roller coaster. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers of the 2018 NHL draft first round.

Winners…

New York Islanders: Islanders steal Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson back to back is a huge grab for the young and upcoming franchise. The Islanders capitalized on the Rangers stretch and will hope that their top first-round picks come to haunt the Rangers in years to come.

Buffalo Sabres: Walking away with a generational talent and franchise defenseman is a win in anyone’s books. Dahlin going to the Sabres is huge for this organization as they now have Eichel, Mittlestadt, Ristolanien, and Dahlin to be the face of this franchise.

Detroit Red Wings: Stealing Zadina at number 6 as he was projected to be a #3 overall choice is huge for the Red Wings. As they now receive an elite goal scorer and projected top three forward, the Red Wings are happy for sure. As well as snagging Joel Veleno at number 30 was a win, Veleno was expected to be a top ten pick but his draft stock rapidly as the draft went on. A huge win for Detroit here.

Surprises of the top ten…

Out of the first round the biggest surprise had to be Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Montreal although they did say they were going to go after him it was a bit odd they did not wait on him a bit as he may have been later in the draft. Along with the Coyotes drafting yet another center in Barrett Hayton passing on Filip Zadina and other solid wingers in this draft. The biggest surprise in the top ten was the Rangers drafting KHL rookie Vitali Kravstov, while Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom were still on the board. A stretch of a pick two years in a row by the Rangers, somebody better hope these Rangers scouts know something none of us know about their last two top ten draft picks because if they do not pan out it will look almost as bad as the Dylan Mclirath and Al Montaya picks.

Losers…

Ottawa Senators: Ottawa stretched big time in the first round with Jacob Bernard-Docker, not something you want to see out of Ottawa after everything that is going on with this team. Luckily they walk away with Brady Tkachuk but still, they could have waited on Docker a bit.

Philadelphia Flyers: Joel Farabee was a solid choice as he is going to be a very solid addition to their forward group but Jay O’Brien 5 picks later was not what many expected the Flyers to do. A big stretch from the Flyers but luckily O’Brien has some upside.

New York Rangers: Taking Vitali Kravstov at 9 was not what anyone in the world expected, passing on two sure talents and proven prospects in Wahlstrom and Dobson may come back to bite the Rangers. Luckily there is a lot of upside to Kravtsov and they did hit the mark on K’Andre Miller but also did again stretch a bit with their 28th overall choice taking Nils Lundkvist. It was clear the Rangers had one thing on their mind going into yesterday’s first round, they wanted upside and to take gambles. See how it works out.

Noticeable players left on the board…

Serron Noel- RW out of OHL Oshawa General tallying 53 points in 62 games. Also playing for Canada’s U18 team this past World Juniors. Noel was ranked 19 by Bob McKenzie and within the top 20 by other scouts but landed out of the first round now.

Bode Wilde- D out of USA U18 National team scoring 41 points in 61 games as a defenseman is quite the mark. Wilde also played for USA U18 World Juniors this past year. Wilde was ranked to be within the top-20 this draft but fell out of the first round.

Ryan McLeod- C out of Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL scoring 70 points in 68 games with 26 goals. McLeod brother of Mike (New Jersey Devils prospect) was projected to go within the 20-31 range but fell as well.

Mattias Samuelsson- D out of USA U18 National team playing in 58 games scoring 31 points as well as playing for the U18 team at the World Juniors tallying only 2 points in 7 games. Samuelsson is a Western Michigan University commit as he will play for them in the 2018-19 season. Samuelsson was a projected second-round pick but could have been a stretch for some. Still, he holds a ton of talent with his 6’4 frame and heavy lefty shot.

What went wrong: Buffalo Sabres

Well here they are again, on the what went wrong platform. Maybe, and I know this may be hard for some of you to handle but maybe, just maybe Buffalo actually just sucks. No that couldn’t possibly be it because they have the talent to get it done. So why has it not got “done”, well because they are terrible plain and simple.

On the bright side, the Sabres have one thing going for them though drafting Rasmus Dahlin with the 1st overall pick, the only thing for the Sabres is Dahlin and Eichel right now. But the Sabres finished 31st in the NHL posting a 25-45-12 record ranking 31st in goals for(198), 3rd in goals against(278)22nd in penalty kill percentage(77.9), 20th in power play percentage(19.1). All in all the Sabres again struggled and have nothing but excuses for another poor season. Some of the reasons Buffalo went down the loser side again is because of…

What went wrong…

(1) A new coach, I’ll give them that, they were dealing with a different coach, different systems and it is tough to adjust quickly on the fly under new management especially when your team is battling injuries the coach has to make adjustments based off players he does not know too well, it’s tough so they’ll get the fact Phil Housley was new, but no excuses next year.

NHL Buffalo Sabres(2) Another year of under performing by Robin Lehner. For some reason and I fully back this because I thought Lehner was going to be better but a lot of people thought like “oh Lehner is at the brink of a new deal hes playing for a contract hes going to perform this year.” What were we thinking, he definitely wants to leave Buffalo so he played a mediocre season and said alright I’m ready to go, which also played into Buffalo’s poor season. Lehner posted a 14-26-9 with a 3.01 GAA and .908 save percentage. Pretty bad numbers for a starting goalie, but he is not all to blame but definitely a piece to the messy pie in Buffalo.

(3) James Pominville, Kyle Okposo, Josh Gorges, Marco Scandella, Benoit Poulit all did nothing this year some of these players Buffalo signed to make a difference and help them be more competitive but they did the opposite. Okposo posted 44 points in 76 games, Pominville 34 in 82 games, that’s real bad, Scandella 22 points, -15 in 82 games, Poulit 19 points in 74 games I mean three forwards that were suppose to be veteran guys just did not get the job done. Something needs to be re tooled in Buffalo maybe the veteran style is not what you need anymore, I mean only every other team in the NHL has realized that by now, but we’ll wait for you to catch on Buff.

(4) Eichel and Ristolainen not playing full years, these are Buffalo’s two best players, and Eichel has played now one full season his rookie year but the last two years have been cut short due to injuries, and when he is playing he makes an impact surely, not having this guy for 15 games will play a factor into your teams success. Ristolainen as well has played 2 full seasons in his five years, and if he did not get hurt this year would have been on his way to a career high points. 41 points in 73 games for a defenseman is pretty solid numbers especially when that’s a Buffalo defenseman.

Really there is not much to say about the Sabres I think we touched on all the major reasons, they had a poor defense, very little offensive production, a new coach, an under performing goalie and yet again high expectations that should not be placed on them.

Will things get better next year for Buffalo?

mittel-500x281Probably… I mean they are getting Dahlin, Eichel back healthy, hopefully a healthy Ristolianen, paired with Dahlin will be awesome to watch. They have Ryan O’Reilly who can be a solid top center in the league, he did come out and say he was dealing with personal struggles this year. Casey Mittlestadt coming up, Alex Nylander, Even Rodrigues who played some NHL time last year so he has experience under his belt now, Cliff Pu and a list of other prospects who can be of use for this Sabres team. How much better not a lot probably, they will be in the basement again I would say, maybe a little higher in their division, but around 10 games below .500 which is great for Buffalo but nothing special.

Off-season outlook 

Sign a goalie: Lehner’s contract expired so either resign(don’t do) or find someone else. Chad Johnson’s contract is up as well. Carter Hutton, Jaroslav Halak, Jonathan Brenier, Eddie Lack, Anton Khubdoin are all available so one someone needs to be landed. Will they be the answer to the goalie sitaution, probably not. Maybe a trade will do?

They need to resign Sam Reinhart and Viktor Antipin now while keeping in mind, Rodrigues, Larsson, Pomminville, Girgensons in 2019-20 so they are going to be doing some re-tooling. Would not be surprised if Reinhart is traded or not resigned by the way.

Develop your young players and actually play Mittlestadt, Rodrigues, Pu, Nylander, Dahlin, Eichel all year and don’t swap them out when they are doing badly for two games.