| Tue 19/06/2018 - 03:58 EDT

2018 NHL Draft: Rasmus Dahlin and Franchise-Changing Defensemen

2018 NHL Draft: Rasmus Dahlin and Franchise-Changing Defensemen

Rasmus Dahlin Will Be A Turning Point for Sabres Franchise 

After a decade of disappointment, the Buffalo Sabres finally have a ray of hope in the form of Rasmus Dahlin. Last May, the Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery and will pick first overall for the first time since 1987. The 18-year-old Swede is considered a rare game-changing defenseman and will help resurrect the long-stagnant franchise.

Dahlin has drawn comparisons to other great Swedish defensemen like Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman but he has looked better than both when they were at this age. Dahlin already looks ready to contribute and will be a staple in the Buffalo blue line as soon as the season opener.

TSN's hockey expert Bob McKenzie compared Dahlin to a talent akin to a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews and both players managed to pull their respective teams to the playoffs. Dahlin may not match their gaudy numbers but will be a key player as Buffalo contends for a playoff spot. 

The Sabres remain on the outside as far as making the playoffs and are longshots to win the Stanley Cup. But drafting Dahlin to go along with burgeoning young talents like Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo is quickly shaping to be a future bandwagon team.

Buffalo Sabres (+6600)

It's rare to have franchise-altering defensemen but there have been few who were drafted and became key players as their teams won multiple Stanley Cups. Here are three from the last 40 years:

All odds via SportsInteraction:

Denis Potvin

The start of the New York Islanders rise from struggling expansion team to dynasty started in drafting Dennis Potvin, who became just the third defenseman drafted first overall. Isles general manager Bill Torrey had the option of trading him to Montreal in exchange for proven veterans but wisely turned it down.

Potvin became the next great defenseman and won the Calder trophy as the best rookie. After Bobby Orr retired, he was widely considered as the league's best blueliner and won the James Norris trophy as the top defenseman at just 22-years-old. 

The Isles went from the worst team in NHL history to come within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals in just Potvin's second year. After adding more stars like Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups establishing themselves as the dynasty of the early 80s.

Potvin would retire with 310 goals, 742 assists, and 1052 points, all NHL records at the time. He also won two more Norris trophies and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

New York Islanders (+6000)

Scott Niedermayer

The smooth-skating defenseman was drafted third overall by New Jersey in 1991, which coincidentally solidified their status as the Detroit Red Wings of the Eastern Conference. The Devils were already perennial playoff contenders but this was the beginning of their ascent into becoming Stanley Cup threats. 

Niedermayer made an immediate impact scoring 40 points in 80 games the following season and with the acquisition of the hard-hitting Scott Stevens, the Devils had the best defensive pair in the league. Along with superstar goaltender Martin Brodeur and clutch forwards, they went on to win three Stanley Cups in eight seasons. 

Following his stint in Jersey, Niedermayer went on to Anaheim to once again win the Stanley Cup with his brother Rob. New Jersey remained Stanley Cup contenders but never won the cup again. 

On top of his four cups, Niedermayer retired with a Norris trophy, a Conn Smythe, and two Olympic gold medals going down as one of the best all-around defensemen in league history. 

New Jersey Devils (+4000)

Drew Doughty

Doughty was taken second overall in the 2008 draft just behind Steven Stamkos. He was the first of four defensemen taken in the first five picks. His effectiveness in transition was evident from his rookie season and he was quickly selected as one of seven defensemen to represent Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics.

At the time he was drafted, the Kings had missed the playoffs in the last five seasons and only won one playoff series in the last 14. They still struggled during his rookie season but quickly turned it around going from 79 points to 101 in just a season's difference.

Doughty anchored the Kings' blueline and together with fellow stars Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick propelled LA to Stanley Cup contender status. Adding Jeff Green pushed them over the edge and they ended the franchise's 45-year cup drought (tied for longest at the time). Two seasons later, they repeated as champs.

At 28, Doughty remains one of the game's top defensemen. He is a perennial Norris trophy finalist having won it in 2014-15. Any team he's part of will most likely be a title contender.

Los Angeles Kings (+3000)

Best Canadian Sportsbooks for NHL and Hockey

Canadians can catch the NHL Draft on TSN from June 22-23. Rasmus Dahlin isn't the only bluechip prospect worth paying attention to. Like most things hockey, online sportsbooks continue to cater to Canadians looking to place some wagers during the draft, the offseason, and onwards.

Category : NHL

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