Lundqvist on Dahlin: 'You could tell early he was something else'

June 13, 2018 - 12:34 pm

The Buffalo Sabres are just about one week away from selecting Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, Texas.

The hype surrounding Dahlin has escalated in Buffalo since the Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery back on April 28 after finishing as the worst team in the National Hockey League for the third time in five seasons.

For the last two seasons as a 16 and 17-year-old, Dahlin has been playing in the Swedish Hockey League with the Frölunda Indians in the country's top hockey league. It is often rare to see a player of Dahlin's age to play in the SHL full-time, let alone succeed as much as he did. In 67 regular season games with Frölunda, Dahlin has scored eight goals and registered 23 points, while adding four goals and eight points in 20 playoff games.

Joel Lundqvist has served as Frölunda's captain for the past 10 seasons, and was blown away by Dahlin when he first met the youngster a few years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden.

"You could tell early that he was something else," Lundqvist said with Jeremy White on WGR, Wednesday morning. "You heard a lot of good stuff about him. A few years ago, he came out and had his first practice with us in the Elite League. He did stuff right away that was like, 'Okay, this kid is something special.' From then, he's gotten better and better. This year, he matured a lot. He's a top player in Sweden. I'm excited to maybe have a No. 1 pick in the draft. Hopefully it's him."

Lundqvist is the twin brother of New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and had spent some time in the NHL with the Dallas Stars from 2006 to 2009. He has been around long enough to play with several players in his time both in the NHL and the SHL. When asked about playing with Dahlin in Frölunda, he said he has never seen another player of his skill set in his time in hockey.

"Not at that age," Lundqvist said. "I'm 36 now and I've seen a lot of young players coming up, but to play that good game-after-game when he was 16 and 17-years-old, I've never seen that before. He's got some extra talent for sure."

With the way that Dahlin has played over the past two years, and given his skill set, Lundqvist believes that he can make the transition to the NHL right away.

"He earned a spot with the Olympic team here this season, played some national teams games, and had a big part for our team this year. It was a really good year for him, but he's still young, he's going to improve and he going to get better. He's got all the skills to play in the NHL, for sure. I've played against a lot of different players over the years and how he moves, how he can see the ice is special. Of course he needs to improve some stuff, but I think he's ready to play for next year."

"It's a different game [in the NHL]. It's a lot of pressure, but I think he's been playing with pressure since he was 16. There's been a lot of talk about him, but of course there's going to be even more next year if he plays in the NHL. He's a smart kid, a smart player, and I think he will adjust to the game pretty quick. But, like I said, it's a lot of pressure on him, and hopefully they don't judge him after one or two games."

Lundqvist also gave his thoughts on Sabres forward Victor Olofsson, who was also a teammate of his in Frölunda over the past two years. Listen to the entire interview with Jeremy below:

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