Best player meet greatest need
It really is uncommon for the best player available to match perfectly with the greatest organizational need, even for the cellar dwellers that have the #1 pick. It is truly rare for that to happen when player and need are an NHL defenseman. Fortunately for the Buffalo Sabres that is where fate finds them at the 2018 draft. The Sabres have been attempting a rebuild since finally jettisoning Darcy Regier in 2013 and though there are high quality players in the organization it has not yet resulted in a finish outside the bottom 8 basement, much less a playoff team. A big part of that lack of success has been a moribund blueline where only Rasmus Ristolainen has shined and even he has seen far too many minutes in his young career. Now that the draft lottery odds have smiled upon Buffalo and left them with the #1 pick, it comes in a year where Rasmus Dahlin has established himself as the clear top prospect and plays the kind of D that the modern NHL demands. With a flowing, skating, offensive bent to his game Dahlin is built for the current era where play streams ahead from the back end. In contrast to the other defensemen likely to go in the top 10 he also has good size at 6-foot-3 which further boosts his stock for a long career no matter where the game trends. While Jack Eichel may turn out to be a truly great player and Hall of Famer, his presence alone will not rise the Sabres from the dregs of the league. With Eichel, Reinhart, and Ristolainen already established in the NHL and Mittelstadt, Nylander, and Guhle on their way up there is already promise on this team. Meshing that with veterans like O’Reilly and Okposo is a decent recipe, but Dahlin may be the missing ingredient that not only lifts the Sabres up, but moves them past the Oilers and Maple Leafs due to a newfound balance of forwards and defenseman.
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