At least one recent top-two pick wants to play for the Buffalo Sabres.
As training camps kicked off around the league this morning, the Sabres opened their first day back in action by announcing that defenceman, Rasmus Dahlin has agreed to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $6 million.
The first overall pick in the 2018 draft, Dahlin is coming off his third big league season, during which he somehow managed to post decent numbers on what may go down as one of the worst NHL teams to ever hit the ice.
Dahlin impressively racked up 23 points in 56 games for the moribund Sabres in 2021, generating even-strength offence at a particularly high rate given his surroundings while averaging the second-most ice time of anyone on his team.
At just 21 years old, the sky should seemingly be the limit for the young defender.
But it would also be fair to say that Dahlin hasn't necessarily taken the leap that many expected he would as a top pick. Dahlin's defensive numbers, for instance, have struggled mightily throughout his career to this point, holding him back from reaching the next level. And although the stat is massively flawed, Dahlin's -36 last season was the lowest plus/minus of any Sabre. By a wide margin, too.
Dahlin has the potential to be a number one defenseman. That fact is certain. But in the modern NHL, true number ones must at least grasp how to keep pucks out of their own net to some degree, no matter how good they are at putting them in their opponents'.
Mired in a Sabres organization that lacks any on-ice depth, developmental prowess or overall vision, that's not an easy task. But with a shiny new three-year deal, Dahlin now at least has the security in place to grow into his role.
He certainly has the talent. Now let's hope the Sabres can be smart enough to nurture it.