It often takes at least a few years to grade a draft, and the Buffalo Sabres made what turned out to be an outstanding pick in Rasmus Dahlin in 2018.
It didn’t matter who the Buffalo Sabres were drafting Number One overall in 2018, because when 2019-20 rolled around, that player was going to have bust potential. Why? Because Ralph Krueger stepped in and nearly messed up Dahlin’s career, and that of a few others, which is why you can make the case that he was probably the worst coach in franchise history.
And this is a fact Chris Bengel of CBS Sports may have overlooked when they and another analyst claimed Andrei Svechnikov would have been the better selection as opposed to Dahlin. Following the previous two seasons, however, it’s hard for that debate to hold water.
We know what Dahlin has done in other facets of the game, including his overall defensive impact and transition. But Bengel talked a lot about points and goals in their piece. Well, Dahlin scored 126 of them over the past two seasons, including 28 goals and 98 assists, with 53 and 73 total points across the last two seasons, respectively. But these numbers didn’t stop Bengel from claiming:
"“Svechnikov has been a 20-goal scorer in four of his five NHL seasons, including registering a career-high 69 points (30 goals and 39 assists) in 2021-22. Buffalo could definitely use more scoring depth.” – via CBS Sports"
Buffalo Sabres made the right decision taking Dahlin 1,000x over
I don’t know about you, but I’m unsure of how much more “scoring depth” the Blue and Gold needs. This is a team that not only scored 296 goals and finished third in the league in that category, but the Sabres were so high-octane that they bailed out poor defense and goaltending countless times. And for the most part, they sustained it for most of the 82-game season.
Yeah, Svechnikov is a good player, and he definitely has a physical edge that the Sabres could have used recently – let’s be honest with ourselves. But he’s never scored over 69 points in a single year heading into the 2023-24 season. He also doesn’t have Dahlin’s overall two-way game to the same extent.
Svechnikov should be in the league for a long time, barring injury. But to claim he’s the type of game-changing talent that Dahlin showed flashes of in 2021-22 that came into its own last season is reckless.
Yes, Dahlin struggled for a couple of seasons there, and perhaps you can argue during that time, Svechnikov could have been the better selection. But if you put Dahlin on the Hurricanes for a and Svechnikov on the Buffalo Sabres – would he have fared any better than Dahlin with Ralph Krueger in town? Probably not.
Had Dahlin gone to Carolina and Svechnikov to Buffalo, we will never know for sure, but there is a strong possibility that Dahlin may have become an All-Star sooner. As for Svechnikov, he’s probably a bottom-six player, and that’s if he was still even playing in the Queen City in such a scenario.
Source: Redrafting the 2018 NHL Draft: Sabres take Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes nab Brady Tkachuk by Chris Bengel