Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25: T-#1 Rasmus Dahlin

I mean, come on. You knew it would be the stellar young defenseman.

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.

Who else? Our 2022 Top 25 Under 25 ends with the Freak from Frölunda tied for first. Rasmus Dahlin is a rising star not just for the Sabres, but in the National Hockey League. He showed tremendous growth under the watchful eye of Don Granato, and there’s room for an even higher ceiling.

Rasmus Dahlin is flourishing under Don Granato’s system (yes, that word has subtext considering, uh, the guy that coached here prior) — it’s a system built to unlock his potential as an offensive defenseman in control of each play. In a way, Granato let Dahlin off the leash, and the positive impact has been near-instantaneous.

Seriously, I don’t even know where to start. Do you start with the touch and stick-handling that’s so natural to him that it borders on uncanny? Or, perhaps, the passes that seem like something only he can do? His near-total control of the Sabres’ first power play unit? The effortless shot on the point, versus the seamlessness it takes for him to find a lane in front of the net? There’s so much good in his game right now, it’s hard to say much without waxing poetic.

He’s just the total package. With 5.3 goals above expected and involvement in setting up his teammates without sacrificing defensively, he’s a cornerstone of the Sabres’ gameplan. He’s in the driver’s seat, and elevates everyone around him.

Dahlin is only 22 years old and practically a veteran on this young Sabres team, so much so that when we voted in this exercise, it felt like Dahlin didn’t belong with the group of guys under 25. He’ll also join the Sabres leadership group alongside captain Kyle Okposo and fellow alternate Zemgus Girgensons. Dahlin is poised to captain the squad in due time, an honor he’s earned through his poise beyond his years.

With Dahlin and Owen Power, the defensive foundation is solid — solid enough that a playoff run is possible in perhaps a few years’ time. It makes sense he’s atop the top 25.