Rasmus Dahlin is a 17-year-old hockey player from Sweden. He’s currently on Team Sweden, set to compete in PyeongChang, South Korea, in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Dahlin is one of the most talked about hockey players in years, and is expected to be the top pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
“He’s one of a kind. It’s so impressive how from last year with all the pressure around him and he took a big step this year and now he’s here in the Olympics at 17 years old,” Sweden’s team captain Joel Lundqvist told NBC.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Is Playing for Team Sweden at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang
Dahlin is representing his home country of Sweden in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
On February 15, Sweden played their Olympic opener against Norway, but Dahlin wasn’t on the ice. According to Sportsnet, he was a healthy scratch. Although Sweden ended up winning the game 4-0, not getting to see him play was disappointing to several hockey fans, who were hoping to get a glimpse of what this kid can do.
There’s no question that he will get his chance to play in PyeongChang, it’s just a matter of when. The youngest player in the men’s hockey tournament eats, breathes, and sleeps hockey. As he puts it, it’s all he can think about.
“I give 110 percent every day and try to be better every day. I just love the game and I can’t think about something else than hockey,” Dahling told the media on February 14.
Sweden will face Germany on February 16 and will play Finland on February 18. No word yet on whether or not Dahlin will play in either of those games, but he’s expected to make an appearance in at least one of them.
2. He Is Considered the Top Pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft
Dahlin is projected by many to be the first-overall pick in the National Hockey League’s 2018 Entry Draft. Elite Prospect’s 2018 draft page shows Dahlin a consensus No. 1 pick.
The hype surrounding the young hockey star has not gone unnoticed by forward-thinking hockey fans. The draft order is determined by a weighted lottery, with the 15 teams that miss the 2018 playoffs receiving a shot at the number one pick. Since the team with the lowest points at the end of the regular season is given the greatest odds of the No. 1 pick, teams to miss the playoffs are sometimes believed to “tank” in order to improve their chances of securing the first pick. Fans on social media have dubbed the 2018 draft the “Dahlin Lottery,” and are said to “embrace the tank,” describing the alleged efforts as going “all-in for Dahlin” or “fallin’ for Dahlin.”
“Teams ‘Fallin’ for Dahlin’ at the bottom of the NHL standings know what they would be getting. Naturally, he’s going to get stronger with time but could be an immediate help for the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators or whoever wins the draft lottery for the chance to plug Dahlin in on their blue line,” USA Today reports.
The NHL draft isn’t something that’s weighing too heavily on Dahlin’s mind right now, however. He’s just taking things one day at a time.
“I’ve got so many things other to think about: eat, rest, sleep and train. I haven’t think so much about that. I’m just living in the here and now. I think that is the best thing you can do,” he told the media on February 14.
3. He Would Be Only the Second Swedish Player Ever to Go First Overall in the NHL Draft
If Dahlin is indeed selected by the team with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, he would become only the second player from Sweden to be selected first overall. Hall of Fame player Mats Sundin, drafted in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche), is currently the only Swede to hold that distinction.
Sundin, now 47, was born in Bromma, Sweden, according top Hockey Reference. After playing four seasons with Quebec, Sundin was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he would spend the majority of his career. In 1997, Sundin was named captain of the Maple Leafs, according to NHL.com, the first non-Canadian to fill the role in the franchise’s history.
While no other Swedish-born players have ever been picked first overall, several have been selected with early picks. The Sedin brothers, identical twins Henrik and Daniel, were selected second and third overall in the 1999 draft by the Vancouver Canucks, according to The Hockey Writers. The Sedins, who were born in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, and played together for MODO in the Swedish Hockey League, were considered a package deal, with NHL general managers afraid to select one without being able to sign the other.
“Hedman is a defenseman out of the ordinary. The tall and strong defenseman has a unique combination of size and speed. He accelerates very well and at full speed there are few, if any, defenseman of such stature that can match Hedman. Furthermore, he has very good hockey sense which contributes to him usually being at the right place at the right moment,” reads Elite Prospects’ page on Hedman.
4. He Currently Plays for Frölunda HC
Dahlin plays for Frölunda Hockey Club (HC), also known as the Frölunda Indians, in the Swedish Hockey League. The team, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, is currently tied for fourth place in the 14-team league, according to Hockey DB.
The youngest of Frölunda’s players, Dahlin is currently seventh in scoring with 17 points for the squad, having tallied six goals and 11 assists over the span of 35 games this season. Ahead of Dahlin, with 20 points, is team captain Joel Lundqvist, twin brother of Frölunda alum Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. Joel Lundqvist joins Dahlin in PyeongChang as part of Sweden’s Olympic ice hockey team.
Other notable Frölunda alumni include goaltender Frederik Andersen of the Toronto Maple Leafs, originally drafted 87th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2012 NHL draft. Erik Karlsson, current captain of the Ottawa Senators, was drafted by the Senators 15th overall in 2008; the selection was announced by then-captain Daniel Alfredsson, himself a Gothenburg native and Frölunda alumnus. Karlsson played played a total of four seasons for the Frölunda Indians, starting in 2007, before joining making Ottawa’s starting roster in the 2009-10 season.
5. He Was Named the Top Defensive Player at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship
According to NHL.com, Dahlin was recognized as the top defensive player at this year’s World Junior Championship, put on by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Although Sweden’s Under 20 contingent fell to Canada 3-1 in the final, the young defenseman stood out in the tournament, garnering six points (all assists) and solidifying himself as the consensus No. 1 pick. Russia’s Andrei Svechnikov, another top prospect getting a lot of attention ahead of the 2018 NHL draft, finished the tourney with five points.
Fellow Swede Hedman had a few words to say about Dahlin.
“I’ve watched him on the highlights and on YouTube,” Hedman said. “His skills are ridiculous. Some of the plays I’ve seen him make are amazing. “He’s much better than I was coming into the League.”
The sentiments of the former No. 2 pick did little to soothe the competitive Dahlin, following his team’s defeat.
“‘Right now, of course it’s fun to hear, but it’s more about this …,’ Dahlin said, attempting to digest the reality of finishing second. ‘It’s tough. It’s just so tough. [Winning gold] was everything to me. So to come so close …'”