Rasmus Dahlin expects even more improvement in his game

Dahlin played in the NHL All-Star Game last season
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – When Rasmus Dahlin first arrived in Buffalo, he was a timid 18-year-old moving to North America for the first time. Dahlin knew some English, but he wasn’t confident in it.

I can’t even imagine what all that had to have been like for him, as he also had the pressure of being the first overall pick in 2018, while being dubbed a generational player on defense.

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When Dahlin came to the podium on Thursday, he was very relaxed, and very sure about himself and his game.

“It seems like he’s matured three years in the last 12 months,” said veteran forward Kyle Okposo of the 22-year-old defenseman.

Dahlin says there was a turning point for him when he stopped trying to impress other people. He’s glad it happened the way it did.

“I realized early last season that if I’m myself and not trying to be anyone, that’s going to help me on the ice," said Dahlin following Thursday's opening practice of training camp.

Dahlin is now heading into his fifth training camp, and he is now exerting himself as a leader in the locker room.

“I don’t feel like an old guy, but I for sure have a lot of years in the league now," Dahlin admitted.

“It’s great, because now I feel more comfortable. I’m not as nervous. I can prepare myself better now, and I know what’s to come. I’m just a little more calmer now.”

While Dahlin loves hockey and watched the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, he actually hated it.

“I don’t really want to watch the playoffs, but I can’t not watch it. It pisses you off, for sure," Dahlin said. "It’s not fun to see all the other teams succeed, and I want to be in those shoes. So it’s a love/hate relationship with the playoffs when you’re not in it.”

This wasn’t something wasted on Sabres head coach Don Granato. He loved that Dahlin watched the playoffs, and the fact that it pissed him off.

“I know that he’s taken initiative over the summer to make himself a better hockey player," said Granato on Thursday. "I’m going to just let him go and watch, and he’s a better player than he was when he left us on our last game. There is no doubt about it.”

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The very first thing Granato did was change the practice habits of this team. I have never seen this team practice has hard as it does under Granato.

Dahlin says it's the change of practice habits that led to so much improvement last year.

“That came from hard work every day, very good practices," he said. "Our practice habits have gone up way higher than it's been, so I’m not surprised we played good at the end of the year.”

Dahlin adds he pushed himself very hard over the summer, because if you want to play a lot, you have to be in good condition. He said he focused on the power in his legs.

When it comes to Dahlin, Granato is his biggest supporter.

“He has an incredible appetite for more,” Granato said of Dahlin.

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Dahlin finished last season playing with Mattias Samuelsson, and they were lights out together. I would expect them to start as a defensive pair this season.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
Featured Image Photo Credit: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)