The top prospects for the NHL draft are treated to a trip to the Stanley Cup Final every year and are introduced to players and team executives and get a taste of big-league life. Swedish-born defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who’s expected to be chosen No. 1 by Buffalo later this month, was among the prospects group this year, and he was thrilled to be introduced to fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals. “I was starstruck,” Dahlin said.
Dahlin, 18, had one more request. He wanted to meet bombastic Canadian TV analyst Don Cherry, and Dahlin got his wish Monday morning at Capital One Arena. Dahlin got a picture too, and said Cherry prompted him to pose with his thumb up, a trademark Cherry gesture.
“Oh, yeah, that was awesome. He had a sick suit, so that was awesome,” Dahlin said of Cherry’s outfit, which was rather subdued compared with some of Cherry’s other suits and featured spring-like stripes in light green.
Dahlin is considered a cornerstone defenseman and would be the first Swede to be chosen No. 1 overall since Mats Sundin was chosen first by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989. “If that happened I will be of course so excited and happy,” Dahlin said. “We have to see.”
Dahlin had a chance last week to visit his soon-to-be new home. Buffalo was the site of the NHL’s draft combine, where players’ fitness, speed, agility, strength and wingspan are measured. He said he went to dinner while in town and, of course, tried some Buffalo wings. He didn’t opt for the most fiery ones but still got a surprise. “I took the medium,” he said, “and they were so spicy actually, I’m going to go with the mild next time.”