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Why Sabres first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin looks like a game-changer

The Buffalo Sabres did the expected Friday night in Dallas, selecting Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the first overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. He's Buffalo's third No. 1 pick in franchise history and the first since Pierre Turgeon in 1987.

Here are five things to know about the young phenom, who has been called the best defensive prospect since 1974 first overall pick Denis Potvin.

1. He's only the second Swedish-born player to go first overall in the NHL Draft.

Sweden has produced its fair share of incredible talents, including Nick Lidstrom, Peter Forsberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson, but prior to Friday night, only one Swedish player had ever been taken first overall. That honor belonged to Mats Sundin, who topped the class in 1989. He split his 1,346-game Hall of Fame career between the Nordiques, Maple Leafs and Canucks.

[The wait is over: Sabres make Dahlin the No. 1 overall pick]

That makes Dahlin is first Swedish defenseman to go first overall. He's also the second straight European player to go with the first selection, following Swiss-born Nico Hischier, and the first defenseman to go first since the Florida Panthers took Aaron Ekblad in 2014.

2. He's been playing against men since he was 16 years old.

The Frölunda Indians rewarded Dahlin for his outstanding production in the Swedish U20 league in the 2016-17 season (22 points in 24 games) by calling him up to the country's top league, the Swedish Hockey League, at just 16 years old. He played in 67 regular season games over two seasons with the Indians, notching eight goals and 15 assists.

3. While he hasn't played for the Sabres, he's already made his Buffalo debut.

Dahlin already has experience playing at KeyBank Center, helping Sweden earn a silver medal during this year's World Junior Championship. He was named the tournament's best defenseman and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team after totaling six assists in seven games.

4. He was the youngest player at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Dahlin wasn't used frequently by Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg, appearing in only two games, but his inclusion on the final roster was impressive nonetheless. The latest Sabres addition was the first minor to play in an Olympic hockey tournament since 1984 according to the International Ice Hockey Federation. He tallied one assist for the Swedes, who fell to Germany in the quarterfinals.

5. He's worn No. 8 with the Swedish National Team and No. 26 with Frölunda.

For fans daydreaming about his soon to be high-selling Sabres jersey, No. 26 is a far more likely outcome, since defenseman Casey Nelson has already claimed No. 8. No. 26 was freed up last season when the Sabres assigned Matt Moulson to the Ontario Reign.

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