Ramus Dahlin walked to his seat in the KeyBank Center atrium Monday morning wearing a blue Sabres polo. After a 13-minute chat with Buffalo reporters, his first with the Western New York media since the NHL Draft, he was handed his new sweater with No. 26 on the back and beamed as he put it on.
In between, the 18-year-old expected to lift the franchise out of the doldrums of the hockey world talked about the relief he felt to officially have a new hockey home.
"It's an amazing feeling. To actually put on this jersey, this logo is amazing," Dahlin said. "I've been waiting for this for so long. Yeah, like finally I'm here."
Times are moving ultra-fast for Dahlin, who arrived in Dallas for the draft on Wednesday, was drafted on Friday night, flew into Buffalo on Sunday night (complete with Bills hat on backward), met the media Monday and will be on the ice for his first NHL development camp Wednesday afternoon in HarborCenter.
"It's been a busy time," Dahlin said. "To finally get on the ice and start developing me and train with the Buffalo Sabres, it couldn't be better. ... I'm just so motivated to win hockey games. I'll bring everything I can to this team. Trying to win hockey games, that's what I think I'm about."
General Manager Jason Botterill, who joked after the news conference that "I haven't really stopped smiling since draft day," remains steadfast in his feeling that Dahlin should not have all the pressure of the franchise's turnaround heaped upon his shoulders.
"He doesn't need to be the savior," Botterill said. "We're excited about our young players such as Jack (Eichel) Sam (Reinhart), Rasmus Ristolainen. He can be part of this group to grow together. We certainly have to have better results on the ice. But in communicating with other players, they're certainly excited to bring Rasmus into our group here and just how they can grow together as a core."
Dahlin spoke as his parents, Asa and Martin, brother Felix and sister Ella sat a few feet away. His mother said in Dallas she will be coming to Buffalo this season to live with her son during his rookie year in the NHL.
Dahlin relished the memories of draft week. He returned to American Airlines Center on Saturday morning after he had what he termed his best night of sleep ever to greet the Sabres' next draft picks. He had a front row seat, still wearing the jersey and hat he was presented after he was drafted.
"It was the best time of my life. To be part of Buffalo Sabres," he said. "Why not be proud and have the jersey on?"
Botterill says Dahlin has already started talking to coach Phil Housley, who gave his new weapon on defense a long greeting on stage Friday night.
"He's looking for ideas from our coaching staff, interacting with Phil already on what he needs to improve on to have success," Botterill said. "A big part of our job now ... is we have to help him there, and we have to be part of that development process with him."
What does Dahlin think about being coached by a Hall of Famer?
"It means he knows everything about hockey," he said. "He knows what he talks about and that's great and amazing. We haven't talked so much yet. We'll probably talk more on what I need to improve on, all that stuff when it's getting closer."
More from Dahlin Monday:
---What's the biggest arena/opponent in the NHL he's looking forward to? "I heard that Buffalo and Toronto Maple Leafs are having some hard games, so that will be fun. I'm looking forward to that."
---What does he do for fun away from the ice? "I'm a regular hockey guy, a pretty boring guy. I used to play golf and hang out with friends. I love to play hockey, and that's my 100 percent thing."
(Dahlin did, however, discuss his love of Fortnite during the NHL Scouting Combine)
---Dahlin says he'll return to Sweden after development camp and then come back to Buffalo in early August. Botterill says between the rookie tournament and the seven preseason games, Dahlin will get a lot of action before the Oct. 4 season opener against Boston.