CHICAGO — If the minutes are there, Rasmus Dahlin is ready to take them on.
As an 18-year-old, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft averaged just more than 21 minutes a game for the Buffalo Sabres and played all 82 games. But it was a grind, with lots of stress on his body. Dahlin said he's worked hard over the summer in Sweden to handle more ice time.
"I'm ready for it. That's what I want," Dahlin told The Buffalo News here Thursday before his appearance on the NHL's annual preseason media tour at the Marriott Magnificent Mile. "We have lots of good players on our team, but I will be as ready as I can."
One reason there might be more minutes available is if the Sabres trade Rasmus Ristolainen, who seemingly remains in limbo after telling Finnish media last month that he would prefer to be out of Buffalo.
"I can't do anything about it. We'll see what happens," Dahlin said. "But if he stays, I know he's going to be the teammate he's always been. If not, he won't be here. I can't focus on it too much. We'll see."
Dahlin's summer saw him work in Gothenburg with players such as Dallas' John Klingberg, Montreal's Christian Folin and some Swedish AHL players.
"It was a lot different. I was on the ice with only pros," Dahlin said. "The summer before, I skated with my dad and my buddies. That was probably my biggest difference. I made sure to work out and skate on a high level this summer.
"I have to be a lot better. People are probably going to try to hit me sometimes even more. I have to be quicker in my mind, quicker with my hands, quicker with my feet. I know that, so I'm prepared."
Dahlin said he's intrigued to see what happens under new coach Ralph Krueger when training camp opens Sept. 13 in KeyBank Center.
"Everything I've heard is he's a really good man," Dahlin said. "I'm super excited to see how he's going to run practices, how long, how crisp he will try to make them. I can't wait to get it started."
Like any player, Dahlin said his team's goal is to make the playoffs. In Buffalo, of course, that's a different point because the Sabres have the NHL's longest-running postseason drought (since 2011) and will be trying to snap it during their 50th anniversary season.
"I don't even think I can imagine Buffalo in the playoffs," Dahlin said. "When we won those 10 straight games last year, people went crazy. They're screaming in the building, 'We want 10. We want 10.' It was something new for me."
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) September 5, 2019
More from Dahlin here Thursday:
• On hearing about the Sabres' November trip to Stockholm all summer: "There was a lot of 'Can I get a ticket? Can I get a ticket? Can I get a ticket?' It's going to be so much fun. All my friends and family are super pumped. It's going to be a little weird, but it will be unreal." (For the record, Dahlin said he had tickets only for his family).
• On his rookie numbers of nine goals and 35 assists: "You can't always do anything about stats, but of course I want to score more goals and have more assists. Last season I had more points than I expected. I always want more."
• On the Sabres' gold-laden anniversary jersey: "Oooooooh. That's probably one of the nicest jerseys I've ever seen. The people who made it have done a really good job."
• On the white gloves that accompany the jersey: "It's something different, so it's really cool. Not just nice looking, but cool."
• On his first experiences with the Sabres' rivalry against the Toronto Maple Leafs: "It was pretty weird that there were a lot of Toronto fans in our building, but it was still cool to see. Of course, we want Buffalo fans there."
• On his appearance in the NHL20 video game series: "When I was younger I played it every day. So to actually have a character in that game makes me proud. One thing I'd change is maybe I'd put a beard on me so I looked more mature."