New York (AFP) – Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is expected to be taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the first selection of the 2018 National Hockey League Draft, which begins Friday in Dallas.
The 18-year-old for Swedish league side Forlunda was the youngest Olympic hockey player since 1984 when he took the ice for the Swedes in February at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, where Sweden finished fifth.
Dahlin also played for Sweden’s runner-up squad at this year’s world junior championships in January at Buffalo, dropping the final 3-1 to Canada in the Sabres’ home rink.
The Sabres won a league-low 25 games for an NHL-worst 62 points last season and took the top pick in the NHL Draft Lottery in April.
Rights to top unclaimed talent are distributed to clubs in the annual two-day affair, which promotes parity by allowing less successful teams first chance at promising young playmakers.
The Carolina Hurricanes, who had barely a three percent chance of moving up in the lottery, grabbed the second pick and are expected to take 18-year-old Russian right wing Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League.
The junior standout netted 40 goals and set up 32 others last season for the Colts, who were ousted in the second round of the Canadian junior league’s playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens own the third pick followed in order by the Ottawa Senators, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, without a coach after Barry Trotz said Monday he would not return, own the 31st and last selection in the first round.