2. Is this the year for Rasmus Dahlin?
The Buffalo Sabres will be hoping that 2020-21 is the season that Rasmus Dahlin truly breaks out and dominates the NHL.
Dahlin is already a key cog in this Sabres team but he will need to elevate his game and deliver more if he is to help end the longest active Playoff drought in the National Hockey League.
Dahlin has been impressive for Buffalo since being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, putting up at least 40 points in each of his first two seasons in the league.
He’s shown flashes of his elite ability and his high ceiling, while he has also looked every inch the franchise defenseman the Sabres thought he could be when they spent their first overall selection on him back in 2018.
However, still only 20-years-old and having cut his teeth in North America for a couple of years now, there is a tangible feeling that the best is yet to come from Dahlin.
And that is only good news for this organization and its long-suffering fans.
Because, Dahlin is a once-in-a-generation level defenseman, and he was considered one of the best defensive prospects to enter the National Hockey League in decades, and for good reason.
Boasting a high hockey IQ, elite awareness, elite skill, superb stick-handling skills, high-end passing ability, an accurate shot and able to play a real two-way game, Dahlin is the real deal and the stage is set for him to put all of that together in 2020-21.
Limited to an ATOI of 19:18 by Head Coach Ralph Krueger in 2019-20, a year in which he recorded 40 points (4 G, 36 A) in 59 games, Dahlin will likely be let off the leash this season and take on a much-bigger role for the Sabres.
He’s tried and tested in the NHL now and knows exactly what to expect from the best league in the world, and his achievements have actually flown under the radar so far given that his 84 points in 141 games before the age of 20 ranks second to only franchise legend Phil Housley, who had 143 points by the time he was 20 in an era known for its higher-scoring.
So, with the production already there coupled with the fact that he is now battle-tested in this league, expect Rasmus Dahlin to be a more polished defenseman in 2020-21 and really take that next giant step towards becoming an elite NHL blueliner.
And, if that happens, the Buffalo Sabres will have a greater chance of finally ending their lengthy postseason drought this season.