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View Full Version : isn’t money, but the whole game.”


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12.09.2018, 07:46
Forward Victor Olofsson had never heard of Rasmus Dahlin until encountering the then-16-year-old defenseman during their first practice together with Frolunda in Sweden two years ago.

”He got the puck on the blue line and I was going toward him Sammy Watkins Jersey (http://www.chiefscheapstore.com/sammy-watkins-jersey-cheap) , and he just put it between my legs and went in and scored,” Olofsson when the two were reunited at the Buffalo Sabres‘ prospect development camp.

”I thought it was a fluke at first,” he said. ”But when he did it again and again, it’s not just a fluke.”

What Olofsson first witnessed was put on display during the four-day camp and in front of crowds of 2,000 fans, who turned out daily to catch their first glimpse of the No. 1 player selected in the NHL draft June 22.

Dahlin performed as advertised with his effortless skating ability, and head-up, stick-handling style that made it seem as if the 18-year-old had the puck on a string.

Seemingly trapped behind the net during a 3-on-3 scrimmage Saturday, Dahlin shifted right and then moved left to get around one defender, before making a nifty deke to avoid another. There was the goal he scored Wednesday, when Dahlin drove into the slot, leaned to his right before snapping a shot inside the left post.

The play capturing everyone’s attention was a clean, open-ice check the lean, 6-foot-2, 185-pound Dahlin delivered in bowling over forward Matej Pekar on Friday.

”Oh, yeah Rick Leonard Jersey (http://www.saintscheapstore.com/rick-leonard-jersey-cheap) , it just happens sometimes,” Dahlin said with a shrug.

Not lost on numerous observers, was how the hit might have been payback, coming a day after Pekar caught Dahlin with a high stick.

”I think it probably validates what we know how competitive a kid he is. He certainly doesn’t have a short-term memory,” assistant general manager Steve Greeley said. ”But that’s one of the attributes we loved about him.”

Pekar never saw Dahlin coming.

”I’ve never seen him hit somebody like that,” Pekar said. ”I thought it was somebody else. But I was surprised, yeah.”

An hour later, the two laughed about what happened over lunch.

Coach Phil Housley was cautious in saying he didn’t want to place too much emphasis on one play or player during a development camp.

And yet, the Hall of Fame defenseman noted the promise Dahlin brings to a franchise that has finished last in three of the past five years and is in the midst of a team-worst seven-year playoff drought.

”To get the player we got, it’s really important for our city and western New York. It gives a little hope that we get a first overall pick,” Housley said. ”It was a big moment for our franchise.”

Dahlin was wowed by the fan turnout, saying he never had anyone cheer when he previously scored during practice. He also noted how many fans were already wearing his No. 26 Sabres jersey, which was priced at more than $200 since going on sale Monday.

”I’m super impressed that they even know who I am,” Dahlin said. ”I know they love hockey. And I will try to win hockey games so we can give back to them.”

Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula was struck by the poise Dahlin shows for his age.

She recalled a conversation she had with her husband, Terry Pegula, before the Sabres first met with Dahlin at the NHL combine in Buffalo in late May.

”I said to Terry Andre Tippett Jersey (http://www.patriotscheapstore.com/andre-tippett-jersey-cheap) , no one says anything bad about him. And I’m like, `There’s got to be something. He’s got to have a weakness,”’ Pegula told The Associated Press.

”But everyone from his coaches to players who have played with him, all of them rave about him,” she added.

”You can definitely see as a young man playing in the Swedish men’s league how that experience has really matured him,” Pegula said. ”You can see the benefits of that as he’s handled the press, as he’s handled the combine, the world juniors and the draft. So he’s been exceptional in all those areas.”

Dahlin has spent the past two years playing in Sweden’s Elite League , where he had eight goals and 15 assists in 67 games. In February, he represented Sweden at the South Korean Winter Games, where he had an assist in two games.

Next step is the NHL, where he is all but assured of a spot on Buffalo’s roster in October. Dahlin is taking nothing for granted by shrugging off the accolades directed his way.

”Of course it’s fun to hear,” Dahlin said. ”But you have to put in the work, too.”



More NHL hockey: Artemi Panarin turned out to be everything the Columbus Blue Jackets were looking for when they traded for him last summer: A dead-eye sniper and deft puck distributor who can get game-breaking goals and make everyone around him better.

And, the Blue Jackets hope, a guy who can get them deeper into the playoffs.

So far DeMario Davis Jersey (http://www.saintscheapstore.com/demario-davis-jersey-cheap) , so good. Columbus heads home to Nationwide Arena after taking a 2-0 lead over Washington in their first-round series on Sunday night, a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win in which Panarin contributed a pair of key assists.

That came three nights after Panarin won the series opener in overtime. With two assists already in regulation, he drove down the left side, slipped past Capitals defenseman Dimitry Orlov and snapped a shot over goalie Philipp Grubauer’s shoulder.

”There’s very few people who can make that shot,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said.

”He can make a play from nothing,” Orlov said. ”He’s so smooth.”

The Blue Jackets probably wouldn’t be playing in the postseason without the 26-year-old Russian they call the ”Bread Man.” He was a steady presence and consistent scorer through a bumpy season of slumps and injuries to other key players.

Panarin led Columbus with 27 goals and 55 assists, and his 82 points were the most in a single season in franchise history. His plus/minus of 23 and average of just over 20 minutes on the ice per game were career highs.

Panarin – sounds like Panera Bread, hence the hockey nickname of ”Bread Man” or just ”Bread” – has embraced being a featured star after playing in the large shadow of Patrick Kane in Chicago in his first two years in the league.

”In Chicago, I played with Kane and got a lot of assists from him,” Panarin said. ”But I always wanted something more, to put more of the game on myself and be more accountable for the result. Here, I got that, what I wanted.”

Panarin, who won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL in 2015-16, was acquired from the Black Hawks last June along with forward Tyler Motte for forward Brandon Saad and goalie Anton Forsberg. Saad was a reliable player for Columbus for two seasons.

”Bread is a different type player because he can make a special play to win a game,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. ”I just think for you to get through and find your way and try to be a better playoff team Len Dawson Jersey (http://www.chiefscheapstore.com/len-dawson-jersey-cheap) , you have to have some players that are dynamic. You’re not coaching it, they just see something, they seize a moment and they win you a game. Or they make a huge play to get you back in the game in another way.”

With the Blue Jackets on a power play and down 3-2 in the second period on Sunday, Panarin dribbled the puck and patiently waited for a lane to open up before delivering a pinpoint circle-to-circle pass to Cam Atkinson , who scored the tying goal.

Panarin’s line mates, veteran winger Atkinson and 19-year-old rookie center Pierre-Luc Dubois, have benefited from his skills. Atkinson – who had two goals on Sunday – has come on strong after missing time with injuries, finishing the regular season with 14 goals and 14 assists in February and March. Dubois had 20 goals and 28 assists in the regular season, making him the most productive rookie in Blue Jackets history.

Panarin makes $6 million a year on a contract that runs through next season. He’ll be due a sizeable salary bump if the Blue Jackets decide to keep him around after that.

So far, he’s been an ideal fit.

”When they first traded me, of course for a couple days, I worried,” he said. ”But then I calmed down and understood that this is all good for me. I understood that here I would progress as a player first and foremost. What’s most important to me isn’t money, but the whole game.”



Associated Press Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Washington contributed to this report.



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