Rasmus Dahlin skates this morning. ©2018, Hickling Images

Rasmus Dahlin focused on making Sabres

BUFFALO – Rasmus Dahlin secured his roster spot the second the Sabres drafted him first overall almost three months ago. The ultra-talented Swedish defenseman is expected, even as a rookie, to help transform the franchise into a winner.

But Dahlin, 18, isn’t taking anything for granted. He sometimes talks about if he makes the Sabres. He said it again today after his first official NHL practice.

“I will do everything I can to make the team, and if I make it, I’m just going to play the best I can and enjoy,” Dahlin said between the first sessions of training camp inside HarborCenter. “Yeah, we’ll see after the camp how this goes. I’ll do my best.”

If? We’ll see? Seriously, Rasmus?

To Sabres coach Phil Housley, a Hall of Fame defenseman, Dahlin possesses the right attitude.

“Every year I was prepared to make the team,” said Housley, who played 21 seasons. “It’s a great attitude, because you have to strive for excellence. You’re striving for perfection and you’re not letting yourself off the hook; you’re holding yourself accountable.”

Housley paired Dahlin beside Jake McCabe, whose 2017-18 season ended in February after undergoing shoulder and thumb surgeries. Both defensemen are left-handed shots; McCabe played on the right side.

“I just felt it was a good combination,” Housley said. “We’re trying to look for some good chemistry early, in the exhibition games. Rasmus is going to be playing with different partners.

“I just felt that Jake could play the right side and it was a good mix. You could have a veteran guy with a young guy trying to mentor him.”

Check back later for a full story on Dahlin and McCabe. After months of waiting, Dahlin was finally on the ice today with the rest of the Sabres.

“It’s for real now, it’s serious,” Dahlin said. “The pace is higher. Yeah, it feels good.”

In other news, the Sabres announced today an upper-body injury will sideline defenseman Matt Hunwick, an offseason acquisition from the Pittsburgh Penguins, for the first part of training camp.

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