Johansson: Dahlin is 'the best defenseman I've ever coached'

#DahlinWeek continues as we re-visit Howard and Jeremy's interview with Frölunda's defensive coach Pär Johansson

Brayton Wilson
June 20, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Photo: Mark Blinch - The Canadian Press via AP

The 2018 NHL Draft doesn't get started until the Buffalo Sabres make the first selection of the first round on Friday night in Dallas, Texas. With that pick, the Sabres are likely to take Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin from the Frölunda Indians of the Swedish Hockey League.

Many have praised Dahlin as being the best defensive prospect to enter the NHL Draft in several years, maybe dating as far back as Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders in 1973.

Since the Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery back on April 28, we have heard from several people around the hockey world on what Dahlin brings to the table and what his future holds for the Sabres and the NHL.

We heard from Frölunda's defensive coach Pär Johansson back on May 9 when he joined Howard and Jeremy to chat about his young defenseman.

Here is some of what Johansson had to say:


Johansson on his experience with Dahlin in Frölunda:

"He's the best defenseman I've every coached, by far. Especially being that young and playing like a man on a man's level, nobody else has gotten close to that. As far as the players I've coached, he's No. 1. As for players I've seen, I think he's better than a young Erik Karlsson. Of course, Erik is really good right now, and I think he's better than a young John Klingberg... If he keeps progressing the way he has in the last couple of years, he's going to pass both of them."


Johansson comparing Dahlin to Erik Karlsson:

"I think he has more tools in his tool box [than Karlsson]. Erik, at that age, was a good defensive defenseman. He played on the powerplay and he did a great job offensively. I think Rasmus adds the defense too. His last season here, he developed his defensive side of the game. He was really eager when we talked about it last summer to step that up and play the defensive side of the game with men too and not just the dekes and the dangles."


Johansson on Dahlin's coachability with Frölunda:

"He's so easy [to coach]. He just wants to learn. I had him for over two years, and during these two years, you could see on the ice that he was going No. 1, but not [off the ice]. He just wants to learn every day he comes to the rink. He's the guy I've watched the most video of in my entire career. We watched every single shift he played for our men's team and he wanted to break down every single piece of it."


Johansson on Dahlin's work ethic and learning curve:

"It's scary sometimes how quick he [learns], especially things with the puck. [He'll work] on something on a Monday morning, and then Tuesday at the game he'll want to try it out. Usually, he succeeds. It's the same things without the puck. That's a little bit harder, but the good thing about him is if he looks at it once and if we talk about it, even if he does it wrong the next time, he knows what he should have done. After a couple of times correcting it, he knows it."


Johansson on the growth of Dahlin's game:

"When he first came in, he wanted to please everybody. He wanted to play safe and not make any mistakes. We wanted to push him to make those mistakes. Push him to play the same style of play with the puck that he did with the Under-20 team. When he realized we allowed him to make those mistakes - there's going to be some mistakes in the beginning, then he just kept on going and exploded with the puck. When he realized that we weren't going to bench him if he made a mistake, then he went all in. It only got better and better."
 

You can listen to Johansson's entire interview below:

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