The Buffalo Sabres made a move Wednesday to lock up a future star.
Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who was drafted No. 1 overall in 2018, agreed to terms on a three-year contract to remain in Buffalo. The deal has an average annual value of $6 million.
At 21 years old, Dahlin has already established himself as a key player for the Sabres. In his first season in 2018-19, he led all rookie defensemen with 44 points and was named one of three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.
In his first two seasons in the NHL, Dahlin accumulated 84 points, the second-most in league history by a defenseman under the age of 20.
Dahlin's production dipped slightly in 2020-21, as he played in 56 games and accounted for 23 points. He managed to average a career-high 21 minutes, 36 seconds of ice time, and he led the Sabres with an average ice time of 23:26 over the final 19 games of the season.
The Sabres have missed the playoffs for 10 straight seasons, the longest active drought in the NHL. Last season included an 18-game winless streak, which set a new NHL record. Captain Jack Eichel was limited to 21 games because of a back injury.
Buffalo head coach Ralph Krueger was fired in March and replaced by Don Granato, who was promoted from interim coach to head coach in June. Dahlin said he enjoyed playing for Granato and gave him a strong endorsement after the season.
"His way to play was how I learned to play hockey," Dahlin said of Granato. "But the thing I felt was that he trusted me as a player. He really saw what my potential was, and I felt comfortable playing out there. I wasn't thinking too much."