It has been a long dry spell for the Buffalo Sabres.
They have not made the NHL playoffs since 2011, and even though they added highly touted center Jack Eichel with the No. 2 overall pick behind Connor McDavid in 2015, they have not been close to the postseason since their most recent appearance.
The Sabres have the No. 1 pick in Friday's NHL draft, and they appear to have an excellent chance to improve their team and upgrade their chances of getting back to the postseason by selecting defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.
The 18-year-old is the best defenseman in the draft by a fairly wide margin, and he's the best blueliner available in the draft for several years.
Dahlin has been playing with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League against seasoned veterans, and he has more than held his own against them. He has often been the best defenseman on the ice because of his skating, aggressiveness and his ability to create plays in the offensive zone.
It's hard to find any weakness in his game, and the only thing that has been noted in this regard is that while he gets his shots away quickly and accurately, he does not have overpowering velocity.
That does not appear to be much of an issue because he can find the corners of the net and also set up his teammates for one-timers with his accurate passing.
NHL director of Central Scouting Dan Marr believes that Dahlin's skills will allow him to become an impact player.
"Dahlin has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game with or without the puck," Marr said, per the Buffalo News. "He finds ways to contribute in all situations, is ultra-competitive and a high character person who leads by example."
The draft will be televised by NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be live-streamed via the NBC Sports App.
Here's how we see the first round playing out.
1. Buffalo Sabres: D Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (Sweden)
2. Carolina Hurricanes: LW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie (OHL)
3. Montreal Canadiens: RW Filip Zadina, Halifax (QMJHL)
4. Ottawa Senators (optional to COL): D Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
5. Arizona Coyotes: LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University (NCAA)
6. Detroit Red Wings: D Quinn Hughes, Michigan (NCAA)
7. Vancouver Canucks: C Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat, Liiga (Finland)
8. Chicago Blackhawks: D Evan Bouchard, London (OHL)
9. NY Rangers: RW Oliver Wahlstrom, U.S. National Development Team
10. Edmonton Oilers: D Adam Boqvist, SuperElit (Sweden)
11. NY Islanders: RW Vitaly Kravtsov, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
12. NY Islanders (from CGY): C Barrett Hayton, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
13. Dallas Stars: LW Joel Farabee, U.S. National Development Team
14. Philadelphia Flyers (from STL): LW Grigori Denisenko, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
15. Florida Panthers: RW Martin Kaut, HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech)
16. Colorado Avalanche: D Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL)
17. New Jersey Devils: C Joseph Veleno, Drummondville (QMJHL)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets: LW K'Andre Miller, U.S. National Development Team
19. Philadelphia Flyers: C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Finland)
20. Los Angeles Kings: D Rasmus Sandin, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
21. San Jose Sharks: C-LW Liam Foudy, London, (OHL)
22. Ottawa Senators (from PIT): RW Serron Noel, Oshawa (OHL)
23. Anaheim Ducks: C-RW Akil Thomas, Niagara (OHL)
24. Minnesota Wild: C Jacob Olofsson, Timra IK (Sweden)
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: D Mattias Samuelsson, U.S. National Development Team
26. NY Rangers (from BOS): C Ryan McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)
27. Chicago Blackhawks (from NSH): RW Dominik Bokk, Vaxjo (Sweden, Junior)
28. NY Rangers (from TBL): D Alexander Alexeyev, Red Deer (WHL)
29. St. Louis Blues (from WPG): C Isac Lundestrom, Drummondville (QMJHL)
30. Detroit Red Wings (from VGK): D Jared McIsaac, Halifax (QMJHL)
31. Washington Capitals: D Bode Wilde, U.S. National Team Development Program
Andrei Svechnikov is a prolific goal scorer who should be able to show off his skills at the next level.
The left wing from Barrie of the OHL scored 40 goals in 44 games, and while he has an excellent and at times overpowering shot, he also has surprising quickness that allows him to jump on loose pucks and create scoring opportunities.
That speed and his 6'2", 188-pound frame also give Svechnikov significant power. He is able to establish his position and hold on to it, which allows him to jump on rebounds and deflect shots from the high-danger areas.
Svechnikov improved quite a bit in the 2017-18 season, and while he has not bypassed Dahlin, he has put some distance between himself and the draft picks who will likely follow him.
Brady Tkachuk has shown tremendous strength and determination while playing with Boston University, and he is the kind of player who can set the tone for the team that drafts him with his relentless attitude and his ability to win the battle in the corner.
He has fine skills, and while he is not the smoothest-looking player in the draft, he has the ability to succeed in basically all areas. He is a powerful skater with an excellent shot, fine passing ability and the vision to make plays that set his teammates up for excellent scoring opportunities.
Tkachuk also has the high-level intangibles and a tremendous work ethic that spills over to the rest of his teammates.
"He plays with such an edge," said former Boston University coach and current New York Rangers leader David Quinn, per Corey Pronman of The Athletic. "He's so determined. He's got good skills. He shoots the puck well. There's a lot to like about Brady on and off the ice."
D Quinn Hughes
Quinn Hughes is a dynamic skater with excellent speed and decision-making ability. He appears to have the skills to become an excellent offensive player who can create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
The 18-year-old has excellent defensive skills as well, and once he breaks up a play, he can carry the puck out of his own zone and make sharp passes to his teammates.
Hughes is on the small side at 5'10" and 170 pounds, and that means he is likely to have a hard time when bigger forwards engage him in the corners. His skating quickness will allow him to avoid the big hits after a while, but he is never going to win the strength battle.