Johansson: 'He's better than a young Karlsson'

May 10, 2018 - 10:23 am

The Buffalo Sabres won the lottery, literally and figuratively, back on April 28th. The impact of the ping pong balls rising the Sabres' way could be felt for years. Perhaps it's the current day equivalent of winning a spin of the wheel and drafting Gilbert Perreault. 

Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is the no-brainer pick for Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. Dahlin is said to be a franchise, elite, No. 1 defenseman waiting to happen.

Pär Johansson is the defensive coach for Frölunda in the Swedish Hockey League and has worked closely with Dahlin over the last two seasons. Johansson, who saw Erik Karlsson play in the SHL, was a guest on WGR this week and told us Dahlin is better than a young Erik Karlsson because he has more tools in his tool box.

"The last season here he developed the defensive side of the game," Johansson said. "He was really, really eager to step that up and learn how to play the defensive side of the game against men and not just the dekes and the dangle."

Dahlin made strides in the defensive part of his game because he is both dedicated and driven.

"He just wants to learn. Every day he comes to the rink and watches video" Johansson said. "He's the guy I've watched the most video with in my entire career. We watched every single shift he played. He wanted to break down every single piece of it."

One of the questions about Dahlin will be how much the Sabres put on his plate right away. Will they give him a green light on the ice or will they take a slower, measured approach towards getting him acclimated to the NHL game? Johansson told us Dahlin played a safe game when he first came to Frolunda as a 16-year-old, and that he didn't want to make mistakes. The coaches told him to be more aggressive, more creative and that is when his game really took off.

"When he realized that we allowed him to make mistakes then he just kept on going(developing) and he exploded with the puck," Johansson said. "When he realized they aren't going to bench me if I make a mistake then he went all in and it got better and better."

Former NHL general manager Craig Button, now an analyst for TSN, also joined WGR on Thursday and was effusive in his praise of the Dahlin. You can hear that entire interview below:

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