The Buffalo Sabres selected Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 overall pick of the NHL draft on Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Dahlin, 18, is the reigning Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year after playing last season for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. He helped his country earn a silver medal at this year’s World Junior Championship, where he was named Best Defenseman in the tournament.
The 6-foot-2, 181-pound blue-liner became the second Swedish-born player to be selected with the first overall pick. The first was Mats Sundin, who was taken by the Quebec Nordiques with the first pick in 1989 and went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career.
Dahlin has drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, a five-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner with the Ottawa Senators. Like Dahlin, Karlsson played for Frolunda in Sweden before reaching the NHL as a 19-year-old.
—After three seasons with the Sabres, Robin Lehner will not be brought back for a fourth as general manager Jason Botterill announced that the team will not extend Lehner a one-year qualifying offer, making the eight-year veteran a free agent July 1.
“It’s a scenario where you finish 31st you have to make some difficult choices,” Botterill told reporters in Dallas, hours before the NHL draft began.
Lehner, who turns 27 next month, was 14-26-9 last season, capping a three-season run in which he went 42-61-22 with just six shutout wins. He posted a 2.77 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in that time. The GAA and save percentage are better than the figures he posted in his first five seasons in the league, spent with Ottawa.
—In a move to create salary-cap room to retain key free agents, the Washington Capitals traded defenseman Brooks Orpik and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick (No. 47 overall) in the draft.
The loss of Orpik, who turns 38 before the start of next season, opens up $5.5 million in cap space for next season based on the final annual salary in his current contract. Dealing away Grubauer, 26, potentially frees up as much $20 million overall in possible earnings before he hits restricted free agency.
Room in the budget is needed to help avoid losing defensemen John Carlson and Michal Kempny to unrestricted free agency, which begins on July 1. Restricted free agents Devante Smith-Pelly and Tom Wilson are up for big raises after big contributions to a title-winning season.
—The NHL is being sued by two former players, Daniel Carcillo and Nick Boynton, who allege the league withheld information about the long-term health dangers from concussion-related injuries.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Thomas A. Demetrio and William T. Gibbs in U.S. District Court in Minnesota and claims the NHL did not adequately warn and inform players about brain damage risks caused by contact to the head. Carcillo and Boynton charge the league with allowing and encouraging players to rush back to action while recovering from concussions.
Both Carcillo, nicknamed “Car Bomb” for his violent style of play for five teams over nine seasons, and Boynton, who played for six teams in 11 seasons, suffer from long-term, degenerative brain damage.
—The San Jose Sharks have placed defenseman Paul Martin on unconditional waivers with the intention of buying out his contract.
Martin, 37, joined the Sharks as a free agent in 2015 and has one year remaining on his contract at $4.25 million. He was limited to 14 games last regular season because of both injury and his play.
Originally drafted in the second round by the New Jersey Devils in 2000, Martin has 50 goals and 270 assists in 870 career games.
—Field Level Media