Watch: NHL first overall pick performs devastating open-ice hit in development camp
When the Buffalo Sabres took Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin first overall in the NHL draft last week, they knew they were getting a skilled hockey player who could, one presumes, shore up the back line and keep the puck out of the net when opponents attack.
What they perhaps were not expecting was a guy who can lay some serious lumber in the open ice.
But for Matej Pekar, a day at Sabres development camp just turned into a serious loss of face in front of his teammates when he ran into Dahlin — or, more to the point, Dahlin ran into him.
As the kids say, “get rekt son”:
Rasmus Dahlin lays out Matej Pekar at Sabres development camp
Rasmus Dahlin lays out Matej Pekar at Sabres development camp http://hookedonhockeymagazine.com/
Posted by Hooked On Hockey Magazine on Friday, June 29, 2018
To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, “He hit Pekar so hard his ancestors in the Czech Republic felt it.”
Even better, it was a completely clean hit.
Watch the video again and you’ll see an 18-year-old draftee who has still not yet played his first NHL game demonstrating form so good that plenty of veteran players and even a few Norris Trophy winners as the league’s best defenseman should watch and take notes.
Dahlin got an angle in open ice, cut off Pekar’s move back toward the play, lowered his stick and led with his forearm straight into Pekar’s upper chest.
This is exactly how you hit a guy in open ice. Even the most whistle-happy referee can’t take you to task for it.
It’s not cross checking; the stick was down and safely out of the way even as Dahlin retained control over it the way he would need to in a game to secure the puck after smashing the puck-handler away. Nor is it high-sticking, since Dahlin’s right arm was outside the hitbox and he did not raise the stick off the ice, or slashing, since once again the stick never entered the hit.
It’s not roughing; to draw a two-minute roughing minor, the same standard applies on a hockey hit as applies to personal foul/unnecessary roughness calls in football or flagrant fouls in basketball, meaning it has to be a helmet-to-helmet hit or the forearm has to make contact above the neck.
About the only potential for penalty here is five for fighting if an enemy team’s goon shows up and drops the gloves, which would be the most likely response in a game situation.
Dahlin took the world by storm last year playing for Frolunda in his native Sweden, where hockey is as much a part of the culture as meatballs and vikings.
Last year, an unnamed NHL scout was effusive in his praise:
“I don’t ever think that anyone has locked up the No.1 slot in December. Only when the season is over and you’re listing the players am I comfortable saying who’s No. 1. Right now, though, he’s at the head of the pack. He’s the best defense prospect really since Victor Hedman, but he has so much more to offer with his mobility and puck skills.”
And if Dahlin’s going to lay the smackdown in actual games the way he did in practice?
Look out, NHL, there’s a new perpetual Norris candidate in town.
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