The NHL Draft Lottery is Saturday April 28 and not all teams will be lucky enough to win the lottery and draft Swedish D stud Rasmus Dahlin, who remains hard-wired to the number one overall pick. The team that has the great fortune of selecting Dahlin will be getting a rock star on skates. Dahlin is a generational talent and will be a franchise player in the NHL for years to come.
The 2018 NHL Draft is by no means a one-man show. There are several world-class players in the upper echelon of this draft who will become excellent NHL players in the not too distant future.
In other words, teams who fail to land Dahlin should not be looking at picks 2-5 as consolation prizes.
Several NHL teams are looking to right their respective ships by adding dynamic, world-class forwards who can add immediate offense and scoring.
The Buffalo Sabres finished 31st overall in the NHL standings (62 points) and are owners of the best odds of winning the NHL Draft Lottery.
Buffalo has an 18.5% chance of being the team who will select Rasmus Dahlin first overall at the NHL Draft. The Ottawa Senators hold a 13.5% chance. Here are the other lottery teams and their odds of winning the NHL Draft Lottery:
Arizona Coyotes: 11.5%
Montreal Canadiens: 9.5%
Detroit Red Wings: 8.5%
Vancouver Canucks: 7.5%
Chicago Blackhawks: 6.5%
NY Rangers: 6.0%
Edmonton Oilers: 5.0%
NY Islanders: 3.5%
Carolina Hurricanes: 3.0%
NY Islanders (from Calgary Flames): 2.5%
Dallas Stars: 2.0%
St. Louis Blues: 1.5%
Florida Panthers: 1.0%
If the Sabres lose the lottery, their GM Jason Boterill will likely add a stud forward who can skate on Jack Eichel's wing for the next 8-10 seasons.
On Monday morning, it was revealed that Andrei Svechnikov (center, Barrie Colts) is now the number one North American skater on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking.
The NHL Draft will commence in Dallas from June 22 to 23.
Central Scouting has announced its final list of the top North American skaters and goaltenders, and top international skaters and goalies.
Svechnikov (6'2", 190 lbs.), was number one on Central Scouting's midterm list in January, scored 40 goals and 32 assists ( 174 shots on goal, +26 rating) in 44 regular-season games as a rookie for Dale Hawerchuk's Barrie Colts in 2017-18. Svechnikov saved his best for last in scoring 30 goals and 28 assists in 34 games after returning December 8 from a hand injury that kept him in street clothes for 17 games. Svechnikov had five assists for Team Russia at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship tourney in Buffalo, NY.
In the OHL playoffs, Svechnikov has scored 5 goals and 6 assists in seven postseason games played.
"Svechnikov's play actually improved once he got back (from the hand injury) and I think has become a more complete player with understanding the game in how he uses the whole ice and his teammates," said David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting told NHL.com. "He's an elite skater and finisher and I believe has separated himself from the rest to be our No. 1 skater in North America."
With Svechnikov atop the final standings, there is a lot of hand wringing and throat clearing among talent evaluators and scouts as to the order of numbers 2 though 5 top North American skaters.
There is a real argument to be made in support of sniping forward Filip Zadina (RW, 6'0",195) of the Halifax Mooseheads, who has moved from #3 to #2 on Central Scouting's final list.
Zadina, 18, will play for his native team Czech Republic at next month's IIHF World Championships in Denmark. Zadina's strong performances have earned him the Mike Bossy Trophy as the top professional prospect in the QMJHL after leading all Q first year players with 44 goals and 38 assists in 57 games in his first season in North America. Zadina scored 5 goals and 7 assists in nine QMJHL playoff games. Zadina potted 7 goals and 1 assist in seven games for Team Czech Republic at the IIHF WJC tourney in Buffalo in December and January.
"Zadina is a natural scorer with an innate ability to always get open on plays, and he has a great finishing touch to capitalize on scoring chances," Marr remarked to NHL.com.
Boston University power forward slash manchild Brady Tkachuk (LW, 6'3", 200 lbs.) dropped a slot from #2 to #3.
"Tkachuk brings both a skill game and a power forward game," Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "He can dictate and control the play with his speed and physical attributes while creating and finishing scoring chances. Both he and Zadina have the skills and assets to be difference makers."
Tkachuk, 18, scored 8 goals and 23 assists in 40 games played during his freshman season at BU. Tkachuk landed 131 SOG. Tkachuck starred for Team USA scoring 3 goals and 6 assists in seven games to power Team USA to a bronze medal win at the IIHF WJC toruney in Buffalo.
Evan Bouchard (D, 6'2", 195) of the London Knights moved #4 from #5 while defenseman
Noah Dobson (6'3", 180 lbs.) of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) moved to #5 from #8.
Bouchard, 18,scored 25 goals and 62 assists in 67 games. played. He was the seventh highest scorer in The O in 2017-18, an amazing accomplishment when you stop to consider the level of talent he was competing against. Bouchard was the first defenseman to finish among the top 10 OHL scorers since Nashville Predators top four D Ryan Ellis was tied for fourth with 101 points for Windsor in 2010-11. Bouchard also had 1 goal and four assists in four OHL playoff games.
Dobson, 18, scored 17 goals and 52 assists in 62 games. Dobson scored 11 PPGs while landing an incredible 276 SOG.
"Dobson sees the ice extremely well, makes good decisions under pressure, supports the rush and has a big shot from point," said Troy Dumville of Central Scouting. "The team added some key players that took some pressure off him but his game matured the more confidence he gained."
Quintin Hughes (D, 5'9", 170 lbs.) of the University of Michigan jumped up from #6 to #4.
Hughes is a puck mover extraordinaire who will fit seamlessly into the NHL style in no time at all. Hughes plays north and can transport the puck himself or he can distribute to teammates with qquick, accurate passing. He sees the ice well and isn't afrain to slam the wall, nor jump in and join the rush.
Hughes didn't disappoint during hus freshman season at Michigan. He scored 5 goals and 24 assists in 37 games played. Hughes added three assists for Team USA in their bronze medal win at the IIHF WJC's in Buffalo.
"Bouchard, Dobson and Hughes have had strong and successful seasons and it will come down to what an NHL club is looking for," Marr said. "All three upgraded their status as the season went along. With our group of scouts it came down to style of play with their skills and assets and the upside projection which made a difference. But these differences really are minute and you can make a case for taking any one of them over the other."
London Kights center Liam Foudy made one of the most prodigious leaps into the first round by elevating from #91 to #19. Central scouting loves the 18-year-old forward who scored 24 goals and 16 assists in 65 games in his sophomore season in The O. Foudy scored 4 GWGs and 5 SHG.