1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, 6'2", 183 lbs.
The consensus number 1 pick. Supposedly has every tool imaginable for a young defenseman. Has been called everything from Karlsson to Lidstrom. There's Dahlin, then there's everyone else... according to one scout. His offensive capabilities are known, he's great at opening up lanes, can shoot, and has pinpoint passing.
How is his defense? From what I've watched: crafty.
He's not the fastest in the league, or necessarily the strongest at 18 (that could change). But he does seem to have tricks up his sleeve: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE3xSRjfDkg
He can skate the puck out of trouble, and can use moves that most forwards would use in a breakaway scenario to do it. This is on large euro rinks with lesser opponents, but it speaks to his confidence. A lot of these tricks will likely diminish once he reaches the NHL.
He uses his left skate to drag along the ice and change his angle when skating, making him hard to defend through the neutral zone and skating in from the point.
There isn't much evidence of him making contact, which probably puts many Hawks fans on edge while thinking of the 'no hit' Hawks of the last few seasons. He is still growing though, and putting more meat on a 6'2" frame could lead to more step-ups like this: https://www.youtube.com/w...tch?v=OMig8EbUFx8#t=2m45s
His strongest attributes seem to be puck-handling, and navigating the neutral zone.
His room for improvement will likely be: adjusting to smaller ice, heavier play.
Best case scenario: Erik Karlsson
Worst case scenario: Nick Leddy
Plausible scenario: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, 6'3", 187 lbs.
The tall Russian has been neck and neck with Zadina for the number 2 spot behind Dahlin. His brother was taken 19th overall by Detroit in 2015 and has started to play a handful of games with the big club this year. I caught a Grand Rapids Griffins game against the Chicago Wolves earlier this year, Svechnikov (the brother) was mostly invisible that game.
Andrei has a big body and long reach. He seems to gravitate toward the net whenever he's in the offensive zone. It looks like many of his goals could be scored in the dirty areas. He has the ability to draw multiple defenders to him to open up teammates on the opposite side of the net: https://www.youtube.com/w...tch?v=kDk5gw5q9Vo#t=4m54s
His long reach gives him a puck control radius reminiscent of Patrick Laine or Marian Hossa, where no puck behind the net is totally out of reach.
He reaches a decently high speed with a low amount of strides, and seems to glide through traffic easier than most. He almost looks slow because of how few strides he takes in the offensive zone, but looking at the people chasing him tells a different story.
He's a lefty, so his office on the PP is flipped from where Ovechkin/Stamkos normally setup. He has a good one-timer, but his wrist shot seems to be his main weapon of choice. Any time he's had more space on the larger ice surfaces he seems to flourish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_iYyg6Fwd0
Svechnikov has a nose for the net, and seems to create a decent scoring chance on most of his shifts. He seems to be the kind of player that opposing coaches have to be mindful of, because the puck will end up at least near their net at some point during his shift. Although he seems to be a shoot-first winger, his ability to draw defenders and find teammates could lead to more assists.
The one thing that I don't like is how long it's taken his brother to crack a poor Detroit lineup. If the Stromes are any indication of overhyped pedigree, that would give me some pause on taking Svechnikov with a #2 pick over Zadina. However, the offensive tools are readily apparent, and that is why he'll be taken much sooner than his brother.
Best case scenario: Jakub Voracek, Marian Hossa
Worst case scenario: Jakob Silfverberg, Kevin Hayes
Plausible scenario: Thomas Vanek, Alexander Radulov
3. Filip Zadina, LW, 6’1”, 192 pounds
The latest top prospect our of Halifax Moosehead’s pedigree (MacKinnon, Drouin, Ehlers, etc.), the Czech winger has been commended for his three zone play.
At 192 pounds there’s not much filling out left to do, Zadina seems to be more mature than other prospects at the forward position.
Fair warning: he’s probably my favorite player in this draft, apologies for any bias.
He seems to never run out of energy. Constantly hounding the puck or jockeying for position like it’s the last two minutes or a game down by one.
He shoots a ton, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHM74F3FzPg
His wrist shoot is deadly, likes to score top shelf. Backhand is sneaky strong.
He has 44 goals, 38 assists, 82 points in 57 games for Halifax, and its a safe bet that this will be his final season in junior. Granted these aren’t MacKinnon/Drouin numbers, but it’s still impressive that he’s clipping along way above a point per game.
Zadina isn’t necessarily a Selke candidate, wingers rarely are, but his two way play has been noticed. Some reports state that he recognizes lanes and forces opposing players to make more difficult passes. Usually any compliments on a junior superstar’s defensive ability means a lot considering they’re usually deployed in the offensive zone and relied on for scoring.
Zadina’s offensive tools are second only to Svechnikov’s, and in some cases better. He has great deking ability and can weave through defenses like he’s running a cone drill. He’s likely faster than Svechnikov, and has quicker strides to get up to full speed. Zadina isn’t the fastest forward available, but he is not lacking at all in speed/acceleration.
Zadina has the characteristics of a ‘spark plug’, but his raw talent deserves a better moniker than something deserved for third liners. He will get rough along the boards, tie up sticks by slamming his into others’, and take an opportunity to hit if it presents itself. All of these traits as a puck hound should immediately help any team that strongly relies on puck cycling.
The few drawbacks of Zadina are that he might overlook teammates with a better angle while he waits for his shot, and his rough game might not be as dominant against fully grown men in the NHL.
Best case scenario: Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall
Worst case scenario: Mikkel Boedker, Michael Frolik
Plausible scenario: Filip Forsberg, Mike Hoffman
4: Brady Tkachuk, C/LW, 6'3", 196 lbs.
Another Tkachuk, another big body pest who can turn any game into an emotional rollercoaster for both teams. The second Tkachuk son's season at Boston University was just ended over the weekend by Michigan. He had 31 points in 40 games on a good Boston team as a freshman. He was frequently playing with Minnesota Wild prospect Jordan Greenway, who should be making his NHL debut this week. The team also boasted Nashville prospect Dante Fabbro and Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger. One defenseman who has logged heavy minutes on this team is Chad Krys, a Blackhawks prospect who is likely the 4th or 5th top D prospect in the Hawks system.
Enough on college situations, Tkachuk likely looks to go straight to the NHL like his brother Matthew did for Calgary. Matthew was taken #6 overall, so there doesn't seem to be a large gap between their perceived value here. Some articles think Brady will be better because he is taller, others say he's going to be exactly the same. It's tough to say.
31 points in 40 games seems weak for anything not in the NHL, but college scoring is hard to come by when you're playing against other top programs. Some college players put up huge numbers, but they're also doing it against teams that get second pickings of top young players.
He has a willingness to go to the net and take punishment, probably as much as anyone in the draft. He's got a big frame, and will likely end up well over 200 lbs. He doesn't have the dazzling top tools that Dahlin, Svechnikov, and Zadina have in terms of dekes, shot, and slick moves, but he is just below that. He also has something the other three (besides maybe Svechnikov) somewhat lack, a huge frame that is impossible to move.
One thing that a team can value when they pick Tkachuk is something that is rarely found in a draft: certainty.
Yes, Dahlin looks like a top flight defenseman. Erik Johnson also went #1, and ended up becoming a very good defenseman, but never a Norris candidate. Svechnikov and Zadina could end up being a couple of Sam Bennetts. I doubt any of the three will be busts, but I'm nearly certain that Tkachuk will be a 'very good' NHL player.
His biggest contribution at first glance would be his agitation ability, like Andrew Shaw, or Antoine Roussel. But that would diminish the skills that the kid has. He has very good speed, great hands, very solid puck control and board battle ability, and many other raw hockey talents that are valuable to a player with or without the last name Tkachuk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhOMx5B9wKk
(please excuse the 5'7" linemate)
He can roof the puck consistently, and has the ability to set teammates up with easy one timers. I was able to catch BU's game against Cornell, which they won. Tkachuk didn't stand out that much (it's hard at the college level), but absolutely no one moved him. It's like he was wearing shoes in a game played on rollerblades. His big body just does not get bumped off track.
Best case scenario: Leon Draisaitl, Brad Marchand
Worst case scenario: Andrew Shaw, Cal Clutterbuck
Plausible case scenario: Matthew Tkachuk, Wayne Simmonds
5. Adam Boqvist, D, 5'11", 170 lbs.
The second best defenseman in the draft, Adam Boqvist is a right handed D that seems to always be in short supply in the NHL.
Known primarily for his offensive abilities, it's surprising that Boqvist wasn't considered for forward with his toolset of wrist shot/skating. Boqvist would be a bigger name if it weren't for Dahlin, but the planet Jupiter of this draft's solar system tends to take up all of the press clippings for 2018. Boqvist shares many similarities with Dahlin, both are Swedish defensemen and have played in Sweden's junior and pro leagues. Both are offensive defensemen with slick moves and a pinpoint wrist shot.
Boqvist, though, is a righty and only 5'11". He's not afraid to carry the puck in alone, something that players in lesser leagues and in juniors are often able to do because of smaller/lesser competition: https://www.youtube.com/w...tch?v=6Awl9cY2fqA#t=2m37s
He will be dangerous inside the blueline, with the ability to cleverly deke and drag his way around forwards looking to pinch him against the blueline. His elusiveness with the puck makes him exhausting to track down: https://www.youtube.com/w...tch?v=7PBrJD5uzRk&t=2m37s
Boqvist is likely to earn top PP minutes in his career, his hands and playmaking ability are too much for most coaches to pass up. Boqvist has simply been a dominant offensive force when on the ice.
Defensive abilities: there's little footage of him actually taking rushes against. There are multiple examples of him skating the puck out of trouble or completing a long stretch pass. One video showed him making a blind backhand pass off the back boards to his partner, something that gives most Blackhawks fans nightmares at this point... but it worked.
He has the confidence, ability, and speed to be a solid defenseman in the NHL. But there just isn't enough evidence or commendations of his defensive abilities to accurately recommend this.
Boqvist's junior rights were drafted by the London Knights, so he could start next season there or remain in Sweden with his parent club. He's had difficulty holding a spot on Brynas, only cracking 15 games against the big boys. Not to draw hyperbolic comparisons... but Erik Karlsson had trouble putting up points in the Swedish league even in the year after he was drafted, 10 in 45.
Boqvist projects to be a dangerous and gifted offensive defenseman, although question marks remain about his ability to play a shutdown game.
Best case scenario: John Klingberg, Shayne Gostisbehere
Worst case scenario: John Moore, Marco Scandella
Plausible scenario: Hampus Lindholm, Tyson Barrie
Coming soon is Oliver Wahlstrom...