Here are the draft rankings according to an aggregate of 6 sources (ISS Hockey, Marek, Hockeyprospect.com, Scott Wheeler, Dobber, McKenzie)
1. Rasmus Dahlin, D
2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW
3. Filip Zadina, LW
4. Brady Tkachuk, LW
5. Adam Boqvist, D
6. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW
7. Evan Bouchard, D
8. Quinton Hughes, D
9. Noah Dobson, D
10. Joe Veleno, C
11. Joel Farabee, LW
12. Barret Hayton, C
I'll be posting a few write-ups on each guy so we can have a sense of what each guy brings to the table, and who they might compare to. If anyone wants to take a crack at any of them, let me know.
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
6. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, 6'1", 205 lbs.
Another power forward American, Oliver Wahlstrom has all of the tools of Brady Tkachuk, minus the agitation factor.
Wahlstrom originally became a youtube sensation in 2009 due to his shootout abilities, yes the shootout has been around so long now that little kids who did it 9 years ago are being drafted.
His biggest attribute is his shot, he has a powerful wrister and a dangerous slapshot. Wahlstrom uses his big body to mosey in next to the goalie for garbage duty and tap ins. He has the hands to navigate through traffic, though he might not be as slick as Svechnikov or Zadina.
Oliver is a Harvard commit, so he won't be playing in the NHL next year until at least late March. Anyone hoping for a plug-and-play at second or third RW can pump the brakes. He spent this season in the USHL and USDP racking up well over a point-per-game in both.
Wahlstrom isn't the fastest skater, but his speed isn't a liability. He seems to be able to flick in top corner shots from anywhere in the offensive zone. Obviously against an NHL goalie these would greatly diminish, but he has very high confidence in letting it rip from anywhere: https://www.youtube.com/w...tch?v=Fssa7YNtw_I#t=6m26s
Wahlstrom's ability to take a big shot from anywhere doesn't mean that he won't attack the net. I've seen more than one clip of him go to the net and pull a full Mighty Ducks Averman and just slam into the goal. Joking aside, he can take abuse in his quest for the most goals possible.
Walhstrom's player type seems to really be a shoot-first power forward. His hands and strong skating can get him into good positions, but his shot is the reason he's risen so high on many scout's draft boards.
Best case scenario: Thomas Vanek, Joe Pavelski
Worst case scenario: Jaime McGinn, Brett Ritchie
Plausible scenario: James van Riemsdyk, TJ Oshie
7. Evan Bouchard, D, 6'2", 192 lbs.
The third defenseman in the top ten, Evan Bouchard is a departure from the Dahlin/Boqvist phenotype and the first Canadian covered. Bouchard's biggest attribute seems to be his all-around ability, as opposed to Dahlin and Boqvist's game-changing offensive capabilities.
Bouchard has spent the last three seasons on the London Knights, and the last one as the captain after the departure of Rob Thomas. This season has been an explosion of points for Bouchard, going from 44 points in 68 games the previous year to 87 in 67. Bouchard getting top billing on a potent London team has helped him rack up points on the power play and enjoy important minutes on the top penalty kill.
Bouchard is not the dangling, NHL18-skill stick type of player like Dahlin or Boqvist. But Bouchard does venture into the offensive zone and display more traditional offensive abilities like a potent wrister and very powerful slap shot. His shooting percentage hovers around 11%, so his high goal totals could actually translate to a decent amount of goals in the NHL. He leads the OHL in shots on goal by defenseman, as well as goals by a defenseman.
Although he wears #2, he's more comparable to Brent Seabrook than Duncan Keith. He's a righty and plays the right side, and at 6'2" can use his frame in the defensive zone and along the boards. He joins the rush and will sneak in to the dot for one timers when plays are just getting started.
One area where he does compare with Keith is his headiness, he has the ability to look off defenders and fake shots/passes to open up new lanes. His calmness with the puck on his stick gives him a leg up on many defensemen in this draft.
Bouchard's poise, solid offensive play, and hockeyIQ all point towards a solid NHL career, but his one drawback is his skating. The most important thing that scouts first look at is 'can the kid skate?'. Luckily Bouchard can skate, once he gets moving. His acceleration takes a few strides before he hits his top speed though. In the NHL, where time before contact is a fraction of junior leagues, this could bite Bouchard. Having a slow first step can lead to plenty of issues in your own zone.
Maybe Bouchard's poor acceleration can be fixed by a good skating coach and more time, and luckily for him it's not coupled with other issues like size, compete level, or hockeyIQ.
This shot reminds me of one defenseman who's celebrating his 1,000th game tonight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxXcv2_IRRA#t=1m1s
Bouchard has some question marks around his game, and that will increase with each pick as we move further down the board. Each player will become less and less of a sure thing. There are tools to work with here though: solid IQ, good shot, size.
Best case scenario: Brent Seabrook, Seth Jones
Worst case scenario: Cody Franson, Cody Ceci
Plausible scenario: Matt Niskanen, Jacob Slavin
8. Quinton Hughes, D, 5'10", 175 lbs.
The fourth defenseman after Dahlin, Boqvist, and Bouchard, Quinn Hughes is the first American dman we've covered.
There seems to be some controversy over Quinn Hughes' real height. The majority of scouting sites have him at 5'10", some have him at 5'9" while a few have him at 5'11". The most likely story is that he's 5'10". Anything less than this height would be cause for concern, but 5'10" is not unheard of. Yes, it likely means he won't exactly be Scott Stevens out there, but that doesn't mean his stick suddenly vanishes.
Like all of the D prospects we've covered so far, Hughes is known for his electrifying playmaker abilities. His skating is his strongest attribute, and since we know that this is the first thing that scouts look for, this sounds like we're off to a good start.
Hughes just finished his Freshman year at Michigan. Before that he played on the USND team. On the USND team, he posted 26 points in 26 games. Here are some comparisons to chew on; in the USNDT year prior to each player being drafted, here is what each player posted:
-Charlie McAvoy- 19 points in 23 gp
-Chad Krys- 26 in 35
-Noah Hanifin- 20 in 31
-Zach Werenski- 19 in 35
Is Hughes the next McAvoy/Werenski? Not going to say that. But this does make a nice comparison. Hughes has only gotten better since he joined Michigan, and has put on a little bit of weight.
Hughes is an offense-first defenseman, his defensive ability is clearly listed as a weakness on multiple reports. Some defensemen have the ability to be so dominant with the puck that it lifts their underlying stats out of the deep end. Hopefully Hughes can perform moves like this enough to compensate for his improvable defense: https://www.youtube.com/w..._continue=1&v=y1LruG9ph04
Hughes' second best attribute is his hands and passing ability. This strength could help translate him into a dman who's capable of making key outlet passes to alleviate a strong forecheck by the opposition.
Hughes' biggest weaknesses are his size and defensive ability. He isn't big enough to win many board battles or muscle guys away from the net. It's hard to imagine him going hard into the boards with the likes of a top line like Winnipeg, San Jose, or Anaheim. He can improve his D ability, and before you write him off entirely keep in mind that Erik Karlsson is a whopping one inch taller.
Best case scenario: Dan Boyle, Torey Krug
Worst case scenario: Derrick Pouliout , Jon Merrill
Plausible scenario: Ryan Ellis, Josh Morrissey
9. Noah Dobson, D, 6'3", 179 lbs.
Another defenseman in a D-heavy draft, Noah Dobson is a right-shooting Canadian defenseman currently playing in QMJHL for Acadie-Bathhurst Titan. Dobson might be the first defenseman we've covered who has his defensive ability actually touted. Most of the others have been highly dynamic offensive threats, with varying degrees of vulnerability on protecting their own end.
Dobson's height and positioning have caught the eye of scouts in several reports, and this should bode well for a team looking for a reliable two-way dman.
Dobson's offensive abilities are not lacking, he has a bomb of a slap shot and a serviceable wrist shot. He walks the line well in the offensive zone, and can be creative to keep the play alive when pinching. He looks comfortable on the left or right point when the forecheck is established. His one-timer has helped him pot 17 goals this last season. His 69 points in 67 games translates to 21 points in the NHL, using Vollman's .25 conversion factor extrapolated over an 82 game span. This seems misleading for a dman though, as their point totals are highly correlated to the amount of PP time they receive.
Dobson's deadliness from the point and top of the dots is readily apparent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZFszNblc-I
Dobson is willing to block shots, and his long reach and active stick give him a leg up on some of the other shorter defenseman in the category of 'hard to play against'. He's willing to be physical, but at 179 pounds stretched out on a 6'3" frame, there will need to be some significant bulking up to keep any aspect of that game feasible. Dobson's biggest critique is his slightness of frame, but that should be improved over the next couple of years.
While Noah is less of a superstar defenseman than some of the previous entries, he might be the most likely outside of Dahlin to become an everyday NHL defenseman.
Best case scenario: Alex Pietrangelo, Seth Jones
Worst case scenario: Jonas Brodin, Andrew MacDonald
Plausible scenario: Colin Miller, Jeff Petry
10. Joe Veleno, C, 6'1", 194"
The first center we've covered, somehow it's taken to the tenth spot for us to get to a true center. Joe Veleno is likely the most controversial prospect in the top 15, he swings wildly between different scouts and services, but his average between the 6 sources I use had him at 10.
Joe Veleno was the first Quebec kid to be granted exceptional status to enter Major Junior as a 15 year old. He joins a nearly elite group of prospects who have achieved exceptional status (Tavares, Ekblad, McDavid, and... Sean Day). Veleno has been playing above his age group for a lot of his pre-NHL career. Some say he didn't deserve exceptional status, others say that he's a top 3 pick.
Veleno's strongest abilities are his playmaking and two-way play. He is tenacious on the backcheck, and has worked hard to gain his two-way reputation as a kid playing with older teens. He's been quoted that his favorite way to play is to draw defenders to him while setting up teammates, and this is readily apparent in his highlight videos. Veleno has good speed, and better feet. He's shifty and agile through all three zones.
The biggest knock on Veleno has been his pass-first mentality, and his inconsistency when a forecheck falls apart. Both of these things are coachable, but put question marks where others don't have them.
Veleno doesn't have an extremely high offensive ceiling, but his two-way play has lead to comparisons to Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron. It's quite unusual to see any draft of the last ten years where a center isn't featured in at least the top five. The last time there was only one center in the top ten was in 2012 when Alex Galchenyuk went number 3.
Joe Veleno has been around a point per game in most of his QMJHL career, some of that has been on some pretty bad teams. It's still unusual to see someone so highly touted not put up astronomical numbers in a major junior league, 48 in 33 doesn't scream 'franchise center'.
Veleno is 6'1", but looks and plays somewhat smaller. The tape on him shows great playmaking ability, but it's harder and harder for centers that aren't 6'2" and above to become franchise centers.
With this being a relatively weak center draft, perhaps a team would shy away from the best center available simply because this isn't a McDavid/Eichel/Strome free-for-all. Veleno's draft position could end up anywhere from 5 to 20.
Best case scenario: Claude Giroux, Logan Couture
Worst case scenario: Sam Bennett, JG Pageau
Plausible scenario: Mikael Backlund, Tyler Bozak