2018 NHL MOCK DRAFT
What will the Canadian teams do?
With the 2018 NHL Entry Draft just one day away, we take our best guess at how the first round will play out and who the Canadian teams may consider (Sorry Jets and Flames fans, nothing to see here). Let the year of Rasmus begin!
1. Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Dahlin (D) 6'3'' 185 lbs - Frolunda (SHL)
2. Carolina Hurricanes
Andrei Svechnikov (RW) 6'2'' 192 lbs - Barrie (OHL)
3. Montreal Canadiens
Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C) 6'2'' 181 lbs - Assat (SM-liiga)
With the top two picks all but locked in, the Canadiens are in a position to cause absolute chaos in the top-10. Rumours have the team leaning towards Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but lets take a look at a few possible options at #3.
Kotkaniemi: The average hockey fan has never seen the kid play, but here we are, relying on reports he could be the next Anze Kopitar and slotting him at #3. Montreal's complete lack of centre depth will likely sway the decision in favour of Kotkaniemi, but this is far from a sure thing.
Tkachuk: Even though he won't solve Montreal's centre crisis, the younger Tkachuk remains a very intriguing option for the Canadiens. Brady looks capable of stepping into an NHL lineup as soon as next season and brings much needed intensity and competitiveness to the team. Although he may never be your top point producer, Tkachuk is a known commodity and a low risk pick.
Trade: With such a big discrepancy between Kotkaniemi's draft ranking and the #3 pick, the Canadiens may be in a position to trade down and still get their favourite player. If the possibility is there for Montreal to accrue some additional draft currency and remain inside the top-10 they would have to at least consider it. However, moving down the draft board is a high risk play with Arizona and Detroit lingering behind them.
4. Ottawa SenatorS (OPTIONAL TO COLORADO)
Noah Dobson (D) 6'3'' 177 lbs - Acadie Bathurst (QHJHL)
The Sens have capped off a terrible year with an even worse month. The Karlsson-Hoffman drama should've been dealt by the team much sooner and Pierre Dorion's policy of not trading within the division clearly backfired. This team is in desperate need of forward momentum both on and off the ice and giving away this year's selection to Colorado would be a clear sign that the team is packing it in for the 2018/2019 season before it even begins. Unless a full rebuild is in the works and Karlsson is dealt, Ottawa is stepping to the mic for the #4 selection. The options at #4 could include:
Dobson: Speaking of forward momentum, Dobson's stock has gone nowhere but up all season. He's established himself as the #2 defenceman in this class and with Karlsson's future in Ottawa still up in the air, the Memorial Cup winning blueliner would add much needed depth on the back end. Gut feeling is that Dobson won't be waiting long for his name to be announced.
Tkachuk: For the same reasons noted above, Tkachuk would be an instant impact player for the Sens. If he slips past the Canadiens at #3, Ottawa will have to take a long hard look at the big American winger.
Zadina: After the lacklustre Hoffman deal Ottawa will be looking to fill the void of a goal scoring winger. Zadina projects to be one of this year's best shooters and showcased his ability to create offence against top competition at the World Juniors.
5. Arizona Coyotes
Brady Tkachuk (LW) 6'3'' 192 lbs - Boston University (H-East)
6. Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina (RW) 6'0'' 197 lbs - Halifax (QMJHL)
7. Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes (D) 5'10'' 173 lbs - Michigan (BIG10)
For a team that many projected to finish last this past season, the Canucks were at least able to see a few glimpses of hope from their up and coming talent. With the immediate success of Brock Boeser and the buzz surrounding Elias Pettersson, the Canucks are all but guaranteed to select to a defenceman at #7. With Dobson likely gone, the Canucks selection will come down to the three remaining top-tier defencemen.
Hughes: Scouting reports have Hughes clearly projected as a dynamic offensive defenceman. USA hockey has already given him the opportunity to play at the World Championships as an 18 year old and the Canucks may be inclined to agree with National Development Program's scouts after churning out several pro-ready prospects. With the Canucks starving for goals and offensive production on the back-end, Hughes is likely the favoured pick.
Bouchard: The London Knights defenceman has what the other two options here don't, size. Although he's more of a puck-mover than a physical force, Bouchard's size may allow him to make the jump to the NHL sooner. He makes consistently smart decisions with the puck on his stick and put up monster points in the OHL this past season. Psychologically, the Canucks may struggle to pull the trigger on another Knights defenceman.
Boqvist: As one of the younger players available, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg with Adam Boqvist. A quick Google search of this kid and you'll get highlights of a smooth skating defenceman with extremely soft hands. Media has been painting this kid as a boom or bust prospect, but the intangibles are there to be a point-producing power-play quarterback.
8. Chicago Blackhawks
Oliver Wahlstrom (RW) 6'1'' 208 lbs - USA-U18 (NTDP)
9. New York Rangers
Evan Bouchard (D) 6'2'' 196 lbs - London (OHL)
10. Edmonton Oilers
Adam Boqvist (D) 6'0'' 165 lbs - Brynas-Jr (J20 SuperElit)
Keep the pick...trade the pick...it's a tough decision for Oilers management who are looking to win, and win now. If the Oilers do decide to keep this pick, they'll be left with the last man standing from the carnage of picks 3 to 9.
Boqvist: As noted in our analysis of the Vancouver selection, Boqvist is one slick customer. Although he may need a few seasons to develop, time the Oilers and its fans don't want to waste, the long term upside is too big to pass up. The cherry on top for the Oilers - he shoots right.
Kotkaniemi: Yes there is a scenario where the top rated centre drops to the Oilers. It may be unlikely now that the Jesperi has become such a hot commodity, but if team's pick in accordance with consensus rankings then Edmonton could be in a position to draft him. That scenario would unfortunately leave the Oilers without any of the defenceman noted above, but building depth down the middle is never a bad idea.
Wahlstrom: Adding an elite shoot-first winger to a team with McDavid and Draisaitl down the middle would give opposing teams nightmares. Odds are that the American winger out of the NTDP will be snapped up by Chicago or New York before the Oilers can get a whiff. Dare to dream.
11. New York Islanders
Barrett Hayton (C) 6'1'' 190 lbs - Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
12. New York Islanders (fROM cALGARY)
Ty Smith (D) 5'11'' 176 lbs - Spokane (WHL)
13. Dallas Stars
Joseph Veleno (C) 6'1'' 191 lbs - Drummondville (QMJHL)
14. Philadelphia Flyers (fROM st. Louis)
Joel Farabee (LW) 6'0'' 162 lbs - USA-U18 (NTDP)
15. Florida Panthers
Rasmus Kupari (C) 6'2'' 189 lbs - Karpat (SM-liiga)
16. Colorado Avalanche
Bode Wilde (D) 6'2'' 198 lbs - USA U-18 (NTDP)
17. New Jersey Devils
Rasmus Sandin (D) 5'11'' 186 lbs - Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
Grigori Denisenko (LW) 5'11'' 172 lbs - Yaroslavl-2 (MHL)
19. Philadelphia Flyers
Serron Noel (RW) 6'5'' 204 lbs - Oshawa (OHL)
20. Los Angeles Kings
Vitali Kravtsov (RW) 6'3'' 184 lbs - Chelyabinsk (KHL)
21. San Jose Sharks
Jared McIsaac (D) 6'1'' 189 lbs - Halifax (QMJHL)
22. Ottawa Senators (From Pittsburgh)
Akil Thomas (C) 5'11'' 177 lbs - Niagara (OHL)
With an early pick already in the books, the Sens have the luxury of taking best player available at this point in the first round. It's hard to project exactly who that player may be, but a few options could be:
Thomas: Put up big points in the OHL last season and has the pedigree of playing for team Canada at the U-18 World Championships. Could be top-6 forward for this team down the road.
Dellandrea: A strong skating centre with untapped offensive upside. His stats took a big hit this year playing on a really bad Flint team.
Miller: The big American rear-guard may be raw but he could have a higher ceiling than the remaining defencemen available. Patience will be key with this one.
23. Anaheim Ducks
Dominik Bokk (RW) 6'1'' 176 lbs - Vaxjo-Jr (J20-SuperElit)
24. Minnesota Wild
Ty Dellandrea (C) 6'0'' 184 lbs - Flint (OHL)
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
Isac Lundestrom (C) 6'0'' 183 lbs - Lulea (SHL)
At 25 we'll get to see the beginning of the Kyle Dubas Era in Toronto. Maybe it's just a gut feeling, but I don't see him evaluating players based on truculence and pugnacity. Although strategy here will mainly be "wait and see", a few players come to mind for the Leafs in this range:
Lundestrom: Has the versatility to play up and down the lineup. Would provide the Leafs a young, cost-effective two way forward to throw in with a group that's about to get very expensive very quickly.
Ginning: Ranked #6 in Central Scouting's list of European skaters, Adam Ginning hasn't gotten much attention ahead of the draft purely because he isn't a dynamic offensive threat. Ginning has played in back to back U-18 World Championships for Sweden and provides a steadying force to defensive groups made up of offensive minded defensemen
Who?: Yes at 25 a team has the luxury of selecting a prospect only die-hard fans and draft nuts have heard of. With the gap between players in the bottom half of the first round and middle of the second round so small, the Leafs could take a shot on a Junior 'A' or USHL player they see a particular trait or skill-set in. Jacob Bernard Docker, Jonathan Tychonick, and Jay O'Brien could be a name you hear with this pick.
26. New York Rangers (FROM BOSTON)
Martin Kaut (RW) 6'2'' 176 lbs - Pardubice (Czech Extraliga)
27. Chicago Blackhawks (from nashville)
K'Andre Miller (D) 6'3'' 198 lbs - USA-U18 (NTDP)
28. New York Rangers (From Tampa Bay)
Mattias Samuelsson (D) 6'4'' 218 lbs - USA U-18 (NTDP)
29. St. Louis Blues (from winnipeg)
Liam Foudy (C) 6'0'' 174 lbs - London (OHL)
30. Detroit Red Wings (from vegas)
Adam Ginning (D) 6'4'' 206 lbs - Linkoping (SHL)
31. Washington Capitals
Ryan McLeod (C) 6'2'' 206 lbs - Mississauga (OHL)