2018 NHL Mock Draft

June 22, 2018 - 10:55 am
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The 2018 NHL Entry-Level Draft is finally upon us as the festivities from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas is set to get started at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Buffalo Sabres hold onto the first selection in the NHL Draft, after winning the Draft Lottery back in late April. With that pick, it is almost a certainty that they will take Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin out of Frölunda in the Swedish Hockey League.

Right behind the Sabres sit the Carolina Hurricanes, who jumped up to the No. 2 overall pick thanks to the lottery. With their pick, they are likely to select forward Andrei Svechnikov from the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League.

Finally, perhaps, the biggest wild card of the night is the third overall pick, which belongs to the Montreal Canadiens.

This year's class of prospects has been dominated all year by the hype surrounding Dahlin with the first pick. Dahlin has been deemed as the clear-cut, No. 1 prospect available in the 2018 NHL Draft, and the best defensive prospect to enter the draft in several years.

Then, it is that next tier of players that features Svechnikov, often regarded as the best forward and overall playmaker available in this year's draft. He is joined in this group by Czech forward Filip Zadina of the Hailfax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who could be the best goal scoring forward available for selection.

Following those two, the class is composed of a good group of prospects that can certainly be in the NHL within the next couple of years. This group features players like forwards Brady Tkachuk, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and defensemen Quinn Hughes, Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson.

Once you get past the middle portion of the first round, the quality of prospects tends to drop off a bit, but they still have the capacity to develop into future NHL players.

Without further ado, here is my first round mock for the 2018 NHL Draft:

 

***1.) Buffalo Sabres***

SELECTION: Rasmus Dahlin - Defense - Frölunda Indians (SHL)

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 185 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Sweden

Birthday: 4/13/2000

No brainer here. Don't think too hard about this one.

Dahlin is the best prospect to come out of the 2018 NHL Draft and for good reason.

The 18-year old has been said to be one of the best players in almost every category that you evaluate in a prospect. He has great hands, elite skating ability, and his vision and hockey sense is ahead of the curve.

With Frölunda this past year, Dahlin scored seven goals and added 13 assists as a 17-year-old in Sweden's top league. At the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo this year, Dahlin registered six assists and was named as the top defenseman of the tournament. His stellar season even included a chance to play with the Swedish National Team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

In Frölunda, Dahlin became, arguably, their best defenseman by the end of the season, playing an average of 21-plus minutes per-night. He played key minutes on even strength and the power play, and ended up finishing third in the SHL Defenseman of the Year voting.

At the World Juniors, Dahlin played as a man amongst boys throughout the tournament, leading Sweden in average ice time at over 23-minutes per-game. He managed to help Sweden get to the gold medal game against Canada, but they came up short while taking home the bronze.

Dahlin should come to Buffalo next season and be able to crack the opening night lineup as a top-four defenseman. The transition from the SHL to the NHL shouldn't be too difficult for Dahlin, and he could very well be on Buffalo's top defensive pairing by the end of the season.

He is the No. 1 defenseman that the Sabres have been looking for for a long time. He might be the best defenseman the Sabres have had since current head coach Phil Housley.

 

2.) Carolina Hurricanes

SELECTION: Andrei Svechnikov - Right Wing - Barrie Colts (OHL)

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 187 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Russia

Birthday: 3/26/2000

Svechnikov is, all-around, the best forward available in this year's draft.

Last season in his first season in the OHL with Barrie, Svechnikov stood out with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games played. In the playoffs, the 18-year-old scored five goals and 11 points in eight games.

The young Russian was also in Buffalo for the World Juniors, registering five assists in five games. However, his playing time was limited as Russia decided to consistently rotate lines, giving Svechnikov just an average of 11-minutes per-game.

What makes Svechnikov such a special talent is his overall playmaking ability. He can use his speed and skill to play more of a finesse style of hockey, or he can use his size and aggressiveness to play more of a power game.

Svechnikov also has great hands to make some incredible plays with the puck, and can easily set up a goal for his teammates as easy as he can score them himself.

It is likely that Svechnikov will start the season in the NHL with the Hurricanes. He can immediately step in to a Carolina lineup that could use some of his offensive flair and creativity.
 

3.) Montreal Canadiens

SELECTION: Brady Tkachuk - Left Wing - Boston University (NCAA)

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 196 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 9/16/1999

The bigger question here with this pick is, what the hell are the Canadiens going to do with the pick?

Rumors have swirled about Montreal trading out of the pick, whether that is to acquire a top center in a trade, or whether it's to move down the draft board a bit.

However, if they stay at three, they will have a choice of players like Zadina, Kotkaniemi, or Tkachuk.

It seems like the Canadiens have liked what they've seen from Tkachuk, and that's for good reason. The 18-year-old is a pesky power forward who's not afraid to get his nose into just about anything. He gets to the front of the net and uses his size to take advantage of defenders and clean up some loose change around the net. He is aggressive in the corners, he can throw around his weight to make some heavy hits, and is tough to contain in all three zones of the ice.

When Tkachuk is on his game, he open things up for either himself, or for his teammates around him to make plays and sustain some good offensive zone time.

Offensively, it has been said that Brady has the potential to be more offensively gifted than his brother Matthew with the Calgary Flames. He has some good hands to let go of a dnagerously accurate shot, can skate well, and has a good knack for knowing where he needs to be at the right time.

At the World Juniors, Tkachuk scored three goals and registered nine assists on his way to a bronze medal with the United States. He was an offensive force throughout the tournament, using his size and skill to dominate in front of the net and open things up for his team on the ice.

Tkachuk has said that he is likely returning to Boston University next season, but if the Canadiens (or whoever drafts him) feels he's ready to make the jump to the NHL, it may be pretty easy to pry him out of college.


4.) Ottawa Senators

SELECTION: Filip Zadina - Left Wing - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 196 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Czech Republic

Birthday: 11/27/1999

The Ottawa Senators have an interesting situation with this pick heading into Friday's first round. Ottawa has the choice to give the Colorado Avalanche this pick as part of the Matt Duchene trade earlier this season. If they choose to hold on to the pick this year though, they will surrender their first round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

If I were the Senators, I would give the pick to Colorado this year with the way that the 2018-19 season could unfold in Ottawa. However, just imagine the backlash from around the NHL if they were to give up the fourth overall pick and what it could mean for the future...

Anyway, if they hold on to the pick, Zadina is, arguably, the best goal scoring prospect to come out of the 2018 class.

Zadina is very similar to Alexander Ovechkin as to his demand for the puck on his stick to make a play on offense. With the puck, he can dish it off and create a chance for a teammate, but more often than not, he is looking to shoot the puck.

Last season in Halifax, Zadina scored 44 goals on 234 shots, and picked up 82 points in 57 games played. In the playoffs, Zadina picked up an additional five goals and 12 points in nine games.

The Czech native also took part in the IIHF World Junior Championship, helping lead his country to an appearance in the bronze medal game against the United States. Zadina was a driving force for the Czechsm scoring seven goals in seven games and was named as a media all-star.

Zadina may not be the greatest of skaters, but his shot, skills, and game-changing characteristics will make him a highly-regarded prospect that any team would love to draft.


5.) Arizona Coyotes

SELECTION: Adam Boqvist - Defense - Brynäs IF (SHL)

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 170 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Sweden

Birthday: 8/15/2000

Boqvist may be the biggest "boom or bust" player available for selection in the top-part of the NHL Draft.

The Swedish defenseman fits that new-wave defenseman part in today's NHL, standing only at 5' 11" but able to skate and move the puck extremely well. The 17-year-old may want to gain some more strength, but his ability to create offense for his team puts him on another level.

Where the "bust" factor comes in is his defensive play. The question is can he be reliable in his own end and be able to play a strong defensive game. It has been said that he does, at times, tend to get lost in his own end, but his game heading into the offensive end is exceptional.

Boqvist put up a very good Under-18 World Championship this year, scoring three goals and adding three helpers, while leading Sweden to a bronze medal and the honors of the tournament's best defenseman.

Arizona would be a great destination for the young defenseman, joining the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jakob Chychrun in the desert. However, another year or two in the Swedish Hockey League to develop his game even further wouldn't hurt him at all.

 

6.) Detroit Red Wings

SELECTION: Quinn Hughes - Defense - University of Michigan (NCAA)

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 174 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 10/14/1999

Another small, but smooth skating and good puck moving defenseman at the sixth overall pick with American, Quinn Hughes.

The 18-year-old stepped into the NCAA this season and didn't necessarily wow anyone with his play, but showed that he can compete with some of the biggest and toughest players. Hughes ended up scoring five goals with the Wolverines, while registering 29 points in 37 games.

Where Hughes stepped up and shined in the spotlight was at the international level with Team USA.

At the IIHF World Junior Championship, Hughes was part of a U.S. blue line that performed pretty well on their way to bronze. Hughes was used more offensively throughout the tournament, but for good cause as he played a big part of their power play. In seven games overall, Hughes registered three assists and showcased his exceptional skating and puck moving abilities.

At the IIHF World Championship in Denmark, Hughes continued his stellar play under current Red Wings head coach, Jeff Blashill. Hughes' role was limited at first, but Blashill gained more confidence in Hughes toward the end of the tournament, and ended up giving him plenty of ice time for the U.S. He ended up finishing the tournament with two helpers in 10 games played.

If Hughes is available with the sixth overall pick, the Red Wings may take a good, long look at taking the youngster, even though they have probably seen plenty of him at the University of Michigan.


7.) Vancouver Canucks

SELECTION: Noah Dobson - Defense - Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 179 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 1/7/2000

Noah Dobson may have been the fastest-rising prospect in the 2018 NHL Draft as he has now garnered consideration as a top-10 pick.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout year with Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL, scoring 17 goals and putting up 69 points in 67 games. In the playoffs, Dobson scored three goals and put up 13 points as he helped the Titan to a QMJHL title. On the national spotlight at the CHL Memorial Cup, Dobson really stepped up his game with two goals and seven points in four games.

Dobson may not be the flashiest of a player, but he certainly is a solid and consistent defenseman all around. He possesses good size and physicality, while bringing a booming shot, good vision around the ice, and the ability to eat some major minutes.

Can he continue his strong play heading into the long run? We'll have to see, but some say he can become a two-way force on the blue line.

Vancouver's blue line has been anything but impressive over the past few years. An addition like Dobson can help the defensive group for the long-term.


8.) Chicago Blackhawks

SELECTION: Oliver Wahlstrom - Right Wing - U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 205 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 6/13/2000

Oliver Wahlstrom really showed off his offensive firepower this season, rising up his ranks as one of the best scoring players in this year's NHL Draft.

The 18-year-old scored 48 goals this season with the Under-18 U.S. Develop Program this season, while also adding 46 points in 62 games played. There's no doubt that Wahlstrom is skilled with his playmaking, skating and speed, but the knock on him is his consistency. If he could consistently put up the numbers he can put up, there could have been a chance of him going higher in this year's draft.

It was a successful IIHF Under-18 World Championship for Wahlstrom as he scored seven goals for the United States in seven games, but the U.S. fell just short of winning gold to Finland.

Wahlstrom will be heading to Boston College next season, and will probably be part of the IIHF World Junior team this season in Vancouver. There should be no rush to develop him, and the Blackhawks would be a team that could strongly benefit in the long-term with a piece like Wahlstrom.

 

9.) New York Rangers

SELECTION: Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Center - Ässät (Liiga)

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 190 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Finland

Birthday: 7/6/2000

Kotkaniemi was another high-riser this year in the draft, and is now ranked as the best center available in the NHL Draft.

While Kotkaniemi's biggest knock is his skating, he is a very smart forward down the middle with great vision. He possesses good size and strength to be a tough play for the opposition, while being a dangerous threat on offense with good hands and a wicked shot. He's been said to be the potential next coming of Aleksander Barkov.

In 57 games with Ässät in the Finnish Liiga, Kotkaniemi scored 10 goals and 29 points as a 17-year-old center. Numbers like that may not stick out that much to many, but for a kid to do that on the larger ice surfaces in Europe is very impressive.

Another year or two developing in the Finnish Liiga will be what's best for Kotkaniemi, plus he will probably be one of Finland's top offensive weapons come December at the IIHF World Juniors in Vancouver.

The Rangers would be very happy to add a good, reliable two-way centerman for the future, but in no way should he be rushed to the NHL.


10.) Edmonton Oilers

SELECTION: Evan Bouchard - Defense - London Knights (OHL)

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 192 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 10/20/1999

It certainly seems like the Edmonton Oilers are looking to move out of the 10th pick to acquire an established NHL defenseman to help their team right now.

However, if they decide to stick with the pick, Evan Bouchard may be one of the most sound two-way defensemen to come out of the 2018 NHL Draft class.

The 18-year-old had a solid season with the London Knights, scoring 25 goals and putting up 87 points in 67 games.

Bouchard is a very reliable defenseman who keeps up with the play very well using his skating and his high hockey IQ. His transition game is very good, especially going from defense to offense, and he can control the flow of the game with the puck on his stick.

Bouchard is certainly a solid defenseman, and can do all the right things from the back end to help his team win night in and night out. Is he ever going to be a top-defenseman in the NHL? Not likely, but he can provide a pivotal role as a top-two, top-three or top-four defensive role. That's all you will ever need from Bouchard.


11.) New York Islanders

SELECTION: Joe Veleno - Center - Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 194 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 1/13/2000

 

12.) New York Islanders (from the Calgary Flames)

SELECTION: Ty Smith - Defense - Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 176 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 3/24/2000

 

13.) Dallas Stars

SELECTION: Barrett Hayton - Center - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 185 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 6/9/2000

 

14.) Philadelphia Flyers (from the St. Louis Blues)

SELECTION: Joel Farabee - Left Wing - U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 168 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 2/25/2000

 

15.) Florida Panthers

SELECTION: Rasmus Kupari - Center - Oulun Kärpät (Liiga)

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 163 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Finland

Birthday: 3/15/2000

 

16.) Colorado Avalanche

SELECTION: Domink Bokk - Right Wing - Växjö Lakers (SHL)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 179 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Germany

Birthday: 2/3/2000

 

17.) New Jersey Devils

SELECTION: Vitali Kravtsov - Right Wing - Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 183 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Russia

Birthday: 12/23/1999

 

18.) Columbus Blue Jackets

SELECTION: Isac Lundestrom - Center - Luleå HF (SHL)

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 185 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Sweden

Birthday: 11/6/1999

 

19.) Philadelphia Flyers

SELECTION: Serron Noel - Right Wing - Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Height: 6′ 5″

Weight: 209 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 8/8/2000

 

20.) Los Angeles Kings

SELECTION: Bode Wilde - Defense - U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 196 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 1/24/2000

 

21.) San Jose Sharks

SELECTION: K'Andre Miller - Defense - U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Height: 6′ 4″

Weight: 205 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 1/21/2000

 

22.) Ottawa Senators (from the Pittsburgh Penguins)

SELECTION: Rasmus Sandin - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 190 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Sweden

Birthday: 3/7/2000

 

23.) Anaheim Ducks

SELECTION: Ryan McLeod - Center - Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 190 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 9/21/1999

 

24.) Minnesota Wild

SELECTION: Jonatan Berggren - Right Wing - Skellefteå AIK (SHL)

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 183 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Sweden

Birthday: 7/16/2000

 

25.) Toronto Maple Leafs

SELECTION: Akil Thomas - Center - Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 170 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 1/2/2000

 

26.) New York Rangers (from the Boston Bruins)

SELECTION: Jett Woo - Defense - Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 205 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 7/27/2000

 

27.) Chicago Blackhawks (from the Nashville Predators)

SELECTION: Jared McIsaac - Defense - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 194 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Canada

Birthday: 3/27/2000

 

28.) New York Rangers (from the Tampa Bay Lightning)

SELECTION: Martin Kaut - Right Wing - Pardubice (Czech)

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 174 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Czech Republic

Birthday: 10/2/1999

 

29.) St. Louis Blues (from the Winnipeg Jets)

SELECTION: Grigori Denisenko - Left Wing - Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

Height: 5' 10″

Weight: 165 pounds

Shoots: Right

Nationality: Russia

Birthday: 6/24/2000

 

30.) Detroit Red Wings (from the Vegas Golden Knights)

SELECTION: Jacob Olofsson - Center - Timra IK (Allsvenskan)

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 192 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: Sweden

Birthday: 2/8/2000

 

31.) Washington Capitals

SELECTION: Blake McLaughlin - Center - Chicago Steel (USHL)

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 161 pounds

Shoots: Left

Nationality: United States

Birthday: 2/14/2000

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