By Kevin Fortier (@ksfortier)
It is that time of year when we all enjoy speculating about what the NHL draft might look like. This is a very exciting time for teams and fans alike. Various scenarios and dreams about trading up to get that franchise saving draftee who will turn around the team’s fortunes are plentiful.
For the purposes of this mock draft I am not assuming any trades as there are just way too many variables to try to account for. I will be speculating what the selections might be based on the way the draft order was established post lottery selections.
I am also just examining what the top 20 selections would look like.
There are groups of certainties in the top 10. The number one has been determined for at least a year. There is no question that Rasmus Dahlin will be the 1st overall pick. The 2nd and 3rd picks are also 99% certain to be set. Then the players in the next 6-7 picks are mostly established as a grouping it is just the order that is unknown.
So, let’s get to it…
1 – Buffalo Sabres. Rasmus Dahlin (LHD)
Dahlin is a perfect fit for the Sabres even if he was not the consensus top player available in the draft. Buffalo lacks talented defensive prospects and their roster is deep in average, older defensemen who are not part of their future. Dahlin is the cream of the crop of this draft and one of the best young defenseman to hit the draft in possibly decades.
“Franchise defining blueliner who very well may be the best defenceman entering the draft since Denis Potvin in 1973.” – Craig Button
2 – Carolina Hurricanes. Andrei Svechnikov (RW)
Carolina is lacking for dynamic scoring especially on the wings and Svechnikov is a perfect fit to continue their rebuilding. He is the total package and in other years would be the top overall pick. He will be a star for many years in Carolina.
“Physically ready for the NHL, Svechnikov blends world-class finishing ability with hard-nosed and defensively responsible play. A goal scorer who can impact the game in all situations. Terrific blend of speed, power and precision.” Cam Robinson
3 – Montreal Canadians. Filip Zadina (LW)
Montreal has needs up front and on the back end. Zadina gives them a future star on the left wing. A true sniper to add speed and creativity to their forward corps. Zadina plays a complete 200 ft game and can make defensemen look silly at times.
“This Czech sniper consistently has been the best player for his teams in both league and international play. Zadina is a complete player who is a danger to score no matter the situation.” – Steve Kournianos
4 – Ottawa Senators. Quinn Hughes (LHD)
Hughes gives Ottawa an elite defensive prospect to continue replenishing their blueline with high end talent to go with Thomas Chabot already in the system. Hughes has high end skill on both sides of the puck. He can also quarterback Ottawa’s 2nd power play unit giving them that 1-2 punch with Karlsson on the top unit.
“Smooth skating defenceman has the calm, poise and mind to be a well-rounded contributor and play significant minutes.” – Craig Button
5 – Arizona Coyotes. Brady Tkachuk (C/LW)
Arizona has several young forwards already in their young system. Tkachuk is possibly the best of the brothers and most like his father. He gives them another high end left wing to go with several young centers in their prospect pool.
“Tkachuk can dictate and control the play with his speed and physical attributes. He has the size, hands and ability down low to create matchup problems, and revels in high-pressure moments.” – Mike Morreale
6 – Detroit Red Wings. Evan Bouchard (RHD)
This selection gives Detroit the best of both strategies – best player available (BPA) and filling a roster need. Detroit has one of the oldest bluelines in the NHL and does not have many top 4 prospects in their system. Bouchard will begin to replenish their defense and is a potential top pairing prospect.
“A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team’s transition game. He’s one of the top offensive defensemen in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play.” – NHL Central Scouting
7 – Vancouver Canucks. Adam Boqvist (RHD)
Vancouver has done a good job of drafting high end forwards including Brock Boeser, Elias Petterson and Jonathan Dahlen to name a few. Boqvist adds a highly talented right-handed dman to compliment Olli Juolevi on defense.
“Dynamic puck skills, terrific vision, high-end quickness, top speed, smarts, and a heavy shot. His late birthday means he is just a month away from being eligible for the 2019 class further illustrating how massive his potential is. Has a big shot and loves to unload it.” – Cam Robinson
8 – Chicago Blackhawks. Oliver Wahlstrom (C/RW)
Wahlstrom will provide Chicago a top 6 scoring winger to replenish an aging group of forwards. He can also give them a booming shot on the top power play unit in the years to come. He should fit nicely with Alex Debrincat as another high end goal scorer as the Blackhawks begin to rebuild.
“Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He’s most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players.” – Mike Morreale
9 – New York Rangers. Noah Dobson (RHD)
The Rangers are going full rebuild having moved out several forwards and defensemen in the past two seasons. Dobson gives them a top pairing talent on the right side of the blueline and someone who can lead their transition and quarterback the power play.
“Very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the point on the power play. He is a point-producer with size who defends well and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone.” – NHL Central Scouting
10 – Edmonton Oilers. Jesperi Koktaneimi (C)
Edmonton likes drafting smart, responsible and versatile centermen and Kotkaneimi continues that strategy. He is a few years away from making the NHL, but when he does he will give the Oilers another option down the middle or possibly moving to wing.
“Kotkaniemi, who compares his style of play to Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, is a playmaker with strong hockey sense, a good compete level, a quick shot, and a nose for the net.” – Mike Morreale
11 – New York Islanders. Joel Farabee (LW)
Farabee needs to fill out his frame, but when he does he will give the Islanders a top 6 complete wing to contribute on all 200 feet of the ice surface and in all situations. He could also be a playmaker and finisher on the power play.
“Slight and slippery, he feasts on oppositions with his vision and his finishing ability. Great skater who works tirelessly in all three zones. Needs to add strength but does all the little things that make players successful. Can hurt you during all situations. ” – Cam Robinson
12 – New York Islanders (from CGY). Rasmus Kupari (C)
Kupari is another forward selection for the Islanders who will need a couple years to complete his growth, but will shore up the middle and contribute on both special teams units.
“Slick, dual-threat center with size who took to his role as a depth player on a contender in Finland’s elite league. – Steve Kournianos
13 – Dallas Stars. Vitali Kravtsov (RW)
Kravstov missed the U20s and saw limited KHL time, but has size and skill and could develop into a solid middle 6 wing for the Stars.
“He’s a strong skater with balance and speed, plays with an edge and can create offense around the net. He’s been compared to Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals.” – Mike Morreale
14 – Philadelphia Flyers (from STL). Bode Wilde (RHD)
The Flyers get a big, strong right-handed defenseman in Wilde. He is a physical player with speed and a hard, accurate shot. He needs to fine tune some aspects of his game in the defensive end, but has the rest of the tools to be a solid top 4 blueliner.
“Terrific skater who owns a big shot and offers strong play in the offensive end. Can step up and make a big hit, but is also guilty of poor decision-making. A high ceiling player with some risk.” – Cam Robinson
15 – Florida Panthers. Ty Smith (LHD)
Smith gives the Panthers a future power play captain and a smooth skating defenseman who can lead the transition up ice. Smith fits nicely with a Panthers team that needs to replenish their top 4 defense prospect pool.
“Smith has the ability to make all the right plays in his end, either skating the puck out of the zone or carrying it and creating in transition.” – Adam Kimelman
16 – Colorado Avalanche. Barrett Hayton (C)
Hayton continues the Avalanche’s trend of selecting versatile, well rounded forwards. Hayton will compliment Tyson Jost when he makes his way to the NHL providing Colorado strong 2 way play down the middle or on wing.
“Improved speed and strength has been the noteworthy traits in his draft season. Quality release, good vision, quick hands, and can play centre or wing. Is very well regarded in his own end.” – Cam Robinson
17 – New Jersey Devils. Dominik Bokk (RW)
Bokk has not received as much coverage as some of the other top 20/25 draftees. However, he could be a low risk, high reward selection for the Devils. He already has decent size at 180# and dominated at the junior level. He has a ton of skill and plays a very smart, efficient game.
“Agile, quick hands, elusive in the offensive zone and makes a habit of landing on the scoresheet. Destroyed the J20 circuit and received a cup of coffee in the SHL. If you like skill, you’ll love Bokk.” – Cam Robinson
18 – Columbus Blue Jackets. Martin Kaut (RW)
Kaut is a solid all around forward who should give the Rangers a mid 6 wing who can help with their rebuild and contribute nightly. He has decent size has shown he can play up to the skill of his linemates in international play on a line with Necas and Zadina.
“He’s a late ’99 birthdate so he’s older but has produced very strong numbers in the Czech top league this season – comparable to Martin Necas and Filip Chytil a season ago. He’s quick, elusive and knows how to finish.”
19 – Philadelphia Flyers. Grigori Denisenko (LW)
Grigori Denisenko is another low risk, high reward type of forward in the draft. The agile, creative wing gives the Flyers some dynamism they need to round out high end centers they have in their system.
“A creative player with the puck who can dart in and out of the lanes with expert edgework, quick acceleration and creative lines. Slight stature but enjoys engaging.”
20 – Los Angeles Kings. Joseph Veleno (C)
Veleno is the prototypical blue collar, hard working center ice man. He is good in all areas of the game and will help fill out the Kings middle 6.
“A jack-of-all-trades player with a nice tool belt. Great edgework, acceleration, vision and puck-protection skills. Blazing fast in a straight line. The 18-year-old is already a consummate worker in the defensive end and is a very safe selection as he has a pro-level approach.” – Cam Robinson