NHL Mock Draft: Dahlin, Svechnikov lead talented 2018 class
theScore

After years of poor finishes, the Sabres finally secured the first overall pick at Saturday night's draft lottery, giving Buffalo GM Jason Botterill the opportunity to alter his franchise's future. It's arguable, however, that this year's draft gets much more interesting after the first three picks.

Let's take a look at how the first round might play out (playoff team draft order determined by regular-season point totals):

1. Buffalo Sabres

D Rasmus Dahlin | D | Frolunda HC (SHL)
Midterm CSB Rank (European): 1 | Final CSB Rank: 1

GP G A P PIM
42 7 13 20 20

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

With his elite skill and dynamic play, Dahlin has the potential to be a game-changer for the Sabres. He's without question the prospect in this draft with the highest ceiling, checking every box - skating, smarts, puck-handling - for the ideal puck-moving defender.

2. Carolina Hurricanes

Andrei Svechnikov | RW | Barrie Colts (OHL)
Midterm CSB Rank (North American): 1 | Final CSB Rank: 1

GP G A P PIM
44 40 32 72 67

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

Svechnikov brings the kind of dynamic offensive play the Hurricanes need. His elite hockey IQ allows him to score goals and set them up, and he's difficult to knock off the puck. Don't be surprised if he's on an NHL roster by opening night.

3. Montreal Canadiens

Filip Zadina | LW | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Midterm CSB Rank (North American): 2 | Final CSB Rank: 3

GP G A P PIM
57 44 38 82 36

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

In addition to a strong work ethic and high-end hockey sense, Zadina supplies the elite offensive skill that the Canadiens' forward prospect pool lacks. He can score from almost anywhere, but the top of the circles down is where he does the most damage. He'll be an excellent top-line wing.

4. Ottawa Senators

Adam Boqvist | D | Brynas IF (SuperElit/SHL)
Midterm CSB Rank (European): 2 | Final CSB Rank: 2

GP G A P PIM
15 0 1 1 4

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

While not as advanced as Dahlin, Boqvist is a defenseman in a similar mold. He possesses high-end hockey smarts, excellent skating, and great passing and shooting ability. He's aggressive offensively and strong defensively, thanks in no small part to his skating. As one of the younger players in the draft, his potential is significant.

5. Arizona Coyotes

Brady Tkachuk | LW | Boston University (NCAA)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 3 | Final CSB Rank: 2

GP G A P PIM
40 8 23 31 61

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

Tkachuk barely missed being eligible for the 2017 draft, so we have a better idea of his development path. Fortunately, it seems to be a good one. He fits the gritty, tough-to-play-against Tkachuk mold, but his hockey sense and passing abilities may be the best in his family. His skating could still use some work, including his first step.

6. Detroit Red Wings

Quintin Hughes | D | University of Michigan (NCAA)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 4 | Final CSB Rank: 6

GP G A P PIM
37 5 24 29 26

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

His brother Jack is getting all the attention after a fantastic U18 Worlds showing, but Quinn Hughes is no slouch. He may be the best skater in this year's draft, and his offensive instincts are sublime. He's a creative and brilliant player, which comes with risks. But with Hughes, they're worth it.

7. Vancouver Canucks

Evan Bouchard | D | London Knights (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 5 | Final CSB Rank: 4

GP G A P PIM
67 25 62 87 54

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

Bouchard is one of the older prospects in the draft, so what kind of player he'll be is a bit more clear. He's a solid puck-mover with NHL size who can quarterback a power play. While there are more skilled defensemen in the class, he seems like catnip for Canucks GM Jim Benning et al.

8. Chicago Blackhawks

Noah Dobson | D | Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 8 | Final CSB Rank: 5

GP G A P PIM
67 17 52 69 52

NHL.com Profile | Scouting Report

A defensive prospect pool with Dobson and Henri Jokiharju is a defensive prospect pool in decent shape. Dobson is a very good skater who can play top-four minutes and has high-end smarts. His defensive positioning and gap control are strong, and he has a bomb of a shot.

9. New York Rangers

Oliver Wahlstrom | C/RW | U.S. National Team Development Program
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 7 | Final CSB Rank: 7

GP G A P PIM
54 40 43 83 38

NHL.com Profile

Wahlstrom is a stellar puck-handler - possibly the best in the draft - and can score in just about any way you can think of. He dominates play when he's on the ice, especially alongside linemates Jack Hughes and Joel Farabee. He's an excellent skater, too, and isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas.

10. Edmonton Oilers

Joseph Veleno | C | Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 13 | Final CSB Rank: 8

GP G A P PIM
64 22 57 79 48

NHL.com Profile

Veleno was the first player to obtain exceptional status - that is, permission to play at age 15 - in the QMJHL. He's a solid center at both ends of the ice, and his vision and hockey smarts are exceptional. Veleno brings burning speed along with his high-end offensive skill.

11. New York Islanders

Ty Smith | D | Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 14 | Final CSB Rank: 14

GP G A P PIM
69 14 59 73 30

NHL.com Profile

Some might shy away from Smith because of his size, but they shouldn't. He's one of the best defenders in this draft class. He's poised with the puck, his decision-making is solid, and he's an excellent skater.

12. New York Islanders (from Calgary Flames)

Jesperi Kotkaniemi | C | Assat (Liiga)
Midterm CSB Ranking (European): 3 | Final CSB Rank: 2

GP G A P PIM
57 10 19 29 20

NHL.com Profile

A solid center who can score goals and set up plays, Kotkaniemi has excellent vision and can read the ice well in any zone. Though he can keep up with play, his skating could use some work. He's got potential to be a good two-way center at the NHL level - something the Islanders could use more of if things go south with John Tavares this summer.

13. Dallas Stars

Joel Farabee | LW | U.S. National Team Development Program
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 11 | Final CSB Rank: 12

GP G A P PIM
54 27 37 64 38

NHL.com Profile

Farabee is dangerous offensively, able to burn defenders with his top speed and hold on to the puck at that speed, creating opportunities for himself and his linemates. He's a hard worker in all three zones and can anticipate the play of opponents and teammates alike. Take a moment and imagine him on Tyler Seguin's wing.

14. Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis Blues)

Barrett Hayton | C | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 6 | Final CSB Rank: 9

GP G A P PIM
63 21 39 60 32

NHL.com Profile

Hayton has improved noticeably this season and has significant potential moving forward. He's smart, but he's not the type to get overly creative. He's more likely to move the puck forward or use his great release than dangle an opponent. He works hard and smart defensively, but he needs to improve his overall consistency.

15. Florida Panthers

Rasmus Kupari | C | Karpat (Liiga)
Midterm CSB Ranking (European): 6 | Final CSB Rank: 11

GP G A P PIM
39 6 8 14 12

NHL.com Profile

A quick-skating center with an offensive mindset, Kupari held his own as an underager in a men's professional league this season. His vision and stickhandling make him a good playmaker, but he could stand to improve his play in his own end and add some strength.

16. Colorado Avalanche

Grigori Denisenko | LW | Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (European): 4 | Final CSB Rank: 7

GP G A P PIM
31 9 13 22 30

NHL.com Profile

Denisenko is an excellent skater whose vision and hockey sense allow him to make creative plays that always seem to find his teammates. His defensive game needs work, but his offensive ceiling is high. Given time to develop, he could thrive alongside some of the Avalanche's centers.

17. New Jersey Devils

Isac Lundestrom | C/LW | Lulea HF (SHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (European): 3 | Final CSB Rank: 8

GP G A P PIM
42 6 9 15 14

NHL.com Profile

A strong skater with a high hockey IQ, Lundestrom brings to the table the ability to both set up his teammates and finish plays himself with his quick release. He works hard in all three zones and is strong defensively. He could stand to shoot more and pass less.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets

Dominik Bokk | RW | Vaxjo Lakers HC (SuperElit/SHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (Europoean): 8 | Final CSB Rank: 12

GP G A P PIM
15 1 1 2 0

NHL.com Profile

While Bokk's offensive skill is raw, it's very real. He's an incredible stickhandler who sees the ice very well, able to make the smart play with the puck, and he's an elusive skater. Though his defensive game needs work, it should improve with more time against tougher competition.

19. Philadelphia Flyers

Martin Kaut | RW | HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Extraliga)
Midterm CSB Ranking (European): 11 | Final CSB Rank: 4

GP G A P PIM
38 9 7 16 14

NHL.com Profile

Quick and committed at both ends of the ice, Kaut joins Zadina as a first-round Czech prospect. He handled himself well in the top Czech league this season and was a point-per-game player at the world juniors.

20. Los Angeles Kings

Bode Wilde | D | U.S. National Team Development Program
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 22 | Final CSB Rank: 17

GP G A P PIM
53 11 25 36 59

NHL.com Profile

High-risk, high-reward seems to be the name of the game for most USNTDP defensive prospects these days, and Wilde is no exception. He's an excellent skater and plays a strong offensive game, but his defensive game is inconsistent and needs time to develop. His ceiling could be sky-high, but a team has to be willing to take the risk that comes with that and work to mitigate it.

21. San Jose Sharks

Ryan Merkley | D | Guelph Storm (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 21 | Final CSB Rank: 45

GP G A P PIM
63 13 54 67 63

NHL.com Profile

Merkley is a contentious defensive prospect. His highs are very high, but his mistakes can be egregious. Looking at pure skill, he should go higher than 21st. But due to his size and teams' aversion to risk, he likely won't. The Sharks should take advantage of this oversight and work to develop Merkley into his best-case scenario.

22. Ottawa Senators (from Pittsburgh Penguins)

Jared McIsaac | D | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 12 | Final CSB Rank: 13

GP G A P PIM
65 9 38 47 86

NHL.com Profile

No one knows how the Erik Karlsson situation is going to pan out, so adding as many skilled defensive prospects as possible is a good approach for the Senators. McIsaac is no Boqvist, but he's an excellent skater who can lead the rush and quarterback a power play. He's hard to beat one-on-one, and his positioning and gap control are good, but he could stand to get stronger.

23. Anaheim Ducks

Serron Noel | RW | Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 9 | Final CSB Rank: 10

GP G A P PIM
62 28 25 53 61

NHL.com Profile

Noel has been one of the most confusing prospects this season, but he's got real raw potential. At 6-foot-5, he already has NHL size, and his skating improved significantly this season. He's got a lethal shot, scoring 28 goals this season, but he needs to be more consistent.

24. Minnesota Wild

Alexander Alexeyev | D | Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 26 | Final CSB Rank: 22

GP G A P PIM
45 7 30 37 29

NHL.com Profile

Alexeyev isn't a high-risk, high-reward defensive prospect, but don't take that to mean he's a boring stay-at-home type. He's mobile, has sound positioning, and carries the puck smoothly up the ice. He's not dynamic offensively, but he also rarely has serious miscues.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs

Ryan McLeod | C | Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 16 | Final CSB Rank: 16

GP G A P PIM
68 26 44 70 26

NHL.com Profile

When opportunity knocked at the beginning of the season, the youngest McLeod answered. He's one of the older players in this year's draft, so we can see his development path a bit better than others. His skating is excellent, particularly his edgework, and his vision and hockey sense allow him to slow down the game and create plays.

26. Washington Capitals

Akil Thomas | C | Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 10 | Final CSB Rank: 15

GP G A P PIM
68 22 59 81 36

NHL.com Profile

If you had to describe Thomas in one word, "speedy" immediately jumps to mind. He reaches his top speed quickly and maintains it when he has the puck on his stick. He's a skilled playmaker, able to quarterback the power play. He stickhandles well and has great vision, though his defensive game could still use development.

27. Detroit Red Wings (from Vegas Golden Knights)

Rasmus Sandin | D | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 15 | Final CSB Rank: 11

GP G A P PIM
51 12 33 45 24

NHL.com Profile

Sandin is extremely smart, with great vision and good passing skills that allow him to set up plays on the power play. His timing is good - he knows, for the most part, when to pinch and when not to - and his defensive positioning is sound. He's not the best skater in the class, but he's agile and knows how to use it.

28. New York Rangers (from Boston Bruins)

Jonathan Tychonick | D | Penticton Vees (BCHL)
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 45 | Final CSB Rank: 36

GP G A P PIM
48 9 38 47 34

NHL.com Profile

Tychonick is a speedy, mobile defender with top-notch hockey smarts and vision. His game is offensively oriented but his defensive positioning and instincts are sound. He'll continue his development at the University of North Dakota next season.

29. New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay Lightning)

Jacob Olofsson | C | Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
Midterm CSB Ranking (European): 5 | Final CSB Rank: 9

GP G A P PIM
43 10 11 21 10

NHL.com Profile

Olofsson has a good top speed, and he reaches it quickly. Combine that with his high-end puck-handling skills and ability to read the ice, and he's a major threat off the rush. He isn't the most creative player, but smart and simple works for him.

30. St. Louis Blues (from Winnipeg Jets)

K'Andre Miller | D | U.S. National Team Development Program
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): 31 | Final CSB Rank: 23

GP G A P PIM
50 7 17 24 22

NHL.com Profile

Miller only converted from forward to defense a few years ago, but he's come a long way in that time. He's a great skater, even at 6-foot-3, and has strong puck-handling and passing skills. Though he needs a few more years of development, there's real potential there.

31. Chicago Blackhawks (from Nashville Predators)

Jake Wise | C | U.S. National Team Development Program
Midterm CSB Ranking (North American): NR | Final CSB Rank: 38

GP G A P PIM
30 9 27 36 4

NHL.com Profile

Wise has a good future ahead of him as a top-six center. He's crafty with the puck and is a strong skater. He missed the first half of the season due to injury, but has been solid for the NTDP since his return.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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NHL Mock Draft: Dahlin, Svechnikov lead talented 2018 class
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