It’s June. The Memorial Cup has been won, the scouting combine is over, and the 2018 NHL Draft draws nearer. With more information and insight at hand, it’s time for another mock draft.
Rasmus Dahlin | D | Frolunda HC (SHL)
Previous Rank: 1
When asked at the NHL Scouting Combine about all the attention on him leading up to the draft, Dahlin said that it was awesome. It’s all but a done deal that he’ll go first overall to the Sabres, and he could change the look of their defensive corps dramatically.
Andrei Svechnikov | RW | Barrie Colts (OHL)
Previous Rank: 2
Svechnikov was in Carolina on Tuesday, undergoing evaluations and meeting with some of the team bigwigs. After discussion of the Hurricanes taking someone like Brady Tkachuk or even trading the pick, this could be a very good sign. Here’s a pretty picture to get you through to the end June, Canes fans: Svechnikov alongside someone like Teuvo Teravainen or Sebastian Aho.
Brady Tkachuk | LW | Boston University (NCAA)
Previous Rank: 5
Signs might be pointing to the Canadiens going full galaxy brain on this one and picking Tkachuk. That being said, he wouldn’t be a bad choice. Tkachuk has grown quite a bit and will continue to do so, as there are parts of his game he’s still adjusting. He’s smart, highly skilled, and not afraid to throw his body around - he certainly has a long NHL career ahead of him. If the Habs want him that badly, however, they might be wise to trade down a pick or two and get another asset out of it.
Filip Zadina | LW | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 3
When you think Ottawa Senators, you don’t immediately think top-line firepower. If they draft Filip Zadina, however, that could change. Zadina is smart, skilled, and able to put the game on his stick. He didn’t have any trouble transitioning to North American ice this year, and could conceivably make the leap the leap to the NHL almost as smoothly.
Adam Boqvist | D | Brynas IF (SuperElit/SHL)
Previous Rank: 4
Whether he plays with Oliver Ekman-Larsson or is groomed to one day assume his mantle, Boqvist could be a good fit for the Coyotes. He’s that guy for teams that want Dahlin and don’t have the first overall pick. He’s young, and thanks to his hockey smarts and fantastic skating, his ceiling is sky-high.
Evan Bouchard | D | London Knights (OHL)
Previous Rank: 7
Bouchard has size, skill, and a high IQ, and sometimes when you watch him play you feel like you’re already watching a pro. He’s also a right-hand shot which, for better or worse, has become the most sought-after kind of defenseman in recent years. Bouchard is a solid player who could contribute at the NHL level sooner rather than later.
Noah Dobson | D | Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 8
The Canucks seem like a team to let recency bias - i.e., a draft-eligible player’s recent Memorial Cup win - sway their judgment. Fortunately for them, should that happen this year, they’ll get a fantastic defenseman. Dobson is an intelligent player, a great skater, and contributes offensively without sacrificing defensive play.
Quinn Hughes | D | University of Michigan (NCAA)
Previous Rank: 6
Asked at the combine what he would say to teams who question his ability to go up against bigger players in the corners, Hughes said that he’d tell them he would handle it the way he did at the World Championships. In other words: he’d handle it very well. After a great showing at worlds, where he won a bronze medal with Team USA, there should be no question about Hughes’ abilities in any zone. The only question should be: what number do you want to wear, Quinn?
Oliver Wahlstrom | C/RW | U.S. National Team Development Program
Previous Rank: 9
Wahlstrom told reporters at the combine that, "humbly," he thinks he has the best shot in this year’s draft. He’s probably not wrong. He can do things with a puck that some current NHL players can’t, and he creates space for himself and teammates with ease. And he’s just plain fun to watch.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi | C | Assat (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 12
Kotkaniemi is a smart player who should be a solid two-way center in the NHL. While his skating could use some work, his vision is high-end and that’s something difficult to teach. He’s already played pro in Finland, and it might behoove the Oilers to bring him over to Bakersfield sooner rather than later to adjust his game against stiffer AHL competition.
Ty Smith | D | Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Previous Rank: 11
Smith has fallen on some lists, but he’d be worth the pick. Thanks to his high-end hockey sense and great skating, he can take apart the opposition’s play and effectively bring the puck back to his own zone. He makes the right decisions and isn’t worried about his size being a liability. His game backs that up.
Joel Farabee | LW | U.S. National Team Development Program
Previous Rank: 13
Farabee is an exciting and creative player whose high hockey IQ helps him make good plays in all three zones. A hard worker and great skater with a high top speed, his vision allows him to embarrass opponents and create opportunities for teammates.
Barrett Hayton | C | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Previous Rank: 14
Hayton plays a straightforward game that in the future could provide solid, effective depth down the middle for the Stars. His growth this season hasn’t gone unnoticed, nor has the way he stepped up when top-line teammates were out of the lineup. He’s got high-end hockey smarts, and can play in all situations.
Joseph Veleno | C | Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 10
Veleno makes sense for the Flyers in the same way that Patrick did last year (albeit on different levels). He’s not flashy, but he’s solid and effective. Veleno gets knocked for not living up to his CHL label, but that shouldn’t be a concern at this point. What matters is that his speed can burn opponents, his vision on the ice is exceptional, and he works his tail off to improve his game.
Rasmus Kupari | C | Karpat (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 15
Kupari holds steady at No. 15 to the Panthers. As a skilled center available in a draft class chock-full of high-end defensemen and wingers, he stands out. He’s offensively gifted, with excellent vision, skating, and playmaking. Given time to work on his consistency, he could bolster the Panthers’ center depth.
Isac Lundestrom | C/LW | Lulea HF (SHL)
Previous Rank: 17
Lundestrom is a strong skater who brings offensive pizzazz. He won silver with Team Sweden at this year’s World Junior Championships and has two seasons in the SHL under his belt. Whether he’s setting up plays or finishing them, his hockey smarts are top-notch.
Martin Kaut | RW | HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Extraliga)
Previous Rank: 19
Kaut didn’t go through fitness testing at the combine after his physical revealed a minor heart issue. Fortunately, it's said to be nothing that should hinder him in the future. That’s good news for the Devils, who would get a fantastic skater with high-end passing and shooting ability.
Bode Wilde | D | U.S. National Team Development Program
Previous Rank: 20
Wilde is headed to the University of Michigan in the fall, but it won’t be long before he can contribute at the NHL level. He brings a great mix of skill and physicality and can contribute to scoring without being a liability in his own end.
Dominik Bokk | RW | Vaxjo Lakers HC (SuperElit/SHL)
Previous Rank: 18
Bokk is a raw talent with high-end skill. A slippery skater who reads the ice effectively and makes the right play, Bokk was drafted by the Prince Albert Raiders in the 2017 CHL Import Draft. However, he is expected to return to the Lakers this coming season. More time against men in the SHL can only benefit him.
Jonathan Tychonick | D | Penticton Vees (BCHL)
Previous Rank: 28
Tychonick is a fantastic, speedy skater, and yet another example of why prospects who play Junior A instead of major-junior shouldn’t be discounted. His instincts are stellar both offensively and in his own end, and his skill will only be further refined when he joins the University of North Dakota next season.
Serron Noel | RW | Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Previous Rank: 23
One of Noel’s most noticeable improvements this season was his skating, and as he’s 6-foot-5, that was an important area to tackle. His offensive ceiling is high, and if he can improve his consistency and put the whole package together, he’ll be an exciting player to watch in the NHL.
Rasmus Sandin | D | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Previous Rank: 27
Skilled young defensemen with high-end hockey sense feel like they’re consistently a need for all NHL teams. With the Erik Karlsson situation as yet unresolved, it makes sense for the Sens to add to their defensive prospect pool. Sandin brings smarts, skilled passing, and sound defensive positioning.
Alexander Alexeyev | D | Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Previous Rank: 24
Alexeyev is a big player, but he’s a strong skater for his size. He moves the puck well and has a great shot, and while he can add offense, one of the best parts of his game is that he rarely goofs up in his own zone.
Jared McIsaac | D | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 22
McIsaac is intelligent, and he can skate and move the puck. While he can lead the rush, he also plays well in his own zone, with solid gap control and good defensive positioning. The Wild could stand to give their D prospect depth a boost, and McIsaac could do that.
Ryan Merkley | D | Guelph Storm (OHL)
Previous Rank: 21
Merkley needs a patient team that is good at developing prospects. If the situation is right, with his high-end skill, he can definitely make the risk worthwhile. The current iteration of the Leafs just might be that place. He’s boom-or-bust for sure, but might just tip the scales toward boom.
Ty Dellandrea | C | Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Previous Rank: NR
Dellandrea was fantastic this season. His team was not, and that hurt his stock in the eyes of some. He’s doggedly determined and a solid all-around center. He raises his game against tough competition, and he’s looking forward to being a leader for Flint next season.
Akil Thomas | C | Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Previous Rank: 26
Thomas is on the smaller side, but the Blackhawks historically do well when picking smaller forwards, the most recent example being one Alex DeBrincat. A fast-skating center, Thomas can quarterback a power play and is a creative playmaker even at his top speed. A little work on the defensive side of his game wouldn’t go amiss.
Mattias Samuelsson | D | U.S. National Team Development Program
Previous Rank: NR
Samuelsson said at the combine that he’s probably "three or four years" away from the NHL, but with three first-round picks currently, the Rangers are a team that can afford to be patient. In their situation, Samuelsson is worth swinging on. He’s an incredibly mature player, and skates very well to be as big as he is (6-foot-4 and nearly 220 pounds). While not an offensive dynamo like many of his fellow USNTDP blue-liners, he’s gifted in his own end and moves the puck effectively.
K'Andre Miller | D | U.S. National Team Development Program
Previous Rank: 30
Miller only started playing defense two years ago, putting him in a unique position among his peers. It shows in his abilities with the puck, but perhaps more impressive is the way he plays away from it. He’s effective in all zones, and after some time at the University of Wisconsin, he should slide right onto an NHL roster.
Jake Wise | C | U.S. National Team Development Program
Previous Rank: 31
Thanks to an injury that cost him nearly half his season, Wise has flown under the radar compared to his more well-known USNTDP teammates. Being the dark horse might mean he falls, but that’s Washington’s gain. Wise is a crafty playmaker who came back to the NTDP lineup at the same time Jack Hughes was called up, and his return was just as important to the team’s late-season surge as the addition of Hughes.
Jacob Olofsson | C | Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
Previous Rank: 29
A Swedish center on the Red Wings? There are crazier ideas. Olofsson plays a smart, simple game, and does it at impressive top speeds. He’s dangerous with the puck, but is reliable in his own end as well.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)