We’re only halfway through the season, but fans of those teams dwelling in the bottom of their divisions will already be wondering who they can pick up in the draft this year. If you’re a fan of either Arizona or Buffalo, all I can recommend is either drinking incessantly or reading up on this year’s crop of prospects. How about we put the bottle down for a second and take a look at some of the talent the 2018 NHL draft might have to offer. Without further adieu, here is our official preliminary 2018 NHL Draft Big Board.
|2||Andrei Svechnikov||RW||Barrie Colts|
|3||Filip Zadina||LW||Halifax Mooseheads|
|4||Brady Tkachuk||LW||Boston University|
|5||Noah Dobson||D||Acadie-Bathurst Titan|
|10||Evan Bouchard||D||London Knights|
|11||Quinn Hughes||D||University of Michigan|
|13||Isac Lundestrom||C||Lulea HF|
|14||Jared McIsaac||D||Halifax Mooseheads|
|15||Joe Veleno||C||Drummondville Voltigeurs|
|16||Ty Smith||D||Spokane Chiefs|
|18||Barrett Hayton||C||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|19||Jet Woo||D||Moose Jaw Warriors|
|23||Benoit-Oliver Groulx||C||Halifax Mooseheads|
|24||Ryan Merkley||D||Guelph Storm|
|26||Rasmus Sandin||D||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|27||Serron Noel||RW||Oshawa Generals|
|28||Ryan McLeod||C||Mississauga Steelheads|
|29||Jack McBain||C||Toronto Junior Canadiens|
|30||Alexander Khovanov||C||Moncton Wildcats|
|31||Akil Thomas||C||Niagra Icedogs|
|32||Calen Addison||D||Lethbridge Hurricanes|
|33||Alexander Alexeyev||D||Red Deer Rebels|
Rasmus Dahlin is already pretty much cemented as the number one pick in this year’s draft. Whoever wins the draft lottery will be be taking home the prize of one of the most highly touted defenseman prospects in recent memory. Anyone who watched the World Juniors will be well aware of how talented this kid is on both ends of the ice.
There is a bit of gulp in class between Dahlin and the rest of the field. Nevertheless, the next three players on my big board are also high level talents with the potential to become franchise cornerstones. Like Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, and Brady Tkachuk also competed for their countries at the World Junior Championship. All three wingers also had great tournaments to boost their draft stock coming into the new year. The consensus number two prospect, Svechnikov is known for skill and stickhandling ability. However, despite managing 5 points in as many games, his ability was not on full display in Buffalo. One might chalk that up to the fact that Russia rarely gives players plying their trade in North American junior hockey the ice time they deserve in international competitions. Meanwhile, Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk both had outstanding tournaments for their national teams and stood out every time they took the ice. Zadina tallied 7 goals and 8 points in 7 games, while Tkachuk put up 3 goals and 9 points in 7 games. Zadina has been viewed as a top 3 prospect all season long; a season in which he has lit up the QMJHL . Whereas Tkachuk’s stock took a bit of hit after a slow start at Boston University. The player, once thought to be in the mix for the first overall pick, will surely see his stock rise back up after a stellar tournament. They may not generate the same level of hype as Rasmus Dahlin, but anyone who scoops up one of these wingers will have surely found themselves a nice consolation prize.
After the first four, it will likely be a pair of D-men that are selected 5 and 6 respectively. Both Noah Dobson and Adam Boqvist, may be able to leapfrog their way into the top four picks, depending on both team needs and the way the rest of the season pans out. Outisde of the top 7, there seems to be bit of a dropout in talent (if only slight). It is here that I will point out that this big board is more of an amalgamation of reports i have heard, than a reflection of my own evaluations. Prospects I personally like include Quinn Hughes, Joel Farabee, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Ty Smith. But evaluating this year’s group of middle to late first rounders may ultimately prove tricky, as this is not necessarily seen as the deepest draft class. As such, if you were to look up the statistics of these players, no one’s numbers really jump off the page like we’ve seen in years past. But that is not to say we don’t have a talented crop of players. Many of these prospects have simply yet to establish themselves. I know it’s only January but its not too early to get excited about this year’s draft class.