As a lot of you folks know, I jump on these threads every spring to write some Devils-centric (but I will answer questions about any organization or prospect, if I can) draft preview articles. Here's my latest mock, with the post-season draft order set and the Devils picking at #17 (barring some playoff tail-kicking). If nothing else, it gives you something to do between periods of the Devils' playoff games! 1 Buffalo LD R. Dahlin this kid has it all, he's a near-generational talent. He would have probably been the best D on Buffalo had he played for them this season. Of course, it's Buffalo, so they will likely lose the lottery. 2 Ottawa W F. Zadina though Svechnikov is the consensus #2 prospect, Ottawa is an organization lost at sea and have not picked a Russian in any draft since 2007. Fortunately for their fans, Zadina is a future top-line scoring stud with plus-plus hands, skating, vision and scoring skills. 3 Arizona RW A. Svechnikov my favorite scout Steve Kournianos (thedraftanalyst.com) has had Svechnikov ranked higher than even Dahlin for much of the year. Though I disagree with that ranking, the younger Svechnikov brother is the top offensive prospect in the draft, scoring 40 goals in just 44 games for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He is big, not afraid to muck it up, and adds elite passing skills and defensive play. 4 Montreal RD E. Bouchard though the Habs need more help at LD than RD, Bouchard offers a complete 2-way game, physicality/hockey IQ/leadership, and is close to NHL ready. His upside may not be as high as some of the other rearguards in this D-heavy draft, but his floor is terrific as a solid and steady, two-way, mid-pairing gamer. 5 Detroit RD A. Boqvist desperate for help anywhere in the organization for the blueline, the Wings will have a tough choice between the brother of Devils' prospect Jesper Boqvist and burner Quinton Hughes, playing in their backyard at the U. of Michigan. Boqvist is a little more advanced physically and in the defensive zone, while Hughes offers more upside offensively. 6 Vancouver LW B. Tkachuk the Canucks have built a nice stable of high-end prospects, though they are a bit thin at LW. Tkachuk's game is becoming rarer and rarer in today's NHL, a true old-school power forward with 35-35-70/100+ PiM upside. He really impressed at the WJC and he is as can't-miss as any F in this draft. 7 Chicago LD Q. Hughes the fastest skater in this draft, Hughes' speed can only be described as "jersey flapping". His vision/passing skills are also just marvelous. With Hjalmarsson's pre-season trade clearly having hurt a team with an aging D-corps centered around Keith and Seabrook, the Hawks need to bolster the blueline. 8 NY Rangers RW O.Wahlstrom a Rangers rebuild was long overdue, at at the deadline they addressed a huge organizational hole at D with trade-decline acquisitions Lindgren, Hajek and (from the Devils in the Grabner deal) Yegor Rykov. Thus, I expect them to go with Wahlstrom, who has power-forward size and game-breaking offensive ability. Wahlstrom played on a top US-NTDP line which just dominated, alongside surefire 2018 first-rounder Joel Farabee and 2019 #1 overall favorite Jack Hughes (Quinton's brother). 9 Edmonton RD N. Dobson the top draft-eligible D from the QMJHL, Dobson offers prototypical NHL size along with outstanding skates/physicality/offensive upside. Though not as polished as Bouchard, some feel he offers more upside due to Bouchard's average skating. The Oilers seem to be on a never-ending quest for blueline help behind bluechipper Ethan Bear, though since they are, after all, Edmonton they will likely win the lottery and pick Dahlin. 10 NY Islanders RD B. Wilde the Islanders finished last in the NHL in goals against. Wilde has been compared to the great Scott Niedermeyer due to his combination of prototypical size (6'2-200) and electrifying speed. Though he needs some development, Wilde's upside is just huge. 11 Carolina C J. Veleno the Canes have a terrific young blueline they are building around Faulk, Hanifin, Slavin and Pesce but their goaltending has been awful and their forwards play a marshmallow-soft game. Veleno offers a classic NHL game and is the best center in this draft -- he's got size (6'1-195) and outstanding skates, he can pass, score and play a two-way game with jam. He's just what they need. 12 NY Islanders C B. Hayton another pick to shore up the defensive ineptitude in Brooklyn (acquired from Calgary in Hamonic trade). Hayton is the top defensive forward in the 2018 draft class and has been compared most often to two-way stud Patrice Bergeron. He also chipped in at a PPG pace for Sault Set. Marie and is, at worst, a future third-line stalwart. 13 Dallas C R. Kupari we're starting to get to the point in the draft with some polarizing prospects. Kupari is one. Though some pundits are dazzled by his highlight reel, top-line center upside, others are put off by a propensity for turnovers and defensive lapses. Jim Nill has shown his own propensity for swinging for the fences with his draft picks in Dallas (see: Honka, Gurianov). 14 Philadelphia LW G. Denisenko as much as it pains me to say, Philadelphia has drafted as well as any team aside from perhaps Winnipeg in the past half-decade, and they may have the top prospect pool in the NHL. This pick originally belonged to St. Louis, but Philly received it t=in the off-season Schenn trade. Though a bit undersized at 5'11-165, Denisenko could give them a Giroux-like all-offense winger on each of the top two lines. 15 Florida LW J. Farabee the Panthers are set down the middle with a great top three of Barkov-Trocheck-Bjugstad, but they need wingers to seal the deals. In the first round last year they took a sniping high-end RW in Owen Tippett (former OHL teammate of Devils Mikey McLeod & Nathan Bastian), and this year I have them addressing the left. Farabee is an unbelievably talented puck-distributor who runs the offensive zone like a high-end center. Point-per-game upside for this kid. 16 Colorado LD T. Smith going into the 2017 draft, the Avs were just desperate for defensemen in their prospect pool. They really nailed it by taking two studs at RD in Cole Makar and Connor Timmins. They would be thrilled in 2018 if a proliferation of highly regarded D dropped a kid like Smith down to the middle of the first round. Some have called Smith the smartest player in the draft. Despite lacking prototypical size at 5'11-175, he can fly, he's a stud in the O zone and pretty good in his own zone, as well. 17 New Jersey Devils LD K'Andre Miller I've made this pick for the Devils before and I'm sticking with it. Miller is perhaps the most physical D in this draft -- at 6'3-210 he lays down bone-crushing hits and is easily the most intimidating D in the USHL. He is also unbelievably smart and extremely fast -- his athleticism is off the charts. Though pretty much every NHL pundit is sold on Dahlin's potential as far and away the best of any defenseman in the class of 2018, it would not shock me if Miller wound up being the second best. He was a forward until a few seasons ago and is still learning the position, but his improvement has been simply remarkable to watch. Many would say I have K'Andre too high here, but they said the same thing when I had Mat Barzal to the Devils at #6 a few years back, so I'm just saying. 18 Columbus C J. Kotkaniemi it's tough to crack into Coach Tortorella's system unless a young player is defensively developed, and Kotkaniemi fits that bill. Though his scoring upside may not be as high as a few centers I have going later on, he is very solid two ways and is not afraid to muck it up down low. Columbus is not exactly deep down the middle, and I expect them to use the 2018 draft to address that, despite the fact that this class is perhaps weaker at center than any other position. 19 Philadelphia RW S. Noel a team would need a deep prospect pool and multiple early picks to take a chance on Noel, who has struggled to produce at Oshawa of the OHL. So, why take the chance? Well, Noel is 6'5-210 and has jersey-flapping speed and a cannon-like shot. This is a rare combo, and Philly is precisely the type of team which can afford such a risk. 20 Los Angeles RW M. Kaut the Kings can boast a pair of sublime centers in Kopitar and Carter, but they need to surround those two with more weapons. No one has shot up draft boards in 2018 like Kaut -- following a dominant WJC breakout performance, the entire scouting community could not shut up about Kaut's elite skating, passing and play with the puck. 21 San Jose LW D. Bokk despite an aging core, the Sharks looked strong again with another 100+ point performance in 2017-18. GM Doug Wilson has shown a great propensity for drafting Central Europeans, and Bokk is clearly the top German prospect since Leon Draisaitl. A dynamic offensive talent, the Athletic's Corey Pronman has him at #8 overall. He might need some development for a few seasons, but Bokk has an Art Ross arsenal of puck skills and the sky is the limit on this kid. 22 Ottawa LD J. McIsaac if Ottawa were to win the lottery or lose the lottery, there would be a good chance of them taking a D with their top pick and finding a forward later. In this scenario, I have them taking Zadina at #2 and then McIsaac, perhaps the best old-school, defensive defenseman in the 2018 draft, with their second first round pick (received from Pittsburgh in the Brassard trade). 23 Anaheim C/RW R. McLeod certain to be the second brother of a Devils prospect chosen in the 2018 first round, Ryan lacks Mikey's dazzling, elite speed but offers his refined two-way game and very impressive offensive skills. McLeod's versatility would be extremely valuable to the Ducks -- he can play center or wing, in a scoring or checking role. It sounds a lot like a guy the Ducks traded for in Adam Henrique. 24 Minnesota RD J. Woo is there a better name in the draft than Jett Woo? Well, he's also an outstanding hockey player -- outside of perhaps Ty Smith the best WHL prospect for 2018. He's got outstanding speed, plays extremely physical, and is remarkably competitive and smart in all three zones. He's certainly also on the radar for Ray Shero, so this is another guy for Devils fans to watch some film on. 25 Toronto RD A. Alexeyev 2018 may be the year for outstandingly named high-upside D prospects. Bode Wilde, Jett Woo, Alex Alexeyev. It's like the draft is being written by Thomas Pynchon. Lou Lamoriello has an elite stable of high-skilled young forwards in Toronto, but he needs to bolster the back end. Alexeyev offers an elite skill set -- he's 6'3-200, a tremendous skater and a tape-to-tape passer with surgical vision. Were it not for an injury-plagued season for Red Deer he might be a top 12 prospect, and he's another player the Devils are certain to be scouting heavily in the days leading up to June. 26 Washington RW V. Kravtsov this electrifying offensive talent's draft standing has certainly been negatively affected by playing in Russia, but we all know how heavily Washington scouts there. The Draft Analyst has had him ranked in the top 15 all season -- Kravtsov just offers enormous upside. 27 Detroit C/LW I. Lundestrom the young Swede can skate the lights out, although there have been questions about his offensive upside. Detroit needs help everywhere, but fortunately they have two first rounders and four picks in the top 36. 28 NY Rangers RD R. Merkley perhaps the most polarizing player in the entire draft, Merkley's immense offensive upside rivals surefire top 10 picks Boqvist and Hughes, and may even be higher. Unfortunately, his defensive play is, well... lacking. Sorely, sorely lacking. Simply, this kid could be a perennial 60+ point blueliner in the NHL or he could not make the NHL. With three first round picks, the Rangers can actually afford to take such a risk. 29 NY Rangers C J. Olofsson the Rangers have scouted Europe heavily in the past few years, and Olofsson is the type of player they have keyed on. Though not dynamic or flashy, Olofsson is one of those guys who does everything well without getting you out of your seat -- much like 2017 top pick Lias Andersson. His size, physicality and defensive play make him a force even when his offensive game is not clicking, he is mobile, and always works hard. 30 St. Louis LD R. Sandin the Blues have accumulated a talented group of young forwards to assemble around superstar RW Vladimir Tarasenko, but they need some more puck-moving D. Sandin has really impressed for the OHL's Soo Greyhounds with an extremely high hockey IQ and slick offensive game. Sandin is also not afraid to play with physicality despite modest measurements of 5'11-190. 31 Chicago LW/C A. Thomas an extremely smart, fast and competitive player, Thomas reminds me of a cross between Jason Zucker/Kyle Palmieri/Jaden Schwartz. I can see him going as high as the mid-teens, but someone will certainly snatch him up in the first round. Anyway, that's all for now. I'd love to hear what you think!