Ola's Top 31 For the 2018 Draft

My top 31 picks for the 2018 NHL Draft with scouting reports for each player.
By Ola · Apr 28, 2018 · Updated May 1, 2018
  1. Ola
    MY TOP 31 Players for the 2018 NHL Draft

    *Players not ranked have not been considered, basically. Some players excluded due to not getting enough eyes on them are Demisenko, Barret Hayton and Dominik Bokk.

    *This is not a mock draft, its my top 31 created with the aim to -- with the best of my guessing ability -- reflect the top 31 players from the perspective of how good they can become for a NHL team over the course of their career.

    *I have zeroed in on a group of players (around 40 players maybe) that I have ranked based on seeing them at least a 2-3 times, mostly in U18 and U20 WJC but also some streams from NA besides of course other European games. So I've definitely not see everyone nor anyone enough basically. But I have tried hard to not just copy others, but make my own ranking. Recon its the only way to learn from -- stick your neck out and then look back and see what could have been done better.

    Any thoughts or questions are appreciated! :)

    1. Rasmus Dahlin, LD, 6'2" 183 lbs

    A generational talent that projects to become a complete 25-30 minute/game defensemen that can do it all. When Dahlin peaks he should be able to create a good number of prime scoring chances on a nightly basis with his speed and agility, sick hands and tremendous vision and understanding of the game. He should also be able to carry his team’s transition game for the same reasons. There are no flaws defensively, although his shot blocking needs some work. He is very good at staying with his man, strong on his skates, and he is a really competitive kid.

    A big part of a defender’s offensive game is his shot. Dahlin has very good accuracy and is very good at finding open lanes for his shot. Most top power play units in the NHL are sat up by a left handed playmaker on the right side with a shooting option on the right side. In such set-up – a right shooting defender is to prefer since he can swing the puck from the point to the RHS on the left side faster. Hence some teams could face a need for some adjustment to incorporate Dahlin on their top PP unit.

    The generational talented centers we have seen join the league the last while have been able to become point per game players their rookie season and then challenge for Art Ross or the Hart Trophy as soon as year 2. Even if Edmonton Oilers struggled this season – McDavid changed that franchise over night when he joined them. The same expectations as of Day 1 should not be put on a young defender like Rasmus Dahlin. He will play in the NHL next season and contribute from Day 1, but he will only start to contribute up towards his potential when he can log top minutes and play at a really high level as a go to No 1 D logging at least 22-24 minutes a night. If you play less than that, it his very hard to be consistent enough to really drive a team. An 18 y/o defender will never physically be ready to log those minutes and bear the physical burden of playing top D minutes in the NHL. A comparison can be made to Victor Hedman in relation to John Tavares. Tavares started of stronger than Hedman, but a couple of years into his career Hedman could catch up.

    2. Filip Zadina, LW, 6'1" 192 lbs

    It’s a tight race among several kids to be drafted second overall in this draft. Why should the nod fall on Filip Zadina? He is one of the older players in this draft and to be honest, I am not even that big of a fan of him. He is the type who will let the entire arena know that he tipped a goal by skating around pointing at his stick instead of celebrating with his teammates. He plays defense, but I suspect its solely due to selfish reasons since he can’t score without the puck (I am only half-kidding).

    But you cannot overcome the fact that Zadina is a fantastic offensive player and I think he will score a boatload of points in the NHL. Hence I rank him second overall in very stiff competition in this draft. He has an uncanny ability to find the back of the net. He got that extreme focus the top point getters have in this league. He is great on the power play and thinks the game tremendously fast along with having the ability to execute plays tremendously fast. When everything is said and done I expect him to have had a Markus Näslund type of career.
    I also projects him to be able to play at a really high level into his 30s, he got that light body that do not ‘age’ as much as the bigger guys.

    3. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, 6'3" 187 lbs

    Andrei Svechnikov has world class abilities in all areas except his shooting game. And knowing these Russian kids, he will probably have a rocket of a shot as he fills out and grows some more. I remember seeing a young Malkin in his WJCs a while back, he didn’t nearly have the shot back then as he does now and it has been the same with other Russians too. I recon they don’t practice the shot as much in early years over there.

    Svechnikov has a mix of speed, size and skill – coordination, balance, attitude, everything really – I have not seen in a Russian player since Malkin’s junior days. He is very hard to stop when he drives to the net from the right side. He is very strong on the puck down low. Even if his shot isn’t top notch right now, there is nothing wrong with his ability to find the back of the net and he is as good of a scorer as he is playmaker.

    So why do I not rank him 1 or 2? It is not an easy call from my point of view. And its definitely not a decision I can promise that I would stand by in 24-36 months’ time. But as it is right now Svechnikov is not as versatile as Zadina is. He is a world class threat of the rush and when driving the puck to the net. He is not the same threat from the outside, and today its there much of the ice can be found. Teams drive with the puck over the offensive blueline and takes it to the net, challenging Ds 1 on 1, threading passes through a tight defensive formation. The upswing we have seen in scoring in this league comes from this change in style compared to how it was just a 3-5 years ago. The defending team can handle the first wave, but defending against a serious 1 on 1 challenge creates havoc among the defenders. When the second wave comes in, there are openings. Is when it comes to capitalizing on these chances from the outside the top offensive talents have a real field day. In an analogy I see Zadina vs Svechnikov as a Näslund vs Nash race, were Näslund comes out on top.

    However, if Svechnikov can take his shot to the next level and add the dimension were he just can seek open ice on the outside and be a shooting threat from that distance that like Tarasenko and Malkin are – he could very well surpass the guys ahead of him in my ranking. Time will tell.

    4. Brady Tkachuk, LW, 6'3" 196 lbs

    The general advice I would have when it comes to NHL drafts and power forwards – with so called great size and attitude -- is to run for cover. Stay away. Emigrate. Change name. Get protected identi…. ok I am exaggerating, but you get my point.

    But at the same time in the game of hockey there will always be room for all types of players. During the midst of the trapping era someone like Martin St. Louis could still thrive and be one of the most valuable players in the league. The big challenge for bigger players in the game today is that skating well for a big man is not enough, and it is more or less physically impossible for a top skating player 6’3 or bigger to skate like a top skating player 5’8-6’0. The bigger you get, the strength you must get out of your muscle mass (weight) increases exponentially. The math does not add up. And the NHL in this day and age is a skating mans league. The bigger guys just struggle to be around the puck enough. To stay relevant. Sure, it is still valuable to have guys who can crash the crease and get dirty goals, but they are rarely able to even remotely lead their teams.

    But Brady Tkachuk, as well as his brother, is a very smart hockey player. He got a tremendous feel for were to go on the ice and when. He gets in the lanes of Ds and open up things for his teammates. He is punishing. And overall, he is a very good hockey player.

    Even if the days are over when a series could be won by a team mostly being bigger and more punishing than the opponents, the game in front of the nets is still tremendously important. Playing chippy and with an attitude is still tremendously important. I rank Brady Tkachuk fourth overall on my ranking because I believe that he can become a good top line player on a good team, that assumes the role of the face of his franchise eventually and helps creates a great attitude for his side.

    5. Adam Boqvist, RD, 5'11" 170 lbs

    Adam Boqvist is the most offensive defensemen in hockey, that I know of. He sees the ice tremendously well and is very talented offensively. Its also tremendously impressive how fast he processes things and is able to jump up and join the attack in the exact right situations. Despite being so offensive in his style, he is rarely caught cheating. He can become the second-best player in this draft, it is not unreasonable to speculate on that.

    However, the kid got some bona fide defensive issues. He moves very much in straight lines into his guy defensively. Sure, his reads are great, but it don't work at the pro level. At least if you are 6’1 (his listing must be a bit outdated?). You need to be able to manage the gap, move with the guy you are defending against. In most situations, if you cannot move with the guy you are defending against, you end up 10 feet’s behind the play in less than two seconds if you are beat. If you move with someone, even if you are turned inside out you are still there. Disturbing the shot. Just stressing the attacker. For this reason, he has been a bit of a mess playing in the men’s league in Sweden.

    Hence Boqvist also scares me a bit. It will take a while for him to get to the NHL. That time is always a risk for a high pick, everyone is awfully impatient. There is a ton of pressure. He will be tested mentally. And the corrections won't come by themselves. Imagine that an impatient GM gets his hands on Boqvist, pulls him out of Sweden and puts him in the line-up on opening night in the NHL. After 10-20 games with some mighty struggles he is dumped in the AHL and most of his focus will be on learning to live by himself, in a new country, in a new city, playing on a smaller ice, for a new coach, on a new team, with new teammates and so forth -- instead of being able to focus 100% on perfecting the fundamentals on the game. His development is delayed, high pick in a great draft, pressure will grow so fast.

    I rank him five because even if there is downside, I think he is the type you make your own bed with. If you develop him well – you should get a great offensive threat and an OK 2-way D down the road. I especially think he will be so valuable because he plays a offensive style – just like Erik Karlsson – that cannot be shut down. Breaks every pattern. Johnny Hockey on defense.

    6. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C/LW, 6'2" 190 lbs

    There is not much not to not like about Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He skates well, good technique and edgework, agile as well as having solid top speed. Good reach, smart and sees the ice well. Is often a step ahead of the play. Good shooter.

    I do not know him nor have the opportunity to assess him off the ice the way teams making the picks will have. But he seems to be a very energetic kid who loves to be in the spot light.

    The relevant question is not if he is a good prospect and hockey player – he is. Not many will disagree with that. I think the relevant question is how high he should be drafted in relation to his peers. The prototypical hockey player exceeding expectation and doing great in the NHL the last couple of years is like a 5’9’’-11’’ speedster who can play the game at a really high tempo and expose Ds. Kotkaniemi does not fit that bill. With that said – I think he is a perfect enabler for a unit to be able to play a fast game in the modern NHL. He is tough and annoying to play against. He moves the puck really well and understands highly talented offensive line mates. A Finnish Patrice Bergeron.

    7. Bode Wilde 6'2" 196 lbs

    Bode Wilde is probably the one player splitting the scouting community the most right now. For a long while I was pretty lukewarm on him.

    For me playing D in the NHL comes down to this. Size and reach is still very important for defenders. For an attacker there is a big difference going up against someone 5’11’’ as opposed to 6’3’’.
    But you must be able to move well enough and move the puck well enough – for the NHL level. Very few fit those criteria. I think many micro analyses Bode Wilde and other Ds too much. Sure he has issues and makes gaffs with the puck, but is it because he isn’t able to make the right plays or because he is still young and inconsistent? I think it’s the later.

    In the coming years in the NHL all teams more or less will still be looking to get better at moving the puck out of their own end, and that will compromise a team’s ability to play defense. Clear the crease. Be heavy to play against down low. If your wish list includes getting a RD with size that can skate and move the puck – there will be very few options available. In terms of upside, other players will surpass Wilde in a ranking. But from an objective point of view, Bode Wilde at seventh overall is the best value pick form my point of view.

    8. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, 6'1" 205 lbs

    Oliver Wahlström has during the 17/18 season turned into one of the purest snipers I’ve seen in junior hockey the last years. His one dimensional style, world class shot and lack of movement on the ice draws comparisons to Pavel Brendl.

    I saw a lot of Wahlström last season in the U18, during the summer in the WJSS, and now in the U18 again and he is not a player who have developed in the right direction in all areas has he has grown older. Being as dominant as he has been for the USNTDP can create some lazy habits, but Wahlström has also lost a bit of quickness as he has filled out physically. On the flip side he is very steady on the ice and very hard to move once he takes position in front of the net, and his combination of amazing hands and that stability on his skates is of course very rare.

    Oliver Wahlstrom has potential to score a number of goals in the NHL that certainly would cause you to get grey hairs if you pass on him in the draft, on the other hand if you do draft him the lack of movement away from the puck and heaviness in his skating might also give you some grey hairs. There are many good players in this draft and taking Wahlström in the top 8 should definitely not be a given in light of the players still on the table – but Wahlström seems to be a great kid and he could become a formidable threat on a PP in the NHL. On the other side of the spectrum, even if OW delivers and scores a lot of goals in the NHL he will not contribute that much in other areas for his team. However when contracts are negotiated goals counts more than anything else. All decisions a franchise makes in this league must take in mind the Cap, and I have a hard time seeing Wahlström ever being underpaid or providing a good bang for the buck so to speak.

    9. Vitaly Kravtsov, RW, 6'2" 183 lbs

    With one year (reportedly) remaining on his KHL deal Vitaly Kravtsov will not provide immediate help to the team that drafts him, but it can still be noted that he is one of the more NHL ready players in the draft. Kravtsov can be compared to a Russian Chris Kreider, formidable speed and great work ethic, and while Kreider has more typical NA attributes Kravtsov has the typical Russian soft hands, very much in control of himself and so coordinated with the puck. Strong and powerful but also so slick. Plays a smart game. Despite having good size he still has that lightness in how he moves which is not common.

    Kravtsov also stands out in how strong skater he is from both an acceleration point of view and from an endurance point of view. Even if he has been on the ice a long time and his unit started to wear down, he can go deep, retrieve the puck to drive it up ice.

    The way Kravtsov has somewhat flied under the radar on most prospect rankings reminds me a bit of the rise of Marian Hossa in 1997. Hossa stepped up for the Slovaks in the WJC just like Kravtsov did in the KHL POs. Hossa also played in a smaller role for Slovaks in the men’s WCH that season. When Ottawa brought him over the WHL it was a bit of a joke, he was way to good for that league as a 19 y/o. Kravtsov got that high natural skill level and strong skating as Hossa had as well as good smarts and work ethic on the ice. The Hossa brothers were known for working tremendously hard the ice. Their dad, ex player František Hossa, had them running up for hills pulling three trunks behind him. Pavel Bure’s dad really pushed him in the same way, I think Pavel’s dad was the coach for the Soviet Swimming team. I am getting at that nothing will come by itself for these kids, but Kravtsov has a tremendous platform to turn into a very good player in the NHL.

    10. K’Andre Miller, LD, 6'4" 205 lbs

    K’Andre Miller is a tremendously gifted hockey player who likely made a very good decision converting to D. I have wrestled some back and forth with myself on how high I should rank him, if he was a right handed shot I believe I would have had him a lot higher. But K’Ander Miller’s biggest contribution will come on the power play and most top power play units in the NHL are sat up by a left handed playmaker on the right side with a shooting option on the right side. In such set-up – a right shooting defender is to prefer since he can swing the puck from the point to the RHS on the left side faster. Hence some teams could face a need for some adjustment to incorporate Miller on their top PP unit. Miller is further along the development curve – for a forward converted to D – than any other player in that position that I have seen. When Brent Burns converted to D the game was a little slower and it was easier to for a defender to live on his size, but Burns’ lateral movement defensively was non-existent.

    Miller has a great reach, he plays solid defensively albeit obviously still being a bit rough around the edges, he sees the ice very well in front of him and has a crisp and hard passing game. He moves well laterally on the blueline and his ability to find open lanes for his heavy shot is very good.

    As the game becomes faster, forwards smaller and the ref’s improve their ability to spot the rule violating plays – size and reach will become more important for defenders, not less important. The same applies offensively in light of forwards and Ds ability in the game today to get into shooting lanes. Someone with the reach of Miller can use it as a tool to thread shots around forwards coming at them easier than smaller Ds.

    11. Noah Dobson, RD, 6'3" 179 lbs

    Teams passing on Charlie McAvoy in the 2016 draft will surely apply the fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me on defenders for the coming years. But it’s a line of thinking that is easier to apply in theory than in practice. To be smooth enough

    12. Ryan Merkley, RD, 5'11" 170 lbs

    Many puck moving defenders from college hockey and the CHL have the last years – in my opinion – lacked the calmness that is needed to succeed thoroughly in the NHL. Junior hockey provides a lot of openings and invites talented defenders to jump into every situation. In the NHL that marginals will be much smaller, and such a huge part of playing a puck-moving style for a defender is the decision making. To value situations and master mind the unit in front of you.

    I love Ryan Merkley’s mix of speed, intensity and skill along with his ability to stay calm and collected and evaluate the situations in front of him. He is not the most skilled offensive defender out there, and he will not be a perfect defender in the NHL defensively. But if he just can get into the NHL and get a somewhat big role with PP time – I think he is the type who just will become better and better and better with time. His right handed shot will of course be very valuable on many power-plays.

    13. Jonatan Berggren, RW, 5'11" 183 lbs

    Jonatan Berggren is very good on his skates and at transporting the puck. Smart and quick. Good creativity offensively. Good 2-way player besides his offensive talent. Shot could be improved a lot.

    Berggren does not have elite top end abilities – like he isn’t an elite sniper or playmaker – but there is just all kind of room in the NHL for these kids. Look at a Jesper Bratt. A Jake Guentzel. A Cam Atkinson. There are so many others, if you can skate with the puck it pays off so much and Berggren is such a stronger skater. What he has is pure 200 feet speed and skill game. He gets going really fast with the puck and has that effortless stride that enables him to be in control and weave through a defense to get up ice. He think he will become a winger in the NHL, but its obvious that he has played a lot of center as a junior because he is so responsible without the puck and is a great asset for his center and Ds when it comes to going deep to collect pucks and skate them up ice.

    Skellefteå has done such a great job with younger players. 1-2 more years with them, could become a very good contributor in the NHL.

    14. Lukas Dostal, GK, 6'1" 165 lbs

    Lukas Dostal is the most talented goalkeeper in the 2018 draft. Dostal perfects the latest goal keeping trends with a tremendous ability to play with an upright upper body while tracking pucks and moving post to post. Tremendous reflexes and very calm and collected in the net.

    NHL goalkeepers are getting bigger and bigger for a reason. But its important to remember that more than half of the starters in the NHL are 6’2 or smaller. Lukas Dostal reminds me of Tukka Rask in terms of style.

    With NHL teams only holding the rights of drafted European goalies for two years and bigger goalies trending more and more – I can’t imagine that Lukas Dostol will be drafted as high as I rank him or even in the first round. On top of that there is probably a well-founded notion that precious cap space is not best spent on a top goaltender. You can at least get top goaltending from many more goaltenders out there than you can get top center hockey from the group of centers. I.e. a Cam Ward can be the best in the game for a couple of weeks, there are not more than a handful of centers out there that can play better center hockey than Sidney Crosby and Co. But I cannot say that I am tremendously impressed with the current crop of goaltenders in the NHL. Henrik Lundqvist fought down Carey Price in the POs last season. Boborovsky has been one of the better guys this year, and other guys up there are Tuuka Rask and Jonathan Quick. There will be openings between the pipes in the NHL the coming years and if a team can find a goaltender that can come in and stand on his head – I think it’s a potential contribution that should be ranked really high. Czech Hockey is also streaking right now, who will become the guy that can back-stop that team in the future? I could see Skarek and Dostal pushing each other too in a head to head fight in that perspective and my bet is that Dostal will come out on top.

    15. Joel Farabee, LW, 6'0" 168 lbs

    Joel Farabee is possibly the player I enjoy watch the most in this year’s draft. Tremendous hustle, he is so smart, and most importantly he always finds ways to get involved in a game and have an impact of its outcome.

    At 6’0 168 lbs he has all kind of room to add more explosiveness in his skating, but the one area that is holding him back for me is that he isn’t quite the skater a Mitch Marner and other elite speedsters have. He could get there and if he does, he could be a steal at 14th. But you always got to judge the prospect of that development coming and for various technical reasons I am not 100% convinced on that it will come.

    16. Martin Kaut, RW, 6'1" 174 lbs

    Martin Kaut is as a starting point a very solid 2-way winger. But what separates him from many of his peers is his play on the power play, the way he makes perfect use of his right handed shot. Reminds me a bit of Milan Hejduk, although Kaut probably will not be fortunate to play with Forsberg during much of his career…

    Great shot, solid skater. Hard worker. Thinks the offensive game really well.

    17. Joe Veleno, C, 6'1" 194 lbs

    Joe Veleno one of the safer picks in this draft and in light of the importance it is for teams to consistently be able to refill their lineup with younger cheaper players that should not be underrated. Veleno is a fantastic skater whom I – in terms of skating – would like to compare to guys like Joe Pavelski and Matt Duchene.

    Veleno’s offensive game shouldn’t be underrated either. He sees the ice well and got a fast and accurate wrister. He doesn’t quite have the grittiness nor stubbornness as the better 2-way players in the game, but his defensive game is also solid.

    I think its very important for Veleno to get to play with top talents. Kind of like Joe Pavelski I believe Veleno is the type who rises up to the talent he plays with, but he doesn’t have the creativity or offensive understanding of the game to step into the NHL and make his own fortune so to speak.

    18. Isac Lundeström, C, 6'0" 185 lbs

    Lundreström is one of the harder players for me to rank in this draft. He is – today – a very solid hockey player. Truth are that if you look at like the top 60 players in this draft, if history is any indication a solid number of them will never become as good as Lundeström is today. He skates very hard, works hard, is creative with the puck and have good hands. He is a good passer but must improve his shot. He is definitely the best offensive hitter that we have seen in a draft the last while, he is downright dangerous for Ds to play against and has an uncanny ability to really drop a D coming hard at him before taking the puck to the net.

    On one hand you can ask how much potential he have, on the other hand you can ask yourself what type of numbers he would have put up if he played junior hockey and scored well over a point per game in the CHL and then how many would discuss his potential. He is one of the older players in this draft, but that also means that he played the U18 last year against players almost a year older than him and that he still was very young as a U20 player in WJC in January.

    It is also important to remember that Lundeström is the second youngest player ever to play in the SHL (16 years and 1 month during the 15/16 season (!)) and that he almost exclusively have played in the SHL the last two seasons. That is of course in many ways great for his development – but OTOH it hasn’t quite given him the ability to perfect his offensive game. Its hard to gauge his potential, from one perspective if you pick him late you are afraid that he before you know it will be scoring 50 pts in the NHL outperforming many players picked ahead of him, if you pick him high, you are afraid that you will look at the following 20 picks and find 3-4 big stars that could change the outlook of your franchise and you wonder why you settled with Lundeström.

    19. Adam Ginning, LD, 6'3" 196 lbs

    Adam Ginning is as complete as they come. Steady no-nonsense D who has NHL calibre thought process as an 18 y/o. I would not be surprised if he played in the NHL as soon as next season, although it’s probably not advisable to rush him.

    Some will note that Ginning’s statistical production does not stick out in the same way as it does for some other kids, but while Ginning isn’t projected to become a top offensive D he does also have more offensive ability than his stats seem to indicate. I do not think its unfair to compare him with Mattias Ekholm.

    20. Quinn Hughes, LD, 5'10" 174 lbs

    Quinn Hughes is one of the most entertaining kids in this draft to watch, a fantastic player who you just loves to watch play the game. I can envision even the most disciplined trapping coach just putting this kid on the ice and asking him to just do what he wants, nobody can want to hold him back. He is a pick you can’t go wrong with, pick him 10 or 20 or whatever – I can’t see how you will end up regretting it much. For the coming decade plus he will contribute much to your franchise.

    I think it remains to be seen if he can become a Troy Krug type of player in the NHL, or slightly better or slightly worse.

    What is a bit scary is that he doesn’t at all stand out as a kid that is done growing. As it is – I don’t quite see top 20-30 D potential in him (as hard as it is to put a cap on someone’s potential), but imagine if he can grow a inch or even two more. Add another gear to his skating. The kid could become deadly.

    21. Rasmus Sandin, LD, 5'11" 190 lbs

    Rasmus Sandin is a tremendously dedicated hockey player who really personalize the label of eating and sleeping hockey 24/7. He is very poised with the puck, has superb agility and can stickhandle in a phonebooth. He is not big but he has that low center of gravidity and is more or less impossible to catch with a heavy hit. He is good on the PP, but it would of course be to prefer if he had a RHS.

    Sometimes that extreme dedication to the game can become too much. If you can channel the energy in the right direction and keep it up way into your 20’s it can be the best asset a hockey player can have, but you also cannot become too down own yourself when things are not going your way and pressure too much.

    Reminds me a lot of Ryan Ellis.

    22. Evan Bouchard, RD, 6'2" 192 lbs

    Even Bouchard is a pure joy to watch in juniors for a hockey lover. He is a really early bloomer who has played at the level he is now for a long time and really masters everything on the ice around him. I remember when Kenny Jönsson returned to the second tier league in Sweden to get a bit of a break after all his concussions in the NHL. Jönsson was more or less in his prime, and it was just amazing to watch how much faster he thought the game than the other players on the ice. He could have played some shifts with a cup of coffee in his hand. Bouchard isn’t quite on that level in the OHL – but its still amazing to see how well he masters the game.

    Bouchard is a good player without any real flaws. I think he will hit the ice running so to speak in the NHL and contribute if not from day 1 so at least for 2-3 seasons before he turn 22 (or D+4). I am not sure if he has much potential beyond that though, i.e. to take his game further and become a top 30-40 defender in the NHL. But when everything is said and done I think this kid will have had a really solid NHL career. Comparison: Wade Redden

    23. Rasmus Kupari, C, 5'11" 163 lbs

    Ramus Kupari is a slick Finnish right handed playmaker who has potential to put up a lot of points. In terms of style -- i.e. not potential impact but how he looks when he plays at lower levels in relation to his peers -- it’s hard to not draw comparisons to the legendary smaller right handed offensive talents we have seen over the years in the NHL; Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and the likes.

    Kupari has a lot of potential with the puck on his stick, and while he has quick feet’s he doesn’t have the top gear in his skating – as of today – to become a dominant offensive player in the NHL. I don’t think a comparison to Mikael and Markus Granlund is unfair, with a touch of Willy Nylander.

    24. Mattias Samuelsson, LD, 6'3" 216 lbs

    They are not the flavour of the month in the NHL; but I think its only a matter of time before we see The Return of the Stay at Home Defender in this league. Since the 05’ lockout the NHL has turned into more and more of a skating game. It takes time to adjust, ultimately you can look at factors like what a 10 y/o kid see work at the highest level, practice on and perfects in his development so that its perfect when this kid gets to the NHL; what a player learned worked at the level he played at and took home and taught his players years later when he became a coach; and so forth. There is now so much room in the NHL for a player to transport the puck in traffic, for a D to try to make a creative pass every time he touch the puck and so forth and so forth.

    In this context, teams are looking for more puck-moving ability, more speed, more creativity and so forth. And its of course the right call. But sometimes its lost in the shuffle that there are so many games in the game so to speak – and from my POV there is undoubtedly room for a team in the NHL to carry a pure stay at home D; who can clear the crease on the PK. Punish players along the boards. Play late shifts when protecting a lead. Always be used for dangerous FOs in your own end. Go back 15 years and teams had 1-2 PMDs, maybe a 2-way guy, and 3-4 stay at home guys. I am not saying that is how the league will look in 5 years. But I definitely think it will be more acknowledged that there is room for at least one really specialist stay at home D on a NHL teams blueline.

    Samuelsson has great size, great reach, moves fairly well, reads the play well, and is definitely serviceable with the puck. I think there will be plenty of room for guys like him and Cal Foote to contribute a lot in the NHL in the coming decade and a half.

    25. Ty Dellandrea, C/RW, 6'1" 190 lbs

    Dellandrea is a serviceable skater with a good shot and great attitude. Plays with a lot of energy and knows where to go on the ice.

    With the Cap it is so important for teams to make their picks count, get kids that can come in and play good top 12 hockey on a cheap ELC. I think Dellandrea has every potential to make it to the NHL and become a solid contributor.

    Help building a great environment for the team he plays on, and also push the pace of how his team plays with relentless forechecking and general intensity in his game.

    26. Serron Noel, RW, 6'5" 209 lbs

    To be frank, Serron Noel is the type who could really make you look bad. Its hard to not draw comparisons to someone like Blake Wheeler. Noel is very talented for a player his size, good hands, his RHS is an asset for sure. Sometimes when I see him play I wonder, why shouldn’t this kid be ranked top 5-10? Top 15?

    But in the end, my best bet is that Serron Noel will fall short of becoming a good top 6 forward in the NHL. I can’t help to compare him to like a Jesse Puljujärvi. Puljujärvi owned the opponents at the U18 level, set a record for pts scored by a 17 y/o in the U20 WJCs and so forth. He was rushed to the NHL, and now there is talk about his attitude and such not being perfect. But I don’t buy that at all, at 6’4 its just so hard for a young player to come in and stay with the pace. And compared to Puljujärvi, I think Noel will have an even harder time.

    He seems like a great kid and he has more potential than to be ranked 26 in this draft – and I would love for him to prove me wrong. But its just my best bet that I think he will have to settle in for a smaller role. 26 could be high in that perspective.

    27. Ty Smith, LD, 5'11" 176 lbs

    Complete defender who defends well for a player his size. He moves well and I love his aggressiveness on the ice, and he definitely has solid potential with the puck too. Quality pick at this range.

    28. Nils Lundkvist, RD, 5'11" 174 lbs

    Nils Lundkvist is one of the more underrated Ds in this draft IMO. He has had Boqvist and Dahlin ahead of him on the power play for Sweden’s junior national teams over the years which has kept him out of the spot light a bit. He has a very well developed offensive game and is dangerous as a PPQB as well as on the rush with his RHS. He is also very responsible defensively and is the type always liked and trusted by his coach. Good skater. Some guys at this age could pass for being 25 off the ice, other for being 14. Lundkvist belongs to the later category. If he can grow a couple of inches and fill out – he could even turn out be a great value pick at this range.

    29. Kiiril Marchenko, LW, 6'3" 168 lbs

    In lack of a better comparison out there (or probably just lack of imagination on my part), I would compare Kiiril Marchenko to an Artem Anisimov who plays LW and has a right handed shot. Marchenko is a very well drilled hockey player who is without flaws when it comes to skating and handling the puck. Good attitude all over and works hard on the ice, and he is fairly dangerous in front of the net.

    I imagine that he is 2-3 years away, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marchenko dropped a bit into the second round due to the Russian factor. But I make the comparison to Artem Anisimov, because just like Anisimov was drafted in the 50’s by NYR in 06’ I think whichever team picks up Marchenko will feel that they get a first round talent in the second round. The 06’ draft was not bad, but 12 years later I don’t think its farfetched to claim that Anisimov is a top 10-12 pick in relation to the players picked in the first two rounds.

    30. Jakub Lauko, C/LW, 6'1" 172 lbs

    Jakub Lauko is a very intriguing young hockey player, who can build up great top speed and has really good hands. However, Lauko hasn’t quite done himself justice when I’ve seen him since he obviously isn’t there physically yet and stamina has been a big issue for him. He shows glimpses of having really good fundamentals to become a potential scorer. Slick skater, great hands.

    31. Kevin Bahl, LD, 6'6" 231 lbs

    They are not the flavour of the month in the NHL; but I think it is only a matter of time before we see The Return of the Stay at Home Defender in this league. Since the 05’ lockout the NHL has turned into more and more of a skating game. It takes time to adjust, ultimately you can look at factors like what a 10 y/o kid see work at the highest level, practice on and perfects in his development; what a player learned worked at the level he played at and took home and thought his players when he became a coach; and so forth. There is now all the room in the NHL for a player to transport the puck in traffic, for a D to try to make a creative pass every time he touch the puck and so forth and so forth.

    In this context, teams are looking for more puck-moving ability, more speed, more creativity and so forth. And its of course the right call. But sometimes its lost in the shuffle that there are so many games in the game so to speak – and from my POV there is undoubtedly room for a team in the NHL to carry a pure stay at home D; who can clear the crease on the PK. Punish players along the boards. Play late shifts when protecting a lead. Always be used for dangerous FOs in your own end. Go back 15 years and teams had 1-2 PMDs, maybe a 2-way guy, and 3-4 stay at home guys. I am not saying that is how the league will look in 5 years. But I definitely think it will be more acknowledged that there is room for at least one really specialist stay at home D on a NHL teams blueline.

    Kevin Bahl could prove to become a really good defensive option. I think he is underrated as a player. Skating isn’t that bad, and he has a good head on his shoulders. It will of course be a challenge for him to keep up at the NHL level. But I could definitely see him becoming a valuable defender for good number of years for a NHL team.

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