For those of you that are living under a rock, the 2018 NHL Entry Draft went down last weekend. Although there could have been more on the trade front, there were some surprises in a draft that was already nearly impossible to predict even semi-accurately. It’s impossible to follow draft-eligible prospects for a year and then not have opinions on some of the picks. Here are my thoughts.

Pick By Pick Analysis

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1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin (LD)

This is a no-brainer, so there isn’t much analyzing to do. They are getting the top player available, and Dahlin will be a huge addition to their team. With the addition of Dahlin, the Sabres are a legitimate threat to finally make the playoffs next year.

Pick Grade: A+

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2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov (RW)

Like the first overall pick, there’s no debate around this one. Again, Svechnikov was the best available skater, and the ‘Canes made no mistake.

Pick Grade: A+

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3. Montreal Canadiens – Jesperi Kotkaniemi (LC)

‘I’m a big advocate of taking the best player available, so I don’t love that the Canadiens passed on players like Quinn Hughes and Filip Zadina for a centre, but they could have done a lot worse. It’s understandable that they would look for a centre given their current situation and inability to address that need in recent years, so you can’t knock them too hard, but I’m not a fan.

Pick Grade: B

4. Ottawa Senators – Brady Tkachuk (LW)

I’m one of the more anti-Tkachuk analysts you’ll find, so obviously I dislike this pick. Tkachuk lacks the high-end upside of several players drafted after him. I don’t think this will look good in a re-draft.

Pick Grade: C-

5. Arizona Coyotes – Barrett Hayton (LC)

The Coyotes went off the board with this pick, and I don’t think it will pay off. At the draft, upside is everything, and Arizona did not go for it. For a team that’s already doing well at centre, I don’t see the need to reach for a pivot, unless the plan is to move on from Dylan Strome. Seems like a low-risk, low-reward pick.

Pick Grade: D

6. Detroit Red Wings – Filip Zadina (RW)

Zadina fell right into Detroit’s lap, but unlike Ottawa, the Wings didn’t fail to capitalize. A fantastic addition, Zadina was the easy pick at this point. The Red Wings rebuild is tracking fairly well, although they’ll still need to shed some poor contracts.

Pick Grade: A+

7. Vancouver Canucks – Quinn Hughes (LD)

This is a fantastic pick. I had Hughes ranked 3rd, so he provides excellent value at #7. The Canucks were looking for a defenceman coming into the draft, and they got the best one they possibly could. The future is bright in Vancouver.

Pick Grade: A+

8. Chicago Blackhawks – Adam Boqvist (RD)

Love this pick. The Hawks appear to be rebuilding from the blueline out, and they add a future top-pairing defenceman in Boqvist. He’s perfect for today’s NHL, and could make some teams ahead of 8th kick themselves for passing on him in the future.

Pick Grade: A+

9. New York Rangers – Vitali Kravstov (RW)

Behind Hayton, this is probably the most intriguing pick so far. Kravstov’s upside is undeniable, but with Wahlstrom still on the board, it’s interesting that they still went for the Russian. They must feel very strongly about his potential. Not a bad pick, but not a particularly good one either.

Pick Grade: B+

10. Edmonton Oilers – Evan Bouchard (RD)

The Oilers have been in desperate need of a top right-shot defenceman for a long time. Bouchard fills that need. He wasn’t the BPA – Wahlstrom was – but if it stops Chiarelli from making anymore lopsided trades, Oilers fans should be happy.

Pick Grade: B+

11. New York Islanders – Oliver Wahlstrom (RW)

The Islanders can thank the Coyotes and Rangers for Wahlstrom. After those two teams went off the board with their picks, the Islanders were gifted one of the premier goal-scorers in the class.

Pick Grade: A+

12. New York Islanders – Noah Dobson (RD)

The fall of Noah Dobson was one of the more intriguing storylines on draft day. It was thought that Dobson had a shot at being the second defenceman off the board, possibly going as high as 4th coming into the draft, but instead he fell. The Islanders got another player that they weren’t expecting to be available.

Pick Grade: A

13. Dallas Stars – Ty Dellandrea (RC)

The Stars reached big time with this pick, taking centreman Ty Dellandrea, who was expected to go late-first. The lack of high quality centres available certainly played a part in this pick, although the Stars must feel quite strongly about Dellandrea to make this much of a reach. I had Dellandrea in my late-first as well, but the group in the 20-40 range was extremely tight.

Pick Grade: C

14. Philadelphia Flyers – Joel Farabee (LW)

I’m a big fan of Farabee, so I like this pick. The hardworking, skilled winger projects as a top 6 winger, and has top line upside. That is fantastic value for this range.

Pick Grade: A+

15. Florida Panthers – Grigori Denisenko (LW)

The Panthers went high-risk, high-reward with this pick, drafting Russian winger Grigori Denisenko. Denisenko certainly has top 15 skill, but his lack of production is concerning. I’d bet on him working out.

Pick Grade: A-

16. Colorado Avalanche – Martin Kaut (RW)

Kaut has shown well at against adult competition in the Czech Extraliga, and was excellent at the WJC. While he doesn’t have jaw-dropping skill, Kaut is a strong two-way winger that makes intelligent plays. I would have liked to see the Avs swing for a player with more upside, but Kaut is a quality pick nonetheless.

Pick Grade: B+

17. New Jersey Devils – Ty Smith (LD)

Draft day is scout’s Christmas, and it was also like a holiday for the New Jersey Devils, who received a gift in the form of Ty Smith. Smith is arguably worthy of a top 10 pick, and produced at a higher rate in the WHL than players like Seth Jones and Ivan Provorov. A few years away, but could be a major boost to the Devils blueline in the future.

Pick Grade: A+

18. Columbus Blue Jackets – Liam Foudy (LW)

The Jackets went for speed with their first rounder, and they reached big time to do so. Foudy is a fantastic skater with good hands, but lacks the wide array of skills that others possess. It’s a risk that I don’t think will pay off.

Pick Grade: D-

19. Philadelphia Flyers – Jay O’Brien (LC)

Like the Jackets before them, the Flyers went off the board, selecting Jay O’Brien, who spent his season in the high school ranks. O’Brien’s statistical profile was quite impressive, with an INV% of ~40%, but the poor quality of competition would have played a huge factor. It’s an extremely risky pick, and I’m not sure that the reward will be all that high.

Pick Grade: D

20. Los Angeles Kings – Rasmus Kupari (LC)

The Kings went for skill with their pick, selecting Finnish centre Rasmus Kupari, one of the slickest players in the draft. His skating and stickhandling is some of the best in the draft, but his below-average hockey IQ could hold him back. It’s a pretty good bet.

Pick Grade: B

21. San Jose Sharks – Ryan Merkley (RD)

Merkley was one of the greatest question marks going into the draft, and where he would end up going was unknown. The Sharks took on some risk by drafting him, but he has the most upside out of everybody but Dahlin and Svechnikov. Clearly, they consider it a risk worth taking, and I would agree.

Pick Grade: A+

22. New York Rangers – K’Andre Miller (LD)

Miller’s late season push was capped off with a selection well within the first round. The defenceman is raw, but offers a lot of upside. It’s a good pick for a team with multiple first rounders like the Rangers, even if they left some other extremely talented players on the board.

Pick Grade: A-

23. Anaheim Ducks – Isac Lundestrom (LC)

Lundestrom was very good in the SHL in his draft season, which typically points to future NHL success. With the Swede, the Ducks are getting a safe pick, but not one with the greatest upside. Think middle-six.

Pick Grade: A-

24. Minnesota Wild – Filip Johansson (RD)

This was a weird one that I’m still struggling to wrap my head around. Johansson has some valuable traits, such as mobility from the back-end and high hockey IQ, but his skill set doesn’t even whisper first round pick.

Pick Grade: D-

25. St Louis Blues – Dominik Bokk (RW)

While trading up isn’t always the most efficient strategy, there’s definitely a case to be made in favour of it in this situation considering the player that the Blues got. While raw, Bokk is one of the better draft-eligibles when it comes to pure skill.

Pick Grade: A+

26. Ottawa Senators – Jacob Bernard-Docker (RD)

There were a lot of reaches in this draft, and this was one of them. Bernard-Docker was rarely regarded as a first-round talent entering the draft; I had him 56th. Nevertheless, the Senators took him 26th, obviously thinking that his skating and transition abilities were too good to pass up. I have to disagree.

Pick Grade: C

27. Chicago Blackhawks – Nicolas Beaudin (LD)

Beaudin was expected to hang around into the second round, but the Hawks jumped the gun mad took him late-first. Beaudin, a fantastic passer, will join Adam Boqvist as a high quality puckmoving defencemen in the Hawks system from this draft.

Pick Grade: A

28. New York Rangers – Nils Lundkvist (RD)

I love this pick. Lundkvist is a steady, two-way puck-moving defenceman that is good in almost all aspects of the game. The Rangers picked up a good one with their final first rounder.

Pick Grade: A+

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29. Toronto Maple Leafs – Rasmus Sandin (LD)

Although taking Sandin meant passing on Veleno, this was still a solid pick. Sandin is a quality defenceman that makes good decisions. His two-way game is developed more than would be expected at this age, and he looks well on his way to becoming a top 4 defenceman in the future.

Pick Grade: B

30. Detroit Red Wings – Joe Veleno (LC)

This is a lights-out pick. Veleno fell big time, and unlike the 10 or so teams before them, they grabbed the two-way centre. Veleno’s skill level was considered top 5 worthy at the start of the year, and he’s no less talented now.

Pick Grade: A+

31. Washington Capitals – Alexander Alexeyev (LD)

I’m the biggest fan of Alexeyev you’ll meet, but this still wasn’t a bad pick. However, with players like Jonatan Berggren, Akil Thomas, and Calen Addison still available, you can’t help but feel the Habs could have done better.

Pick Grade: C

Team Draft Grades

Anaheim Ducks

Notable Selections: Isac Lundestrom (LW/C), B.O Groulx (C), Blake McLaughlin (LW)

Grade: B-

The Ducks went safe within the first two rounds, selecting Lundestrom and Groulx. I would have liked to see them go for more upside. In the 3rd round however, McLaughlin is an excellent pick, somewhat salvaging their draft.

Arizona Coyotes

Notable Selections: Barrett Hayton (C), Kevin Bahl (D), Jan Jenik (LW), Dennis Busby (D), Liam Kirk (C)

Grade: C

The Coyotes reached for Hayton at 5th overall, then selected big, shutdown defenceman Kevin Bahl im round two. That’s pretty underwhelming in the first two rounds, but Jenik, Busby, and Kirk are all good selections in the latter rounds.

Boston Bruins

Notable Selections: Axel Andersson (D), Jakub Lauko (LW)

Grade: C

The Bruins didn’t have a first rounder which significantly hurts them here, but they did good in their limited high picks. With their two second rounders, they managed to pick up two good prospects.

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Buffalo Sabres

Notable Selections: Rasmus Dahlin (D), Mattias Samuelsson (D)

Grade: A-

The Sabres got a gem in Rasmus Dahlin, but missed on the rest of their selections. Although good, I don’t think Samuelsson is worthy of the 32nd pick, and the Sabres didn’t grab anybody noteworthy outside of the top 62.

Calgary Flames

Notable Selectjons: Milos Roman (F)

Grade: D

The Flames didn’t hold any picks in the first three rounds, a severe handicap, but they were able to salvage the draft by nabbing Milos Roman, who has second-round talent. Still, their chances at ending up with an impact NHLer appear slim.

Carolina Hurricanes

Notable Selections: Andrei Svechnikov (RW), Jack Drury (RW)

Draft Grade: A-

Like the Sabres, the Hurricanes started off their draft with a fantastic player, but were quite underwhelming afterwards. Jack Drury was probably drafted too high, and they didn’t swing for upside in the late rounds.

Chicago Blackhawks

Notable Selections: Adam Boqvist (D), Nicolas Beaudin (D), Jake Wise (C), Nicolas Nordgren (RW), Phillip Kurashev (C/LW), Alexis Gravel (G)

Grade: A+

The Blackhawks had a fantastic draft, finding significant value all the way into the 6th round. Boqvist and Beaudin were great pickups on the back end in round one, and I believe that Wise and Nordgren will be steals in round three.

Colorado Avalanche

Notable Selections: Martin Kaut (RW), Justus Annunen (G), Sampo Raanta (LW), Brandon Saigeon (C)

Grade: A-

The Avs had a pretty solid draft, adding Czech winger Martin Kaut in the first round and adding some a couple high-upside players in Annunen and Raanta later on. I feel that Brandon Saigeon was a sneaky good pickup as well.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Notable Selections: Liam Foudy (LW), Kirill Marchenko (LW), Marcus Karlberg (RW)

Draft Grade: C+

This draft from Columbus leaves a lot to be desired. Foudy was a poor reach at 18, and Marchenko isn’t fantastic value in the mid-second either. I am a fan of Marcus Karlberg.

Dallas Stars

Notable Selections: Ty Dellandrea (C), Alvin Eriksson (LW/RW), Oskar Back (C), Adam Mascherin (F), Curtis Douglas (LW), Riley Damiani (C)

Grade: B+

After beginning with a reach for Dellandrea, the Stars quietly had an excellent day two at the draft. Eriksson, Back, and Mascherin are high-upside players, while Curtis Douglas and Riley Damiani scored well in various OHL metrics this season.

Detroit Red Wings

Notable Selections: Filip Zadina (RW), Joe Veleno (C), Jonatan Berggren (RW/C), Jared McIsaac (D)

The Detroit Red Wings made out like bandits at the 2018 MHL Draft. Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno fell to their two first round picks, then they snatched up Jonatan Berggren, who I had ranked 10th, 33rd overall. The mobile defenceman Jared McIsaac caps off an excellent firsttwo rounds at the draft.

Edmonton Oilers

Notable Selections: Evan Bouchard (D), Ryan McLeod (C), Olivier Rodrigue (G)

Grade: C

I felt that this draft left a lot to be desired for the Oilers. They passed on Oliver Wahlstrom for Bouchard, who fills a need, then went safe with Ryan McLeod at 40th when higher upside players, such as Jake Wise and Calen Addison, were still on the board.

Florida Panthers

Notable Selections: Grigori Denisenko (LW), Serron Noel (RW)

Grade: B

Denisenko’s skill and upside make him a worthwhile selection, and Serron Noel has the skating and skill to compliment his size. Outside of the first two rounds though, the Panthers got little done.

Los Angeles Kings

Notable Selections: Rasmus Kupari (C), Akil Thomas (C/RW), Bulat Shafigullin (LW), Aidan Dudas (C)

Grade: A+

The Kings aren’t getting enough credit for their draft. They went for skill and upside in the first round with Kupari, then continued that trend into the later rounds, picking up potential steals in Akil Thomas, Bulat Shafigullin, and Aidan Dudas. This is a draft that could harvest four future NHLers.

Minnesota Wild

Notable Selections: Filip Johansson (D), Jack McBain (C), Alexander Khovanov (C)

Grade: C+

The Wild started things off poorly by reaching for Johansson, but were able to recover with two good picks in McBain and Khovanov.

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Montreal Canadiens

Notable Selections: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C), Jesse Ylönen (RW), Alexander Romanov (D), Jacob Olofsson (C), Cameron Hillis (C), Jordan Harris (D), Allan McShane (C), Cole Fonstad (LW)

Grade: A+

Despite the reach for Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Canadiens still managed an excellent draft. I’m impartial on the Romanov and Harris picks, but Ylönen, Olofsson, Hillis, McShane, and Fonstad were all fantastic additions. Montreal took advantage of players like Hillis and McShane slipping and got great value for their selections.

Nashville Predators

Notable Selections: Spencer Statsney (D)

Grade: D

The Predators only had 4 picks, all of which came after the third round, so it’s not exactly their fault that they received such a poor grade. With one of those picks, they grabbed Spencer Statsney, who was arguably worth a top 93 selection. Other than that, they came up more or less empty-handed.

New Jersey Devils

Notable Selections: Ty Smith (D), Xavier Bernard (D)

Grade: B

The Devils were able to get a top 10 talent at 17 in Ty Smith, then grabbed Xavier Bernard, a solid defenceman, in the 4th round. Other than that, they didn’t muster much, but those two are a decent haul on their own.

New York Islanders

Notable Selections: Oliver Wahlstrom (RW), Noah Dobson (D), Bode Wilde (D), Ruslan Ishakov (C), Jakob Skarek (G), Jakub Pivonka (C), Blade Jenkins (C)

Grade: A+

Wahlstrom and Dobson were great picks, even if no-brainers, but it was the rest of this draft that made it such a good one for the Islanders. Bode Wilde’s poor hockey IQ can be forgiven given the round that he was selected in (2nd), and Ruslan Ishakov has the raw skill of a first round pick. Skarek, Pivonka, and Jenkins are solid additions in the latter rounds as well.

New York Rangers

Notable Selections: Vitali Kravstov (RW), K’Andre Miller (D), Nils Lundkvist (D), Olaf Lindbom (G), Jacob Ragnarsson (D), Joey Keane (D)

Grade: A

The Rangers’ draft seems to be getting a bad rep, but I would have to disagree with anybody that says they did poorly at the podium. They targeted skill and upside in the first round, adding Kravstov, Miller, and Lundkvist, and found so value later with Joey Keane. Admittedly, the Lindbom pick wasn’t very good.

Ottawa Senators

Notable Selections: Brady Tkachuk (LW), Jacob Bernard-Docker (D), Jonathan Tychonick (D), Jonathan Gruden

Grade: C+

The Senators had a poor first round, selecting Tkachuk and Bernard-Docker higher than their skill level would suggest, but found major value in the 2nd and 4th rounds, adding two players that could pass as first rounders in Tychonick and Gruden.

Philadelphia Flyers

Notable Selections: Joel Farabee (LW), Jay O’Brien (C), Adam Ginning (D), Jack St. ivany (D)

Grade: B-

Joel Farabee was a great pick to begin, but the Flyers could have done better with their next two picks. While O’Brien undoubtedly has upside, 19th is high for him, and Ginning’s defensive style doesn’t mesh well with the modern NHL.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Notable Selections: Calen Addison (D), Filip Hallander (RW), Justin Almeida (C)

Grade: B+

The Penguins had an underrated draft. They didn’t have a first round pick, but they got first round value in Calen Addison, as well as Filip Hallander, a really nice pick in the late second round. Add potential steal Justin Almeida to the mix and you have three potential NHLers.

San Jose Sharks

Notable Selections: Ryan Merkley (D), Linus Karlsson (C)

Grade: A-

The Sharks went high-risk, high-reward at the draft table this year, selecting offensive dynamo Ryan Merkley as well as Linus Karlsson, a Swedish centre who ripped up the SuperElit and earned 13 SHL games. It could pay off.

St. Louis Blues

Notable Selections: Dominik Bokk (RW), Scott Perunovich (D)

Grade: B

Bokk at 25 is fantastic value, and Scott Perunovich is a solid pick in the second round. But the Blues couldn’t continue with the value picks into the later rounds, where I don’t think they got anybody with legitimate NHL potential.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Notable Selections: Gabriel Fortier (LW)

Grade: D

The Lightning didn’t have the high picks for a good draft, but I didn’t like how they did with the picks they did have. Fortier is a decent addition, and he does seem like a Lightning pick. However, beyond that the Lightning got very little value.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Notable Selections: Rasmus Sandin (D), Sean Durzi (D), Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (C), Mac Hollowell (D), Filip Kral (D)

Grade: B-

The Leafs went D-heavy in what was a pretty solid draft. I felt the Leafs made good picks, but those picks could have been better. In the first round, they passed on Joe Veleno for Rasmus Sandin, then in the second, they went for Sean Durzi over players like Calen Addison, Jake Wise, Jacob Olofsson, and David Gustafson. By selecting Der-Arguchintsev, they left Bulat Shafigullin and Alexander Khovanov on the board. We did see the Leafs do two things that I think they’ll do a lot under Dubas: trade down, and target overagers.

Vancouver Canucks

Notable Selections: Quinton Hughes (D), Jett Woo (D), Tyler Madden (RW)

Grade: B

The Canucks knocked it out of the park with their first pick, drafting Quinn Hughes, who I had ranked 3rd, 7th overall. Afterwards, they didn’t get major value, but Woo and Madden are pretty good pickups where they were drafted.

Vegas Golden Knights

Notable Selections: Ivan Morozov (C)

Grade: D-

After having an incredible draft last year, the Golden Knights disappointed big time their second time around. Granted, they didn’t have a first rounder, but they got little out of what they did have. The selection of Ivan Morozov (61st) was the only solid pick in my book.

Washington Capitals

Notable Selections: Alexander Alexeyev (D), Martin Fehérváry (D), Kody Clark (LW), Riley Sutter (RW)

Grade: C-

The Capitals actually had picks this year, but they were unable to take advantage. They didn’t target upside with their picks, and appeared to have a pretty safe approach at the draft table. The Stanley Cup champions left a lot of skill on the board.

Winnipeg Jets

Notable Selections: David Gustafsson (C)

Grade: C

The Jets are typically pretty good at the draft table, so this draft was out of character for them. Gustafsson was a nice addition, but most of their picks after that were underwhelming.

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