June 22, draft day, is just days away, and with that in mind, the team here at The Puck Authority presents to you our official 2018 NHL Mock Draft.
Six writers from The Puck Authority participated in the mock: Sam Happi (me), David Ciss, Nick Lariviere, Costa Rontzocos, Matt Hrncar and Justin Levine.
Each writer was assigned 5 teams (I took 6) that they were to make their picks for. The writers selected the player that they believe is the best selection at that pick, not the player that they expect to be drafted there.
Each selection is accompanied with two paragraphs. The first paragraph is the methodology for the pick, as provided by the writer that made the selection. The 2nd blurb is a description of that player, their playing style and their strengths and weaknesses, written by me, Sam Happi.
1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin (LD)
The easiest pick in this draft. Dahlin is the #1 defenceman that the Sabres needed and will give the Sabres two franchise-defining players along with Jack Eichel. (Sam)
Dahlin is the definition of dynamism. He can do everything with the puck and has been a nearly unstoppable force when playing against his peers. He held his own against men very well in the SHL where he had 20 points in 46 games.
2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov (RW)
The Hurricanes have one of the best young defensive corps in the league, but haven’t been able to figure things out and make it to the postseason. Although part of that can be blamed on poor goaltending, their below average offence deserves it’s share of the blame as well. Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov could be the offensive force that they’ve been missing and could transform their offence from poor to above average. (David)
Svechnikov is a big, fast, powerful winger that can beat you in a variety of ways. He can power past defenders, rip a shot from the top of the circle, or find an open teammate. He’ll be very difficult to defend and could very well be a 40 goal scorer in the NHL.
3. Montreal Canadiens – Brady Tkachuk (LW)
His mix of skill and grit will fit right in with the team that values character and hard work. (Nick)
Tkachuk is armed with soft hands, an above average shot, and an ability to find open space at an elite level. With a similar style to his brother Matthew and father Keith, he’s the player that every player hates to face off against.
4. Ottawa Senators – Adam Boqvist (RD)
With this pick, the Senators are adding an excellent offensive defenceman to a prospect pool that has little in the form of top talent. (Costa)
It’s fitting that the defenceman in this draft that plays most like Erik Karlsson ends up on the same team that has Karlsson, at least for now, in this mock. A smooth skating puck mover, Boqvist makes strong outlet passes, some of which are Karlsson-like stretch connections. He can rush the puck as well. He has the potential to be a transition dominating defenceman like Karlsson and is the epitome of a modern NHL defenceman.
5. Arizona Coyotes – Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C/LW)
Kotkaniemi’s stat line, 10-19-29 in 57 Liiga games, is that of a great offensive player that could greatly bolster a rebuilding Coyotes team that really isn’t that far away from the playoffs. (Matt)
Kotkaniemi is a highly skilled playmaking centre with soft hands, a great shot, and fantastic vision. These make him a major offensive threat against his peers, but his below-average skating may hold him back at higher levels if that particular facet of his game doesn’t see improvement. Due to Kotkaniemi’s work ethic and desire to improve, that’s likely to happen.
6. Detroit Red Wings – Filip Zadina (RW)
Zadina, 18, is a member of the CHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. He brings elite goal scoring capabilities and therefore is by far the best player available. (Justin)
The winger has the shot, hands, and agility to be lethal with the puck on his stick. He was fantastic for the Mooseheads who have a long record of churning out quality NHL players and could potentially crack the NHL as soon as next year.
7. Vancouver Canucks – Quinn Hughes (LD)
Hughes, a dynamic offensive defenseman, was fantastic in the NCAA this season and will instantly become one of the top defensive prospects in the league. The Canucks already have Elias Pettersson, who is arguably the top prospect outside of the NHL, as well as other good prospects up front in Jonathan Dahlen and Adam Guadette, but could use another prospect on the backend to accompany Olli Juolevi. (Sam)
The “rover” is one of, if not the best skaters in this draft class. This skating ability allows Hughes to play a more offensive game because he has the speed to easily recover if need be. Terrific vision and passing ability make him a great puck mover and his breakout passes, along with his puck rushes, make him dominant in the transition game.
8. Chicago Blackhawks – Noah Dobson (RD)
The Blackhawks need more defensive prospects and Noah Dobson looks to have top offensive and defensive ability. (David)
Probably the top two-way defenseman in this draft outside of Dahlin, Dobson plays an NHL-style, responsible game, making the majority of his offensive impact from the point in the offensive zone or by jumping into the rush. Like Quinn Hughes, Dobson has the skating ability to recover, allowing him to play a more aggressive offensive game. His hockey IQ is elite and Dobson consistently makes quality decisions and the percentage play.
9. New York Rangers – Oliver Wahlstrom (RW)
Wahlstrom is the perfect candidate to act as a future replacement for the recently departed Rick Nash and will be a key cog of the Ranger’s future. (Nick)
The goal-scoring winger possesses a fantastic shot and does a fantastic job of creating situations where he can use it. He’s very active in the offensive zone, always moving and retains possession of the puck for his team well. An argument for Wahlstrom as the 2nd best goal-scorer in the draft wouldn’t be far-fetched.
10. Edmonton Oilers – Evan Bouchard (RD)
The Oilers have been in desperate need of a long-term offensive defenseman on their blueline for a long time and after failing to address that need via the Hall trade, they are back at square one. Evan Bouchard could very well be their player and it’s difficult to pass on the player that could fill your biggest need. (Costa)
Bouchard, an NHL-style puck moving defenceman, had a fantastic season for the London Knights of the OHL, acting as their top defenceman and for the latter part of the season, captain. His 87 points in 67 games beats out the majority of OHL draft-eligible forwards, an incredibly impressive feat. Bouchard’s fantastic passing ability and vision makes him a valuable puckmover and his ability to get shots through from the point creates countless rebound opportunities for his team.
11. New York Islanders – Ty Smith (LD)
The top-ranked prospect out of the WHL, Smith finished last season at Spokane with 73 points in 69 games played. The young player will also learn a lot from veteran defenceman Nick Leddy. (Matt)
Yet another mobile, puckmoving defenceman, Ty Smith displays patience, confidence, and good decision-making with the puck. He can start the breakout effectively and is good in the transition game. His defensive game is above-average as well, making him an excellent two-way defenceman that will be a valuable asset in the NHL.
12. New York Islanders – Joe Veleno (C)
It appears likely that the Islanders will look to add a defenceman and a forward with their back-to-back picks in the first round. After going for Ty Smith with the first selection, the Islanders go for a forward with this pick. That particular forward is Joe Veleno, a playmaking centre out of Kirkland, Quebec. (Justin)
Veleno has fallen considerably since the start of the season when he was considered a top 5 pick. Now, he’s unlikely to even go top 10, but he could still provide tremendous value when he does get drafted. Veleno is just as skilled as he was in the fall. He still owns the elite skating, fantastic vision, and excellent passing that made him a consensus top five selection at that time.
13. Dallas Stars – Joel Farabee (LW)
Dallas has some aging forwards and could use some additional forward prospects in the system to act as replacements in the future. (Sam)
Farabee may not be quite as skilled as some of the other available prospects, but his work ethic and constant motor make up for that small gap easily. While nearly all of the prospects that will be drafted are hard-working players, Farabee takes that to a whole new level. He’s always the hardest worker on the ice, and that’s something that scouts, coaches, GMs and teammates very much appreciate. Couple this with his excellent shot, above-average skating, deceptive puck-handling and stellar defensive play, and you have a player on your hands.
14. Philadelphia Flyers – Jonatan Berggren (RW/C)
Berggren, who is probably the quickest rider you’ll find, goes 14th to the Flyers in what may be considered a reach, but it’s a justified one. As far as Berggren’s risen, he’s still underrated and is one of the top players available in this range. (Selection made by David)
A lightning-quick forward, Berggren does everything at top speed. This speed is extremely dangerous in all situations, whether he’s using it to create separation, blow by a defender, or get in quickly on the forecheck. The main facet of the Swede’s game is said speed which he uses to create the majority of his opportunities, but Berggren possesses the perfect supporting skill-set as well. His quick hands and finishing ability allow him to finish off chances in tight, and his vision and passing ability is sufficient enough to be a viable playmaking threat as well.
15. Florida Panthers – Dominik Bokk (RW)
He has the potential to become a dynamic winger who can play up and down the lineup. Florida could use some additional firepower up front. (Nick)
Bokk’s electrifying skill-set first started to get noticed around December and he quickly ascended into many top 15s, and in some cases, top 10s. He might have the best set of hands in the draft, as well as a good shot and playmaking ability. His ability to beat defenders one-on-one is exceptional, and he creates space for himself very well. His skating and defensive play needs a bit of refinement, but the German could become a major goal-scoring threat in the MHL.
16. Colorado Avalanche – Martin Kaut (RW)
With help on defense from last year with Makar, Timmons and the acquisition of Girard, the Avs can afford to take an offensive minded forward like Kaut. (Costa)
The Czech winger impressed at the World Juniors with his combination of goal-scoring and playmaking abilities. His shot, skating, offensive instincts and vision make him a strong dual-threat forward.
17. New Jersey Devils – Barrett Hayton (C)
Although the Devils are lacking in the vein of defensive prospects, they elect for the best available centre at 17 instead. Hayton has the potential to be major offensive contributor at the NHL level. (Selection made by Matt)
Hayton was good in a two-way role for the OHL-best Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds and was trusted with a large role despite the depth of their roster. He has a fantastic shot, soft hands, a high hockey-IQ and skates well. He’ll be back with the Greyhounds next season in a considerably larger role where he should be able to find continued success.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets – Rasmus Kupari (C)
Kupari, 18, currently resides with Kärpät of the Finnish Liiga where he possess a variety of offensive skills that he uses to create opportunities. (Justin)
Kupari is an excellent skater, constantly changing speed and direction to make it difficult for defenders. He’s a smooth stickhandler and can move throughout the defence with ease. In terms of raw offensive skill, Kupari excels, but his hockey-IQ is concerning.
19. Philadelphia Flyers – Vitali Kravstov (RW)
The Flyers are already deep on defence and could stand to add on forward. Kravstov impressed in the KHL, especially during the playoffs and shows a lot of potential. (Sam)
Kravstov has an excellent variety of offensive tools. He skates well, has great hands and does everything at a high speed. This makes him a devastating attacker in one-on-one situations. He also has the shot to finish the opportunities that he creates.
20. Los Angeles Kings – Bode Wilde (RD)
Wilde is a big defenceman with a big shot and puck-moving capabilities. The Kings don’t have much down the right side after Drew Doughty and have focused on forwards in the first round of recent drafts. (David)
Wilde’s combination of size, handedness and offensive ability will make him an enticing option for teams. He makes good passes on the breakout and can challenge with his shot from the point. Decision-making needs work.
21. San Jose Sharks – Jared McIsaac (LD)
With Brent Burns getting older, it’s a great time to add a mobile defenseman like McIsaac who may be able to take over in 3-4 years. (Nick)
McIsaac is yet another top prospect coming out of Halifax. The Mooseheads defenceman plays a two-way game powered by his skating and hockey IQ. Defensively, he’s solid and he was good offensively for the Mooseheads, posting 47 points in 65 games.
22. Ottawa Senators – Akil Thomas (RW/C)
Thomas is a great dynamic center who can play wing. (Costa)
The Niagara Icedogs forward plays a highly energetic game, creating opportunities through stickhandling, skating and constant movement. His goal-scoring didn’t take the step forward this season that would be expected from a player entering their draft-eligible season, but his playmaking improved dramatically. He’s raw and a bit of a project, but he could be worth waiting for.
23. Anaheim Ducks – Isac Lundëstrom (C)
With the 23rd pick, the Anaheim Ducks select C Isac Lundëstrom from the SHL. With the ability to develop a solid 200-foot game, he’s be a great replacement for veterans Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler. (Matt)
15 points in 42 games is quite the total for a teenager playing in a men’s league, but Lundëstrom was able to achieve that while playing in a fairly significant role for Luleä. A playmaker, what stands out about Lundëstrom is his vision and passing ability. He distributes the puck well and has the speed to carry the puck himself. His developing two-way game is an added bonus.
24. Minnesota Wild – Nils Lundkvist (RD)
Lundkvist, 17, currently resides in the SHL where he has been quite effective to say the least. A mobile defenceman, Lundkvist posted 5 points in 28 games for Luleä, playing a steady two-way game. (Justin)
The Swede may not have the dynamic skills that pop out to observers, but Lundkvist is still an effective defenceman in his own right. He consistently makes good decisions and can move the puck. His defensive play is already quite solid and he’s done more than just wet his feet against men.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs – Rasmus Sandin (LD)
With the 25th overall pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs select Rasmus Sandin. The Leafs need defencemen, and although the right side is their biggest need, Sandin will still be a good fit. As an added bonus, he comes from Sault Ste Marie, the team that current Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas used to be the GM of. (Sam)
Like Lundkvist, Sandin isn’t going to dazzle you with insane skill, but he does a lot of things well. He makes good decisions, he moves the puck well and he isn’t bad defensively. The two-way defenceman showed flashes of excellence this season and if he can do that consistently, he’ll be a steal.
26. New York Rangers – Ryan Merkley (RD)
Merkley has one of the best offensive minds for a defenseman in the entire draft class. He needs to work on his defensive game, but with the right coaching, he could be a high end defender for the Rangers. (David)
The definition of “boom or bust”, Merkley has one of the best offensive play in the draft, but is also quite possibly the worst defensively. When his team has the puck, he’s very nearly on par with Dahlin. He can go end-to-end, he can make fantastic passes, he can dangle. He can do everything. However, his defensive game is a train wreck. He looks disinterested and all he really does is take up space. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t fully discredit his offensive ability. He can still be a fantastic NHL player, especially if he can pull his defensive play out of the gutter.
27. Chicago Blackhawks – Jake Wise (C)
Wise could serve as a good middle six centre for the Hawks in the future. His ability to get under opponent’s skin while producing will be a valuable asset. (Nick)
It wasn’t long ago that Wise was touted as a high pick, but injuries derailed his top 15 dream. The centre is extremely skilled and was excellent for the USDP and could provide fantastic value if he can avoid the injury bug.
28. New York Rangers – K’Andre Miller (LD)
After taking a forward with their first pick and a risky defenceman with their second, it’s time that the Rangers target a guy on the backend that’s a little less “boom or bust”. (Selection made by Costa)
Although raw, Miller has a lot of the tools to be an effective NHL defender. Another mobile defenceman, Miller escapes forecheckers well and can find open forwards. He’s had very good results with the USDP U18s.
29. St Louis Blues – Alexander Alexeyev (LD)
At 6’3, this defenseman had 30 assists last year and 47 in 86 games in the WHL, displaying a nice mix of size and offensive ability. (Matt)
Alexeyev’s size and physical game will be appealing to NHL teams on its own, but as evident from his point totals, Alexeyev has some offensive skill as well. A strong skater and passer, Alexeyev is a mobile, puck-moving defenceman with a two-way game. His injury history is a slight concern, but he has excellent upside nonetheless.
30. Detroit Red Wings – Jonny Tychonick (LD)
Tychonick, 18, currently resides in the BCHL and is set to play next season in the NCAA. His puck-moving ability is impressive and he should be able to keep it up against tougher competition. (Justin)
Tychonick chose the NCAA route which means he has to stay away from the CHL. Instead, he played in the BCHL where he dominated the opposition with his speedy, offensive play. His performances at international tournaments suggest that weak competition isn’t the reason for his success.
31. Washington Capitals – Ty Dellandrea (C)
Although one could argue that the Caps have more dire needs elsewhere, Dellandrea is a steal at this selection and could go on to be a top 6 centre in the NHL. He would look excellent playing behind Evgeni Kuznetsov after Backstrom is nearing or has reached retirement. (Sam)
Dellandrea suited up for the lowly Flint Firebirds of the OHL and dealt with the implications of playing on such a poor team as such. His 59 points in 67 games isn’t fantastic, but context comes into play here. On a better team, he easily could have been a PPG player. A playmaker, Dellandrea skates well and has strong vision and passing ability.