With the 2017 NHL Draft now officially a thing of the past, we can begin to take an early look into the top 2018 NHL Draft prospects.
While this year’s edition was seen as a relatively weak draft, without any true superstar talents, next year is destined to be much different. Currently led by two exciting players in their respective positions, both Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov could turn into franchise cornerstone pieces.
Aside from the projected top-two, there are about six more players with a legitimate chance at becoming the first overall pick. It is shaping up to be a very deep draft, not only in the top 10 but also throughout and past the first round.
Positionally, the 2018 draft appears to be a defence-heavy one. There is potential to have up to 15 defenders selected in the first round, with about 10 of those players having a realistic sight of the top-10. That doesn’t mean that the offence is lacking though, as a cluttered top-20 could be spun in many different orders without much argument.
Country & League Breakdown
As always, a majority of the top prospects are coming out of the CHL. In 2017’s draft, a total of 89 of the 217 picks came from the CHL, led by the OHL with 42. Next year’s draft appears to be following suit. As we look forward right now, upwards of half of the first round may come from the CHL.
Leading the OHL will likely be Ryan Merkley, an offensive defenceman and first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Draft, as well as winger David Levin, a first overall pick in 2015. Additionally, the ‘O’ will showcase potential top-15 picks in Akil Thomas, Allan McShane and Ryan McLeod.
In the WHL, eyes will turn towards defencemen Ty Smith and Jett Woo. The ‘Dub’ seems to be lacking that star forward that they usually produce, and Luka Burzan may develop into that player.
Over in the QMJHL, they should rebound from having just 14 picks in 2017, led by Joseph Veleno, who was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and selected first overall in 2015. Overall, they could represent up to six first rounders.
As usual, the U.S. National Development Team will represent many of the best American prospects, with eight players who have a shot at breaking into the first round. Most notably, Quinton Hughes, a puck-moving defenceman who puts up huge numbers, as well as Brady Tkachuk, brother of the Flames’ Matthew, and Joel Farabee all seem to be legitimate top-10 possibilities.
Aside from the national team, Andrei Svechnikov is a very likely top-3 pick who spent the 2016-17 season in the USHL with Muskegon but was nabbed by the OHL’s Barrie Colts with the first overall pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft. Right now, all signs are pointing to Svechnikov taking that leap.
All in all, it appears to be yet another strong year for prospects from the U.S.A.
Sweden will boast some tremendous players in 2018, starting with the probable top-2 pick, Rasmus Dahlin. At 16 years old, he lit up the SuperElit league and was able to play in the World Juniors too. Not far behind is Adam Boqvist, another defenceman who owned the SuperElit league and could push the top-10. Up front, Isac Lundestrom has already spent a year in the SHL, relatively unheard of for a 17-year-old.
Russia’s best bet at a top-10 pick, aside from Svechnikov, looks to be Vitali Kravtsov, who found success in the MHL this past year and will spend his draft year in the KHL. Other possible first round picks may include Alexander Khovanov and Grigori Denisenko. After just one Russian was selected in the first round in 2017, Klim Kostin at 31st, it looks like Russia will have a rebound year in 2018.
After an incredible 2017 draft which saw six Finnish first rounders, 2018 may bring the Suomi back down to Earth. At this time, forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jesse Ylönen look like the only legitimate first round possibilities, both of whom were successful in Jr. A SM-Liiga and will look to make the jump to Liiga for 2017-18.
Related: Check out 2018 NHL Draft: 10 Prospects to Watch
Without further ado, here are the 2018 NHL Draft Rankings: July Edition
|1||Rasmus Dahlin||LHD||Frolunda HC J20 (SuperElit)||6’1″/165|
|2||Andrei Svechnikov||RW||Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)||6’2″/187|
|3||Quinton Hughes||LHD||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||5’9″/168|
|4||Joseph Veleno||C||Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)||6’0″/181|
|5||Ryan Merkley||RHD||Guelph Storm (OHL)||5’11″/165|
|6||Brady Tkachuk||C/LW||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||6’2″/194|
|7||David Levin||LW/RW||Sudbury Wolves (OHL)||5’10″/172|
|8||Jared McIsaac||LHD||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)||6’2″/209|
|9||Akil Thomas||C||Niagara Icedogs (OHL)||5’11″/165|
|10||Ty Smith||LHD||Spokane Chiefs (WHL)||5’11″/176|
|11||Filip Zadina||LW||HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Extraliga)||6’0”/198|
|12||Anderson MacDonald||LW||Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)||6’2″/203|
|13||Joel Farabee||LW||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||5’11″/148|
|14||Allan McShane||C||Oshawa Generals (OHL)||5’11″/190|
|15||Bode Wilde||RHD||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||6’2″/194|
|16||Jett Woo||RHD||Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)||6’0″/201|
|17||Ryan McLeod||C||Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)||6’2″/190|
|18||Evan Bouchard||RHD||London Knights (OHL)||6’2″/181|
|19||Adam Boqvist||RHD||Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)||5’11″/170|
|20||Vitali Kravtsov||C/LW||Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk (MHL)||6’2″/170|
|21||Philipp Kurashev||C/LW||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)||6’0″/183|
|22||Oliver Wahlstrom||C/RW||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||6’1″/198|
|23||Isac Lundestrom||C/LW||Lulea HF (SHL)||6’0″/181|
|24||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||C||Ässät U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)||6’2″/190|
|25||Benoit-Olivier Groulx||C||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)||6’1″/176|
|26||Alexander Khovanov||C||Irbis Kazan (MHL)||5’11″/179|
|27||Cale Addison||RHD||Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)||5’9″/179|
|28||Mattias Samuelsson||LHD||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||6’3″/205|
|29||Jake Wise||C||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||5’10″/185|
|30||Grigori Denisenko||LW||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)||5’10″/163|
|31||Jesse Ylönen||RW||Blues U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)||6’0″/159|
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at email@example.com or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.