- Fisher’s Top 100 for April: Following Regular Season
- Fisher’s Top 100 for February: Midseason Rankings
- Fisher’s Top 100 for September: Preseason Rankings
The Buffalo Sabres have won the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes — that’s great news for Terry Pegula, Phil Housley, Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen and the list goes on — in retaining the No. 1 position through the NHL’s draft lottery.
That pick is a no-brainer, but the rest of the top 10 — let alone the top 100 — will be in the eye of the beholder, as we’ll certainly see on draft day.
RELATED: Sabres Win Draft Lottery
As an aspiring scout, much like a pro scout, you’ve got to go with gut and trust your own judgment for the most part.
Remember, all 31 NHL teams will have vastly different lists for the upcoming draft — that is, after Dahlin at No. 1. And who knows, a few clubs may not have had him topping their rankings.
You don’t want to be different for the sake of being different, but you also want to ignore the so-called consensus as much as possible. There is nothing wrong with thinking outside the box or against the grain, perhaps getting a little edgy or maybe being ahead of the game at times.
Be bold, but not boneheaded, I try to tell myself. In doing so, I try not to pay too much attention to other rankings but, as a prospect junkie, those online lists do get my clicks from time to time. And I do keep an open mind, welcoming feedback from trusted sources as well as fans, then filtering it and forming my own opinions.
For example, I’ve yielded the advice of a “real scout” who suggested I had too many Russians and not enough USHL players in my previous Top 100 from April — fair comment I felt — but it pained me to drop out four Russian forwards that I feel could easily go in the Top 100 at the draft or become Top 100 talents from the class of 2018. Gone are Kirill Nizhnikov, Egor Sokolov, Vladislav Kotkov and Ivan Muranov, albeit all still within my Top 120 and with a chance of cracking my final Top 100 for June.
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) March 30, 2018
These won’t be my final rankings — as previously indicated — since the Memorial Cup is still to come, followed by the draft combine. So I’ll keep watching, researching and networking for the next month in putting the finishing touches on my official top 100.
In the meantime, I will also be working away on my seventh annual mock draft, which typically publishes the morning after the Stanley Cup is handed out. For the third year in a row, I’ll be mocking the full seven rounds — all 217 selections.
RELATED: THW Guide to 2018 NHL Entry Draft
Fun times between now and draft day — June 22-23 in Dallas, Texas — but here are my Top 100 rankings as of May 1 following the under-18 tournament:
1) Rasmus Dahlin (LHD, Sweden, Frolunda SHL)
2) Andrei Svechnikov (RW, Russia, Barrie OHL)
3) Filip Zadina (LW, Czech Republic, Halifax QMJHL)
4) Adam Boqvist (RHD, Sweden, Brynas J20)
5) Quinn Hughes (LHD, USA, Michigan NCAA)
6) Jesperi Kotkaniemi (LW/C, Finland, Assat)
7) Brady Tkachuk (LW, USA, Boston University NCAA)
8) Oliver Wahlstrom (RW, USA, NTDP U18)
9) Evan Bouchard (RHD, Canada, London OHL)
10) Noah Dobson (RHD, Canada, Acadie Bathurst QMJHL)
11) Ty Smith (LHD, Canada, Spokane WHL)
12) Ryan Merkley (RHD, Canada, Guelph OHL)
13) Joe Veleno (C, Canada, Drummondville QMJHL)
14) Barrett Hayton (C, Canada, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)
15) Joel Farabee (LW, USA, NTDP U18)
16) Vitali Kravtsov (RW, Russia, Chelyabinsk KHL)
17) Grigori Denisenko (LW, Russia, Loko Yaroslavl MHL)
18) Rasmus Kupari (C, Finland, Karpat)
19) Isac Lundestrom (C/LW, Sweden, Lulea SHL)
20) Bode Wilde (RHD, USA/Canada, NTDP U18)
21) K’Andre Miller (LHD, USA, NTDP U18)
22) Nils Lundkvist (RHD, Sweden, Lulea SHL)
23) Martin Kaut (RW, Czech Republic, Pardubice)
24) Dominik Bokk (RW, Germany, Vaxjo J20)
25) Jonatan Berggren (C/W, Sweden, Skelleftea J20)
26) Jacob Olofsson (C, Sweden, Timra)
27) Ryan McLeod (C/LW, Canada, Mississauga OHL)
28) Serron Noel (RW, Canada, Oshawa OHL)
29) Rasmus Sandin (LHD, Sweden, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)
30) Mattias Samuelsson (LHD, USA/Sweden, NTDP U18)
31) Jonny Tychonick (LHD, Canada, Penticton BCHL)
32) Filip Hallander (C/W, Sweden, Timra)
33) Niklas Nordgren (RW, Finland, HIFK Liiga)
34) Akil Thomas (C/RW, Canada, Niagara OHL)
35) Blake McLaughlin (C, USA, Chicago USHL)
36) Jack Drury (C, USA, Waterloo USHL)
37) Jake Wise (C, USA, NTDP U18)
38) Bo Groulx (C, Canada, Halifax QMJHL)
39) Ty Dellandrea (C, Canada, Flint OHL)
40) Calen Addison (RHD, Canada, Lethbridge WHL)
41) Nicolas Beaudin (LHD, Canada, Drummondville QMJHL)
42) Jacob Bernard-Docker (RHD, Canada, Okotoks AJHL)
43) Adam Ginning (LHD, Sweden, Linkoping J20)
44) Jared McIsaac (LHD, Canada, Halifax QMJHL)
45) Jett Woo (RHD, Canada, Moose Jaw WHL)
46) Jakub Lauko (C, Czech Republic, Chomutov)
47) Jesse Ylonen (RW, Finland/USA, Espoo United)
48) David Gustafsson (C, Sweden, HV71 J20)
49) Kevin Bahl (LHD, Canada, Ottawa OHL)
50) Alexander Alexeyev (LHD, Russia, Red Deer WHL)
51) Kirill Marchenko (F, Russia, Mamonty MHL)
52) Jan Jenik (LW, Czech Republic, Liberec U20)
53) Lukas Dostal (G, Czech Republic, Kometa Brno U20)
54) Alexander Khovanov (C, Russia, Moncton QMJHL)
55) Curtis Hall (C, USA, Youngstown USHL)
56) Ryan O’Reilly (C, USA, Madison USHL)
57) Liam Foudy (C, Canada, London OHL)
58) Allan McShane (C, Canada, Oshawa OHL)
59) Jack McBain (C, Canada, Toronto OJHL)
60) Jay O’Brien (C, USA, Thayer High School)
61) Toni Utunen (LHD, Finland, Tappara Liiga)
62) Ty Emberson (RHD, USA, NTDP U18)
63) Milos Roman (C, Slovakia, Vancouver WHL)
64) Cole Fonstad (RW, Canada, Prince Albert WHL)
65) Aidan Dudas (C, Canada, Owen Sound OHL)
66) Blade Jenkins (C, Canada, Saginaw OHL)
67) Michal Kvasnica (C/RW, Czech Republic, Trinec U20)
68) Oskar Back (C/W, Sweden, Farjestad J20)
69) Sampo Ranta (RW, Finland, Sioux City USHL)
70) Ivan Morozov (C, Russia, Mamonty Yugry, MHL)
71) Ruslan Iskhakov (C/W, Russia, Krasnaya Armiya MHL)
72) Dmitry Zavgorodniy (RW, Russia, Rimouski QMJHL)
73) Bulat Shafigullin (F, Russia, Nizhnekamsk MHL)
74) Stanislav Demin (LHD, USA, Wenatchee BCHL)
75) Danila Galenyuk (LHD, Russia, Mamonty Yugry MHL)
76) Spencer Stastney (LHD, USA, NTDP U18)
77) Adam Samuelsson (LHD, USA/Sweden, NTDP U18)
78) Scott Perunovich (LHD, USA, Minnesota-Duluth NCAA, over-ager)
79) Simon Johansson (RHD, Sweden, Djurgardens J20, over-ager)
80) Sean Durzi (RHD, Canada, Owen Sound OHL, over-ager)
81) Jacob Tortora (LW, USA, Boston College NCAA, over-ager)
82) Cam Hillis (C, Canada, Guelph OHL)
83) Johnny Gruden (LW, USA, NTDP U18)
84) Tyler Weiss (C/LW, USA, NTDP U18)
85) Riley Sutter (C/RW, Canada, Everett WHL)
86) Luka Burzan (C, Canada, Brandon WHL)
87) Albin Eriksson (LW, Sweden, Skelleftea J20)
88) Oliver Okuliar (LW, Slovakia, U20 national team)
89) Jake Pivonka (C, USA/Czech Republic, NTDP U18)
90) Tyler Madden (C, USA, Tri-City USHL)
91) Jakub Skarek (G, Czech Republic, Dukla Jihlava)
92) Olivier Rodrigue (G, Canada, Drummondville QMJHL)
93) Samuel Harvey (G, Canada, Rouyn-Noranda QMJHL, over-ager)
94) Xavier Bernard (LHD, Canada, Drummondville QMJHL)
95) Xavier Bouchard (RHD, Canada, Baie-Comeau QMJHL)
96) Giovanni Vallati (LHD, Canada, Kitchener OHL)
97) Libor Zabransky (RHD, Czech Republic, Kelowna WHL)
98) Filip Kral (LHD, Czech Republic, Spokane WHL)
99) Matej Pekar (C/RW, Czech Republic, Muskegon USHL)
100) Samuel Fagemo (LW, Sweden, Frolunda J20)
Now I’m sure someone will say I’m too high on the Swedes, who had to settle for bronze at the U18s behind Finland and the United States, but I believe those Scandinavian countries have a lot to offer in 2018. Truth be told, it was hard for me to leave a few more — from either Sweden or Finland — out of both my top 31 and my top 100.
Someone else will question the lack of Swiss prospects, with the trio of Nando Eggenberger, Philip Kurashev and Nico Gross narrowly missing my latest cut after steadily dropping down my rankings in recent months. Worth noting, they would have still made the cut if I didn’t include any goaltenders or over-agers, so you can do the math there.
Those three from Switzerland remain in the mix for my official top 100, among a good-sized group on the bubble — including the aforementioned Russian forwards — that I’ve been bouncing around, in and out, depending on the day.
Other critics will probably tell me that I’m underestimating the talent in my own backyard — that being the Western Hockey League and, more specifically, a kid like Kyle Topping here in Kelowna. To be honest, I’m having a tough time ranking the majority of WHL prospects throughout my full list of approximately 400 (for my mock) since this isn’t considered a strong draft year for the Dub.
Yet, I know certain NHL teams scout that league heavier than other loops and gravitate towards WHL prospects — all things being equal — so I wouldn’t be surprised if more WHLers get drafted than anticipated and perhaps higher than expected too. It has just been a challenge to slot the likes of Topping, who slipped out of my Top 100 this time around, and even somebody like Sutter, who surged back in thanks to his ongoing playoff performance.
Nevertheless, this is my list as of today. As always, I ask our readers if there are any glaring omissions? Is anyone way too high or way too low? There is still a month left to enlighten me or to win me over, so feel free to make your voice heard in the comments below, or reach out to me directly via email at email@example.com.
Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.