Just a little less than eight months away from the 2018 NHL Draft, we are beginning to see a fairly consistent top 31 around the majority of scouting outlets.
Although much can change from now to June, the top 10 seem to be cementing themselves among this year’s list of top prospects. Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov remain the consensus top two picks across the board. Dahlin has continues to impress with his hockey IQ and puck skills, while continuing to strengthen his all-around game. He has added seven points in 16 SHL games. Prior to suffering a hand injury, which will sideline Svechnikov for 6-8 weeks, the young Russian was off to a blazing start with the OHL’s Barrie Colts, playing at a goal-per-game pace.
As it stands today, the Arizona Coyotes look to be the frontrunners heading into the 2018 Draft Lottery, struggling out of the gate. With a stacked prospect pool already constructed, a shot at drafting Dahlin must be extremely disappointing but salivating at the same time.
2018 NHL Draft Prospects Trending Up
There hasn’t been a ton of major movement among the top 31 through the first month of action, but Filip Zadina has made his case to be considered among the top three. Playing in the QMJHL as a result of the CHL Import Draft, Zadina has racked up 16 goals and 29 points in his first 19 games, leading the way among draft-eligible CHL players.
Oliver Wahlstrom is another highly skilled forward whose production continues to vault him up the rankings. He currently leads the U.S. National U18 offence and consistently showcases the hockey IQ and puck skills that made him a viral sensation. His 21 points in 13 games have him on pace for a Clayton Keller-esque season.
Jett Woo’s ability to play a responsible two-way game with exciting offensive upside has pushed him up into the second tier of 2018’s defensive prospects. A player who can be trusted in any situation, Woo has the size and strength to compete at the professional level in just a few years.
Serron Noel’s hot start in the OHL hasn’t gone unnoticed, as he’s faulted his way into first-round projections. Standing at 6’5″ and with an ex-CFL father, Noel has the genes to play a tough, hard-hitting game. But his goal-scoring ability is what has scouts taking note, with 10 goals in 13 games thus far.
Standing at just 5’7″, Aidan Dudas is often knocked for his size, an ideology that is slowing diminishing in the NHL. He has already surpassed his 2016-17 goal total, adding 11 goals in 16 games so far, adding an important element of depth to the Owen Sound Attack lineup.
2018 NHL Prospects Trending Down
The OHL’s reigning Rookie of the Year, Ryan Merkley is a consistent offensive defenceman who can help a team’s production each night. However, his defensive game was lacking during his rookie campaign and has continued to hinder his development this year as well. Scouts are worried whether or not he will ever grow into a responsible two-way defenceman at the professional ranks.
A projected top-15 prospect entering the 2017-18 season, Alexander Khovanov has been unfortunately set back for the foreseeable future after contracting Hepatitis A during a trip to the Dominican Republic. The second overall selection in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, Khovanov was expected to have a huge season with the Moncton Wildcats.
The first-overall selection in the 2016 QMJHL Draft, Benoit-Oliver Groulx understandably had large expectations placed around his future. After a solid, yet underwhelming rookie season, Groulx has continued to struggle to meet his outlook in 2017-18, failing to hit the point-per-game rate.
Another former first overall pick, David Levin is in his third OHL season after failing to qualify for the 2017 NHL Draft by just one day. However, he is by no means lighting up a league that he should be by now, struggling to produce offensively before going down to the injury bug. Levin currently projects as a late second to third round pick.
|1||Rasmus Dahlin||LHD||6’2″/183||Frolunda HC (SHL)|
|2||Andrei Svechnikov||RW||6’2″/187||Barrie Colts (OHL)|
|3||Filip Zadina||LW||6’1″/192||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)|
|4||Adam Boqvist||RHD||5’11″/170||Brynäs IF J20 (SuperElit)|
|5||Joseph Veleno||C||6’1″/194||Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)|
|6||Brady Tkachuk||C/LW||6’3″/196||Boston University (NCAA)|
|7||Quinton Hughes||LHD||5’10″/174||University of Michigan (NCAA)|
|8||Rasmus Kupari||C||5’11″/163||Kärpät (Liiga)|
|9||Oliver Wahlstrom||C/RW||6’1″/205||U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)|
|10||Ty Smith||LHD||5’10″/174||Spokane Chiefs (WHL)|
|11||Ryan McLeod||C||6’2″/190||Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)|
|12||Bode Wilde||RHD||6’2″/194||U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)|
|13||Jett Woo||RHD||6’0″/205||Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)|
|14||Joel Farabee||LW||5’11″/161||U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)|
|15||Akil Thomas||C||5’11″/170||Niagara IceDogs (OHL)|
|16||Jared McIsaac||LHD||6’1″/194||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)|
|17||Anderson MacDonald||LW||6’2″/205||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)|
|18||Alexaner Khovanov||C||5’11/179||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)|
|19||Ryan Merkley||RHD||5’11″/170||Guelph Storm (OHL)|
|20||Isac Lundeström||C/LW||6’0″/185||Luleå HF (SHL)|
|21||Allan McShane||C||5’11″/190||Oshawa Generals (OHL)|
|22||Barrett Hayton||C||6’1″/185||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)|
|23||Adam Samuelsson||LHD||6’5″/240||U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)|
|24||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||C||6’2″/190||Ässät (Liiga)|
|25||Calen Addison||RHD||5’10″/179||Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)|
|26||Benoit-Olivier Groulx||C||6’1″/190||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)|
|27||Grigori Denisenko||LW||5’10″/165||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)|
|28||Serron Noel||RW||6’5″/201||Oshawa Generals (OHL)|
|29||Cole Fonstad||C/LW||5’10″/161||Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)|
|30||Aidan Dudas||C||5’7″/165||Owen Sound Attack (OHL)|
|31||Brady Hinz||C||5’9″/150||Sarnia Sting (OHL)|
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.