Pike’s Picks: 2018 NHL Draft Rankings – November Edition

The 2017-18 hockey season is well underway, with the majority of professional, major-junior and collegiate leagues already well into their regular season schedules. As such, many of the players vying for selection in the 2018 NHL Draft have begun to make their cases to the various scouting entities – as well as 31 National Hockey League clubs – that they’re worthy of taking a gamble on. With two months of the current season to analyze, it’s time for the November edition of our NHL Draft rankings here at The Hockey Writers.

2018 NHL Draft prospect Andrei Svechnikov
Top 2018 NHL Draft prospect Andrei Svechnikov (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

This is the second edition of my annual NHL Draft rankings. Roughly every other month, I will attempt to rank the top players in this year’s draft class as if I were drafting a team from scratch. My main proviso? I want the players that will help my team win consistently. The usual disclaimers apply: I live in Western Canada so I see Western Hockey League players the most often, followed by the remainder of Canada’s prospects – especially those affiliated with Hockey Canada. I have to rely on video for players in the United States and Europe for the most part. I’m also hesitant to draft goalies early due to the sheer number of weird things that can go wrong and derail their development.

For a couple second opinions, check out the latest rankings from my colleagues Larry Fisher and Brett Slawson.

As always, your mileage may vary.

The Top 50

No. Player Pos. 2017-18 Primary Team
1 Rasmus Dahlin D Frolunda HC (SHL)
2 Andrei Svechnikov RW Barrie Colts (OHL)
3 Ryan Merkley D Guelph Storm (OHL)
4 Brady Tkachuk C Boston University (NCAA)
5 Filip Zadina LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
6 Oliver Wahlstrom C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
7 Ty Smith D Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
8 Adam Boqvist D Brynas IF (SuperElit)
9 Joseph Veleno C Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
10 Anderson MacDonald LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
11 Joel Farabee LW U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
12 Jett Woo D Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
13 Benoit-Olivier Groulx C Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
14 Akil Thomas C Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
15 Jack McBain C Toronto Jr. Canadians (OJHL)
16 Evan Bouchard D London Knights (OHL)
17 Isac Lundestrom C Lulea HF (SHL)
18 Jesperi Kotkaniemi C Asset (SM-Liiga)
19 Ryan McLeod C Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
20 Jared McIssac D Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
21 Bode Wilde D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
22 Noah Dobson D Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
23 Rasmus Kupari C Karpat (SM-Liiga)
24 Quinton Hughes D University of Michigan (NCAA)
25 Mattias Samuelsson D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
26 Alexander Alexeyev D Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
27 Calen Addison D Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
28 Jacob Olofsson C Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
29 Barrett Hayton C Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
30 Rasmus Sandin D Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
31 Alexander Khovanov C Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
32 Xavier Bouchard D Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
33 K’Andre Miller D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
34 Jesse Ylonen RW Espoo United (Mestis)
35 Ty Dellandrea C Flint Firebirds (OHL)
36 Grigori Denisenko LW Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
37 Serron Noel RW Oshawa Generals (OHL)
38 Philipp Kurashev LW Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
39 Jonathan Tychonick D Penticton Vees (BCHL)
40 Allan McShane C Oshawa Generals (OHL)
41 Riley Sutter RW Everett Silvertips (WHL)
42 Adam Samuelsson D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
43 Vitali Kravtsov C Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
44 Niklas Nordgren RW HIFK U20 (Jr. SM-Liiga)
45 Filip Johansson D Leksands IF U20 (Superelit)
46 Vladislav Kotkov LW Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
47 Adam Ginning D Linkopings HC (SHL)
48 David Levin LW Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
49 Filip Hallander C Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
50 Nando Eggenberger LW HC Davos (NLA)

Honourable Mentions

  • C Luka Burzan – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
  • C Cole Fonstad – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
  • LW Gabriel Fortier – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
  • G Jacob Ingham – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
  • C Jakub Lauko – Pirati Chomutov (Czech Extraliga)
  • C Adam McMaster – North Bay Battalion (OHL)
  • C Milos Roman – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
  • D Giovanni Vallati – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
  • C Jake Wise – U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
  • D Libor Zabransky – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

The Rundown

The top end of the 2018 class is beginning to solidify, with Dahlin and Svechnikov cementing themselves at the top. Merkley, Zadina, Tkachuk and Wahlstrom are clustered together, with Tkachuk’s lack of offensive production in college thus far somewhat mitigated by the tough competition in the Hockey East conference. (That said, he’ll need to produce at some point or else he’ll probably slide a bit.) Along with the top two and the next five, there’s a cluster of around eight higher-end players and then much less separation in the rest of the first round (and early second round) talent in the 2018 group.

The projected top 10 skews slightly towards forward – six forwards, four defensemen. The projected first round features 14 defensemen and 17 forwards. The projected top 50 features 20 defensemen and 30 forwards. League-by-league, the OHL and QMJHL are the most prominently represented in the projected first round with seven players each. The USHL contingent in the top 50 is exclusively from the U.S. National Development Program, a departure from recent years but probably the exception to the recent rule of representation from many different USHL teams.

As has become the custom in recent drafts, there’s a wide swath of young Europeans who are playing in pro leagues as teenagers. Dahlin is the dream of this crop, but don’t sleep on the pair of Olofsson and Hallander, who have sparked Timra offensively at various points this season (as teens).

The upcoming World Juniors could be very illuminating, in terms of seeing which higher-end 2018 prospects can separate themselves from the pack – or potentially bridge the gap between them and the upper-echelon group – with a strong performance.