7th Annual NHL Mock Draft: 2018, Round 1

Now that the Washington Capitals have hoisted the Stanley Cup — their first in 44 years as a franchise — we can get on with my favourite time of the year.

Yes, it’s time for my seventh annual NHL mock draft and my third attempt at predicting all seven rounds — all 217 picks.

Starting with the first round, where I’ve been pretty successful to date with an 84 per cent accuracy rating overall — correctly predicting 152 of 181 first-rounders over the past six years combined, averaging 25 per year.

That includes 28 of 31 last year, my best showing thus far at an impressive 90 per cent. That will be tough to top, especially given the fact my three misses from the 2017 first round were taken with the first three picks of the second round. I doubt I’ll come that close to perfection again this year, considering I had Nic Hague, Kole Lind and Conor Timmins slotted at Nos. 25, 30 and 31 and they were selected at Nos. 34, 33 and 32, respectively. A bit backwards, but nearly bang-on. My top 31 were all off the board by No. 34, which speaks for itself and might have been some kind of record among my fellow mockers.

The worst I’ve done in the first round is 22 out of 30 in 2015, and no promises that 2018 will be any better since this draft class is pretty wide open in the 15-to-45 range.

Strangely, 2015 was also my best year in terms of matching prospects to the right teams, which is another challenge altogether and honestly hasn’t been my strongpoint. I had eight hits that year — six after the obvious 1-2 in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — but I’ve only managed 29 total hits out of 181 picks since 2012, which equates to a lacklustre 16 per cent success rate on that front. That’s an average of five per year (4.83 to be exact).

Nevertheless, I look forward to this project above all others and spend countless hours every year scouting, researching and networking on upwards of a thousand draft-eligible prospects — often investing more time in studying my seventh-rounders than my first-rounders. It’s become an obsession, a passion, a source of pride (or sometimes shame), and certainly a labour of love.

RELATED: THW Guide to 2018 NHL Entry Draft

For this year’s mock, I went all out in providing analysis — reasoning and rationale — for each and every selection. Yes, all 217. For the first four rounds, I also included three different THW rankings for comparison sake — my own top 100, Brett Slawson’s top 31 and Ryan Pike’s top 135.

Rounds one through seven are published separately — linked together at the top — and I wrapped up my mock by reviewing the results for individual teams, making the finished product an eight-part series that is sure to entertain and hopefully enlighten hockey fans and draft junkies alike.

It all starts here — with the first round, with the first overall selection — so let’s get the fun started.

First Round

1) Buffalo Sabres — Rasmus Dahlin (LHD, Sweden, Frolunda SHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2.75, 185 pounds (Combine Official, courtesy Mark Scheig, June 2)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-1 G-2 A-3 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 41 GP-7 G-13 A-20 PTS

Central Scouting: 1 European Skaters (EUS, April 16)

THW Larry Fisher: 1 (June 4)

THW Brett Slawson: 1 (June 3)

THW Ryan Pike: 1 (May 13)

ANALYSIS: This is a no-brainer, the entire Buffalo organization – from Phil Housley to Jack Eichel — is already singing Dahlin’s praises and he’s been the consensus No. 1 prospect from wire-to-wire in his draft year. A generational defenceman described as a more dynamic Victor Hedman, this is the type of player that could turn the Sabres into a contender and should return them to the playoffs as early as next season when Dahlin should also be contending for the Calder Trophy.

2) Carolina Hurricanes — Filip Zadina (LW, Czech Republic, Halifax QMJHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-0.25, 197 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 9 GP-5 G-7 A-12 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 57 GP-44 G-38 A-82 PTS

Central Scouting: 3 North American Skaters (NAS)

THW Larry Fisher: 3

THW Brett Slawson: 3

THW Ryan Pike: 3

ANALYSIS: Most mocks will have Andrei Svechnikov here, widely seen as the second-best prospect in this draft class, but I have a hunch that the Hurricanes may prefer another scoring winger in Zadina, who is more of a sniper and already has chemistry with Carolina’s top prospect, Martin Necas. They were a dynamic duo for the Czech Republic at this year’s World Juniors and could pick up where they left off in Raleigh next season. A Czech pairing of Necas and Zadina behind the Finnish pairing of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen would give the Hurricanes a nice 1-2 punch for their forward lines.

In saying that, Don Waddell has previously drafted a Russian power forward to be his franchise player and many see shades of Ilya Kovalchuk in Svechnikov, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to hear Svechnikov’s name called at No. 2, which would throw a real wrench into my mock. Waddell has said it is “safe to assume” that Svechnikov would be Carolina’s selection, but GMs always put out misinformation at this time of year and he may simply be trying to drive up the trade value of this pick. I still think Zadina makes more sense for the Hurricanes, but that’s just me.

3) Detroit Red Wings (from Montreal) — Andrei Svechnikov (RW, Russia, Barrie OHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 192 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 8 GP-5 G-6 A-11 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 44 GP-40 G-32 A-72 PTS

Central Scouting: 1 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 2

THW Brett Slawson: 2

THW Ryan Pike: 2

ANALYSIS: If — and it is obviously a huge IF — Carolina were to pass on Svechnikov, I could see Ken Holland stealing the show by trading up from No. 6 to No. 3 to reunite the Svechnikov brothers in Detroit. The Red Wings would have to package their late first-rounder and early second-rounder — and perhaps more assets — to make it happen, but that pick swap would certainly be worth it from a Detroit perspective.

The elder Evgeny, the 19th overall pick from 2015, is on the verge of becoming a full-time NHLer next season, but young Andrei is the better of the two and a special talent that might develop into more of a Marian Hossa than a Kovalchuk. Either way, Andrei has a bright future and the Red Wings would be wise to make this move — and to make a similar pitch to Carolina for No. 2, where Svechnikov has been projected to go.

4) Ottawa Senators — Adam Boqvist (RHD, Sweden, Brynas J20)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11.5, 165 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 3 GP-3 G-2 A-5 PTS in SuperElit; 3 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS in SHL

Regular Season Stats: 25 GP-14 G-10 A-24 PTs in SuperElit; 15 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PT in SHL

Central Scouting: 2 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 5

THW Brett Slawson: 9

THW Ryan Pike: 6

ANALYSIS: The Senators have been built around a Swedish stud on the back end, so Pierre Dorion knows the value of a blueliner like Boqvist better than most. With Erik Karlsson’s future in Ottawa very uncertain, I can’t see the Sens passing on a potential second-coming of their franchise player.

Boqvist, like Karlsson in his draft year, is an undersized puck-moving defenceman capable of driving the offence and quarterbacking a power play with all kinds of wizardry. Other teams may not have Boqvist ranked this high on their lists, but he’s one of the younger prospects in this draft class and his ceiling is very high. Ottawa is willing to reach a little for that upside.

5) Arizona Coyotes — Quinn Hughes (LHD, USA, Michigan NCAA)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 174 pounds (not measured at combine)

Playoff Stats: Not Available (NA)

Regular Season Stats: 37 GP-5 G-24 A-29 PTS

Central Scouting: 6 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 4

THW Brett Slawson: 8

THW Ryan Pike: 8

ANALYSIS: The Coyotes would be thrilled to see Hughes still available at No. 5, assuming Svechnikov is gone, and John Chayka wouldn’t hesitate in taking this offensive-minded defenceman who didn’t look the least bit out of place or overwhelmed in representing the United States at the men’s world championship following a stellar freshman season as one of the youngest players in college hockey. Hughes looked better, to my eyes, at the men’s worlds than at the World Juniors, so that will bode well for his draft stock and should cement him as a top-five pick in my opinion.

Rick Tocchet may prefer the ruggedness of Brady Tkachuk, but Chayka gets to make that call and he’ll know the value discrepancy between the two players in today’s marketplace. And Tocchet will thank him later, when Hughes is working his magic with Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Arizona’s power play. Those four could form the foundation for the Coyotes’ future, providing Chayka is able to get Ekman-Larsson locked up long-term.

6) Montreal Canadiens (from Detroit) — Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C/LW, Finland, Assat)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2.25, 181 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 7 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PT

Regular Season Stats: 57 GP-10 G-19 A-29 PTS

Central Scouting: 6 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 6

THW Brett Slawson: 12

THW Ryan Pike: 14

ANALYSIS: As mentioned, I envision Gary Bettman announcing a trade at No. 3, with Detroit using some of its draft-high 11 picks to move up three spots — assuming Svechnikov is still available there — while Montreal gets its guy in Kotkaniemi despite dropping back to No. 6. Montreal has long-needed a No. 1 centre, more so than another scoring winger, so trading down makes sense for the Canadiens.

Kotkaniemi is a riser after leading Finland to gold at the under-18 tournament and he’s drawn favourable comparisons to Anze Kopitar. Definitely the kind of player that the Canadiens have been lacking and I do wonder whether Marc Bergevin would pick Kotkaniemi at No. 3 even if a trade didn’t materialize with Detroit.

7) Vancouver Canucks — Noah Dobson (RHD, Canada, Acadie-Bathurst QMJHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 177 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 20 GP-3 G-10 A-13 PTS; 4 GP-2 G-5 A-7 PTS at Memorial Cup

Regular Season Stats: 67 GP-17 G-52 A-69 PTS

Central Scouting: 5 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 8

THW Brett Slawson: 6

THW Ryan Pike: 10

ANALYSIS: One of the biggest risers over the course of this draft year, Dobson finished on a high note in winning the Memorial Cup and could go even higher here as a result. Some mocks will have him in the top five, perhaps even the top three, but I still think he lands in Vancouver’s lap. An all-around defender that isn’t overly flashy but effective at both ends of the ice and in all situations. Dobson doesn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor as Boqvist and Hughes, but he’s probably the safer and possibly the better pick between the three.

Jim Benning has already passed on one Tkachuk brother in favour of a defenceman — taking Olli Juolevi over Matthew Tkachuk at fifth overall in 2016 — and the Canucks do it again here.

8) Chicago Blackhawks — Oliver Wahlstrom (RW/C, USA, NTDP U18)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1.25, 208 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 62 GP-48 G-46 A-94 PTS; 26 GP-22 G-23 A-45 PTS in USHL

Central Scouting: 7 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 7

THW Brett Slawson: 7

THW Ryan Pike: 5

ANALYSIS: This is a tough call for Stan Bowman, debating between Boston College-bound Wahlstrom and Boston University’s Tkachuk, but the Blackhawks decide Wahlstrom is worth the wait in believing he possesses the higher upside. The fact Wahlstrom is capable of playing centre — a position he played for much of his youth hockey — is also appealing and ultimately tips the scale.

Wahlstrom is also seen as the better goal-scorer between the two — considered one of the draft’s best shooters — but Tkachuk is more NHL-ready as one of the older prospects in this draft class, so Chicago could go that route if it wants a plug-and-play winger with more grit to replace Ryan Hartman’s presence in the lineup for next season.

9) New York Rangers — Brady Tkachuk (LW, USA, Boston University NCAA)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 192 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 40 GP-8 G-23 A-31 PTS

Central Scouting: 2 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 9

THW Brett Slawson: 5

THW Ryan Pike: 4

ANALYSIS: David Quinn likely isn’t anticipating this reunion since Tkachuk has been pegged as a top-five pick, but the former Boston University coach recently hired by the Rangers would certainly welcome Tkachuk to the fold. There is obviously a good chance that Tkachuk goes earlier, perhaps much earlier, but his perceived fall would presumably stop here. As mentioned, Matthew Tkachuk also fell in 2015, from a projected fourth to sixth, and a couple teams might already be regretting that decision to pass on him. The same story could play out this year with Brady, and it is nothing against their character or even their skill level as Keith’s sons are both a chip off the old block.

If not Tkachuk, if Jeff Gorton felt he was too similar to what the Rangers already have in Chris Kreider, then New York could look to further shore up its future defence by selecting Evan Bouchard, who could also be long gone by No. 9.

10) Edmonton Oilers — Ty Smith (LHD, Canada, Spokane WHL)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-10.75, 176 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 7 GP-2 G-5 A-7 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 69 GP-14 G-59 A-73 PTS

Central Scouting: 14 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 11

THW Brett Slawson: 17

THW Ryan Pike: 12

ANALYSIS: There is a slight chance that Edmonton trades this pick to address a current need, but if not, it would be another difficult and controversial decision for Peter Chiarelli between Smith and Bouchard. Smith has more offensive upside and has been a junior teammate of Edmonton’s first-rounder from last year, Kailer Yamamoto, so the Oilers have seen plenty of him and no doubt like the Alberta boy from Lloydminster.

On the other hand, Bouchard is bigger and he’s a right-handed defender, which has long been an organizational need for the Oilers. Chiarelli’s brother, Mike, heads up Edmonton’s scouting in Ontario, so he’d be pushing hard for Bouchard, who has been compared to Alex Pietrangelo. Some scouts feel Bouchard is the second-best blueliner in this draft class, but I’m not as high on him and would lean toward Smith based on his familiarity with Yamamoto and the fact he’s developing under Dan Lambert in Spokane.

11) New York Islanders — Evan Bouchard (RHD, Canada, London OHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 196 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 4 GP-1 G-4 A-5 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 67 GP-25 G-62 A-87 PTS

Central Scouting: 4 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 10

THW Brett Slawson: 4

THW Ryan Pike: 7

ANALYSIS: If the Oilers took Smith over Bouchard, the Islanders would stop Bouchard’s fall with one of their two consecutive picks. That would be an easy decision for Lou Lamoriello. Bouchard is closer to Calvin de Haan than Pietrangelo, in my opinion, but that’s still a nice player and a player that the Islanders will need to replace assuming de Haan leaves as a free agent this summer.

Thomas Hickey could be gone too — he’s another pending UFA — and Smith is more like him in playing style, so either way I could see Smith-Bouchard going in these 10-11 spots. The Islanders need to rebuild their blue line going forward and both could be good fits.

12) New York Islanders (from Calgary) — Joe Veleno (C, Canada, Drummondville QMJHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1.25, 194 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 10 GP-5 G-6 A-11 PTS with Drummondville

Regular Season Stats: 31 GP-6 G-25 A-31 PTS with Saint John; 33 GP-16 G-32 A-48 PTS with Drummondville

Central Scouting: 8 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 12

THW Brett Slawson: 10

THW Ryan Pike: 11

ANALYSIS: This pick would prompt more internal debate, deciding between a centre in Veleno or perhaps Barrett Hayton or a winger in Joel Farabee. All good options, but Veleno gets the edge based on positional preference — especially if the sense is John Tavares will be signing elsewhere in free agency.

Veleno was granted exceptional player status in junior and had to overcome comparisons to Sidney Crosby and hype as the No. 1 prospect for 2018. Although he hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations and may never be a bona fide No. 1 centre in the NHL, Veleno is still a quality prospect and could become another key piece to the Islanders’ future. If Tavares is sticking around in Brooklyn, Farabee might be more attractive as a wingman for him in the years to come.

13) Dallas Stars — Vitali Kravtsov (RW, Russia, Chelyabinsk KHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2.75, 184 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 16 GP-6 G-5 A-11 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 35 GP-4 G-3 A-7 PTS

Central Scouting: 3 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 14

THW Brett Slawson: Not Ranked (NR)

THW Ryan Pike: 36

ANALYSIS: Historically, the Stars haven’t been scared to draft Russian forwards in the first round — see Valeri Nichushkin (10th in 2013) and Denis Gurianov (12th in 2015) — but it’ll be interesting to see if Jim Nill continues that trend. There are two Russians that could be tempting in this range in Kravtsov and Grigori Denisenko, so it’s entirely possible that Dallas does it again.

Kravtsov is a riser after starring in the KHL playoffs, breaking out to produce his share of highlights and steal rookie-of-the-year honours from Nashville’s top prospect, Eeli Tolvanen. Kravtsov’s overall stat-line may not have been worthy of that award, but he definitely bolstered his draft stock with that impressive finishing kick and Dallas surely took notice.

14) Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis) — Joel Farabee (LW, USA, NTDP U18)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 162 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 62 GP-33 G-43 A-76 PTS; 26 GP-15 G-25 A-40 PTS in USHL

Central Scouting: 12 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 13

THW Brett Slawson: 13

THW Ryan Pike: 9

ANALYSIS: The Flyers are in good hands on defence for the foreseeable future, so expect Philadelphia to go with a forward here and Farabee appears to be the best of the bunch. Overshadowed a bit by Wahlstrom, who has been the bigger name since his younger years as a YouTube sensation, Farabee looks like a real solid 200-foot player. Not a star, but a strong supporting player and something of a safe pick. More Justin Williams than John LeClair, Farabee is the kind of top-six winger that quietly goes about his business but is key to a team’s success. Ron Hextall will be able to appreciate those qualities.

15) Florida Panthers — Barrett Hayton (C, Canada, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1.25, 190 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 24 GP-8 G-13 A-21 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 63 GP-21 G-39 A-60 PTS

Central Scouting: 9 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 15

THW Brett Slawson: 11

THW Ryan Pike: 15

ANALYSIS: Dale Tallon goes with his best player available and takes Hayton over defencemen Bode Wilde and Ryan Merkley, who both received consideration in this spot as well as a few scoring wingers from Europe. The Panthers are stronger at centre than on the wings in the present, but they can always deal from that position of strength down the road when Hayton is ready to make an impact.

This may not be a popular pick among Florida’s fan base, which might prefer one of those sexier wingers from overseas —be it Jonatan Berggren, Dominik Bokk, Martin Kaut or the aforementioned Denisenko — but, make no mistake, Hayton is a good pick in this spot. Florida has had good luck with Finnish centres in Aleksander Barkov and Henrik Borgstrom, so Rasmus Kupari could be yet another option at No. 15.

16) Colorado Avalanche — Rasmus Kupari (C, Finland, Karpat)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1.5, 189 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 39 GP-6 G-8 A-14 PTS

Central Scouting: 11 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 23

THW Brett Slawson: 14

THW Ryan Pike: 17

ANALYSIS: A bit of foreshadowing there, with Colorado also looking for more offence down the middle after dealing away Matt Duchene. The Avs were a one-line team at times this season, carried by Nathan MacKinnon, so they would like to take some of that weight off his shoulders in the years to come. Kupari is probably two or three years away from making an impact as a second-line centre, but when that time comes, perhaps Colorado could pair him with fellow Finn Mikko Rantanen.

Kupari is an intriguing prospect who possesses plenty of creativity but still has to round out his game. He has a pretty high ceiling, probably more so than Hayton, but Kupari could also be a boom-or-bust prospect. If Florida were to take that risk on Kupari, then Colorado would probably go with Hayton here.

17) New Jersey Devils — Jonatan Berggren (C/W, Sweden, Skelleftea J20)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 183 pounds (not measured at combine)

Playoff Stats: 3 GP-1 G-4 A-5 PTS in SuperElit; 2 GP-0 G-1 A-1 PT in SHL

Regular Season Stats: 38 GP-18 G-39 A-57 PTS in SuperElit; 10 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS in SHL

Central Scouting: 30 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 20

THW Brett Slawson: 31

THW Ryan Pike: Honourable Mention (HM)

ANALYSIS: By this point, we are throwing darts — with 200 more to go! Berggren is another riser coming out of the U18s and there is a lot to like about this speedy winger who can attack off the rush like a Swedish Taylor Hall. The Devils got a pleasant surprise out of another Swede in Jesper Bratt, but Berggren’s upside is much higher.

Any of the available names mentioned thus far could also be on Ray Shero’s radar, including Wilde and Merkley, as well as Bokk, Kaut and Denisenko, but I really like Berggren to New Jersey.

18) Columbus Blue Jackets — Jake Wise (C, USA, NTDP U18)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 195 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 38 GP-11 G-32 A-43 PTS; 18 GP-9 G-19 A-28 PTS in USHL

Central Scouting: 38 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 31

THW Brett Slawson: NR

THW Ryan Pike: 55

ANALYSIS: I bet you weren’t expecting that name, right? Wise would be considered going off the board, but Jarmo Kekalainen and Columbus have a habit of straying from the consensus. The Blue Jackets would love Kupari or Hayton here, but if both are gone, they may go with the next centre on their list and it might be Wise.

Columbus could perhaps trade down and still get its guy — if Wise is that guy — but I wasn’t going to risk it. I’m no mind reader, but I have a feeling Columbus wouldn’t be the only team with Wise in their top 20 — especially with the lack of centre options in this range once that first tier is taken. Like Veleno, Wise was once in the conversation for No. 1 in 2018, but he missed the first half of his draft year to injury before coming on strong as the second half progressed. Wise is a high-skill prospect who could still have first-line potential in time. A better version of Sonny Milano.

19) Philadelphia Flyers — Bode Wilde (RHD, USA/Canada, NTDP U18)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2.5, 198 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 61 GP-12 G-29 A-41 PTS; 25 GP-3 G-13 A-16 PTS in USHL

Central Scouting: 17 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 17

THW Brett Slawson: 16

THW Ryan Pike: 19

ANALYSIS: I said it before, the Flyers don’t need defence, but Hextall won’t let Wilde fall any further. His upside is too high to pass on again, and a case could have been made for Wilde to be included in that top-10 conversation alongside Smith and Bouchard. Wilde isn’t as polished, but he reminds me of Zach Bogosian from his draft year as a raw package that could develop into a dominant force. I do think Wilde could be a top-pairing defenceman in a few years, but he could also be a bust if the toolbox isn’t there to carry all his impressive tools. That is part of the debate on Wilde and why he could slide out of the top 15.

20) Los Angeles Kings — K’Andre Miller (LHD, USA, NTDP U18)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3.25, 198 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 58 GP-9 G-20 A-29 PTS; 22 GP-4 G-12 A-16 PTS in USHL

Central Scouting: 23 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 18

THW Brett Slawson: 30

THW Ryan Pike: 24

ANALYSIS: Rob Blake may see a lot of himself in Miller, but I see Darnell Nurse and Dobber’s Robinson has made the comparison to Mattias Ekholm, which strikes me as a good one too. Another raw defender, Miller doesn’t have as much offensive upside or explosiveness as Wilde, but he’s a physical specimen who isn’t slowed by his size. Miller is a smooth skater who can get up and down the ice, like Nurse.

The Kings don’t really need defence either — any of those European wingers could be appealing to Los Angeles — but I think Blake will take a liking to Miller and thus take him if he’s available.

21) San Jose Sharks — Dominik Bokk (RW, Germany, Vaxjo J20)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 176 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 8 GP-5 G-6 A-11 PTS in SuperElit

Regular Season Stats: 35 GP-14 G-27 A-41 PTS in SuperElit; 15 GP-1 G-1 A-2 PTS in SHL

Central Scouting: 12 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 21

THW Brett Slawson: NR

THW Ryan Pike: 44

ANALYSIS: The Sharks like their forwards from non-traditional hockey nations — they already have Mikkel Boedker and Jannik Hansen from Denmark, and Timo Meier from Switzerland, with Rudolfs Balcers from Latvia on the way — so let’s add Bokk to that list. Bokk, from Germany, is developing in Sweden and has that flair to his game. David Pastrnak, who hails from the Czech Republic, took the same path through Sweden and has proven to be a steal for Boston (25th in 2014). Bokk could follow suit and there are some similarities in their playing styles.

Doug Wilson could also be thinking defence here for San Jose, especially if Wilde was somehow still available. I’m not sure if Wilson would be as high on Miller, but Merkley could be in the Sharks’ sights too. Maybe even a guy like Rasmus Sandin or Jared McIsaac, or more of a reach like Jonny Tychonick. Keep those names in mind for San Jose. Alexander Alexeyev, too, if I’m able to throw out one more name. Moving on now . . .

22) Ottawa Senators (from Pittsburgh) — Martin Kaut (RW, Czech Republic, Pardubice)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 174 pounds (not measured at combine)

Playoff Stats: 7 GP-3 G-2 A-5 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 38 GP-9 G-7 A-16 PTS

Central Scouting: 4 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 19

THW Brett Slawson: 22

THW Ryan Pike: 23

ANALYSIS: If the Senators go defence at No. 4, look for a forward here and likely one of those high-skill Euros. So if not Kaut, then Bokk or Berggren if either of them last this long. I prefer Kaut for Ottawa, though, and feel he could inspire flashbacks to Martin Havlat for the Senators’ fans. Good memories no doubt, and Kaut has more in common with Havlat than simply sharing the same given name and homeland.

Kaut showed at the World Juniors that he can electrify much like Havlat, and Kaut actually made the cut over Zadina for the Czech men’s team at this year’s worlds. That probably had more to do with being a domestic player versus Zadina, who fled early for North America, but Kaut is no slouch and could also go significantly higher than this spot.

23) Anaheim Ducks — Akil Thomas (RW/C, Canada, Niagara OHL)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11.25, 177 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 10 GP-5 G-6 A-11 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 68 GP-22 G-59 A-81 PTS

Central Scouting: 15 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 29

THW Brett Slawson: 20

THW Ryan Pike: 18

ANALYSIS: The Ducks are another team with plenty of depth in their defence prospect pool and Bob Murray doesn’t strike me as the type to take a first-round swing on a Russian like Denisenko, so I’m expecting him to look to the OHL. With Corey Perry past his prime and perhaps on his last legs, Thomas could eventually fill that role. He’s quicker than Nick Ritchie and more of a playmaker off the rush, but Anaheim would have a few options from the OHL in this range, such as Serron Noel, Ryan McLeod, Ty Dellandrea and perhaps even Liam Foudy from Perry’s old stomping grounds in London. I pretty much pulled Thomas from a hat full of those names.

24) Minnesota Wild — Grigori Denisenko (LW, Russia, Loko Yaroslavl MHL)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-10.75, 172 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 12 GP-5 G-2 A-7 PTS in MHL; 4 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS in KHL

Regular Season Stats: 31 GP-9 G-13 A-22 PTS

Central Scouting: 7 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 22

THW Brett Slawson: 15

THW Ryan Pike: 30

ANALYSIS: Newly hired Paul Fenton may or may not want to put his stamp and influence on this year’s draft class, but if he leaves this pick in the hands of Minnesota’s existing scouting staff, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wild select this falling Russian. Denisenko could absolutely be a steal here, much like fellow Russian forwards Kirill Kaprizov (fifth round, 135th in 2015) and the recently signed Dmitry Sokolov (seventh round, 196th in 2016) appear to be at this stage of their development.

However, if Fenton takes a hands-on approach, then look for Minnesota to take a defenceman here since Nashville was built from the back end under Fenton and David Poile. A puck-moving type like Tychonick could fit the bill — he played in Penticton, the same place that Nashville found Dante Fabbro. As could Nicolas Beaudin, who is somewhat similar to Samuel Girard (originally selected by Nashville). Or perhaps one of the Swedes in this range, be it Sandin or Nils Lundkvist, with Calen Addison another possibility. Merkley has to be mentioned as well, but he may remind the Wild scouts too much of Ryan Murphy, who didn’t gain much traction with Minnesota this season and has more or less busted as a Carolina first-rounder. Then again, Merkley might also remind Fenton of Ryan Ellis, another first-rounder who boomed for Nashville.

25) Toronto Maple Leafs — Rasmus Sandin (LHD, Sweden, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 186 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 24 GP-1 G-12 A-13 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 51 GP-12 G-33 A-45 PTS

Central Scouting: 11 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 25

THW Brett Slawson: NR

THW Ryan Pike: 27

ANALYSIS: It would be fitting for Kyle Dubas’ first selection as an NHL general manager to come from his former junior team in Sault Ste. Marie. Sandin’s stock was on the rise throughout the OHL playoffs and he would no longer be considered a reach in this range. Other teams may have Sandin ranked even higher heading into the draft, but the Leafs are presumably high on this smooth Swede that seems to have a fair bit of untapped potential.

Toronto will also be doing a deep dive on Merkley, and if that due diligence checks out, he’s right-handed and could be more desirable with an even higher ceiling. Remember, the Leafs took a chance on fellow righty Timothy Liljegren at 17th overall last year under similar circumstances as a high-risk, high-reward faller who was once anticipated to be a top-10 pick. So don’t rule out Merkley here if Dubas wants to swing for the fences in his first official at-bat.

26) New York Rangers (from Boston) — Isac Lundestrom (C/LW, Sweden, Lulea SHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-0.25, 183 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 3 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS in SHL; 6 GP-0 G-5 A-5 PTS in SuperElit

Regular Season Stats: 42 GP-6 G-9 A-15 PTS

Central Scouting: 8 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 24

THW Brett Slawson: 18

THW Ryan Pike: 16

ANALYSIS: The Rangers like their Swedish centres, reaching for Lias Andersson at seventh overall last year and also acquiring Mika Zibanejad from Ottawa, so Lundestrom could be of interest to Gorton and Co. Worth noting, Lundestrom stepped up for Sweden when Andersson went down with a separated shoulder at this year’s World Juniors and the Rangers were undoubtedly keeping a close watch on that situation. That was probably the highlight of Lundestrom’s draft year, but he certainly emerged as a standout towards the end of that tournament as Sweden settled for silver.

Jacob Olofsson and David Gustafsson are two more Swedish centres that could warrant consideration in this range, and the Rangers could prefer either of them to Lundestrom. A big minute-munching defenceman like Mattias Samuelsson or Alexeyev could also be on the radar for this pick.

27) Chicago Blackhawks (from Nashville) — Ryan Merkley (RHD, Canada, Guelph OHL)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11.25, 168 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 6 GP-1 G-5 A-6 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 63 GP-13 G-54 A-67 PTS

Central Scouting: 45 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 16

THW Brett Slawson: 19

THW Ryan Pike: 35

ANALYSIS: Finally, finally, a team selects Merkley, who has arguably been the best player available since around No. 15. Everybody knows he’ll be a boom-or-bust prospect, with concerns of defensive carelessness and some character issues, but you can’t teach Merkley’s vision and offensive awareness. Based on skill alone, he’d be a top-10 talent in this draft class.

Merkley does some of the same things that Duncan Keith does so well, but he’s not an all-around Norris contender right now or he’d be a consensus top-10 pick. Think more along the lines of Ryan Murphy coming out of junior or somebody like Anthony DeAngelo as another comparable. Elite skill in certain aspects, but far from a sure thing with his share of question marks. Still, Merkley is worth a dice roll in the later 20s and I still like him as a first-rounder, especially with so many teams owning multiple picks in the top 31.

28) New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay) — Matej Pekar (C/RW, Czech Republic, Muskegon USHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 170 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 56 GP-14 G-40 A-54 PTS

Central Scouting: 55 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 49

THW Brett Slawson: NR

THW Ryan Pike: 97

ANALYSIS: This is by far my boldest prediction of the first round — a real reach for the Rangers, who could probably have waited until pick No. 39 or possibly even No. 48 to take Pekar, who isn’t ranked in most people’s top 50. But the USHL’s rookie of the year has been gaining momentum as a riser, much like Filip Chytil at this time last year. The Rangers didn’t hesitate in taking Chytil ahead of schedule at No. 21 in 2017 and he exceeded outside expectations by cracking their roster out of training camp. Like Chytil, Pekar is a slick Czech forward with a motor that never stops and an offensive skill-set that can create something out of nothing in bringing fans out of their seats. Pekar matched Tolvanen’s USHL stat-line from last year, albeit with half as many goals (14 to 30), but that identical point total (54) should bolster Pekar’s draft stock and just might get him into the top 31.

In saying that, the Rangers could play it safe and go with a steady defender in this spot after already selecting two forwards in my first round (Tkachuk and Lundestrom). McIsaac, Samuelsson and Alexeyev immediately come to mind, but Lundkvist, Tychonick and Addison could also be targets for the Rangers’ third pick of the first round. As mentioned, the Rangers do have two more selections in the top half of the second round, so they may not feel the urge to grab Pekar this early. However, there will be surprises on draft day — somebody is going to go off the board in this range — and I wouldn’t be shocked if Pekar goes here.

29) St. Louis Blues (from Winnipeg) — Ty Dellandrea (C, Canada, Flint OHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-0.25, 184 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: NA

Regular Season Stats: 67 GP-27 G-32 A-59 PTS

Central Scouting: 25 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 30

THW Brett Slawson: 25

THW Ryan Pike: 32

ANALYSIS: This strikes me as a typical St. Louis pick, with Doug Armstrong and the Blues hitting home runs with their recent OHL selections such as Robert Thomas (first round, 20th in 2017), Jordan Kyrou (second round, 35th in 2016) and Robby Fabbri (first round, 21st in 2014). Dellandrea could join that club as a similar offensive catalyst.

If not Dellandrea, I could reach back into that OHL hat and pull out another name — be it Noel, McLeod or Akil Thomas if he was still on the board (no relation to Robert), with Foudy and Aidan Dudas also potential options that the Blues will have a good read on coming into the draft. Armstrong is probably safe to trust his OHL scout with this pick.

30) Detroit Red Wings (from Vegas) — Nils Lundkvist (RHD, Sweden, Lulea SHL)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11.25, 173 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 2 GP-0 G-0 A-0 PTS in SHL; 6 GP-0 G-5 A-5 PTS in SuperElit

Regular Season Stats: 28 GP-2 G-3 A-5 PTS in SHL; 26 GP-3 G-11 A-14 PTS in SuperElit

Central Scouting: 14 EUS

THW Larry Fisher: 26

THW Brett Slawson: NR

THW Ryan Pike: 41

ANALYSIS: With its second pick of the first round — albeit unlikely that the Red Wings would retain this selection if they do indeed trade up for Svechnikov — Detroit could definitely be eyeing a Swedish defender like Lundkvist or American-raised Mattias Samuelsson, or obviously Sandin if he was still available here. Rankings are wide-ranging on Lundkvist in the scouting community, but he won me over as a first-round talent at the Five Nations Tournament in February. Lundkvist wasn’t as much of a standout at the U18 showcase, which seemed to stall his upward momentum among the masses, but I’m still a fan and could see some team reaching for him as high as the mid-to-late teens.

If not a Swedish defenceman, Detroit could opt for a Swedish centre —Olofsson or Gustafsson (or Lundestrom) — to eventually replace Henrik Zetterberg, who is now in the twilight of his career. Those remaining OHL forwards could also be candidates for the Red Wings, with McLeod and Noel the most likely options if Akil Thomas and Dellandrea from nearby Flint are gone.

31) Washington Capitals — Jared McIsaac (LHD, Canada, Halifax QMJHL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 189 pounds (CO)

Playoff Stats: 9 GP-0 G-4 A-4 PTS

Regular Season Stats: 65 GP-9 G-38 A-47 PTS

Central Scouting: 13 NAS

THW Larry Fisher: 28

THW Brett Slawson: 21

THW Ryan Pike: 20

ANALYSIS: The Stanley Cup champion Capitals could go in several different directions to close out the first round, but McIsaac stands out as a prospect who deserves to go in the top 31 after being singled out as one of Canada’s top-three players at the under-18 tournament. That was a strong finish to a mediocre draft year that started out with top-10 or certainly top-20 expectations for McIsaac. He’s been a faller for most of the season but may have saved his first-round status with that U18 showing.

If the Capitals go defence here, Tychonick will likely be on their radar as well since Washington has already plucked Lucas Johansen and Madison Bowey from the Okanagan — both from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, with Tychonick playing just down the road with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. Brian MacLellan evidently trusts his scout from that region, but the Capitals could also reach for a Russian forward — any one of these 10 in Kirill Marchenko, Ivan Morozov, Dmitry Zavgorodniy, Alexander Khovanov, Nikolai Kovalenko, Pavel Gogolev, Bulat Shafigullin, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Egor Sokolov or Ruslan Iskhakov. I have them all going in the top 93, in the second and third rounds, with that order very much to be determined. There are also the Swedish centres in Olofsson and Gustafsson (and Lundestrom if he’s still available) as well as a Czech forward in Jakub Lauko of potential interest to Washington. Like I said, several different options for the Capitals and I was tempted to take a Russian, but decided to go with my best player available in McIsaac.

Recapping First Round

1) Buffalo Sabres — Rasmus Dahlin (LHD, Sweden, Frolunda SHL)

2) Carolina Hurricanes — Filip Zadina (LW, Czech Republic, Halifax QMJHL)

3) Detroit Red Wings (from Montreal) — Andrei Svechnikov (RW, Russia, Barrie OHL)

4) Ottawa Senators — Adam Boqvist (RHD, Sweden, Brynas J20)

5) Arizona Coyotes — Quinn Hughes (LHD, USA, Michigan NCAA)

6) Montreal Canadiens (from Detroit) — Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C/LW, Finland, Assat)

7) Vancouver Canucks — Noah Dobson (RHD, Canada, Acadie Bathurst QMJHL)

8) Chicago Blackhawks — Oliver Wahlstrom (RW/C, USA, NTDP U18)

9) New York Rangers — Brady Tkachuk (LW, USA, Boston University NCAA)

10) Edmonton Oilers — Ty Smith (LHD, Canada, Spokane WHL)

11) New York Islanders — Evan Bouchard (RHD, Canada, London OHL)

12) New York Islanders (from Calgary) — Joe Veleno (C, Canada, Drummondville QMJHL)

13) Dallas Stars — Vitali Kravtsov (RW, Russia, Chelyabinsk KHL)

14) Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis) — Joel Farabee (LW, USA, NTDP U18)

15) Florida Panthers — Barrett Hayton (C, Canada, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)

16) Colorado Avalanche — Rasmus Kupari (C, Finland, Karpat)

17) New Jersey Devils — Jonatan Berggren (C/W, Sweden, Skelleftea J20)

18) Columbus Blue Jackets — Jake Wise (C, USA, NTDP U18)

19) Philadelphia Flyers — Bode Wilde (RHD, USA/Canada, NTDP U18)

20) Los Angeles Kings — K’Andre Miller (LHD, USA, NTDP U18)

21) San Jose Sharks — Dominik Bokk (RW, Germany, Vaxjo J20)

22) Ottawa Senators (from Pittsburgh) — Martin Kaut (RW, Czech Republic, Pardubice)

23) Anaheim Ducks — Akil Thomas (RW/C, Canada, Niagara OHL)

24) Minnesota Wild — Grigori Denisenko (LW, Russia, Loko Yaroslavl MHL)

25) Toronto Maple Leafs — Rasmus Sandin (LHD, Sweden, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)

26) New York Rangers (from Boston) — Isac Lundestrom (C/LW, Sweden, Lulea SHL)

27) Chicago Blackhawks (from Nashville) — Ryan Merkley (RHD, Canada, Guelph OHL)

28) New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay) — Matej Pekar (C/RW, Czech Republic, Muskegon USHL)

29) St. Louis Blues (from Winnipeg) — Ty Dellandrea (C, Canada, Flint OHL)

30) Detroit Red Wings (from Vegas) — Nils Lundkvist (RHD, Sweden, Lulea SHL)

31) Washington Capitals — Jared McIsaac (LHD, Canada, Halifax QMJHL)

Fisher’s Mocking History