Pike’s Picks: 2018 NHL Draft Ranking – March Edition

Almost as quickly as it began, the 2017-18 hockey season is beginning to wind down. The three Canadian major junior leagues are in the final weeks of their regular seasons. The various NCAA conferences are in their playoff tournaments. Most European pro leagues are in their playoffs, as well. With most of the hockey season complete, here’s the latest edition of our 2018 NHL Draft rankings.

Andrei Svechnikov (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

This is the fourth edition of my annual NHL Draft rankings. Roughly every other month, I 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 62

No. Player Pos. 2017-18 Primary Team
1 Rasmus Dahlin D Frolunda HC (SHL)
2 Andrei Svechnikov RW Barrie Colts (OHL)
3 Brady Tkachuk C Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
4 Filip Zadina LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
5 Oliver Wahlstrom C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
6 Adam Boqvist D Brynas IF (SuperElit)
7 Rasmus Kupari C Karpat (SM-Liiga)
8 Ty Smith D Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
9 Evan Bouchard D London Knights (OHL)
10 Noah Dobson D Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
11 Jesperi Kotkaniemi C Assat (SM-Liiga)
12 Isac Lundestrom C Lulea HF (SHL)
13 Joel Farabee LW U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
14 Quinn Hughes D Univ. of Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)
15 Mattias Samuelsson D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
16 K’Andre Miller D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
17 Jared McIsaac D Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
18 Jacob Olofsson C Timra IK (SHL)
19 Bode Wilde D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
20 Grigori Denisenko LW Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
21 Akil Thomas C Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
22 Ryan McLeod C Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
23 Dominik Bokk RW Vaxjo Lakers HC (SHL)
24 Martin Kaut RW HC Dynamo Pardubice (Extraliga)
25 Calen Addison D Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
26 Rasmus Sandin D Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
27 Benoit-Olivier Groulx C Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
28 Alexander Alexeyev D Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
29 Ryan Merkley D Guelph Storm (OHL)
30 Joseph Veleno C Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
31 Jett Woo D Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
32 Jesse Ylonen RW Espoo United (Mestis)
33 Jonny Tychonick D Penticton Vees (BCHL)
34 Filip Hallander RW Timra IK (SHL)
35 Jack McBain C Toronto Jr. Canadians (OJHL)
36 Barrett Hayton C Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
37 Vladislav Kotkov LW Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
38 Serron Noel C Oshawa Generals (OHL)
39 Allan McShane C Oshawa Generals (OHL)
40 Jay O’Brien C Thayer Academy (USHS)
41 Alexander Khovanov C Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
42 Ty Dellandrea C Flint Firebirds (OHL)
43 Cole Fonstad C Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
44 Vitali Kravtsov RW Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
45 Adam Samuelsson D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
46 Milas Roman C Vancouver Giants (WHL)
47 Joel Teasdale LW Blainville-Broisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
48 Jakub Lauko C Pirati Chomutov (Extraliga)
49 Sampo Ranta RW Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
50 Blake McLaughlin C Chicago Steel (USHL)
51 Blake Jenkins LW Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
52 Aidan Dudas C Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
53 Curtis Hall C Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
54 Anderson MacDonald LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
55 Adam Ginning D Linkoping HC (SHL)
56 Gabriel Fortier LW Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
57 Nicolas Beaudin D Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
58 Nando Eggenberger LW HC Davos (NLA)
59 Jake Wise C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
60 Jacob Bernard-Docker D Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
61 Alexis Gravel G Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
62 Jakub Skarek G HK Dukhla Jihlava (Extraliga)

Honourable Mentions

Here are 10 intriguing prospects that narrowly missed the cut (presented in alphabetical order):

  • D Declan Chisholm – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
  • C Jack Drury – Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
  • C Johnny Gruden – U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
  • G Jacob Ingham – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
  • C Jachym Kondelik – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
  • D Filip Kral – Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
  • C Tyler Madden – Tri-City Storm (USHL)
  • C Tristen Nielsen – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
  • D Alec Regula – London Knights (OHL)
  • G Olivier Rodrigue – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

Trends, Themes and Things to Watch

The theme of the 2018 NHL Draft is that there are a ton of really good defensemen throughout the first couple rounds of the draft. The team that wins the draft lottery gets Rasmus Dahlin. Your team misses out on Dahlin? There’s always Adam Boqvist, Ty Smith, Evan Bouchard or Noah Dobson. Your team barely misses the playoffs? Console your fanbase with the likes of Quinn Hughes, Mattias Samuelsson, K’Andre Miller, Jared McIsaac and Bode Wilde are right there. Your team has a good playoff run and then potentially can load back up with Calen Addison, Rasmus Sandin, Alexander Alexeyev, Ryan Merkley and Jett Woo. All of these blueliners have either a high offensive ceiling, a strong grasp of the defensive game or, in the case of the high-end players, both. And that’s just the first round.

While there’s a higher-than-usual proportion of high-end defenders in this year’s draft, the 2018 class is thinner at high-end forwards than previous years. Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk, Filip Zadina and Oliver Wahlstrom are all decent bets with high ceilings. Just about everyone else in the class have lower ceilings than that quartet, but there’s still a ton of value to be found in the middle rounds of the draft.

In terms of goaltenders, the quartet of Alexis Gravel, Jakub Skarek, Jacob Ingham and Olivier Rodrigue are all clustered closely together. They all have stylistic differences, but all have similar ceilings. The 2018 class somewhat resembles 2012’s in regards to goaltenders, with nobody who seems to have as high a ceiling as Jake Oettinger (the standout of 2017’s draft) but several intriguing netminders who will likely be selected in the same vicinity as each other.