With the 2018 NHL Entry Draft soon approaching us on Friday June 22, I will be posting my guesses on who will be picked an when for the first round. I will be posting my guesses over the course of the next couple weeks five at a time, starting with picks 1-5. Feel free to comment your guesses in the comment section.
1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frölunda (SWE)
This guy is NHL ready and could be part of the Sabres top defensive pari next season. At 6’2” and 181 lbs size is not an issue with this skilled defenseman from Trollhattan, SWE and he dished out 20 points (7 G, 13 A) playing for Frölunda in Swedens top professional league. He also played for his country at the age of 17 in the 2018 Winter Olympics, playing two games and recording one assist. The Sabres have picked a forward in the first round the last four years, so they could use another young skilled defenseman who could make a dangerous pair with Rasmus Ristolainen. Ranking first in both the NHL CSS midterm and final rankings for European Skaters, is an intelligent two-way defense with great hockey sense, shot, and vision, and us projected to be an impact player in the NHL.
2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)
The Russian forward was a force in his first year the OHL with he Barrie Colts scoring 40 goals and adding 32 assists for 72 points in just 44 games, averaging 1.64 points per game. He also is not new to the North American game, playing the 2016-17 season for Muskegon in the USHL scoring 29 goals and 29 assists in 48 games and winning rookie of the year, which he also won for the OHL this past season. He ranked first in both the NHL CSS midterm and final rankings for skaters in North America. The highly skilled forward forward with a great shot, appears to be NHL ready and Carolina’s GM has mentioned that he is on top of their list.
3. Montreal Canadiens – Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Like Svechnikov, Zadina was also made a huge impact in his first year playing in one of the CHL’s leagues. The 6’0” forward from the Czech Republic amassed an impressive 44 goals and 38 assists for 82 points in 57 games. He models his style of play of Marian Hossa, and could fit very nicely into Montreal’s line up, and had impressive showing at the 2018 WJC with seven goals in seven games. Zadina knows how to score and navigate the ice to get open and generate good scoring chances, and has shown that he knows how to capitalize on them.
4. Ottawa Senators – Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (H-EAST)
Arguably the next best player available after Dahlin, Svechnikov, and Zadina, Tkachuk is a power forward who can dictate the play when he is one the ice. Son of Keith Tkachuk and younger brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, Brady finished his freshman College Season at Boston University with 8 goals and 23 assists for 31 points in 40 games. He also dished out 9 points in 7 games for the United States at the 2018 WJC. With NHL size at 6’3” 196 lbs. and a gritty, 200 foot game style, Brady would be a hard player to pass up, as he finished second on the NHL CSS final rankings for North American skaters.
5. Arizona Coyotes – Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)
Bouchard was a force for the London Knights this season throwing up 25 goals and 62 points for 87 points in just 67 games, leading all OHL defenseman in points. Bouchard is also noted for his leadership skills, serving as captain of the London knights this season With a playing style similar to Drew Doughty, Bouchard will be a great addition to the Coyotes roster with plenty of young skilled forwards. He has NHL ready size at 6’2” 193 lbs. and could be a very effective two-way defenseman in the NHL, that could really be a big part of Arizona’s rebuild.