The 2018 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone like a holiday, as round seven ended on Saturday, June 23rd with 217 players being chosen by 31 NHL teams. The last pick of the draft was forward Eric Florchuk of the Saskatoon Blades from the WHL and he was selected 217th overall by Washington after scoring 16 goals and 33 assists last season in 71 games.
Rasmus Dahlin went first to the Buffalo Sabres as expected and is projected to play on their top line with Rasmus Ristolainen. This guy is a generational talent so expect him to make an impact for the Sabres this season and possibly become a candidate for the Calder Trophy.
The Montreal Canadiens had the most picks with 11 and the Nashville Predators had the least and the Pittsburgh Penguins had the least with four each.
A total of 29 goalies were drafted. Sweden native Olof Lindbom was the first goalie to go after being picked up by the Rangers with the 39th pick.
One interesting thing that I noticed in the draft was the slew of defenseman that were under 6’0” who went early in the draft. This could be signaling a change in the game that is switching from a physical game to a game built more around speed.
A surprise that came out of the draft was the number of players who were projected to go in the first round still available when the second round began. Players such as Akil Thomas, Serron Noel, Bode Wilde, and Ryan McLeod all going in the second round. Look for these players to become big steals in the draft in the following years to come.
New York Islanders: The Islanders I would have to say as of right now, may have drafted the best as they had a fantastic draft and came out with some really good prospects. The drafted high-scoring right winger Oliver Wahlstrom with the 11th pick and nabbed defenseman Noah Dobson, who was projected to go in the top ten, with the 12th pick. They then got another steal as the drafted defenseman Bode Wilde, a guy who many thought would go in the first round, in the second round, 41st overall. The Islanders continued to draft well picking up number 2 ranked European goaltender Jakub Skarek who posted a 0.912 save percentage in 21 games, while playing in the Czech professional league, with the 72nd pick. They then in the fifth round drafted they drafted Saginaw Spirit forward Blade Jenkins who was ranked 24th among North American skaters.
Other notable teams include the Detroit Red Wings who managed to get Zadina and Veleno later then they were expected to be available, as well as defenseman Jared McIsaac. The Edmonton Oilers who picked up Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod, both later then they expected to be available and the Chicago Blackhawks who picked up two good d-men in Boqvist and Beaudin and center Jake Wise who put up some impressive numbers last season with the U.S. NTDP.
Looking to 2019:
As the 2019 draft is on its way one player to keep track of is Quinn Hughe’s brother Jack Hughes. This forward dished out 39 points in 18 games paying for the USA U-18 team in the USHL. Another skater comes from Halifax out of the QMJHL and it is 6-3 center Raphael Lavoie who scored 63 points in 68 games this season. The WHL is also looking to have a strong group of prospects lead by forwards Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge) and Payton Krebs (Kootenay) and defenseman Matthew Robertson (Vancouver).
The top European prospect right now looks to be Finnish right wing Kaapo Kakko who played six games for TPS in Finland’s top professional league and scored 55 points (25 G, 30 A) in 38 games for their for TPS in Finland’s junior division.
The top goaltender right now Spencer Knight of the U-17 NTDP who had a 0.915 save percentage in 25 games for the U-17 team and a 0.902 save percentage in 19 games for the U-18 team. Keep a watch on this guy for one scout mentioned that he hasn’t scouted a goalie like this coming up for a while.