The 2018 NHL Entry Draft was filled with a lot of really good solid NHL prospects starting with the first overall pick, Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who is being called a generational talent. Many of these players are bound to have bright futures in the NHL and the world of hockey, but which ones are set to make an NHL impact this season? Here are a few drafted in the first round that look to have the best shot of making their NHL team. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.
Rasmus Dahlin – Defense, 1st Overall, Buffalo Sabres
Not only does Dahlin have NHL ready size at 6-3 185 pounds, but he also has NHL ready skills and could slip right into Buffalo’s top defensive pair and play alongside Rasmus Ristolainen. He had 20 points (7 G, 13 A) last season for Frolunda in Sweden’s top professional league and even played two games in the 2018 Winter Olympics were he registered one assist in two appearances. The Sabres have already signed him to a three-year entry level contract and need the help on D and with elite hockey sense, look for Dahlin to make a big impact this season.
Andrei Svechnikov – Right Wing, 2nd Overall, Carolina Hurricanes
Svechnikov (6-2, 192) is an offensive threat who can make an impact and knows how to score goals. In his first season playing in the OHL for the Barrie Colts, Svechnikov amassed 40 goals and 32 assists for 72 points in just 44 games. He also has two seasons of playing in North America under his belt, as he played for Muskegon of the USHL the season prior scoring 58 points (29 G, 29 A) in 48 games. He has signed an entry level contract with the Hurricanes already, and they are in need of scoring up front and Svechnikov might be able to provide that as soon as this season.
Filip Zadina – Right Wing, 6th Overall, Detroit Red Wings
This high-scoring forward from the Czech Republic has already been signed by the Red Wings and became a steal for them as he fell to number six in the draft. Last season, his first in North America playing for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, Zadina put up an impressive 44 goals and 38 assists for 82 points in 57 games. He has NHL size at 6-0 196 pounds, plays a two hundred foot game, and has elite offensive skill that makes him a force on the ice. With Tatar no longer on the team after a trade with the Golden Knights and Zetterberg’s future uncertain, Detroit could definitely use some scoring help up front and Zadina could bring that this season.
Quinn Hughes – Defense, 7th Overall, Vancouver Canucks
At 5-10, 173 pounds, Hughes may not be the biggest guy out there, but he proves that size does not matter. Playing his rookie college season at the University of Michigan, Hughes put up 29 points (5 G, 24 A) in 37 games and played for USA during the World Championship in 2018 playing 10 games and notching two assists. With great speed and decision making abilities, along with excellence in other areas of his game, Hughes is an elite talent on the defensive end, an area the Canucks could use some help with this season. It has also been reported that Hughes is debating on whether to turn pro or spend another year at the collegiate level, pro could also mean AHL of course.
Oliver Wahlstrom – Right Wing, 11th Overall, New York Islanders
With the departure of John Tavares the Islanders need some help offensively and Wahlstrom could fit the bill as early as this season. The 6-1, 207 pound forward scored 48 goals and 46 assists for 94 points in just 62 games playing for the U.S. National U18 Team. Wahlstom has the size, skating, and skill the coaches look for and when you mix that with his confidence and hockey IQ, you can get a player that can be a real offensive threat who could really help the Islanders this season. If not, he will head to Boston College to better his game.
Keep and Eye on:
Brady Tkachuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are two other 2018 drafted players that could make their NHL teams roster this season. Tkachuk, drafted fourth overall by Ottawa, mentioned that he feels he is ready for the NHL this season. He has size at 6-3 192 pounds and plays a complete game so he could very well be on the Senators roster this season, if not he could spend another year at Boston University further developing his game. He had 31 points in 40 games in his freshman year at Boston last season.
Kotkaniemi, pick by Montréal with the third pick, is another player with NHL size (6-2, 187) that could crack the opening night roster as well. The Canadiens could use some center help and this intelligent hockey player with determination and impressive offensive skills could help them in that area as soon as this season. He spent last year playing center in the Finnish professional league scoring 29 points in 57 games, but could spend some time in the AHL, to get used to the North American game.