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2018 Draft Players That Could Make NHL Rosters

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.

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Trending Topics in the NHL

Free Agency started just a few days ago on June 1st, and a lot big things happened on the first and second days of free agency.  John Tavares left the New York Islanders to sign a seven-year deal with Toronto, the Blues picked up forward Tyler Bozak, David Perron, and Ryan O’Reilly, several goalies switched teams, James Van Riemsdyk went back to Philadelphia (the team that drafted him) on a five year deal, and James Neal is heading to Calgary on a five-year contract.  Despite all of these different and big moves happening, there are still some things up in the air that are on NHL headlines right now.

Where will Erik Karlsson end up?

Karlsson may arguably be the best player to play for the Senators, this was something that was even stated by Senator great Daniel Alfredsson.  The Ottawa Senators drafted the Swedish defenseman 15th overall in the 2008 draft and since then he has won the James Norris Trophy for best defenseman twice, won an Olympic silver medal, named to first team all-star four times, had an 82 point in 82 games season in 2015-16, and has accumulated 126 goals and 392 assists for 518 points in just 627 games.  All of which he accomplished wearing a Senators uniform and being a captain since the 2014 season.  Karlsson currently has one year remaining on a seven-year contract and right now the question is will he sign an extension with Ottawa, or be traded to another team.  The Senators did offer Karlsson a contract extension offer, but he has also been given permission to talk to other teams.  Those teams include Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Washington Capitals.  If Karlsson decides to sign a deal with another team the Senators will have to trade him to that team and there has been much speculation that Tampa Bay is the current front runner.  Where this elite ofensive-defensman will end up is still up in the air, but in my opinion I think that there is a good chance that he will stay with Ottawa.

Will Tom Wilson re-sign with the Capitals?

Last season, his fifth with the Capitals since being drafted 16th overall in 2012, Tom Wilson set career highs in goals (14), assists (21), and points (35), while helping the Capitals win their first Stanley Cup, tallying 15 points in 21 playoff games.  The 6-4 right-winger is currently a restricted free agent (RFA) and and re-signing him is the Caps current number one focus this off-season.  The Capitals GM hopes to sign him to a long-term deal.  This young power forward is a big part of the Capitals team, often playing on the first line and being used in multiple situations, but with former head coach Barry Trotz jumping ship to the New York Islanders, you gotta wonder if Wilson might do the same, just with a different team.  My best guest though is that he stays in Washington, where he has put up 104 points in 391 games.

Top Free Agents:

There are also plenty of top players still looking for contracts for the upcoming season and leading the pack is Patrick Maroon, who had a career high 43 points last season playing for both New Jersey and Edmonton.   Maroon also had a 27 goal season in 2016-17 playing for Edmonton. Other players that have still gone unsigned are defensemen Brooks Orpik, Dan Hamhuis, and Toby Enstrom, forwards Scott Hartnell, Mark Letestu, and goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Ondrej Pavelec, among others.

NHL Free Agency Day 1 Winners

At noon on June first, NHL free agency started and day one was full of big moves and signings occurring.  To start Ryan McDonagh (Tampa Bay) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona) both singed long term contract extensions with their respective teams, seven years for McDonagh and eight years for Ekman-Larsson.  Only one trade took place today though, but it was a big one as the St. Louis Blues sent forwards Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, and Patrik Beglund and a 2019 first round pick and a 2021 second pick to Buffalo for forward Ryan, O’Reilly.  The Blues gave up quite a bit for O’Reilly in this deal and I would say that it looks like Buffalo came out on top in this one, only time will tell, but as of right now I think Buffalo made out huge with this deal.  Here are some teams that made some noise on the first day of Free Agency in no specific order.

St. Louis Blues: Outside of the trade that they made with Buffalo, the Blues were also making some noise is signing some top free agents. They signed Tyler Bozak, who has spent the past nine seasons playing with Toronto, to a 3-year $15 million contract.  The un-drafted center has tallied 365 (136 G, 229 A) points in 594 NHL games.  He is a solid two-way center with great skating ability, look for him to play an important role for the Blues next season and will most likely fill a third or second line center position.  The Blues then signed David Perron, who started his career with the Blues, from the Vegas Golden Knight, to a 4-year $16 million deal.  He has 422 (175 G, 269 A) points in 722 games and this veteran forward has great stick handling ability, creativity, playmaking ability, and can play left or right wing.  St. Louis also signed potential backup goaltender Chad Johnson, defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon to small one year contracts.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs signed arguably the most coveted free agent in center John Tavares, to a big 7-year $77 million contract.  The former first overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft has spent his entire 9 year career playing for the New York Islanders scoring 272 goals and 349 assists for 621 points in 669 games.  This is a huge signing for the up and coming Maple Leafs and they could be a dangerous team next season.  Tavares is an elite center who has excellent hockey IQ, hand/eye coordination, and just all around good.  The Leafs also signed Jordan Subban, Martin Marincin, Josh Jorris, and Adam Cracknell to one-year contracts.

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings landed Ilya Kovalchuk today to a three-year $18.75 million contract.  Kovalchuk has spent the last five seasons playing in the KHL, Russia’s top professional league, so it should be interesting to see what kind of impact he makes for the Kings this season.  Kovalchuk has 816 points (417 G, 399 A) in 816 games paying for the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils.

Las Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights signed a total of ten players today most notably Paul Stastny to a three-year $19.5 million contract.  Stastny in a veteran forward in this league playing 12 seasons with three teams and now he is on to his fourth. He has 220 goals and 426 assists for 626 points in 824 games and has elite playmaking and two-way playing abilities, as well as fantastic vision and playmaking skills.  Look for him to have a veteran presence and leadership role next season.  The Golden Knights also signed defenseman Nick Holden, forward Daniel Carr, goaltender Zachary Fucale, and others.

Other teams that made out well are:

  • The Philadelphia Flyers who signed James Van Riemsdyk to a five-year $35 million contact.
  • The New York Islanders picked up Thomas Hickey and Leo Komarov, both to four-year contracts.
  • Pittsburgh got Jack Johnson on a five year deal $16.25 million deal.
  • Boston Bruins picked up goaltender Jaroslav Halak, defenseman John Moore and seven other players including 2018 draft pick Axel Andersson.
  • Dallas Stars signed six players including Blake Comeau to three-year contract, defenseman Roman Polak to a one-year deal, and goaltender Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal.
  • Vancouver signed forwards Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel to four year contracts.

2018 CHL Import Draft – NHL Selections

The 2018 CHL Import Draft took place online on June 28.  It was the 27th CHL Import draft and the first one since 2013 to allow goalies to be selected.  In turn seven goaltenders were selected with the first goalie, Finnish net minder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, going to the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL with the third pick.  Luukonen was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.  The first player to be selected was 17 year old Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic, who played in Sweden’s top junior league last season and dished out 11 points in 5 games for Slovakia in the 2018 WJC-18.  Out of the 77 players chosen by CHL teams, six of them were drafted in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Axel Andersson – Kitchener Rangers (OHL) 51st overall, Boston Bruins 57th overall

Ranked 27th in the NHL CSS final ranking for European Skaters, this 6-0, 178 pound defenseman spent last season playing for Djurgarden Jr. in Sweden’s junior league.  He managed to tally 31 points (6 G, 25 A) in 42 games.  Axel is a solid two-way defenseman who skates and moves the puck very well and has strength on the power play.

Jan Jenik – Flint Firebirds (OHL) 6th overall, Arizona Coyotes 65th overall

This 6-1, left shot right winger was picked up by the Coyotes in the third round of the NHL draft and scored seven points in seven games playing for Liberec Jr. in the Czech Republic junior league.  He later manage to get 11 points in 30 games playing in the CZREP-2 league for Benatky N.J., earning him the 16th ranking by NHL CSS for European skaters.  He is a player with good hockey IQ and a wide range of stick handling skills.

Matej Pekar – Barrie Colts (OHL) 108th overall, Buffalo Sabres 94th overall

Pekar (6-0, 170) spent last season playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL registering 14 goals and 40 assists for 54 points in 60 games.  The left-shot center from the Czech Republic was ranked 55th in the final North American NHL CSS player rankings  and was named USHL rookie of the year.  Pekar is noted to have great work ethic, speed, and  is skilled at navigating in the offensive zone.  He is committed to Miami University (Ohio) for next season.

Ivan Prosvetov – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) 15th overall, Arizona Coyotes  114th overall

This 6-4, 170 pound goalie from Russia was ranked 14 in the final NHL CSS North American goalie rankings.  He spent last season playing for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL where he finished with a 0.913 save percentage in 36 games and a 0.921 save percentage in 10 playoff games going 7-3.  Prosvetov is a big athletic goalie who was also taken sixth overall in the 2016 KHL draft by HK Sochi.

Akira SchmidLethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) 20th overall, New Jersey Devils 136th overall

Swiss goaltender Akira Schmid (6-4, 165) was ranked sixth in the NHL CSS final rankings of goalies playing in Europe.  He played 32 games for Langnau U20 in the Elite Jr. A league in Switzerland, finishing with a 2.60 goals against average, and had a strong showing in the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament for Switzerland finishing with a 0.930 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average in three games.

Liam Kirk – Peterborough Petes (OHL) 9th overall, Arizona Coyotes 189th overall

This 6-0, 161 pound left winger became the first player born and developed in England to be drafted by an NHL team.  Ranked 65th in the final NHL European skater rankings, Kirk finished the 2017-18 season playing for Sheffield in England’s top professional league with 16 points (9 G, 7 A) in 52 games, the most by an under-18 player in EIHL history.  He looks to play in the CHL season, so expect him to come in and make an impact for the Petes.

Six players who were chosen in the 2017 NHL Entry were also picked by CHL teams, including Vegas Golden Knights first round pick Erik Brannstrom who scored 15 points while playing for HV71 in Sweden’s top professional league this past season.  He was chosen 44th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) and was the only NHL draft first round pick chosen.

Now we just have to wait to find out which of these players will play in the CHL next season.

 

 

 

 

2018 NHL Draft Analysis

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.

Draft Winner

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.

 

Complete 2018 First Round NHL Mock Draft

1. Buffalo Sabres Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frölunda (SWE)

2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)

3. Montreal Canadiens – Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

4. Ottawa Senators – Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (H-EAST)

5. Arizona Coyotes – Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)

6. Detroit Red Wings – Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas Jr. (SWE-JR)

7. Vancouver Canucks – Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

8. Chicago Blackhawks – Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat (FIN)

9. New York Rangers – Quintin Hughes, D, Michigan (BIG10)

10. Edmonton Oilers – Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL)

11. New York Islanders – Barret Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

12. New York Islanders (from Flames) – Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USA U-18 (USHL)

13. Dallas Stars – Joseph Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)

14. Philadelphia Flyers (from Blues) – Vitali Kravtsov, RW, Chelyabinsk (KHL)

15. Florida Panthers Joel Farabee, LW, USA U-18 (USHL)

16. Colorado Avalanche – Grigori Denisenko, LW, Yaroslavl 2 (RUS-JR)

17. New Jersey Devils – Bode Wilde, D, USA U-18 (USHL)

18. Columbus Blue Jackets – Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

19. Philedelphia Flyers – Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)

20. Los Angeles Kings – Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL)

21. San Jose Sharks – K’Andre Miller, D, USA U-18 (USHL)

22. Ottawa Senators (from Penguins) – Akil Thomas, C, Niagara (OHL)

23. Anaheim Ducks – Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (SWE)

24. Minnesota Wild – Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint (OHL)

25. Toronto Maple Leafs – Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (QMJHL)

26. New York Rangers (from Bruins) – Martin Kaut, RW, Pardubice (CZREP)

27. Chicago Blackhawks (from Predators) – Mattias Samuelsson, D, USA U-18 (USHL)

28. New York Rangers (from Lightning) – Dominik Bokk, RW, Vaxjo Jr. (SWE-JR)

29. St. Louis Blues (from Jets) – Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)

30. Detroit Red Wings (from Golden Knights) – Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (FIN)

31. Washington  Capitals – Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

NHL Mock Draft Picks 26-31

26. New York Rangers – Martin Kaut, RW, Pardubice (CZREP)

This 6-1, 176 pound forward played in the Czech Republic’s top professional league with men this past season, and did well, scoring nine goals and dishing out seven assists in 38 games fro Pardubice HC.  He also had a stellar showing at the WJC scoring seven points in seven games for the Czech Republic.  With exceptional speed, skating ability, an elite performances this player could be a steal at 26.

27. Chicago Blackhawks – Mattias Samuelsson, D, USA U-18 (USHL)

The Blackhawks could use some more younger prospects at the defense position and Samuelsson could fit the bill very nicely for them.  With NHL size at 6-4, 218 pounds, Samulesson plays a physical, more defensive defenseman type game and will look to hone his skills playing at Western Michigan University next season.  He had 11 goals and 31 points in 58 games last season.

28. New York Rangers – Dominik Bokk, RW, Vaxjo Jr. (SWE-JR)

Born in Germany, this defenseman had a fantastic rookie season for Vaxjo’s junior team putting up 14 goals and 27 assists for 41 points in 35 games and scored 2 points in 15 games for Vaxjo’s professional team.  This 6-1, 176 pound right shot forward is a soot first type of player who is solid on his skates could be quite the threat after taking time to develop more in Sweden’s top professional league.

29. St. Louis Blues – Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)

At 6-2 and 206 pounds McLeod already has NHL size and has shown he knows how to score after amassing 26 goals and 70 points in 68 games for Mississauga.  Modeling his game after John Tavares, with high end skating ability, hockey sense, and passing, he has all the makings to be a standout second line center for Blues.

30. Detroit Red Wings – Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (FIN)

Kupari (6-2, 189) had a fairly impressive rookie season playing in Finland’s top professional league as he ended his rookie season with six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 38 games.  He has exceptional offensive skills and skating and a right hand shot that is being compared to Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes.  He could be the steal of the draft at 29.

31. Washington Capitals – Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

Playing against men this season in Sweden’s second division, Olofsson (6-2, 189) was named the best junior age player after leading rookies with 10 goals and 21 points in 43 games this season.  He is an efficient two way player that is strong on the puck, who can play on both the power play and the penalty kill.