In a little over a month, the hockey world will gather for the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas. The Buffalo Sabres hold the top pick in the draft, but after the obvious selection of Rasmus Dahlin, things have the potential to get interesting.
This will be the first of a few mock drafts I put together leading up to the draft. I also want to say that this is NOT how I have the players ranked. I based the selections on need and fight of the particular team.
1. Buffalo Sabres | Rasmus Dahlin - D - Frolunda (SHL)
This one doesn’t require a lot of explanation. Dahlin’s the unquestioned top pick in this draft and exactly what the Sabres need to begin to turn things around.
2. Carolina Hurricanes | Brady Tkachuk - LW - Boston University (NCAA)
Now is a good time to again state this is not a how I have the players ranked. In fact, I have Tkachuk as the eighth best player available on my board. With how poorly things have gone for the Hurricanes over the last month, I can see this being the next mistake they make. In my opinion, Andrei Svechnikov is the clear pick here.
Also, their new general manager Don Waddell has worked in many different roles for USA Hockey throughout his career. I could see them taking the big American power forward.
3. Montreal Canadiens | Andrei Svechnikov - RW - Barrie Colts (OHL)
Marc Bergevin should send the Hurricanes a Christmas card to the Hurricanes every year if the top three falls this way. Svechnikov is a dynamic scoring winger that’ll score 30-40 goals in the NHL. He can step right into the Habs lineup next season.
4. Ottawa Senators | Filip Zadina - LW - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The bigger need for the Senators is probably a defenseman, but a scoring winger with this talent is something the Sens can’t pass over. Perhaps Ottawa could explore trading back if they really want defense, but with no trades in this mock, this is the pick.
5. Arizona Coyotes | Adam Boqvist - D - Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)
If the Coyotes can figure out a way to keep Oliver Ekman-Larsson, they could have a very dynamic blue line in a few years with OEL, Jakob Chychrun and Boqvist.
6. Detroit Red Wings | Quinn Hughes - D - Michigan University (NCAA)
The Red Wings go with the defenseman from the Michigan school. They need help for their aging defense and Hughes can absolutely provide that with his offensive upside.
7. Vancouver Canucks | Oliver Wahlstrom - C/LW - US National Team U18 (USDP)
This is an absolute steal for the Canucks at seven. Wahlstrom is a top-five pick in my mind and one of the best scorers in the draft. Canucks get the center that they really need in their pipeline.
8. Chicago Blackhawks | Evan Bouchard - D - London Knights (OHL)
The Blackhawks have rarely found themselves with a top 10 pick in recent years. Bouchard isn’t too far away from the NHL and is good at both ends of the ice. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are on the back ends of their careers.
9. New York Rangers | Noah Dobson - D - Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Rangers hold three first round picks thanks to their activity at the trade deadline. They use the first to bolster the defense with Dobson.
10. Edmonton Oilers | Ty Smith - D - Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
The run on defense continues with the Oilers. They could have gone forward here, but I think their need for defense is huge. Adding Smith with his skating ability, as well as his offensive skill set, should mesh well with Connor McDavid in the future.
11. New York Islanders | Joseph Veleno - C - Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
This is the first of back to back picks for the Islanders. Veleno is a solid two-way center that can fill the void in the future that’ll likely be left by the departure of John Tavares.
12. New York Islanders (via Calgary Flames) | Bode Wilde - D - US National Team U18 (UNDP)
After grabbing a forward, the Islanders pick up a defenseman for their system. Wilde is a big solid defender out of the US National Development program. This could be a little early for him, but I think he’ll rise up boards as the draft approaches.
13. Dallas Stars | Joel Farabee | LW - US National Team U18 (UNDP)
The Stars go with scoring winger Farabee. He’s a quick forward that scored 76 points in 62 games while wearing the “C” for the U18 USA National Team. He’ll fit right in on the wing with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin down the road.
14. Philadelphia Flyers (via St. Louis Blues) | Rasmus Kupari - C - Karpat (Liiga)
Kupari is a very skilled center from Finland. He may have some the best hands in the draft. The Flyers are stacked at defense in their system, so they use this pick to bolster their depth at center.
15. Florida Panthers | Barrett Hayton - C - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
The Panthers grab Hayton here to try to get some depth at center behind Aleksander Barkov. This pick will go nice with their selection of Owen Tippett last year.
16. Colorado Avalanche | Jesperi Kotkaniemi - C - Assat (Liiga)
The second Finnish forward to come off the board in the last three picks. After addressing defense with Cale Makar last year, the Avalanche go with Kotkaniemi who has a great shot that allowed him to score 10 goals in the Finnish league as a 17-year-old.
17. New Jersey Devils | Isac Lundestrom - C/LW - Lulea HF (SHL)
Some help for Taylor Hall in the future. Lundestrom is a nice offensive talent out of Sweden, could use some work defensively.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets | Grigori Denisenko - LW - Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Denisenko is a highly skilled forward that would probably go higher if he wasn’t Russian and in the KHL.
19. Philadelphia Flyers | Martin Kaut - RW - HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic)
The Flyers are back again to bolster their prospect pool in the forward ranks. Like Martin Necas last year, I think Kaut will be another riser as the draft gets closer. He doesn’t get a lot of looks playing in the Czech league. Had a good showing in the World Juniors with seven points in seven games.
20. Los Angeles Kings | K’Andre Miller - D - US National Team U18 (USDP)
Miller is the fourth player from the US National team to go in the top 20. The big defender will head to the University of Wisconsin next season.
21. San Jose Sharks | Jared McIsaac - D - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
A little run on defensemen in the back part of the draft. McIsaac was considered one of the top prospects heading into the season. After a tough year he drops into the back half of the draft.
22. Ottawa Senators (via Pittsburgh Penguins) | Rasmus Sandin - D - Rogle BK (SHL)
Sandin was loaned to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in October from Rogle. He had a great season with 45 points in 51 games. A nice add to the Senators prospect pool as they prepare for the possible departure of Erik Karlsson.
23. Anaheim Ducks | Ryan McLeod - C - Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
The speedy center had a good year in juniors scoring 26 goals and 70 points in 68 games for the Steelheads.
24. Minnesota Wild | Akil Thomas - C - Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Thomas put up a ton of points for the Ice Dogs with 81 in 68 games. He’ll add his playmaking ability to the Wild’s prospect pool that needs some talent after Minnesota didn’t have a first or second round pick last year.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs | Ryan Merkley - D - Guelph Storm (OHL)
Merkley is a dynamic offensive defenseman that has dropped down the board due to some off-ice concerns. This pick may make some Sabres fans on this site squirm, but a good late round pickup for the Leafs.
26. New York Rangers (via Boston Bruins) | Benoit-Oliver Groulx - C - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
With their second of three first-round picks the Rangers grab the highly skilled French-born center Groulx.
27. Chicago Blackhawks (via Nashville Predators) | Ty Dellandrea - C - Flint Firebirds (OHL)
The Blackhawks use their second first-round pick they got from the Ryan Hartman trade to add some depth at center with Dellandrea.
28. (unconfirmed slot) New York Rangers (via Tampa Bay Lightning) | Serron Noel - RW - Oshawa Generals (OHL)
With their third and final pick of the first round the Rangers grab a scoring winger in Noel.
29. (unconfirmed slot) Detroit Red Wings (via Vegas Golden Knights) | Jett Woo - D - Moosejaw Warriors
With their second first-round pick, this one via the Tomas Tatar trade, the Red Wings grab another defenseman in Woo.
30. (unconfirmed slot) St. Louis Blues (via Winnipeg Jets) | Alexander Alexeyev - D - Red Deer Rebels
The Blues use the first round pick they received from the Paul Stastny to grab the solid two-way defenseman.
31. (unconfirmed slot) Washington Capitals | Vitali Kravtsov - RW - Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
The Caps add another scoring Russian to their prospect pool. The big winger his highly skilled and could develop into a nice piece down the road.
32. Buffalo Sabres | Dominik Bokk - RW - Vaxjo (SHL)
I figured I’d add the Sabres first pick of the second round since this is a Sabres site after all. Bokk is a talented German-born winger that is a good skater as well.