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2018 NHL Draft: Defense Rankings

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Before the 2018 NHL Draft starts, Die by the Blade shares a brief ranking of the best available at each position. This time with the defense

United States v Sweden: Semifinals - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The rankings continue, this time with the blue line. It is a deep position this year with big names that could make an NHL impact very soon.

#1.) Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (SHL)

What more is there to say? The kid was turning heads at the professional level as a 16 year old, offensively and defensively. I AM EXCITED!

#2.) Adam Boqvist, Brynas IF J20 (Superelit)

A high quality offensive defenseman that jumps into play with his quick feet and his tremendous stickhandling ability. Can create turnovers and turn them into solid transitions. Carries a big-time shot from the point, but also moves well at the blue line in order to quarterback a powerplay.

#3.) Quinn Hughes, Michigan (NCAA)

Skating and vision make Hughes stand out the most. Smooth stride and a great sense of when to jump into play or what openings to attack. Carries the puck on his stick with a pair of silky hands that create so much space. Possesses a decent stick in the defensive zone that can cause turnovers.

#4.) Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Another defender that is a terrific skater. Uses his strong stride and quick cuts to join the rush. Covers his angles in transition really well. Crisp and accurate passes that find teammates or the open spaces that lead to scoring chances. An force on the powerplay.

#5.) Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

A two-way defender that makes plays as a shooter and as a defensive body coming back. Good first pass and vision to see openings for the taking. Works his gaps well if in a position ahead of the oncoming attack.

#6.) Evan Bouchard, London Knights (OHL)

Smooth skating two-way defender with a very large frame at 6’2” and 196 lbs. Effortless passes that find the tape without harm. Fantastic vision moving up in play whether it starts at his own red line or at the point. A smooth skater, but does lack the speed that other top defenders in the draft have.

#7.) Bode Wilde, U-18 (USNDTP)

Bode Wilde is a defender that, despite his size, has a pretty stride and gets up and down the ice with some speed. Exciting to watch him carry the puck and see what defenders he is going to embarrass with a creative play. Makes decisions that can be costly, but has the skill and speed to get back to cover.

#8.) Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Sandin in transition is a delight. Great first pass and knows when to come into the play to convert on a scoring opportunity. Can carry the puck into play for a controlled zone entry as well. Quick feet and hands can beat lagging defenders easily.

#9.) Alexander Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Big time players make big time plays and that is exactly what Alexeyev can offer. A absurd move at the blueline leading to a scoring chance, a big hit at the other end, Gets coverage moving on the powerplay and even creates some clutch scoring chances. Positioning at both ends of the ice is solid. Covers gaps and slides with deception to take advantage of lapses in coverage.

#10.) Jonny Tychonick, Penticton Vees (BCHL)

A playmaking defender that buzzes around the rink. Can control a zone entry and take it to the outside, make a crisp first pass into open space, or can spring a forward into open position using his speed and hands. Careful in what he decides to do with the puck but makes the correct decision more often than not.

#11.) K’Andre Miller, U-18 (USNDTP)

Powerful two-way defenseman that takes care of his own end well. Interrupts odd-man rushes and scoring chances in front. Can then get the puck out in transition with a safe pass or using his legs. A decent first pass along with good vision at the point.

#12.) Ryan Merkley. Guelph Storm (OHL)

Ignoring the issues that have been highlighted recently for a moment, Ryan Merkley is a treat to watch in the offensive zone. Quick and deceptive stickhandling along with pivots at the point that result in an easy look at a scoring chance. Can make the set-up pass to the flank, or hesitate the man in the slot for a shot on net. That being said, there are times when Merkley does have a lackadaisical effort when getting back to his own end among other reports of effort.

#13.) Jett Woo, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

The best name in the draft is a two-way defender that controls the pace of play. Despite only producing 25 points in 44 games at the junior level, Woo does find himself on the offensive attack often. Carries the puck with patience and executes the next pass smoothly. A steady and consistent option at the point.

#14.) Jared McIssac, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Great senses in his own zone when it comes to gap control and controlling angles. Gets the first pass out quick and clean. Has the ability to take the puck out of trouble himself. Joins the rush from time to time.

#15.) Mattias Samuelsson, U-18 (USNDTP)

A creative and physical skater on the blueline and in his own zone. A powerful defenseman on offense with a blistering shot from the point. Powerful legs that can propel him into a controlled zone entry.

#16.) Calen Addison, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

A exciting offensive defenseman that was a true playmaker for the Hurricanes this past season. 65 points in 68 games due to his aggressive offensive mind that starts from his transitions at his own end and comes to fruition in the offensive zone where his agility and dekes open the zone for his passing to take over.

#17.) Nicolas Beaudin, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

A transition defender that stands out with his skating ability and his vision. Carries the puck in the neutral zone and into the offensive zone with confidence. Can quarterback a powerplay. Soft touches into uncovered gaps that result in scoring chances.

#18.) Danila Galenyuk, SKA-1946 (MHL)

A decent skater that can take care of his own end well. Physical in the slot as well as at the perimeter. Fires a heavy shot but can also find his wingers. Not an exciting defender, but gets the job done.

#19.) Kevin Bahl. Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

A shutdown guy that towers over the rest of the skaters on the ice. The 6’6”, 216 lb. British Columbia native plays a physical game but also contributes on offense when needed. Not the best skater but covers a lot of ground based on his reach.

#20.) Nils Lundkvist, Lulea (SHL)

Fast moving even in the offensive zone. Controls the game when on the ice. Plays his best hockey when the puck is on his stick. Uses his great stride and passing to beat defenses on the outside. Needs to work on his defensive zone positioning.

#21.) Adam Ginning, Linkoping J20 (Superelit)

Another large defensive defenseman at the bottom of the list. Plays a very physical game and is in-your-face constantly. Can be surprisingly agile and creative at the point from time to time.

#22.) Jacob Bernard-Docker, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)

A fluid skater that puts pucks on net. Sets up scoring chances from the point thanks to vision and accurate passing. Likes to play up and can get caught because of that. Committed to North Dakota where he can develop a physical aspect to his game making him a very intriguing prospect on the back end.

#23.) Filip Johansson, Leksands J20 (Superelit)

Strong in transition as he makes a good first pass but can get the puck to the outside. Holds his own in the defensive area. Good sense of gap control. Uses his shot often.

#24.) Ondrej Buchtela, Kadan (WSM-Liiga)

Strongest asset to Buchtela’s game is his power. Shown in his skating and in his physicality. Closes the gap appropriately and covers angles down low well.

#25.) Martin Fehervary, Oskarshamm (Allsvenskan)

A very good skater that showcases that asset to his game. Can go outside on the rush and beat defenders using his strength on the puck. Strong in the neutral zone and transition. A consistent first pass that find his help nine times out of 10. Can fire the puck from the point, too.