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2018 NHL Draft: Way Too Early Reactions to the 1st Round

The first round of the 2018 NHL Draft has come and gone. These are immediate— and way too early— reactions to each pick from the first round of the draft.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The first round of the 2018 NHL Draft has come and gone. 31 prospects are now with NHL teams and in the process I collected my thoughts as each pick rolled through.

The Buffalo Sabres select Rasmus Dahlin, D, with the 1st pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

HEY-EY-EY-EY! A franchise altering moment for the Sabres. Whatever player comparison you prefer, Dahlin will not disappoint.

The Carolina Hurricanes select Andrei Svechnikov, RW, with the 2nd pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Another no-brainer pick at the top of the draft. Svechnikov is a stellar prospect that was so incredible to watch in the Ontario Hockey League last season. Any way he could, he was going to be creating a scoring chance on the ice.

The Montreal Canadiens select Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, with the 3rd pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

This is the first pick in the draft that was up for debate and the Habs offered up another debate with this selection. While Kotkaniemi is a center that does fill a need that Montreal, but Filip Zadina would have been a much better pick for the Canadiens. Some project Kotkaniemi to be a 2nd line center where as Zadina could become an elite NHL scorer.

The Ottawa Senator select Brady Tkachuk, LW, with the 4th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

Tkachuk is given a lot of flack. Some is deserved and some is out of line, but Tkachuk is a force on the ice and does have offensive skill. Does lack skating ability that other elite forwards have.

The Arizona Coyotes select Barrett Hayton, C, with the 5th pick

Immediate Reaction: Meh

The first big shocker of the night goes to the Arizona Coyotes as they reach a little bit with the Hayton selection. Their center depth does improve here, but with Zadina still on the board some would say the Yotes miss out on a great scorer.

Hayton is a great two-way center in his own right. The Yotes do get a prospect that has skill with the puck and can help out in many other ways in the offensive and defensive zone.

The Detroit Red Wings select Filip Zadina, RW, with the 6th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Zadina is finally selected with the sixth pick. A great shot and great hands that can really do some damage from the perimeter or from the slot.

The Vancouver Canucks select Quinn Hughes, D, with the 7th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

The Canucks get a absolute gift with Quinn Hughes at seventh overall. I am almost jealous of the idea of Hughes and Pettersson attacking with West for years to come, but then I think about Dahlin and Eichel and I am not so jealous anymore.

The Chicago Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist, D, with the 8th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Adam Boqvist at eighth overall is great value for the Blackhawks. Boqvist possesses a great combo of IQ and skill. Boqvist is only 17, as well, so he should be making quick and smart decisions for years to come for the Hawks.

The New York Rangers select Vitali Kravtsov, RW, with the 9th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

While Kravtsov is somewhat one dimensional, he does project as an elite scorer. However, with Wahlstrom on the board it does seem a bit surprising they did not go with a more complete player.

The Edmonton Oilers select Evan Bouchard, D, with the 10th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard were still on the board for a team that had been reportedly shopping the 10th overall pick for a NHL defenseman, so it is not a total loss for the Oilers. Bouchard has soft hands and really dishes out the puck well from the point. Dobson is more of a scorer but nonetheless, the Oilers get a quality right-handed defenseman.

The New York Islanders select Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, with the 11th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

This is an absolute steal at 11th overall. Arguably the best scorer in the draft, Wahlstrom has a fantastic shot, can make some great moves with the puck and decent skater.

The New York Islanders select Noah Dobson, D, with the 12th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

A top two-way defenseman that can score, play a great defensive game and has mobility at 12th overall is a fantastic pick. Back-to-back after Wahlstrom only makes it sweeter.

The Dallas Stars select Ty Dellandrea, C, with the 13th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

A big surprise at 13th with Ty Dellandrea to the Stars. A very good two-way that is hard on the forecheck and can set up plays, too. A little off the board, but the Stars should get a very underrated player here.

The Philadelphia Flyers select Joel Farabee, LW, with the 14th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Another underrated skater goes in the middle of the draft in Farabee. Has tons of skill and a great sense of intelligence with and without the puck.

The Florida Panthers select Grigori Denisenko, LW, with the 15th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Sneaky good pick by the Panthers at 15. A great skater with speed, deception and playmaking ability. Overly aggressive at times, but works well on the forecheck and attacking loose pucks around the crease.

The Colorado Avalanche select Martin Kaut, RW, with the 16th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

Martin Kaut is a safe pick at 16. A two-way winger that is responsible and smart. Makes some really impressive decision with the puck under duress and in in transition.

The New Jersey Devils select Ty Smith, D, with the 17th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

An undersized defenseman is off the board again with the Ty Smith selection to the Devils. Great value for the Devils. They get a defenseman with tremendous skating ability, a quarterback at the point, and responsible coming back into his own zone.

The Columbus Blue Jackets select Liam Foudy, C, with the 18th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

Speed is the name of the game with Foudy. Straight line and acceleration are off the charts and he shows commitment to the forecheck. With Joe Veleno and Dominik Bokk still on the board, there could have been an opportunity to add a scorer with the pick.

The Philadelphia Flyers select Jay O’Brien, C, with the 19th pick

Immediate Reaction: Meh

O’Brien is a great player and a great competitor but lacks skill to convince that he is a first round pick.

The Los Angeles Kings select Rasmus Kupari, C, with the 20th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

A creative and crafty player that can beat defenders outside. There are questions about his upside on his offense and whether or not he can develop into a finisher. Kupari brings speed to a roster that needs it.

The San Jose Sharks select Ryan Merkley, D, with the 21st pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

This is a pick that is going to be considered a questionable pick. Merkley’s maturity has been seen and reported on, but his skill and value to the Guelph Storm is not in question. Tremendous skill in the offensive zone and should be a great fit in San Jose.

The New York Rangers trade up to select K’Andre Miller, D, with the 22nd pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

The Rangers traded the 26th pick and the 48th pick to the Ottawa Senators to select defenseman K’Andre Miller. A bold, but smart move here for the Rangers. A terrific skater with great offensive upside.

The Anaheim Ducks select Isac Lundestrom, C, with the 23rd pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

A safe pick here from the Ducks. Strong two-way center with great puck skills. Anaheim has always shown a knack for drafting and do so again here,

The Minnesota Wild select Filip Johansson, D, with the 24th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

A little off the board here with Johansson. A good skater and two-way defenseman, but does not have a dominant aspect of his game. An all around good player but not very flashy. Nothing to be ashamed of in this pick.

The St. Louis Blues trade up to select Dominik Bokk, RW, with the 25th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

The Toronto Maple Leafs trade their 25th overall pick to the Blues for the 29th pick and the 76th overall pick.

This is a tremendous selection. A quick moving, deceptive, and impressive offensive player that has an unbelievable pair of mitts. Makes some quick moves with his hands and feet. A raw talent, but can develop into something special.

The Ottawa Senators select Jacob Bernard-Docker, D, with the 26th pick

Immediate Reaction: OK pick

A bit of a reach at 26, but still a strong pick. A smooth skating defenseman that has a really great shot from the point. Great in transition and makes a very good first pass up ice. A good chance Bernard-Docker could have been available later in the draft. An opportunity to grab another playmaker here, but still come out with a good prospect in JBD.

The Chicago Blackhawks select Nicolas Beaudin, D, with the 27th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

It is a bit surprising that the first prospect off the board from Drummondville is Beaudin, but nonetheless the Blackhawks do get a very good two-way defenseman that brings speed and IQ in the offensive zone. The Blackhawks do have a need for defensemen, but a little surprising that Bode Wilde is still there for the taking.

The New York Rangers select Nils Lundkvist, D, with the 28th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Another surprising, but good pick for a defenseman. Wilde stays in the stands while Lundkvist goes to the Rangers. He is a fast moving defenseman that has the potential to develop some great offensive skills.

The Toronto Maple Leafs select Rasmus Sandin, D, with the 29th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Four defensemen in a row that have great offensive instincts. Sandin is a great pick here especially since the Leafs traded down. Great vision on the ice and in transition. Crafty in the offensive zone and controls the game from the point.

The Detroit Red Wings select Joe Veleno, C, with the 30th pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

Joe Veleno finally gets off the board in the first round. Veleno is an all-around great center that plays with speed and competitiveness. Could find himself in the NHL very soon. Great value at 30 for the Red Wings.

The Washington Capitals select Alexander Alexeyev, D, with the 31st pick

Immediate Reaction: Good pick

I have made my allegiance to the Alexander Alexeyev bandwagon well known so I will keep this as unbiased as possible.

The Capitals get a defenseman that makes big plays in all three zones. Good offensive upside, slick hands, aggressive, big hits, good stick in the offensive zone. Great pick to close out the 1st round.


The Sabres hold the first pick in the second round, barring any trades, and there are some very good players still available for the taking. It should be an exciting day league wide.

To finish off my reactions, I will leave a list of players the Sabres should target with the 32nd pick:

  1. Jonathan Tychonick, D, Penticton (BCHL)
  2. Bode Wilde, D, US18 (USNDTP)
  3. Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
  4. Jonathan Berggren, LW, Skelleftea J20 (Superelit)
  5. Filip Hallander, C, Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
  6. Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
  7. Akil Thomas, C, Niagara (OHL)

Each prospect has a report on them in my rankings by position: C, W, D