Sportsnet’s 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Rankings: March

Jeff Marek goes over some defenceman besides Rasmus Dahlin who could go in the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

As we get to the end of various hockey seasons things have come into a sharper focus from a scouting POV. And with some high-end players playing in the Five Nations tournament in Plymouth since we last ranked prospects we have more peer-on-peer performances and data to draw from.

One thing that hasn’t changed at all is our top position where Rasmus Dahlin will go wire-to-wire as the top-ranked prospect and will make whichever team that wins the lottery feel a whole lot better about the miserable season that got them there.

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1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds (Frolunda, SHL): Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman and now Dahlin. Are you ready for the next franchise-changing defenceman from Sweden?

2. Filip Zadina, RW, 6-foot-1, 196 pounds (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL): The Mooseheads’ import factory strikes again and sends a high-end sniper to the top of the NHL draft.

3. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, 6-foot-2, 186 pounds (Barrie Colts, OHL): Led all scorers at the Five Nations tournament and has put up points at a torrid pace with the Barrie Colts since the world juniors (38 in 22 games).

4. Brady Tkachuk, LW, 6-foot-3, 196 pounds (Boston University, NCAA): Better than older brother Matthew?

5. Adam Boqvist, D, 5-foot-11, 170 pounds (Almtuna IS, Allsvenskan): A fantastic skater and playmaker who isn’t afraid to shoot. If you don’t end up with Dahlin, getting Boqvist is more than just a consolation prize.

6. Noah Dobson, D, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds (Acadie-Bathurst Titan, QMJHL): The secret is out, this righthand shot blueliner is legit.

7. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds (USNTDP): Eight points at the Five Nations (tied with tourney leader Svechnikov) and a solid spot on the U.S U18 top line, Wahlstrom continues to produce big in his draft year.

8. Evan Bouchard, D, 6-foot-2, 193 pounds (London Knights, OHL): Despite his Knights trading away most of their vets, Bouchard has continued to excel in all areas. February’s defenceman of the month in the OHL is also a natural leader.

9. Quinn Hughes, D, 5-foot-10, 174 pounds (U of Michigan, NCAA): One of the most creative players in the draft. An outstanding skater who can create even in the most challenging situations.

10. Isac Lundestrom, C, 6-foot, 185 pounds (Lulea, SHL): As one scout told me “he’s the Swedish Patrice Bergeron.” A lofty compliment, but the comparisons are there.

11. Barrett Hayton, C, 6-foot-1, 191 pounds (Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, OHL): Extremely focussed and hard-working, Hayton is the “all-in” guy every team loves to have. Nursing a small injury and the ‘Hounds are being careful with him.

12. Joel Farabee, LW, 6-feet, 164 pounds (USNTDP): Hard-working, skilled playmaker who is magical with the puck on his stick.

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13. Bode Wilde, D, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds (USNTDP): Offensive defenceman who plays physical. Leads all USNTDP blueliners with 32 points. Hard wrist and slap shot from the point.

14. Joe Veleno, C, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL): Has excelled since the trade from Saint John to Drummondville where he’s being coached by the excellent Dominique Ducharme.

15. Grigori Denisenko, LW, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds (Yaroslavl Jr.): Great passer who also boasts a good shot. Played on the top line with Andrei Svechnikov and Alexander Khovanov for Russia at the Five Nations tourney.

16. Ty Smith, D, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds (Spokane Chiefs, WHL): Speed and smarts, those are the calling cards of the first overall pick in the 2015 WHL draft.

17. Rasmus Kupari, C, 6-foot-1, 183 pounds (Hermes, Mestis Finland): Not the biggest guy on the ice by any stretch, but can create and finish. And does it all with great bursts of speed.

18. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds (Assat, Finnish Liiga): Physically he has everything you want – skill, speed, size and he keeps improving.

19. Jet Woo, D, 5-foot-11, 205 pounds (Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL): Has more than a bit of ‘old school’ in his game and isn’t afraid to throw the body around.

20. Rasmus Sandin, D, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL): Even with the Conor Timmins (COL) injury the ‘Hounds have not skipped a beat on the blue line mainly due to Sandin’s work. Plays tough minutes in all situations.

21. Jared McIsaac, D, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL): Good skater with offensive instincts and has just enough bite in his game to keep players honest.

22. Serron Noel, RW, 6-foot-5, 201 pounds (Oshawa Generals, OHL): Skilled yet raw power forward who keeps getting better and better.

23. Ryan McLeod, C, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL): A slippery and skilled centre, McLeod has high-end vision. As one OHL GM told me “where his brother Michael (NJ) smashes down the front door to score, Ryan sneaks in through the side.”

24. Alexander Khovanov, C, 5-foot-11, 179 pounds (Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL): Great puck distributor with excellent vision.

25. Jacob Olofsson, C, 6-foot-1, 192 pounds (Timra, Allsvenskan): A reliable two-way centre who almost made the Swedish WJC team. Plays a lot with Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen.

26. Ryan Merkley, D, 5-foot-11, 170 pounds (Guelph Storm, OHL): Has top 5 skill without a doubt and can complete plays other blueliners only dream about, but other areas of his game have scouts concerned.

27. Benoit Olivier-Groulx, C, 6-foot-1, 192 pounds (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL): No surprise he’s a coach’s dream as a player since his father Benoit is one of the best CHL bench bosses of this generation.

28. Dominik Bokk, LW, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds (Vaxjo, SHL): Another great hockey story for Germany in 2018.

29. Akil Thomas, C, 5-foot-11, 170 pounds (Niagara IceDogs, OHL): Huge ceiling here that Thomas is only now starting to scratch.

30. K’Andre Miller, D, 6-foot-3, 206 pounds (USNTDP): Was outstanding and probably the top U.S defenceman at the U18 Five Nations. Great skating blueliner who isn’t shy about joining the rush.

31. Mattias Samuelsson, D, 6-foot-4, 217 pounds (USNTDP): Big, strong, and safe defenceman. Son of former NHLer Kjell Samuelsson.

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