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.
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.
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.