Evan Bouchard’s Pro-Style Game Is Allowing Him to Find Great Success In His Draft Season

A great draft season can allow a prospect to skyrocket up draft rankings, dramatically increasing their final draft position. Evan Bouchard has taken full advantage of that, and has solidified himself as a member of the consensus top 10 for the upcoming draft.

Bouchard, a defender for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), also holds the title of captain, a role typically reserved for 19 and 20 year old prospects that have already been selected by NHL teams. However, Bouchard’s maturity and leadership allowed him to seize control of the captaincy at the age of 18 after the Knights gutted their roster to kick off a rebuild, moving out their top four scorers, including St. Louis Blues top prospect Robert Thomas, the 20th pick in last year’s draft.

Bouchard has held a crucial role for the Knights this season, drawing top minutes at 5v5 and on the penalty kill all while also serving as the team’s power play QB. He has earned OHL Defenceman of the Month honours three times this year, being recognized in November, December, and February.

A large amount of London’s offence runs through Bouchard. At this time, London has scored 219 goals, and Evan Bouchard has registered a point on 83 of them, good for an involvement % of 38%. It’s very impressive for a player to be involved in over a third of his team’s goals, but for Bouchard, achievements like that are just as much of a part of a normal day as swallowing. In fact, like swallowing, Bouchard probably barely even notices that he does these things.

The right hand shot leads the OHL in points by a defenceman, a truly incredible feat for a draft-eligible player that has not been accomplished since 2013-14, when Anthony DeAngelo took the crown prior to be drafted 19th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Expect even better things from Bouchard than we have seen from DeAngelo. Bouchard brings defensive profiency to the table, something DeAngelo never had, as well as a clean slate in terms of off-ice issues.

DeAngelo was suspended once by his junior team, the Sarnia Sting, for abuse of a teammate, and was forced to sit out more games later that season after directing a racial slur at a referee, and was suspended another time the next year after another verbal altercation with an official. On top of that, he was also benched multiple times due to character issues during his time with the Syracuse Crunch, AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now, four years after being drafted, DeAngelo finds himself with the Hartford Wolfpack, and is a prospect of the New York Rangers, who are already his 3rd team. He passed through Arizona after being originally traded by the Lightning for a second round pick, just a few years after they originally used a first round selection.

Like I said before, expect none of that from Bouchard, who carries no off-ice issues, and has already demonstrated leadership capabilities as captain of his team.

Despite his point totals, the most impressive aspect of Bouchard’s play this season has been his ability to generate shots. He sits 2nd in shots in the entire OHL out of all skaters, including forwards years older than him. His ability to get shots through from the point, a valuable skill, is world-class. Erik Karlsson has mastered this, and it is part of why he’s the best defenceman in the world.

Being able to force pucks through to the net can generate countless scoring oppurtunities for a team, and it doesn’t take a genius to recognize why. For the majority of these types of shots, there are four to five bodies in between the shot location and the net. If the shot makes it through, that is a lot of moving objects for the goalie to keep track of, making it difficult for him to follow and react to the puck. To further complicate things for the netminder, the puck will often hit these players, changing its direction. Combine all of these factors, and you’ve got a shot with a good chance of bekng a very difficult stop for the goaltender.

Bouchard is very good at creating these shots. As we can see from the heat map above, via prospect-stats.com, the majority of Bouchard’s shots come from the centre and right point, where Bouchard plays as a right handed defenceman.

There are a few things that Bouchard does very well that allow him to avoid having his shots blocked or deflected wide.

Screenshot lifted from https://youtu.be/ksi13vyhK40

In this situation, Bouchard does two things very well that help him get the shot through and score a goal. First of all, he walks the puck in after initially recieving the pass just in front of the blueline. He recognizes that by doing so, he has a higher percentage of scoring on the shot because it will come from closer to the net. Then, once he does that, he winds up for his shot and picks his head up, searching for lanes to shoot through. There aren’t many players seperating him from the net, making it easy for a player of Bouchard’s calibre to put a hard shot at the net.

On top of his shooting ability, Bouchard also possesses impressive puckmoving skills. He utilizes the same “heads up” awareness while moving the puck up ice as he does when shooting, and this, coupled with strong passing, allows him to control the transition game, quickly headmanning the puck to his teammates. Like many defenders, Bouchard uses the net as a tool to give his teammates time to set up for a breakout, but is better than most when it comes to actually leaving the safety of the trapezoid and skating the puck forwards. Unlike other defencemen in this draft, he isn’t one to go end to end, preferring to defer to his forwards to enter the offensive zone. This is the same mindset possesed by most NHL rearguards, and should also lead to a faster transition to the NHL.

This is just one of several aspects of Bouchard’s game that emulates the pros.

Bouchard’s on-ice decision making is very similar to that of an NHL defenceman. He takes calculated risks both offensively and defensively; sometimes he will rush the puck, but only if a clear lane is available. He’ll pinch down the wall when an opposing forward has his back turned, but not when the opponent has a good chance at beating him. Defensively, he’ll aggressively attack a foe when they have their head down or the puck in their skates, but when they don’t, he’ll stick to the defensive system of his team.

Most draft eligible defencemen that have a similar offensive impact to Bouchard lack a lot of ability defensively. However, we have already established that Bouchard is unlike most. He is very much a “two-way” defender, and can be relied upon to shut down top forwards, as he has been trusted to do already with the London Knights. He is still susceptible to defensive mistakes at times; getting drawn out of position seems to be the most prevelant. However, it’s unlikely that that will carry over to the NHL. Expect it to be cleaned up somewhere during the transition to the NHL.

That transition shouldn’t take long for Bouchard. Although he very likely will not have an immediate NHL impact, expect Bouchard to be one of the first defencemen of this draft to reach the big stage.

Rasmus Dahlin, the Swedish defenceman set to be selected 1st overall in June, already possesses 82 games of experience playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League, the top men’s circuit in Sweden. At 6’2 and 183 lbs, he should be able to jump into the NHL next year. After him, the 2nd defender to make it could very well be Bouchard. The other four defencemen with a chance to go in the top 10; Adam Boqvist (5’11, 170 lbs) Quinn Hughes (5’10, 174 lbs), Ty Smith (5’10, 174 lbs) and Noah Dobson (6’3, 179 lbs) are all less physically mature as Bouchard, who is 6’2, 193 lbs and can already grow more facial hair than Sidney Crosby.

Evan will need another year in the OHL to continue to add to his already large frame and finetune his defensive play. After accomplishing that, he should be able to forego his final year of OHL eligibility to jump straight to the top level of professional play, where he should be able to assume a somewhat sheltered role on a team’s blueline as well as the QB role on their second powerplay unit. As he adjusts to the NHL, his ice time and role should increase until he holds a spot on the top pairing and powerplay unit.

The future is bright for Bouchard, who could easily become one of the top two-way defencemen in the league. He projects to be selected somewhere in the 6-10 range at the draft this June. Propeled by his steady, two-way play, whatever team gets him should be back in the playoffs in no time.

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Filip Zadina Has Elite Dual-Threat Potential

It’s what seperates the great from the good, and the drivers from the driven.

In hockey, there are two main ways to individually generate offence: shooting or passing. Most players generally rely on one of the two to create oppurtunities, and can be seperated into two categories accordingly: players that typically rely on shooting are categorized as goal scorers, while the athletes with a pass first mentality are grouped as playmakers. But not everyone can be easily divided. The best players are harder to sort. The Connor McDavid’s and the Sidney Crosby’s, can’t be put into just one section, because they excel at both. These players, commonly referred to as dual-threats, are the elite, the ones that can drive a top scoring line, and carry the complimentary player’s that do fit into those two categories.

Filip Zadina, ranked #3 for the 2018 NHL Draft, projects to be one of those sniper-playmaker combos.

Zadina is a great skater, and his hockey IQ is sky high, but his biggest goal scoring asset is his shot. He can snipe, both from a stationary position and on the rush. Zadina has 35 goals in 42 games this season, good for 0.83 goals per game. He generates plenty of shots from the shot, as evident from this shot map from Prospect-Stats, where all statistics and shot maps used in this post are from (as of Feb 11).

*Green squares are goals, orange squares are shots

The shots are mostly sprinkled around the slot area, meaning that Zadina puts himself in good spots to score. The slot is the most dangerous place on the ice. Shots from that area, referred to as “high danger shots,” go in just over 20% of the time, while medium (~9%) and low (~3%) danger shots go in far less often. This means that players that generate a lot of high danger shots should score more goals, and in most cases, they do.

Top 5, NHL 5v5 Goals-Sh/GP

  1. Nikita Kucherov-3.45
  2. Auston Matthews-3.06
  3. William Karlsson-2.16
  4. Alex Ovechkin-4.13
  5. Anders Lee-2.46

The more established three goal scorers (Kucherov, Matthews and Ovechkin), are all over 3 shots per game, while Karlsson and Lee, who are new to the top 5, are in the 2-3 range. This is a sign that they won’t become mainstays as top goal scorers. It’s more likely that they are just getting lucky, and a lot of their shots are going in right now. Getting plenty of shots is key to scoring plenty of goals, so players that don’t get a lot of shots are usually just riding luck and a hot streak. We’ll go with the established scorers, and say that the benchmark for a consistent scorer is 3 shots per game.

So far in the QMJHL this season, Zadina has 4.3, well over the benchmark. Obviously, it’s easier to get shots in the QMJHL than it is in the NHL, but even if he loses a shot a game somewhere during the transition, he’ll still be on par with the NHL’s top goal scorers in shots per game.

He’ll be on par with them in goals scored as well. The combination of speed, skill and smarts that he brings will be too good for him not to score 30+ goals a season.

Nikita Kucherov played his draft plus one season in the QMJHL, the same league that Filip Zadina is suiting up in in his draft year. A year older than Zadina, Kucherov scored 0.88 goals per game. Zadina has put up 0.8 so far this season, very similar, at a younger age. Zadina’s goal scoring statistics are on track with Kucherov, an elite goal scorer.

Goal scoring is only one part of a dual threat player. The other is playmaking, something that Zadina is nearly as good at as he is at scoring.

There are 3 key components of an elite NHL playmaker: vision, passing skill and the ability to open up passing lanes.

Vision is a player’s ability to find open teammates. Players with elite vision are able to find open linemates that don’t appear to be in their sightline. Zadina has that ability. He makes passes that leaves scouts wondering “How’d he see him?”

His overall passing ability is very good. He delivers crisp, tape to tape passes, and has a good understanding of the saucer pass. He knows how and when to elevate the puck, and he uses it to make passes when the defender has good stick positioning.

The future Czech star uses his patience and poise to wait for passing lanes to open up, and if they don’t, he does it himself, changing speeds, making sharp turns, and throwing in the occasional head fake to open up a cross ice pass.

He checks all the boxes of an elite playmaker, and barring a major developmental issue, he will be.

Filip Zadina has all the makings of a dual threat star, with elite goal scoring and playmaking ability. The Czech winger will be a star, and will have a huge impact on the NHL, the fortunes of the team that drafts him, and the Czech international hockey program. His combination of scoring and playmaking skill is rare, and the lucky team that drafts him will be thrilled to have that combo on their roster.

February 2018 NHL Draft Rankings

It’s been two months since my last draft rankings, and a lot has happened in that period. The World Junior Championship has come and gone, as have the CHL, CJHL and USHL top prospects games. Strong performances in those can boost a prospect’s draft stock, especially in the case of the WJHC. Rasmus Dahlin, Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk, Isac Lundestrom and Martin Kaut, among others, used it well, either moving up the rankings or widening the gap between them and the next guy. Before we get to those rankings, I’d like to talk about a few things first.

Adjusted PPG

The biggest complication in the scouting process is comparing players that are playing in different leagues. It’s hard to compare players when one plays in the SHL and one plays in the OHL, like Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov. One way that that can be done is through adjusted points per game. Prospect’s PPG numbers are multiplied by league and age translation multipliers that put the players all on the same level, as if they were all the same age, all playing in the same league, in the case, the OHL. I compiled all these numbers in a spreadsheet which I will link to. Here is the top 5:

  1. Andrei Svechnikov-1.19 PPG
  2. Ryan Merkley-1.15 PPG
  3. Dominik Bokk-1.09 PPG
  4. Filip Zadina-1 PPG
  5. Calen Addison-0.98 PPG

You’ll also notice that two of the players, Bokk, and Addison, aren’t regarded as top prospects like the other three players. That’s the other use of this list; finding underrated prospects. Players with top PPG numbers in their draft year typically go on to NHL success.

The full spreadsheet can be found here.

Now that that is out of the way, we can get to some player talk. The first 15 players have a paragraph or two summarizing their game and in some cases, explaining their rise or fall. However, there are a few players outside of the top 15 that I’d like to talk more about.

Grigori Denisenko

The MHL is one of the lesser known leagues, it doesn’t get much attention, and because of that, prospects playing there are often underrated. Grigori Denisenko is one of those players. He’s incredibly skilled offensively, but that will go largely unnoticed because of the league he plays in. The best move a prospect can make if they want to get noticed is to play in a top league like the CHL, NCAA or a good European junior league like the SuperElit. A good player from the OHL will often be drafted over a better player in the MHL simply because of how much more attention he gets.

Aidan Dudas

Dudas has cracked the first round for the first time this year, and he will hope to stay in it by continuing the fantatic season he’s had so far. He’s been on my radar for some time now, thanks to his stats, but it wasn’t until the Top Prospects game that I could really see how he got those numbers. He’s very fast, and can dangle, shoot and pass. I see top 6 upside in him.

Jared McIsaac and Bode Wilde

My ranking of these two players is controversial, so I’ll take some time to explain it. Most rankings have these two in the top 15, or at least the top 20. Both players pass the eye test, they appear to be strong puckmoving defensemen that play with poise and confidence. I’m a big fan the two when I ignore stats, especially Bode Wilde. However, their statistics make them risky picks.

Goals For % (GF%) is a measure of the even strength goals a player’s team scores while said player is on the ice, versus the goals against the player’s team while they are on the ice. GF% rel is a player’s GF% relative to the GF% of their team while the player is not on the ice. Essentially, it measures whether a player has a positive or negative impact on a team’s goal differential (which then translates into wins or losses). Good players rarely dip into the negatives, unless they play on terrible teams, an excuse that neither player is entitled to use. My research actually suggests that if a player’s GF% rel is anywhere below +9, the chances of that player living up to their potential lowers. Both players are well below that. Unfortunately, the sample size for my findings is small, so it may not be completely accurate. GF% rel numbers are only available in the QMJHL, and have only been available since 2015. Doubt me if uou want, you certainly have a basis to do so, but when (if) these guys end up as 3rd pairing D or worse, I’ll be saying I told you so. More on this in a future post.

And now, the rankings. If you have any questions, ask me on Twitter, @DraftLook, or by email, samhappi77@gmail.com.

1. Rasmus Dahlin, LD

Dahlin, a dynamic, offensive defenseman used the WJC to cement his place as this year’s #1, dominating against top competition. He is often compared to Erik Karlsson, but he plays his own style of game. The biggest similarity between those two will likely be the gigantic impact that they will both have on a game, and Dahlin has the potential to leave an even larger footprint. He is more than just a franchise player, he is borderline generational, because he has the potential to be the best defenseman in the league for the majority of his career.

2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW

Svechnikov lost ground in the race for #1, but it wasn’t at all his fault. Svechnikov had only recently recovered from a broken hand, and his play at the WJHC reflected that, although he was still an important player for Russia. Dahlin played his best hockey when it counted, and impressed a lot of scouts, leaving Svechnikov appearing underwheming in comparison. At this point, Dahlin is simply the better player, and that isn’t a knock on Svechnikov. It’s like the 2015 draft with McDavid and Eichel. Eichel is a franchise player, but he couldn’t beat the generational McDavid.

3. Filip Zadina, LW

Zadina exploded at the WJHC, and was one of, if not the best players for the Czech Republic. Out of all the 2018 eligibles at the WJHC, he impressed me the most, playing a lethal dual threat game. He’s an elite sniper and an elite playmaker, and he combines the two in a way that only game changing players can. Most players fit into one pf the two categories, but Zadina fits in both, something only seen in world-class players such as Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. He’s the type of player that you could build a team around.

4. Adam Boqvist, RD

Adam Boqvist was the only player in my top 6 that wasn’t named to a WJHC squad, a surprising snub from Team Sweden. I think he deserved to make the team, although he hasn’t been able to establish himself in the SHL so far this year. Currently, he’s playing in Sweden’s tier two men’s league, the Allsvenskan. He probably plays the most like Erik Karlsson out of everybody in this draft class; an NHL style game, using his speed, vision and shot to create offensive opportunities. Looks like a future top pairing defender. He’ll probably need another year before he is NHL ready, where he can play in the SHL and get used to a higher level of play.

5. Brady Tkachuk, LW/C

Even if Brady Tkachuk wasn’t as skilled as he is, he might still have been a top prospect for the draft, because he has almost everything NHL teams like; size, NHL bloodlines, physicality, and leadership. In reality, he has all that, and incredible skill. He’s a goal scorer, and has good puck-skills and a quality shot. He also possesses a soaring hockey IQ. His most impressive trait IMO, is his ability to find open space. A lot of players will get the puck and then take the space, but Tkachuk helps himself to the space, then calla for the puck, giving the opposition less time to try to catch him. He has first line tools.

6. Quinn Hughes, LD

This draft is loaded with offensive minded defensemen, including Quinn Hughes, a speedy puck moving blueliner. The staple of his game is his puck rushing, which he excels at. He picks his head up, finds a lane, and takes it. If there isn’t a lane, he either creates one, pr finds a teammate with a hard, accurate pass. He’ll be a top pairing defenseman, and an elite PP QB.

7. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW

Oliver Wahlstrom, a winger for the USNTDP, has great hands and an elite shot. He first attracted media attention when a video of a shootout attenpt of his went viral. He displayed great hands, and now, those great hands will help carry him to a top 10 selection at the draft. He plays on a line with fellow draft eligible Joel Farabee and 2019 top prospect Jack Hughes for the USDP, and they have been lighting it up. He’s a top notch finisher, but doesn’t depend on others to create oppurtunities for him. He uses his hands, speed and vision to do that for himself. He’s destined for the first line, and if placed with a good playmaker, he could score 50.

8. Ty Smith, D

Ty Smith is a two way defenseman that doesn’t always get the respect he deserves, because he doesn’t play a flashy game like Dahlin, Hughes, and partially Boqvist, although he doesn’t make as many end to end plays as those two, and the end to end rushes are typically the plays that get a lot of retweets and attention on Twitter. Also, Smith plays in the WHL, which I have noticed not to get as much attention as other leagues, especially the European leagues. The European leagues get the most attention, since games from the SHL, Liiga and some of the junior leagues can be streamed relatively easily. The OHL is next, simply because of all the scouts situated there, as well as the popularity of that league. After that is the NCAA, then the QMJHL, the WHL, and finally the MHL. Grigori Denisenko, an under the radar prospect plays there, and if he was in the CHL, NCAA, or one of the more popular European leagues, he would get a lot more attention.

Smith can make an offensive impact while also being solid in his own zone. He plays an NHL style game, moving the puck up ice, while also being able to skate the puck up ice himself. Defensively, he can play physically while also possessing a good defensive stick. He could be a staple on a team’s top pairing for a long time.

9. Noah Dobson, D

Noah Dobson has been a big time riser this year. He started out as a projected 2nd or 3rd round pick, but since then, he has exploded onto the scene, establishing himself as a top 15 prospect. He’s put up fantastic numbers in the QMJHL, and has demonstrated impressive puck moving ability, as well as hockey IQ. During the CHL-Russia series, Dobson and Jared McIsaac formed a pairing for Team QMJHL, and the two 2018 eligibles impressed me with their calm, puck-moving play. Dobson appears to have the higher ceiling out of the two, with top pairing potential, while McIsaac has dropped considerably since December.

10. Evan Bouchard, D

Bouchard has exploded in the draft year, climbing draft boards. He is a shot machine, he is one of the shot leaders in the entire OHL, and those shots have led to points, either from rebounds or them just going in. He’s on pace for 80 points, which would be fantastic, especially for a blueliner. He can jump up into the play, and is lethal as the late man in on the rush. He can take advantage of slacking or tired backcheckers and rip one home. He can move the puck up ice, and is incredibly poised and confident. He has top pairing potential, and will be an elite powerplay QB.

11. Dominikk Bokk

One of the mosy underrated prospects in the draft, Bokk is high on some draft lists and low on others. The main difference between the lists that have him high and the ones that have him low is the attention that they pay to stats. A lot of scouting services look at very few stats when formulating their rankings. They depend on the good ol’ fashioned eye test. A prospect should definitely be watched before you make a judgement on their potential, but statistics deserve a place in the scouting process as well. Dominik Bokk has 29 points in 21 games in the SuperElit, 1.3 PPG. Those are very good numbers, 2nd out of all draft eligible prospects in unadjusted PPG, and 3rd when PPG is adjusted for league and age. Following his great 29 SuperElit games, Bokk went to the SHL, where he has put up 2 points in 15 games. There is going to be an adjustment period there, and when you go from playing against youth to men, it can be fairly lengthy. He’s also playing a much smaller role in the SHL, so the decrease is expected.

Stats aside, Bokk is a winger with both offensive and defensive skill. Offensively, he is a goal scorer that finds the prime scoring areas. He has great hands and a great shot. He’s the best German prospect since Leon Draisaitl. Defensively, he takes away lanes, can lend support down low, and is always ready for a counterattack, but not in a way that compromises him defensively.

12. Joe Veleno, C

Veleno has had an up and down season so far, but I think he has started to right the ship, and it will be smooth sailing for him from now on. He struggled with one of the worst teams in the QMJHL earlier in the season, sparking doubts about his potential. However, following a trade to a top team in December, he seems to have regained his production, and if he can keep this up, he may also be able to regain his previous place on draft boards, which was usually top 5. I don’t see that happening, I think the best he’ll do is 8th, but I can’t predict the future 100% accurately, only about 90%. I think slump that came from playing on a poor team spoke a lot about what kind of player he’ll be in the future; he won’t be able to carry a line, he’ll need good teammates to help him out if he’s gonna put up points. As a playmaker like Veleno is, you need linemates that can finish on the oppurtunities you create for them. If your wingers can’t score, you won’t be getting assists, and for Veleno, that’s the majority of his points (85% to be exact). At the start of the year, he looked like he had 1C potential, and he may still, but I’m concerned about his offensive potential, so I think he’s more suited for a 2C role, centering a line that can both shutdown the opposition as well as provide some scoring.

13. Barrett Hayton, C

I have Hayton 13th right now, but he could be a riser. I’ve seen him as high as 6th on some lists, but he’s also in the 25 to even 40 range on others. Hayton started the year as a projected 2nd rounder, but has impressed with his poise and shot to fight his way up. He’s a goal scorer, he’s got a 40-60 goal-assist split as of January 17 (when all stats mentioned are from, unless otherly specified). He has a nice shot, good release; his release almost incorporates a toe drag, he brings the puck back and then towards his body on his shot. He’s very patient, if he isn’t forced to make a move, he won’t. If he’s not being pressured, he’ll hold onto the puck and try to draw a defender out of position, especially on the powerplay. He’ll skate with the puck if nothing opens up as well, I’ve seen him take it back behind his own net from the neutral zone if he can’t find any options. I do have a few concerns though. Sometimes, he is a little too patient, and it results in turnovers, and he does try to do too much with it in his own end sometimes, and he’s lost it there as well. Both should resolve themselves as Hayton develops further, but they are things to keep an eye on. That aside, I think Hayton, like Veleno, has definite top 6 potential, and a 1C ceiling, if he develops well.

14. Isac Lundestrom, C

This Swedish centre is an underrated prospect that is beginning to receive more attention following a strong performance at the WJHC, where he centred an effective line for Sweden. Lundestrom plays against men in the SHL, and has put up impressive numbers for a teenager. He has 10 points in 26 games, good numbers for his age, especially when you incorporate his minimal role on the team. Those numbers are good for a 0.61 league/age adjusted PPG in a men’s league. Lundestrom uses his hockey IQ to make plays, getting into good spots and finding open teammates. He projects as a second line centre long term, I don’t think he has the offensive potential for the first line, but he could be apart of a second line that provides solid scoring.

15. Calen Addison, D

I have Addison ranked pretty high at 15, while most other lists will have him in the 20-40 range. He’s an underrated prospect, another WHL player. He’s a small defender, officially listed as 5’10, but he’s probably closer to the 5’8-5’9 range. I think he’ll end up being picked late first, and his height will be what holds him back. NHL teams continue to have biases towards taller players, despite the success of smaller players like Erik Karlsson or Samuel Girard. In Addison’s case, I don’t think his height holds his on ice play back at all, he plays like a bigger guy. He doesn’t get knocked off the puck very easily, and he can knock others off of it. He can move the puck up ice effectively, and excels in the offensive zone, making smart decisions and generating offensive opportunities. He’s good at keeping the puck in, allowing his team to continue their offensive zone time. Definitely has top 4 upside.

16. Joel Farabee, LW

Slippery winger excelling on line with Jack Hughes and Oliver Wahlstrom for the USNTDP.

17. Ryan McLeod, C

Fast, two way centre can shut down opposition and produce offence.

18. Akil Thomas, C/RW

Smart forward is always moving, creating opportunities.

19. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C

Skilled centre putting up great numbers in top Finnish league, playing against men.

20. Filip Hallander, F

Gritty winger also has skill, good numbers.

21. Grigori Denisenko, LW

Underrated player is very skilled, hidden away in MHL.

22. Ryan Merkley, D

Incredibly talented offensively, struggles in own zone. Boom or bust prospect.

23. Rasmus Sandin, D

Impressive puckmoving ability, good at getting shots through from point. Was great at CHL Top Prospects game.

24. Jacob Olofsson, C

Well rounded centre has few weaknesses, scoring touch.

25. Ty Dellandrea, C

Two way centre can deliver offensive production as well as solid defensive play.

26. Aidan Dudas, C

Speedy forward has a nice shot and puts himself in positions to score.

27. Rasmus Kupari, C

Highly skilled centre doesn’t have the offensive production to match his talent.

28. Jett Woo, D

Two way defenceman moves puck well, plays calm game.

29. Jake Wise, C

Smart player can pass and score. Plays a solid two way game.

30. Bode Wilde, D

Below average skater has poor underlying numbers.

31. Jared McIsaac, D

Passes the eye test, but advanced statistics are concerning. Risky pick.

Prospect Tiers (Top 31)

Tier 1: Rasmus Dahlin

2: Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Adam Boqvist, Brady Tkachuk

3: Quinn Hughes

4: Oliver Wahlstrom, Ty Smith, Noah Dobson, Evan Bouchard

5: Dominik Bokk, Joe Veleno, Barrett Hayton

6: Isac Lundestrom, Calen Addison, Joel Farabee, Ryan McLeod, Akil Thomas, Jesperi Kotkaniemi

7. Filip Hallander, Grigori Denisenko, Ryan Merkley, Rasmus Sandin, Jacob Olofsson, Ty Dellandrea, Aidan Dudas, Rasmus Kupari, Jett Woo

8. Jake Wise, Bode Wilde, Jared McIsaac

32. Adam Ginning, D

33. Allan McShane, C

34. Anderson MacDonald, LW

35. Jack McBain, C

36. Alexander Alexeyev, D

37. K’Andre Miller, D

38. Dennis Busby, D

39. Serron Noel, RW

40. Martin Kaut, RW

41. Marcus Karlberg, W

42. Jonatan Berggren, C/RW

43. Albin Eriksson, LW

44. Alexander Khovanov, C

45. Phillipp Kurashev, C/LW

46. Kevin Bahl, D

47. Cole Fonstad, C/LW

48. Jakub Lauko, C/LW

49. Nando Eggenberger, LW

50. Benoit-Olivier Groulx, F

51. Nicolas Beaudin, D

52. Xavier Bouchard, D

53. David Levin, LW

54. Gleb Babintsev, D

55. Vitali Kravstov, F

56. Giovanni Vallati, D

57. Mattias Samuelsson, D

58. Adam Samuelsson, D

59. Miles Roman, C

60. Adam Liska, LW

61. Martin Fehervary, D

62. Filip Kral, D

Rasmus Dahlin Using WJC To Cement Himself as #1 Prospect For 2018 Draft

Most first year draft eligibles don’t even make the WJC team of their respective countries, and if they do, they typically play a minor role. Top 2018 draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin not only made his team, but he’s been one of the top players. Dahlin has 5 points through 4 games, tied for the lead for defensemen with 2016 Tampa Bay 2nd round pick Libor Hajek, who represents the Czech Republic. Before this tournament, Dahlin and #2 prospect Andrei Svechnikov were viewed as near equals, with Dahlin usually narrowly in front. That gap may be wider now.

World Junior Championship bias is very much a thing, and it can be quite prominent in some rankings. I try very hard not to let the fact that certain players made their WJC teams affect my rankings, and that is part of the reason why I don’t publish January draft rankings – I like to give myself extra time following the WJC to watch some other players in a normal setting before I formulate my rankings. A strong WJC can catapult a player up draft boards, even if that rise isn’t deserved. One tournament doesn’t show the future potential of a player. This could happen with Filip Zadina, who has had a great WJC, impressing a lot of people, including me. However, Zadina hasn’t been at that excellent level of play when playing for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Zadina is going to leapfrog Adam Boqvist on some draft rankings because of the WJC, as Boqvist was not at the WJC, and wasn’t able to put up a strong performance of his own to match Zadina’s.

However, the WJC can still be a great scouting tool when used properly. A scout shouldn’t use the World Juniors for getting a feel for a player’s skills or potential, that should be saved for regular season games. Instead, it should be used as an opportunity to compare players, provided that they are all at the tournament of course. So the WJC can be used to compare Dahlin to Svechnikov in the same setting. Of course, this shouldn’t be weighted too high in rankings, because players can have good or bad WJC.

That is exactly what I did at this year’s WJC; I compared Dahlin and Svechnikov, and so far, Dahlin has come out ahead by a wide extent. Dahlin has fantastic, he’s been playing a lot, and that playing time has been well deserved. A player that can chip in offensively from the blue line like Dahlin can be very valuable, and the Swedish coach realises that.

Andrei Svechnikov needs a strong tournament to match Dahlin’s if he wants to remain in contention for 1st overall, but so far he has not had that. Svechnikov has had a solid tournament, but it hasn’t been near Dahlin’s level, and it will be hard for him to stay close to Dahlin at this rate.

Rasmus Dahlin has shown that he can be dominant against the best U20 players in the world, which Svechnikov has not demonstrated. You have to think that that increased the probability of Dahlin going first overall. At this point, Svechnikov’s first overall hopes are becoming more and more unlikely. I just can’t see Svechnikov usurping Dahlin. For the first time this year, the race for first overall is no longer a two horse affair.

Sam Happi’s NHL Draft Notebook

This is the first edition of what should become a weekly thing, where I share my notes from the last week.  Over the course of a week, I watch a game or two featuring 2018 NHL Draft eligible prospects, and I’ll share my notes from those games, as well as the latest prospect news and analysis here.

Joe Veleno

Veleno was traded from Saint John to Drummondville in the QMJHL Friday.  Veleno will hope to rebound with his new team after a tough first couple months that has seen him falling on draft boards.  He has started to regain his footing after a tough start, and is now at 31 points in 31 games on the year, exactly a point per game.  Veleno is -10 this season.  He’ll look to heat up with Drummondville as he tries to make up lost ground.

WJC

Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk, Quinn Hughes and Rasmus Kupari headline the 2018 eligible draft talent that are expected to make WJC teams.  Adam Boqvist was the most surprising draft eligible snub.  Boqvist, ranked 3rd, was not named to Sweden’s preliminary WJC roster.  Oliver Wahlstrom and Jesper Kotkaniemi were also surprisingly left off WJC rosters.

Andrei Svechnikov

Svechnikov has returned from his hand injury and will play on Saturday against Oshawa, a game that will be shown on Sportsnet in Canada as a part of their CHL Saturday Showcase series.  Viewers with Sportsnet as a part of their television plans will be able to see Svechnikov multiple times this season, as the Barrie Colts are frequently involved in the Saturday Showcase on the channel.

Noah Dobson

Dobson continues to rise on draft boards, as his calm, puckmoving game continues to impress scouts.  Could be the Cale Makar of 2018, a dark horse top 5 pick.

Jack McBain

McBain has seen himself fall after a poor start to the season where he has had 38 points in 31 games in the OJHL, a Junior A league.  Those numbers appear to be good, but a potential first round pick should really stand out in a 2nd-tier junior league, and McBain has not done so this season.

2018 NHL Draft December Top 50

Holiday decorations are beginning to pop up, and that means that it’s time for my December draft rankings.  Big changes to the rankings since last time, I saw a lot of prospects play this month.  Those changes are detailed below.Edit

Risers and Fallers
First off, it’s important to note that these are only the most notable prospects that are listed here, and only the one’s that rose or fall by large amounts. If a guy rose or fell one or two spots, they aren’t listed.

Rising:

Brady Tkackuk

November: 11

December: 5

⬆️ 6

Oliver Wahlstrom

November: 14

December: 7

⬆️ 7

Noah Dobson

November: 20

December: 12

⬆️ 8

Adam Ginning

November: Not Ranked

December: 24

⬆️ 27+

Rasmus Sandin

November: Not Ranked

December: 25

⬆️ 26+

Ryan McLeod

November: 29

December: 23

⬆️6

With most of these prospects, the opportunity to see them play more allowed me to get an better idea of what their skill level is compared to the other prospects available in the draft. Dobson and McLeod both impressed me during the Canada-Russia juniors series, Dobson playing for the QMJHL and McLeod representing the OHL, while viewings of the other’s playing for their teams caused the rise for the others.

Falling:

Joe Veleno

November: 5

December: 13

⬇️8

Akil Thomas

November: 7

December: 14

⬇️7

Ryan Merkley

November: 10

December: 16

⬇️6

Jack McBain

November: 15

December: 39

⬇️24

The fallers fell for differing reasons, but they all mostly revolve around a poor start that has showcased their flaws. For Veleno, those flaws are his passing and defensive play. His passes have been off, and his defensive play hasn’t been two-way centre calibre. Akil Thomas just hasn’t really done that much this season, and he’s been outshone by others, while Merkley’s negative plus-minus this season shows that his offence doesn’t make up for his poor defence. And finally, Jack McBain, who has fallen all the way from 15th to 39th, hasn’t been producing in the second-tier junior league that he plays in, and a top prospect should be dominating.  

I’ve kept you waiting long enough, here’s the list.

1. Rasmus Dahlin, D
Scouts everywhere gush about Swedish defenceman Rasmus Dahlin, and for good reason. The defenceman is good at a lot of things, especially on offence. The defenceman possesses great speed, which he uses to generate opportunities off the rush. Dahlin’s speed and puck skills allows him to go end to end with the puck. That won’t work too well in the NHL, where the defence is considerably better, but Dahlin can still use his speed and passing to move the op ice quickly. The Swede is nearly as deadly when set up in the offensive zone as he is off the rush, as his shot and offensive instincts allow him to score from the point, set up teammates, and jump up into the high slot and finish from there.  Dahlin is exceptionally talented and has drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson. They certainly share some similarities, but I believe that Dahlin will establish his own game, and in 10 years, top prospects will be compared to him. One similarity that the two Swedes do share? Franchise potential.

2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW

Svechnikov broken hand is unfortunate, but it won’t affect his draft position. He is way too good for that. As good as Dahlin is, Svechnikov is not far behind. The Russian winger doesn’t really fit into any of the groups that prospects are often sorted into, not because he can’t snipe it, or he can’t drive the net, but actually because he can do it all. He can be a sniper, but he isn’t solely a sniper. He can take the puck to the net, but he isn’t just a power forward. In fact, if I had to put him in a category, it would be two way player, not because Svechnikov is gonna be a shutdown player, but because he’s nearly just as good in his own zone as he is on offense, and that’s saying a lot when you look at his offensive talent. To give you a better idea of how good he truly is on offense, if Svechnikov was 2017 eligible, he would of been 1st overall by a landslide, and in 2016 he would of been 2nd or 3rd overall, not quite as good as Auston Matthews, but practically equal to Patrik Laine. To put this simply, he’s really good.

3. Adam Boqvist, D

Adam Boqvist might be one of the most NHL-ready players, not because he is physically dominant, in fact, he is slightly undersized, but because he already plays an NHL style game on the blue line. Many top defensive prospects take advantage of the poor competition in their respective junior leagues and go end to end quite often, using their superior speed and hands to make highlight-reel plays. Top prospect Rasmus Dahlin is guilty of this, but it’s not like it’s a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with doing that, if it’s possible, why not do it? The only downside is that it will take prospects that do this more time to adjust to NHL play, where the competition is just too strong to consistently go end to end like that. Boqvist plays like how I think Dahlin will once he adjusts to the NHL, instead of going end to end, he generates opportunities by skating the puck up and dishing the puck up to forwards, and then joining the rush that he created. Boqvist can also generate a lot of opportunities when set up offensively, using his vision or shot to set up teammates or to get a hard shot on net. I like Boqvist’s play on the defensive side of the puck as well. He holds his own in battles in front of the net and in the corners, as well as playing well positionally and in 1v1 situations. His play popped out to me right from the start (I actually had him #1 for a bit in September), and I’m looking forward to seeing him play as an elite puck-moving defenceman in the future.

4. Filip Zadina, LW

You know it’s a deep draft when a guy like Filip Zadina doesn’t even crack the top 3. In most drafts, a player that looks like a future 40 goal scorer would go first overall, second at the latest, but the depth of this draft has bumped him Zadina is a goal scorer with speed, puck skill and creativity, which he combines to become absolutely lethal in the o-zone. He has a knack for finding a way to the net, whether that is by dangling, speeding past a defender, or dishing it off to a teammate, moving into open space and getting a return feed. His creativity makes him difficult to defend, as he might try something new on every play. I mentioned before that he could be a consistent 40 goal scorer, and that isn’t as hard as you might think when you have as good as a release as Zadina. I would say that it nears Auston Matthews’ especially in terms of release. It is absolutely lethal. Some of his plays remind of Ovie in his prime, when #8 was a dynamic, dangling winger with a great shot, not 30 year old Ovie that relies on his one-timer from the top of the circle to score a lot of his goals. Could be a steal at #4, it’s not often that you get someone this good outside the top 3 picks.

5. Brady Tkachuk, C

Brady Tkackuk plays is a powerful two way centre with a real knack for finding a way to the net. He’s a really smart player, and he moves into open space really well. He plays a power game atypical of a bottom 6 player, going to the net, except hems got elite skill. Goes to the net a lot and he’s got the shot and he hands to finish. Tkackuk excels at the behind the net style of play, when he has the puck down behind the goal line he’s got the skill to have multiple lethal options. He can cut the net, he can hit a teammate with a really nice pass or he can continue to cycle it down low, and he does all of them with elite fashion. Solid defensively, good on the forecheck. Really combined the best qualities from his father and his brother, and he’s the better than both of them. Really good player, would of gone first overall in 2017 for sure.

6. Quinn Hughes, D

Quinn Hughes has done nothing but rise since the beginning of the year, thanks to his success on the NCAA level. Hughes is a fast puck-moving two-way defenceman capable of making a large mark on a game. He can rush the puck, he can make good, accurate breakout passes, he’s really good at quickly moving the puck up ice, making him a great transition defenceman and a great fit for today’s NHL. When I last saw Hughes play, the opposition was collapsing around their net, giving the two opposing defenseman a lot of room to work with on the point, and Hughes took advantage. He controlled the point, found open passing and shooting lanes, and generated a lot of opportunities. For me, a good sign of a defenseman with good offensive zone skills is the ability to walk the point to find an open lane. A lot of dmen will stay stationary, and either take a shot, pass it off or chip it in, but Hughes is able to walk the point and wait for things to open up. A top pairing defenseman if I’ve ever seen one.

7. Oliver Wahlstrom, C

Wahlstrom was a viral sensation as a kid thanks to his lacrosse-style goal in a shootout, and while a lot of the time those kids don’t end up making it to the show, it looks like Wahlstrom will. He’s got the best hands out of anybody in the draft class, and he uses them exceptionally well, creating countless opportunities. Great shot, deceptive release and he skates well with a powerful stride. Shows flashes of a power forward, can protect puck well and drove the net. Physical game needs some work. There isn’t much that’s bad about this player, he’s got elite skill and potential:

8. Ty Smith, D

Ty Smith, like Adam Boqvist, plays an offensive NHL-style game using speed and smarts to move the puck up ice quickly. As skilled as Smith is, the most impressive part of Smith’s game isn’t his skating or his hands, it’s his hockey IQ. Smith consistently makes smart plays with the puck, allowing his team to control possession. Another example of his smarts is how he shoots low, allowing his team to get tips and rebounds. His defense allows him to succeed as well, as he is solid in his own zone, winning battles in the corners and in front of the net, and his active stick closes passing lanes effectively. Will be an effective two-way top pairing defenseman.

9. Bode Wilde, D

Wilde is a big defenseman that moves the puck really well and generally plays an offensive style game without sacrificing much on the defensive side of the puck. His crisp, accurate passes appear effortless, and he uses them to breakout effectively and control the transition game. Wilde likes to jump up and make himself an option in the rush, and he can be a lethal high guy on the rush thanks to his deadly shot. He can really snipe the puck, I’ve seen him knock the water bottle off on numerous occasions. Plays an offensive NHL style game, doesn’t make many risky plays but still generate lots of offense. He’s so calm with the puck, he can have multiple players on him and wait until they are about to check him and then put a pass right on a teammate’s tape. Some of his passes are just amazing. One of the top passers in the draft. Puck moving defensemen like Wilde are all the rage in the NHL, and team’s will be eager to snap him up, especially since he’s already huge and essentially NHL ready physically. 

10. Rasmus Kupari, C

If Wahlstrom’s got the best hands in the draft, it isn’t by much, because Kupari is right behind him. The kid’s got hands like pillows. He can really dangle a player and he’s done that numerous times, but each to the finish just wasn’t there, and that could be Kupari’s biggest I said as he develops. Despite having fantastic hands and a great shot, he just seems to really struggle finishing in tight, and that could hold him back. There’s a point where he’s almost more dangerous from the hash marks that he is from right in front of the net, because at the hashes he has time to get that laser of a shot off, while he can’t do so in tight. That last sentence makes it sound like he needs a lot of time to take a shot, but the opposite is actually true. Kupari’s got a filthy release. It’s just that he seems to struggle with those open blade shots by the goalie. That’s really his only offensive weakness, because he can shoot, pass and dangle better than most. He’s a really exciting player to watch, might struggle a bit at first in the NHL as he has less space and time, but once he adjusts he could be a deadly threat.

11. Jett Woo, D

Jett Woo joins Adam Boqvist, Bode Wilde and Ty Smith as defencemen that play a two-way, NHL-style game, and while he is ranked later than the two of them in overall skill, he would ahead of both in terms of defensive skill, and maybe even first overall. Woo’s active stick allows him to keep opposing forwards to the perimeter, limiting scoring chances, and them important battles he wins in the corners and in front of the net lead to breakouts for his team. Not afraid to use his body, can separate the man from the puck. As Woo’s WHL experience has grown, so has his offensive impact, as Woo now joins the rush quite often, giving teammates another option. He’s also taken over a PP QB role for his team, and he’s good at it. He moves the puck around very well. A player of Woo’s skill-set will prove very valuable to his team, as he can be counted on as a shutdown defenceman as well as to create offence. Has the potential to become one of the league’s premier shutdown defensemen.

12. Noah Dobson, D

Dobson is a speedy puckmover that really impressed me in the Canada-Russia series for Team QMJHL, where he was paired with fellow draft eligible Jared McIsaac. Dobson shows a lot of patience and poise with the puck, and is very calm, waiting for an opportunity to make a good pass. He consistently makes good decisions with the puck, whether that is making a good pass, or finding a shooting lane. His NHL-style puck moving game should lead to top 20 draft position in June.

13. Joe Veleno, C

Veleno is a smart two way centre with a lot of skill. Veleno has dropped a lot since my last ranking, as he hasn’t really done much while other prospects are impressing me more. Veleno was overhyped, granted exceptional status as 15 year old, but he really isn’t on that “exceptional” level. He definitely has top 6 potential, and at this point I still think he could be a top line centre, but I’m not as sure as that as I used to be. At the start of the year, the question was whether or not Veleno could be an elite top line centre, now the debate for me is whether or not he can be a top line centre at all. Right now, the answer to that is yes, but if he doesn’t improve that could change. Veleno’s slow start has really magnified his flaws, particularly his offensive talent. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, but his passes aren’t consistently on the tape, which is necessary to be an elite playmaker. His speed and hockey IQ allow him to make good offensive plays, but against better NHL defence, those two factors will become less dominant. Veleno is often regarded as a two way centre, and he is pretty good in his own zone, and that is exactly what I think he’ll become. The real question however is whether or not he can improve offensively and be a top line true 200 foot player, or if he will be more of a two way, shutdown 2nd like pivot. I still have high hopes that he can achieve option number one, but he needs to step it up.

14. Akil Thomas, C/RW

Akil Thomas is one of the player’s who’s draft position isn’t very consistent across rankings because scouts either love their style of game or hate it. I like it, I wouldn’t say that I love it per say, but I think it will lead to success on the NHL level. One thing that I do love about Thomas is how energetic he plays. He’s always moving around, making it hard to defend against him. This, when combined with his speed, shot, hockey IQ and hands make him a constant offensive threat. Thomas is more of a playmaker, mad he’s a good one. His passes are accurate, I’d say more so than Joe Veleno, and he makes the smart play every time, and doesn’t attempt super risky passes that he’s going to miss 9 times out of 10. His defense needs some work, when I’ve seen him he’s chased the puck a little too much, but that should improve as he matures. Definitive top 6 talent with high upside. 

15. Jared McIsaac, D

McIsaac, like Dobson, was very good during the Canada-Russia series for the QMJHL. He’s very calm with the puck, taking his time to make good plays. McIsaac isn’t afraid to circle back when he doesn’t have options when bringing the puck up-ice, nor does he shy away from jumping up into the play, both on the rush or when set up in the offensive zone, which he does quite often. A two way defenseman, McIsaac is hard to beat 1 on 1 and isn’t bad in the corners and in front of the net. He and Dobson are actually fairly similar, playing NHL-style, puckmoving games, and both will be top picks in the 2018 NHL Draft.

16. Ryan Merkley, D

Merkley can do it all on offense, creating countless opportunities for his team. He’s deadly off the rush, and is equally good when set up offensively. He can shoot, pass and dangle, but there is one thing that he cannot do, and it’s pretty significant. The defenceman simply cannot defend, and it’s going to cost him at the draft. Merkley gets beat way too often in the corners and in front of the net, and while this should improve as he gets stronger, I expect this to continue to the NHL. Positionally, he isn’t very good either. The one thing he isn’t terrible at is 1 on 1’s, where he uses his speed and agility to counter the opponent. When I’m ranking offensive defencemen like Merkley, I usually try to see if the offence makes up for the defence, and in Merkley’s case, it doesn’t. His plus-minus makes that clear. Despite all the points Merkley puts up, he still allows more goals than he scores. Merkley is dynamic offensively and I think he’ll be a solid NHL player, but I can’t envision a player as bad at defense as him as top pairing defender, although he could possibly succeed playing alongside a shutdown defender.

17. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C

Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a true 200 foot player, which is rare with draft eligibles. A lot of players develop that defensive responsibility later on, but Kotkaniemi’s got a head start. He’s responsible in his own end, he plays well positionally and wins battles. He goes in hard on the forecheck, and can strip the puck from an opponent with ease. Offensively, he’s a dangling, sniping centre (or at times, winger) that generates opportunities from high-danger areas. Controls play offensively. Top 6 potential with elite ceiling.

18. Nando Eggenberger, LW

Eggenberger has more than just a great name, he also has great speed, a deadly shot, and a knack for finding open space. Combine all the three, and you’ve got yourself a lethal offensive force, especially on the rush. Has silky hands too, has scored some nice goals, included a Bobby Orr-style diving across the net tally. The depth of this draft is impressive, as not always can you find a guy with this much potential in the mid-late first round. Could see him, as well as Kotkaniemi, on a top line some day.

19. Isac Lundeström, C

Lundeström has done nothing but impress with his slick passes and hockey IQ playing against men in the SHL this season. Really like how he’s played so far. Lundeström is a playmaking centre with fantastic offensive instincts, he seems to know where everybody is on the ice at all times and can make some beautiful passes accordingly. Passing is definitely his most refined skill, and he’s one of the best in this draft at it. Makes smart choices in the offensive zone, doesn’t overpass, knows when to get the puck to the net. He has pretty good hands, not as good as most others in the top 20 but it won’t hold him back offensively, still has the talent to finish. Slick playmaker has found success in the SHL, and that should translate to the NHL as well.

20. Calen Addison, D

Addison is undersized at 5’9 but that doesn’t hold him back at all. Addison can take over the games at times, generating a ton of offence from the blue line. Moves the puck up ice well, passes are hard and accurate, and is good in the offensive zone, controlling the blue line and keeping pucks in. Holds his own in defensive battles, has a good active stick that takes away passing lanes. In previous drafts Addison might have slid due to his size, but he came around at the right time to be selected in the first or early second round like he deserves to.

21. Anderson MacDonald, LW

Power forward plays a physical game and has natural finishing ability.

22. Evan Bouchard, D

Bouchard is a two way defender that can be very dangerous when he joins the rush, thanks to his skating and puck skills. Good at 1v1 defense, but struggles in the corners and in front of the net.

23. Ryan McLeod, C

Speedy way centre plays a power game and possesses a shoot first mentality. Good with his stick defensively, good on forecheck, using his speed to close in on opponents.

24. Adam Ginning, D

Big puck moving defender has a shoot first mentality in the offensive zone. Tends to panic a bit on the point, taking quick shots when he could walk in. 

25. Rasmus Sandin, D

Puckmoving defenseman likes to join the rush. Creates oppurtunities from the point with smart shots and passes.

26. Barrett Hayton, C

Hard working, two way centre that wins board battles and finishes well in tight.

27. Benoit-Oliver Groulx, F

Groulx is a fast and smart forward that plays a skilled, energetic game. Groulx is always hard in on the forecheck, and angles players out well, causing turnovers in the offensive zone. He’s also very smart, and always knows who is around him. I’d like to see him win some more puck battles, but overall his game is mostly positive.

28. Ty Dellandrea, C

Two way centre is great in his own zone, and works hard in the o-zone. Finishes well in tight, good hands.

29. Dennis Busby, D

Two way defender excels in the transition game and is a great skater and positional player.

30. Serron Noel, W

6’5 power forward moves well for a guy his size. Uses size and skating to be dominant when driving the net.

31. Allan McShane, C

McShane is a two way centre with playmaking ability. Patient in the offensive zone, waits for lanes to open up. Needs to improve his skating if he’s going to succeed as a playmaker in the NHL.

32. Nicolas Beaudin, D

33. Alexander Alexeyev, D

34. Xavier Bouchard, D

35. Joel Farabee, LW

36. Jakub Lauko, C/LW

37. David Levin, LW

38. Kevin Bahl, D

39. Jack McBain, C

40. Gleb Babintsev, D

41. Simon Appelquist, LW

42. Giovanni Vallati, D

43. Jacob Olofsson, C

44. Luka Burzan, C

45. Mattias Samuelsson, D

46. Jesse Ylönen, RW

47. Cole Fonstad, C/LW

48. Lukas Wernblom, C/LW

49. Vitali Kravstov, F

50. Alexander Khovanov, C

2018 NHL Draft November Top 50

It’s November, and I’ve updated, and added to, my draft rankings.  The list is now 50 players long, with a brief description for the top 15.  

There weren’t many huge changes, with the biggest probably being Ryan Merkley dropping to 10th.  Merkley has shown that his defense is just as bad as ever with his -12 start to the OHL season.  If he doesn’t pick it up, he may fall even more.

1. Rasmus Dahlin, D

Dominant offensively, and isn’t bad on defence either.

2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW

Got off to a hot start in the OHL before being sidelined with a broken hand.  Two way force, great on offense.

3. Adam Boqvist, D

NHL style defenseman that makes smart plays and decisions.  Great puckmover, PP QB and shooter.

4. Filip Zadina, LW

Elusive force on the wing, has all the skills to put up a ton of points.

5. Joe Veleno, C

Smart two way centre off to a tough start in the QMJHL.

6. Quinn Hughes, D

Fast puck mover, great offensively and pretty good defensively.

7. Akil Thomas, C/RW

Plays a very energetic game, always moving.  Puts himself in good spots to make plays.

8. Ty Smith, D

Dynamic two-way D makes smart plays and moves the puck up ice well.

9. Bode Wilde, D

Big defenseman plays an offensive game.

10. Ryan Merkley

Electric offensively, but poor defensively.  High risk, high reward.

11. Brady Tkachuk, C

Plays physical two-way game, could possibly be better than brother Matthew.

12. Rasmus Kupari, C

Dynamic centre uses speed, hands to make plays.

13. Jett Woo, D

Smart two way defwnseman, uses speed and puck moving skill to generate oppurtunities for his team.

14. Oliver Wahlstrom, C

Skilled player, creates a lot of oppurtunities

15. Jack McBain, C

Two way centre, good defensively.  Some concern about offense from others, but I don’t really see it.  Kind of like 2017 prospect Ryan Poehling.

16. Jared McIsaac

17. Jesper Kotkaniemi 

18. Calen Addison

19. Anderson MacDonald

20. Noah Dobson

21. Ty Dellandrea

22. Gleb Babintsev

23. Evan Bouchard

24. David Levin

25. Nicolas Beaudin

26. Ryan McLeod

27. Alexander Alexeyev

28. Xavier Bouchard

29. Joel Farabee

30. Giovanni Vallati

31. Benoit-Oliver Groulx

32. Jakub Lauko

33. Allan McShane

34. Simon Appelquist 

35. Jacob Olofsson

36. Luka Burzan

37. Isac Lundeström

38. Mattias Samuelsson

39. Jesse Ylönen

40. Barrett Hayton

41. Lukas Wernblom

42. Vitali Kravstov

43. Alexander Khovanov

44. Dennis Busby

45. Samuel Bitten

46. Ty Emberson

47. Grigori Denisenko

48. Axel Andersson

49. Filip Hallander

50. Kevin Bahl