DobberProspects is excited to host the following 2018 NHL Draft preview courtesy of Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst), former DPR Podcast guest and prominent hockey blogger/podcaster. Steve has kindly produced his list of the top 10 defenders available in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft:
LHD Rasmus Dahlin (Frolunda, SHL): An easy choice as Dahlin not only is the most NHL ready of 2018 draft-eligible blueliners, but also the most dynamic. He’s been toying with adult-age players in Sweden’s top league for most of this season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t become a star at the next level. The question is how long will it take.
LHD Ty Smith (Spokane, WHL): Being one of the top scoring defenders in the WHL is certainly a nice feather in Smith’s cap, as he’s posted 13 points in 12 games. But there’s so much more to his game than point production, and seeing him shoulder the load for Spokane in every situation imaginable makes me think he’ll be a coveted building block for a lucky NHL team.
RHD Adam Boqvist (Brynas J20, Superelit): The jury is still out whether this hard-shooting puck mover is good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Dahlin – Boqvist was clearly overmatch in his few SHL games and is back with their junior team. Nevertheless, he’s a fun player to watch with the puck can absolutely hammer it, and he’s proven to be a matchup nighmare for opposing coaches in the Superelit.
LHD Quinn Hughes (Michigan, Big-10): It’s not far fetched to consider this American puck rusher to be this year’s version of Erik Brannstrom – a smaller defensemen whose puck skills were so pronounced that it got him drafted in the middle of 2017’s first round. Hughes is a smooth, confident skater who can run a power play as well as anyone.
RHD Bode Wilde (U.S. U18, NTDP): The defenseman with the greatest amount of potential outside of Rasmus Dahlin may very well be this big-bodied finesse blueliner, who through Sunday led all NTDP rearguards with 11 points in 10 games. Wilde is an exceptional skater with a hard shot who creates chances from a variety of methods.
LHD Jared McIsaac (Halifax, QMJHL): Heady Maritimer who controls the flow of the game and can be entrusted with the most difficult tasks, McIsaac was critical to Canada’s win at the Ivan Hlinka. He’s an effortless skater who knows when to attack and can stickhandle his way out of any jam.
LHD K’Andre Miller (U.S. U18, NTDP): It seems like too much of a premium is being placed in skilled defensemen, to the point where the Steady Eddies are getting overlooked. Miller is both physical and cerebral, using sharp instincts to step up and neutralize dangerous threats.
RHD Evan Bouchard (London, OHL): It says something when a first-year eligible defender is entrusted with running a power play loaded with top NHL prospects. And that’s exactly what Bouchard has done for London. He’s blessed with size, keen vision and a smooth skating style in the mold of former Knight Olli Juolevi.
RHD Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL): A game-altering player with strong puck skills and pro-level size, Dobson leads all first-year QMJHL draft eligible defensemen with 12 points in 14 games. He’s got quick feet and uses a variety of fakes and cut-backs to fend off pressure, and his hard, accurate stretch passes create multiple odd-man chances.
RHD Ryan Merkley (Guelph, OHL): Feast-or-famine blueliner who may be the best playmaker among of his peers but has to work on his puck management and limiting turnovers. Merkely is an fast, agile skater who comes across as a forward trapped in a defenseman’s body. This benefits the offense in a manner of ways, but improving his play on his side of the blue line would make him a more tantalizing prospect.
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