With the conclusion of yet another tremendous World Junior Hockey Championships, it’s time to revisit the 2018 NHL Draft Rankings.
The scouting world gleaned a great deal of information over the last two weeks and while it’s important not to make too many hasty decisions based off a handful of viewings in a short window, judging players as they compete against the best of their peer groups is crucial in determining where a player lies on their developmental arc and where we can forecast that will lead to.
Opportunities such as the WJHC, Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, the Five Nations Cup, the U18’s and WJAC U19 showcase are all opportunities to bring players from across the globe from countless situations in junior and pro circuits together to showcase their skills.
For my personal list, players at this year’s event certainly improved their stock and rose, while a handful may have slipped a tad. It’s a balancing act to weigh such things and I also trust the opinions of some more established and keen-eyed hawks in the seats to come up with this list.
Regarding tiers, this crop has a clear number one in Rasmus Dahlin, after that, players in the 2-7 slots would make up the second tier.
The third tier is comprised of players in the 8-17 positions, with 18-24 falling into tier four. Tier five is your players from 25-39, and then look for players 40-75 to be a nice full grouping in tier six who could and should seperate themselves from one another as the year goes on.
Remember, these are approximations and not steadfast tiers written in stone, but give an indication to the levels and groupings that certain players fall into.
You can find my previous rankings here:
January 2018 Rankings
- Rasmus Dahlin / LHD / 6’2 181lbs / 04-13-00 (SHL)
The greatest 16/17-year-old defensive prospect to come along since Victor Hedman and is noticably better at the same age. He has all the tools to become a game-changing pillar for an organization. His effortless skating and offensive tools make you swoon while his defensive game grows with each passing contest. An outstanding World Juniors, and will be a prominent figure on the Olympic squad in a few weeks. A border-line generational talent on the backend.
- Filip Zadina / RW / 6’ 190lbs / 11-27-99 (QMJHL)
He’s been exactly as advertised and more for Halifax. The power winger has been destroying CHL competition and saved his best performances for this Czech national team this holiday season. He uses his size and strength to create space and then delivers electric moves and finishing ability. Can beat you from anywhere on the ice. A tireless worker.
- Andrei Svechnikov / RW / 6’2 187lbs / 03-26-00 (OHL)
A ridiculous near goal-per-game output in the OHL is just the tip of the iceberg for the dynamic winger. Was somewhat underutilized at the WJHC but found a way to make a difference most nights. A legitimate 40-plus goal threat not too far down the line. Think Vladimir Tarasenko with a bigger frame.
- Quinn Hughes / LHD / 5’9 168lbs / 10-14-99 (NCAA)
A consummate playmaker who boasts the elite speed needed to thrive at his stature. After leading the charge for the USNTDP U18 squad last year, he hasn’t missed a beat as a freshman at the University of Michigan. His late 1999 birthday helped him crack the WJHC team and his play spoke for itself. The best skater in this class and a one-man breakout machine.
- Adam Boqvist / RHD / 5’11 170lbs / 08-15-00 (SHL)
Dynamic puck skills, terrific vision, speed, smarts, and a heavy shot. His late birthday means he is just a month away from being eligible for the 2019 class further illustrating how massive his potential is. If we’re nitpicking, I’d like to see him hit the net more. Far too good for the J20 circuit yet sees too few minutes in the SHL. The Allsvenskan sounds like a good middle ground and that’s where he is now. His omission from the WJHC does nothing to push him down this board. He’ll play a prominent role next year for the Swedes.
- Brady Tkachuk / LW/C / 6’2 194lbs / 09-16-99 (NCAA)
The elder statesman of the 2018 crop missed last year’s draft by a single day. That will factor into his evaluation and so far, he’s done fine but not exceptionally well in the NCAA but his lights out World Junior showing moves the needle. Many see Tkachuk as a centre at the next level, but I feel he needs a distributor to feed him and will be a winger long term as witnessed while playing next to Casey Mittelstadt. His hands are soft, his shot his heavy and plays an abrasive and pro-style game.
- Ty Smith / LHD / 5’11 176lbs / 03-24-00 (WHL)
The dynamic two-way defender continues to display his full arsenal of weapons with Spokane this season. The former first overall pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft, Smith is an excellent skater who demonstrates poise and patience with the puck. His outlets are crisp and his head is always up. He’s a player you fall in love with because he always makes the right play.
- Oliver Wahlstrom / C/W / 6’1 198lbs / 06-13-00 (USNTDP)
Owns some of the best pure puck skills in the draft. The goal scoring forward doesn’t shy away from attacking dangerous scoring areas and boasts strong speed and quick feet. He’s been on fire with the USNTDP this season clicking well-above a point-per-game. He heads to Harvard next fall.
- Evan Bouchard / RHD / 6’2 181lbs / 10-20-99 (OHL)
Strong puck-moving defender has taken on bigger minutes with London this fall with Olli Juolevi and Victor Mete not returning. Runs the power play with precision, uses his great skating ability to make up for mistakes and owns a projectable frame. All that and plays the right-side? Teams have taken notice.
- Noah Dobson / RHD / 6’3 179lbs / 01-07-00 (QMJHL)
A riser to watch, this right-shot defender has all the tools to be an all-around top-four producer. Off to a blazing start with Acadia-Bathurst of the QMJHL, Dobson brings high-end processing ability, soft hands and a willingness to take calculated risks. A smooth skater but will want to add more speed as he matures.
- Isac Lunderström / C / 6’0 185lbs / 11-06-99 (SHL)
Skilled puck-distributor has shown very well as a draft-eligible player in the SHL. His skill may not jump off the page, but the nuances to his game are terrific. He’s the type of player you like the more you watch him. In a centre-lite draft, his stock will continue to rise. Saw his role expand in the WJC and thrived with more ice.
- Ryan Merkley / RHD / 5’11 165lbs / 08-14-00 (OHL)
One of the youngest players in this draft, he’s also one of the most offensively gifted. The reigning OHL Rookie of the Year boasts elite offensive skills from the back end. Vision, passing, dynamic edges, top end speed and acceleration. His play in his own zone and decision-making without the puck is still very much a work in progress, but the right-handed defender has the makings of a dynamic point-producer. His boom or bust tag has been well earned.
- Rasmus Kupari / C / 6’ 168lbs / 03-15-00 (Liiga)
Cracked the WJC roster for the Fins and did well in a secondary role. He owns high-end playmaking ability that compliments his quick and elusive style. Will need to continue to build his frame, but is a smart player who defends well.
- Joel Farabee / LW / 5’11 148lbs / 02-25-00 (USNTDP)
Slight and slippery, he feasts on oppositions with his vision and his finishing ability. Great skater who works tirelessly in all three zones.
- Dominik Bokk / LW-RW / 6’1 179lbs / 02-03-00 (SHL)
Agile, quick hands, elusive in the offensive zone and makes a habit of landing on the scoresheet. Destroyed the J20 circuit and now finds himself with Växjö of the SHL. Watch him continue to rise.
- Barrett Hayton / C / 6’1 180lbs / 06-09-00 (OHL)
Improved speed and strength has been the noteworthy traits in his draft season. Quality release, good vision, quick hands, and can play centre or wing. Has looked very strong on Morgan Frost’s wing. The Soo are loading up for a run so he should be well-insulated.
- Bode Wilde / RHD / 6’2 194lbs / 1-24-00 (USNTDP)
Another USNTDP blue liner. Owns a big shot and strong in both zones. A safe player to be leaned on for years to come.
- Joseph Veleno / C / 6’ 181lbs / 01-13-00 (QMJHL)
A jack-of-all trades player with a nice tool belt. Great edgework, acceleration, vision and puck-protection skills. The 17-year-old is already a consummate worker in the defensive end and is a very safe selection as he has a pro-level approach. He lacks the dynamic offensive skills of others in front of him and his less-than-stellar start to year three in the QMJHL is a product of that.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi / C / 6’2 190lbs / 07-06-00 (Liiga)
Great puck skills and finishing ability, but skating remains a concern. Offers an awkward stride that doesn’t generate a ton of top-end power. Hasn’t stopped him from putting up nearly 0.5 points-per-game in the Liiga though.
- Grigori Denisenko / LW / 5’10 165lbs / 06-24-00 (MHL)
A creative player with the puck who can dart in and out of the lanes with expert edgework, quick acceleration and creative lines. Slight stature but enjoys engaging. Lack of exposure may see him slide on draft day, but it won’t be due to a lack of skill.
- Ryan McLeod / C / 6’2 190lbs / 09-21-99 (OHL)
Speed runs in the family. Isn’t as hard-nosed as older brother, Michael but plays a similar game. Missed the 2017 cut-off by a week so developmental arc is a little clearer.
- Jared McIsaac /LHD / 6’2 209lbs / 03-27-00 (QMJHL)
Big, strong and capable at both ends of the ice. A safe top four future.
- Akil Thomas / C / 5’11 165lbs / 01-02-00 (OHL)
A buzz-saw of a player. Needs to add strength, but moves as quick with the puck as he does without. Having a strong year with Niagara.
- Jett Woo / RHD / 6’ 201lbs / 07-27-00 (WHL)
Calm and collected are his trademarks. Is being leaned on heavily in Moose Jaw this season. Unlikely to be a big producer at the next level but offers quality skills across the board.
- Calen Addison / RHD / 5’9 179lbs / 04-11-00 (WHL)
Small, dynamic right-shot defender needs to thicken up and improve positioning to handle stronger players but knows how to create offense.
- Benoit-Olivier Groulx / C / 6’1 176lbs / 02-06-00 (QMJHL)
Strong two-way player who can chip in on the scoresheet and play all-situations. Likely destined for a bottom six role.
- Jonny Tychonick / LHD / 5’11 165lbs / 03-03-00 (BCHL)
Terrific skating, awareness and offensive instincts. Needs to build strength but heading to a great program at North Dakota and from a great program with the Penticton Vees.
- Serron Noel / RW / 6’5 201lbs / 08-08-00 (OHL)
A long, fluid stride generates loads of power and speed for such a big man. A goal scorer first and foremost, he also offers underrated playmaking ability. Quite young for this crop.
- Philipp Kurashev / C / 6’ 183lbs / 10-12-99 (QMJHL)
The Swiss forward is having a strong second season in the QMJHL after a terrific rookie campaign. Was relied on to do a great deal of heavy lifting at the WJHC. Versatile and owns good puck skills.
- Vitali Kravtsov / C/W / 6’2 170lbs / 12-23-99 (MHL)
Smooth skater with skill to burn has managed to produce a few points in the KHL as a 17-year-old – no easy feat. Lacks exposure due to not being selected for Russia’s international squads. Highly talented player.
- Alexander Alexeyev / LHD / 6’3 200lbs / 11-15-99 (WHL)
Big, powerful left-shot defender creates serious power in his stride and makes pro-level passes. Suffered a nasty knee injury late last season but looks fully healed this year.
- Jacob Olofsson C / 6’2 193lbs / 02-08-00
- Alexander Khovanov / C / 5’11 179lbs / 04-12-00
- Martin Kaut / RW / 6’1 175lbs / 10-02-99
- Jack McBain / C / 6’3 183lbs / 01-06-00
- Rasmus Sandin / LHD / 5’11 190lbs / 03-07-00
- K’andre Miller / LHD /6’3 192lbs / 01-21-00
- Adam Ginning / LHD / 6’3 192lbs /01-13-00
- Ty Dellandrea / C / 6’1 181lbs / 07-21-00
- Filip Hallander / RW / 6’ 180lbs / 06-29-00
- Milos Roman / C / 5’11 194lbs / 11-06-99
- Axel Andersson / RHD / 6’ 174lbs / 02-10/00
- Jacob Bernard-Docker / RHD / 6’1 172lbs / 06-30-00
- David Gustafsson / LHD / 6’1 194lbs / 04-11-00
- Mattias Samuelsson / LHD / 6’3 205lbs / 03-14-00
- Xavier Bouchard / RHD / 6’2 176lbs / 01-28-00
- Allan McShane / C / 5’11 190lbs / 02-14-00
- Albin Eriksson / LW / 6’4 205lbs / 07-20-00
- Dmitri Zavgorodny / RW / 5’9 161lbs / 08-11-00
- Blake McLaughlin / C / 5’11 161lbs / 02-14-00
- Jesse Ylonen / RW / 6’ 159lbs / 10-20-99
- Jakub Lauko / C / 6’1 172lbs / 03-28-00
- Jake Wise / C / 5’10 185 / 01-02-00
- Giovanni Vallati / LHD / 6’1 185lbs / 02-21-00
- Jonatan Berggren / C/RW / 5’10 183lbs / 07-16-00d
- Kirill Nizhnikov / RW / 6’1 190lbs / 03-29-00
- Filip Johansson / RHD / 6’1 187lbs / 03-23-00
- Curtis Hall / C / 6’2 194lbs / 04-26-00
- Anderson MacDonald / LW / 6’2 205lbs / 05-16-00
- Jay O’Brien / C / 6’ 174lbs / 11-04-99
- Nicolas Beaudin / LHD / 5’10 161lbs / 10-07-99
- Kody Clarke / RW/ 6’1 176lbs / 10-13-99
- Nando Eggenberger / LW / 6’2 185lbs / 10-07-99
- Alexis Gravel / G / 6’3 220lbs / 03-21-00
- Olivier Rodrigue / G / 6’ 159lbs / 07-06-00
- Riley Sutter / RW / 6’3 205lbs / 10-25-99
- Yegor Sokolov / W / 6’3 223lbs / 06-07-00
- Oscar Bäck / C/RW / 6’2 198lbs / 03-12-00
- Jakub Skarek / G / 6’3 196lbs / 10-11-99
- Alexander Zhabreyev / C / 5’7 152lbs / 03-24-00
- Vladislav Kotkov / LW / 6’4 198lbs / 01-28-00
- Adam Samuelsson / LHD / 6’5 240lbs / 06-21-00
- Sean Durzi / RHD / 6’ 190lbs / 10-21-98 *
- David Levin / LW / 5’10 172lbs / 09-16-99
- Tyler Madden / C / 5’10 152lbs / 11-09-99
Here’s where you get your say. Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 with verbal abuse for having 'Player X' higher than 'Player Y', or maybe, just maybe thumbs up!
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