2018 NHL Draft Rankings
March 2018 Edition
As we head into the final stretch drive for draft-eligible prospects, the opportunity to wow the scouting community draws to a close. Some players have had the opportunity to set themselves up in solid positions by showcasing their skills in marquee tournaments such as the Ivan Hlinka Memorial, the Five Nations, the World Junior Championships and more.
Meanwhile, some others are fighting their way up draft boards from more untapped regions such as New England prep schools, second tier junior and professional circuits, and European U20 leagues. Regardless of where they play, if they shine, the hawks in the stands should have had an opportunity to get a glance.
When putting together my personal rankings, I rely a great deal on the minds and opinions of some more experienced scouts to go along with countless hours of video and live viewings that I log myself.
It should be noted that I place a great deal of emphasis on skating ability, processing skills and ability to thrive on a consistent basis. These rankings are not intended to mimic how the draft will end up this June, but how I feel the players will progress as they mature and (hopefully) experience success as NHL players.
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. One could argue that Andrei Svechnikov could deserve his own tier, but he hasn’t separated himself fully and completely enough to warrant that – yet anyways.
The third tier is comprised of players in the 8-17 positions, with 18-23 falling into tier four. Tier five is your players from 25-40, and then look for players 41-65 to be a nice full grouping in tier six who could still yet separate themselves from one another as the year closes.
Consider players in the 66-100 range to be in the arena that will have a lot of variance. One list may have a guy 30-plus spots higher than the scout next to him depending on the days they’ve seen them play and the assets they truly value. I’m limited to a degree by not getting to see all of these players play consistently all season, but I’ve had eyes on each and every one at some point this year.
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:
- Rasmus Dahlin / LHD / 6’2 181lbs / 04-13-00 (SHL)
The entire package. Do we really need to say more?
- Andrei Svechnikov / RW / 6’2 187lbs / 03-26-00 (OHL)
Physically ready for the NHL, Svechnikov blends world-class finishing ability with hard-nosed and defensively responsible play. A goal scorer who can impact the game in all situations. Terrific blend of speed, power and precision. He’ll be a front-line threat for years to come.
- Filip Zadina / RW / 6’ 190lbs / 11-27-99 (QMJHL)
Uses his size and strength to create space and then delivers electric moves and finishing ability. He’s absolutely lethal from the circles down. A tireless worker who loves the big stage. Need a first line winger? He’s your man.
- Quinn Hughes / LHD / 5’10 174lbs / 10-14-99 (NCAA)
A consummate playmaker who boasts the elite speed needed to thrive at his stature. The youngest player in the NCAA this season, his confidence has been building all season. His late 1999 birthday helped crack the WJC team and his play spoke for itself. The best skater in this class and a one-man breakout machine. He can run a power play with the best of them.
- 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. Has a big shot and loves to unload it. Far too good for the J20 circuit yet sees too few minutes in the SHL has put him in a bit of a tough spot this season. His omission from the WJC does nothing to push him down this board. He’ll play a prominent role next year for the Swedes.
- Oliver Wahlstrom / RW / 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 year, leading the charge from tip to tail. Loves to engage physically almost as much as he loves finding the back of the net.
- Noah Dobson / RHD / 6’3 179lbs / 01-07-00 (QMJHL)
A right-shot defender who has all the tools to be an all-around top-four producer. He’s having a terrific year with Acadia-Bathurst of the QMJHL, while bringing 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. Often logs 30-plus minutes a night with ease. Reminiscent of Alex Pietrangelo
- 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.
- Evan Bouchard / RHD / 6’2 181lbs / 10-20-99 (OHL)
A strong puck-moving defender who has taken on all the tough minutes on a now-depleted Knights’ squad. Runs the power play with precision, uses his big shot with impunity and finds a way onto the scoresheet most nights. Lacks dynamic skills that jump out at you, so it’s sometimes hard to fall in love with him, but he’s a workhorse and that gets the job done.
- 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. High ceiling and high floor - What’s not to like?
- 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. Has been tremendous with the USNTDP this year playing with Wahlstrom and 2019-eligible super-prospect, Jack Hughes. Needs to add strength but does all the little things that make players successful. Getting a high-ceiling player in this part of the draft is a coup.
- 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 now 18-year-old is already a consummate worker in the defensive end and is a very safe selection as he has a pro-level approach. One of the best power play distributors in the CHL.
- 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 (and enigmatic). The reigning OHL Rookie of the Year boasts elite offensive skills from the back end: Vision, passing, dynamic edges, good top end speed and impressive acceleration. His play in his own zone and decision-making without the puck is still very much a work in progress, and whispers of off-ice issues may see him slide considerably on draft day, but the right-handed defender has the makings of a dynamic point-producer. His boom or bust tag has been well earned.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi / C/LW / 6’2 190lbs / 07-06-00 (Liiga)
Great puck skills and finishing ability, but skating remains something of a concern. Offers an awkward stride that doesn’t generate a ton of top-end power. Hasn’t stopped him from putting up more than respectable numbers Liiga though, albeit from the wing. A strong Five Nations tournament while playing the middle of the ice may convince scouts that’s where he belongs long term.
- Isac Lundeström / C / 6’0 185lbs / 11-06-99 (SHL)
Skilled puck-distributor has shown very well as a draft-eligible player in the SHL - his second year in Sweden’s top league. 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 has risen. Saw his role expand in the WJC and thrived with more ice.
- Dominik Bokk / LW-RW / 6’1 179lbs / 02-03-00 (SuperElit)
Agile, quick hands, elusive in the offensive zone and makes a habit of landing on the scoresheet. Has been destroying the J20 circuit and received a cup of coffee in the SHL. If you like skill, you’ll love Bokk.
- 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. His talent hasn’t always resulted in points but he’s cranked it up so far in the MHL playoffs.
- 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.
- 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. Is very well regarded in his own end. A safe player.
- Vitali Kravtsov / C/W / 6’2 170lbs / 12-23-99 (KHL)
Smooth skater with skill to burn had managed to produce a few points in the KHL as a 17-year-old – no easy feat and has followed that up with an explosion of goals as a go-to option during the playoffs. Lacks exposure due to not being selected for Russia’s international squads but is a highly talented player with soft hands and pro-level release.
- Bode Wilde / RHD / 6’2 194lbs / 1-24-00 (USNTDP)
Owns a big shot and offers strong play on both sides of the puck. May not be the most creative player, but can chip in offensively and skates well. A safe player to be leaned on for years to come.
- Nils Lundkvist / RHD / 5’11 174 lbs / 07-27-00 (SHL)
Smooth skating, right-shot defender who has looked comfortable and calm in the SHL as a 17-year-old. Can run a power play, jump up the ice to join the attack and offers reliable positioning in the defensive end. Had a strong Five Nations tournament and should be rising on many people’s boards – if they’re paying attention.
- 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. He’s young for this crop and still quite raw, but the potential for a goal-scoring winger with his size and strength is tantalizing.
- Calen Addison / RHD / 5’10 179lbs / 04-11-00 (WHL)
Undersized yet dynamic right-shot defender needs to thicken up and improve positioning to handle stronger players but knows how to create offense. Had a very strong Hlinka last summer despite the Canadians struggling as a team.
- 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. Likely better suited for the wing at the NHL level.
- 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. A pro-style guy.
- Martin Kaut / RW / 6’1 175lbs / 10-02-99 (Czech Extraliga)
A right-shot winger who had his coming out party for the Czechs at the World Junior Championships with seven points in as many games. He’s a late ’99 birthdate so he’s older but has produced very strong numbers in the Czech top league this season. He’s quick, elusive and knows how to finish.
- Jonatan Berggren / C/RW / 5’10 183lbs / 07-16-00 (SuperElit)
An absolute wrecking ball of a player who has been posting tremendous numbers in the J20 circuit. Logs miles of ice as he fore checks with impunity, distributes the puck and knows how to finish as well. Terrific Hlinka and Five Nations offer scouts a glimpse of his skill on some big stages and he’s even looked capable in a 10 game stint in the SHL.
- Jonny Tychonick / LHD / 5’11 165lbs / 03-03-00 (BCHL)
The former 12th overall selection in the WHL Bantam draft decided to go the NCAA route and has been terrorizing BCHL opponents from the backend on the always-powerhouse, Penticton Vees squad. He’s following the same path as Tyson Jost and heading to a top notch program at North Dakota next fall. Mobile, offensively-orientated, and full of hockey smarts. Loves to join the rush. He’s a new-age defender.
- Jared McIsaac /LHD / 6’2 209lbs / 03-27-00 (QMJHL)
Big, strong and capable at both ends of the ice. A likely safe top four future but has seen his stock consistently drop throughout the year. Expectations were high and they haven’t been met.
- Mattias Samuelsson / LHD / 6’3 205lbs / 03-14-00 (USNTDP)
Another big man who skates quite well. Likely more of a secondary offensive option at the next level, but capable in the offensive zone and can be a force in his own end.
- Jacob Olofsson C / 6’2 193lbs / 02-08-00
- Jett Woo / RHD / 6’ 201lbs / 07-27-00 (WHL)
- Alexander Alexeyev / LHD / 6’3 200lbs / 11-15-99 (WHL)
- Jay O’Brien / C / 6’ 174lbs / 11-04-99
- K’andre Miller / LHD /6’3 192lbs / 01-21-00
- Rasmus Sandin / LHD / 5’11 190lbs / 03-07-00
- Jack McBain / C / 6’3 183lbs / 01-06-00
- Filip Hallander / RW / 6’ 180lbs / 06-29-00
- Blake McLaughlin / C / 5’11 161lbs / 02-14-00
- Alexander Khovanov / C / 5’11 179lbs / 04-12-00
- Benoit-Olivier Groulx / C / 6’1 176lbs / 02-06-00 (QMJHL)
- Jakub Lauko / C / 6’1 172lbs / 03-28-00
- Jake Wise / C / 5’10 185 / 01-02-00
- Axel Andersson / RHD / 6’ 174lbs / 02-10/00
- Jacob Bernard-Docker / RHD / 6’1 172lbs / 06-30-00
- Philipp Kurashev / C / 6’ 183lbs / 10-12-99
- Adam Ginning / LHD / 6’3 192lbs /01-13-00
- Ty Dellandrea / C / 6’1 181lbs / 07-21-00
- David Gustafsson / C / 6’1 194lbs / 04-11-00
- Cameron Hillis / C / 5’11 163 lbs / 06-24-00
- Jesse Ylonen / RW / 6’ 159lbs / 10-20-99
- Aidan Dudas / C / 5’7 165 lbs / 06-15-00
- Kevin Bahl / LHD / 6’6 225lbs / 06-27-00
- Kirill Marchenko / W / 6’3 168lbs / 07-21-00
- Milos Roman / C / 5’11 194lbs / 11-06-99
- Sampo Ranta / LW / 6’1 192lbs / 05-31-00
- Cole Fonstad / C/LW / 5’10 161lbs / 04-24-00
- Oscar Bäck / C/RW / 6’2 198lbs / 03-12-00
- Albin Eriksson / LW / 6’4 205lbs / 07-20-00
- Allan McShane / C / 5’11 190lbs / 02-14-00
- Liam Foudy / C / 6’ 161lbs / 02-04-00
- Curtis Hall / C / 6’2 194lbs / 04-26-00
- Dmitri Zavgorodny / RW / 5’9 161lbs / 08-11-00
- Kody Clark / RW / 6’1 176lbs / 10-13-99
- Niklas Nordgren / RW / 5’9 170lbs / 05-04-00
- Nicolas Beaudin / LHD / 5’10 161lbs / 10-07-99
- Yegor Sokolov / W / 6’3 223lbs / 06-07-00
- 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 *
- Filip Kral / LHD / 6’ 168lbs / 10-20-99
- Kyle Topping / C / 5’11 185lbs / 11-18-99
- Gabriel Fortier / LW / 5’10 190lbs / 02-06-00
- Filip Johansson / RHD / 6’1 187lbs / 03-23-00
- Kirill Nizhnikov / RW / 6’1 190lbs / 03-29-00
- Jan Jenik / F / 6’1 154lbs / 09-15-00
- Xavier Bouchard / RHD / 6’2 176lbs / 01-28-00
- Danila Galenyuk / LHD / 6’1 201lbs / 02-11-00
- Bulat Shafigullin / F / 6’1 163lbs / 12-29-99
- Johnny Gruden / LW / 5’11 172 / 05-04-00
- Toni Utunen / LHD / 5’11 172lbs / 04-27-00
- Anderson MacDonald / LW / 6’2 205lbs / 05-16-00
- Riley Sutter / RW / 6’3 205lbs / 10-25-99
- Giovanni Vallati / LHD / 6’1 185lbs / 02-21-00
- Alec Regula / RHD / 6’2 161lbs / 08-06-00
- Tyler Madden / C / 5’10 152lbs / 11-09-99
- Tyler Weiss / LW / 5’11 159lbs / 01-03-00
- Jakub Skarek / G / 6’3 196lbs / 10-11-99
- Alexander Zhabreyev / C / 5’7 152lbs / 03-24-00
- Ruslan Iskhakov / F / 5’7 152lbs / 07-22-00
- Jacob Ingram / G / 6’3 181lbs / 06-10-00
- David Levin / LW / 5’10 172lbs / 09-16-99
- Jacob Pivonka / C / 6’ 190lbs / 02-28-00
- Alexis Gravel / G / 6’3 220lbs / 03-21-00
- Curtis Douglas / C / 6’8 201lbs / 03-06-00
- Martin Fehérváry / LHD / 6’1 190lbs / 10-06-99
- Lukas Dostal / G / 6’1 165lbs / 06-22-00
- Nando Eggenberger / LW / 6’2 185lbs / 10-07-99
- Gavin Hain / C / 5’11 194lbs / 04-03-00
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!