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2018 NHL Entry Draft: Top 101 Rankings

Rasmus Dahlin is the gem of this year’s class, but there is no shortage of future NHL talent behind him.

Czech Republic v Finland: Quarterfinal - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images

Let’s get the most obvious information out of the way first: Rasmus Dahlin is the best player in this year’s draft.

A Swedish defenseman who possesses every single tool you could want a blueliner to have, and prospects like him are incredibly rare and incredibly valuable. Barring nothing short of an act of fate, Dahlin is going to get chosen first overall by the Buffalo Sabres.

In a similar vein, it’s agreed upon by most scouts that Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov and Czech winger Filip Zadina are the second and third best players respectively out of this year’s crop. Both prospects are elite offensive talents who are expected to be terrorizing NHL defenses and goaltenders in the not-too-distant future.

Beyond those three names, however, things get a lot more complicated.

Dahlin isn’t the only blue-chip blueliner up for grabs in 2018. Noah Dobson, Quinn Hughes, Evan Bouchard, and Adam Boqvist all have loads of elite potential as well, but each player brings a little something different to the table, making comparisons and projections a challenge.

Things get even murkier with the forward crop. Brady Tkachuk, Oliver Wahlstrom, Joe Veleno, and Joel Farabee have been highly touted going all the way back to last season, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi earned his spot within this group later on after excelling all year long. Like the defense, these forwards are all very close in terms of overall potential, yet all have distinct styles of play and specialize in different areas.

Once this year’s draft reaches pick No. 15 or so, though, is when all bets are really off.

This is where lists and rankings start to vary dramatically. A prospect ranked 15th on one list might not make the top 31 on another, and vice versa. There’s so much debate and disagreement in this range that picks 15 through 45 are going to be fascinating to watch as they unfold, and even more fascinating to look back on and assess in the coming years.

I don’t want to be left out of these festivities, so after a full season of research, dedicated thought, and a lot of last-minute fine-tuning, I have compiled my own list ranking the draft’s top 101 prospects.

This list has been compiled and refined through a laborious collection of in-person scouting (I live in Calgary, Alberta and am credentialed with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen), statistical analysis, watching live games, and highlight packages online and on TV, reading scouting reports, discussions with other scouts, and other methods. These views are entirely my own.

Let’s dig in.

1) Rasmus Dahlin — Defense — Frolunda (SHL)

No surprises here. It’s a nearly unanimous consensus that Dahlin is the top player in this year’s draft, and this list will be no different. A potential franchise-changing defenseman.

2) Andrei Svechnikov — Right Wing — Barrie Colts (OHL)

In a lot of other drafts years Svechnikov would be a slam-dunk top pick, so it’s a little unlucky for him to go up against Dahlin. A big, fast winger with elite offensive talent.

3) Filip Zadina — Left Wing — Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

A winger with flashy, game-breaking moves on offense. One of the best snipers in this draft (if not the very best), Zadina also thinks a step ahead of the play and protects the puck well.

4) Noah Dobson — Defense — Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

Not only can Dobson do everything that you want a blueliner to do, he also doesn’t have any real weaknesses in his game. He has the potential to become a bonafide number one defenseman.

5) Quinn Hughes — Defense — University of Michigan (NCAA)

A rearguard with explosive, dynamic skating, Hughes is tailor-made for the new NHL. Beyond his skating, he sees the ice well and has an excellent compete level and attitude.

6) Evan Bouchard — Defense — London Knights (OHL)

Bouchard showed this year that he can log a ton of minutes on a nightly basis and still be a dominant player, which is a stellar combo. Elite on offense, still a work in progress on defense.

7) Brady Tkachuk — Left Wing — Boston University (NCAA)

A huge winger born and raised in a diehard hockey family, Tkachuk is a fierce competitor who will do anything to help his team win. Consistently elevates his game in big moments.

8) Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Center — Assat (Liiga)

A late riser in the draft, Kotkaniemi played wing in Finland this year, but proved at the U18s that he can also excel at center. Can control the puck, create plays and finish them off well.

9) Oliver Wahlstrom — Right Wing — USNTDP (USHL)

Wahlstrom can score goals from pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone, and unluckily for opponents, he loves to shoot a lot, too. Built solid, but could stand to get a step quicker.

10) Adam Boqvist — Defense — Brynas (SuperElit)

A sublime, elusive skater who moves well in all directions. Finds opportunities on offense because he thinks the game at a special level. You’d like to see him play with more intensity.

11) Joe Veleno — Center — Drummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL)

A playmaking pivot who can make his linemates better. Very dangerous offensively, both at full speed and when slowing the game down, and is an excellent power play quarterback.

12) K’Andre Miller — Defense — USNTDP (USHL)

A big, strong defender who also possesses an underappreciated amount of skill. Miller is still raw, but his long-term upside is enormous if a team is patient with his development.

13) Joel Farabee — Left Wing — USNTDP (USHL)

Farabee has the skill of a top six forward, but the character and work ethic of a bottom six guy. A hard-nosed player you can trust in all situations to consistently make a positive impact.

14) Ty Smith — Defense — Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

An intelligent, puck-moving blueliner who drives possession. Smith takes hockey seriously and is very coachable, but lacks size and has had trouble elevating his game on big stages.

15) Jonatan Berggren — Right Wing — Skelleftea (SuperElit)

Berggren’s quickness, puck skills, and offensive awareness make him a constant scoring threat. Made a big statement for Sweden at the U18s. Will need to bulk up as he gets older.

16) Vitali Kravtsov — Right Wing — Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)

With a tall frame and a long, powerful skating stride, Kravtsov is a prospect with a lot of upside. Has the ability to pull fans out of their seats with one-on-one moves at full speed.

17) Ty Dellandrea — Center — Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Despite playing on a bad Firebirds team without much of a supporting cast around him, Dellandrea regularly made an impact. Versatile, mature center who has untapped potential.

18) Barrett Hayton — Center — Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Hayton does a lot of things well: he’s strong, he has soft hands, he competes and he already conducts himself like a professional. Heavy feet could limit just how high his ceiling goes.

19) Serron Noel — Right Wing — Oshawa Generals (OHL)

A giant, lanky forward who moves around the ice quickly. That combo alone makes him appealing. Still fights the puck and falls behind the play at times. Some risk, but high reward.

20) Bode Wilde — Defense — USNTDP (USHL)

A 6’2” defender who accelerates quickly and hits a nice top gear. Has trouble with puck management and following the play. Frequency of scrambly moments needs to be fixed.

21) Rasmus Sandin — Defense — Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Sandin flew under the radar a bit this season playing on a loaded Soo team, but he packs a lot of skill into his 5’11” frame. A sharp passer who understands the game at a high level.

22) Rasmus Kupari — Center — Karpat (Liiga)

A pivot who gets around the ice well and exhibits advanced puck distribution skills. Great at spotting unfolding opportunities and turning them into chances. Needs to take charge more.

23) Jared McIsaac — Defense — Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

A tools-y blueliner who can do a little bit of everything and make a positive difference in all situations, McIsaac is the type of player a coach loves to have around. A safe, steady pick.

24) Akil Thomas — Center — Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

Not the biggest or fastest guy, but can make things happen when the puck is on his stick. At his best on the power play. However, Thomas blends into the scenery on too many shifts.

25) Isac Lundestrom — Center — Lulea (SHL)

A reliable, Swiss army knife kind of center. Plays in all situations, but doesn’t excel in any of them. A late birthday with a lot of pro-level experience, Lundestrom is almost NHL-ready.

26) Dominik Bokk — Right Wing — Vaxjo (SuperElit)

A highly-skilled offensive winger who can make flashy, highlight-reel plays. Without the puck, though, he often looks quite lost and doesn’t put in enough work to get it back.

27) Liam Foudy — Left Wing — London Knights (OHL)

An athletic speed demon who blows by opponents with ease, Foudy’s speed alone will take him a long way. Was given a chance to play a bigger role for London and never looked back.

28) Jonny Tychonick — Defense — Penticton Vees (BCHL)

A smooth-skating rearguard who lit it up in the BCHL playoffs and then stole the show at the combine with his personality and great test results. Headed to University of North Dakota.

29) Ryan McLeod — Center — Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

When you watch McLeod out there he looks incredible on some shifts, yet invisible on many others. No doubting the tools, though. His team had problems, so maybe that held him back.

30) Grigori Denisenko — Left Wing — Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

A small, shifty Russian winger with some dazzling hands. A feisty competitor, which is great, but discipline and attitude issues raise some red flags. Patient development will be key.

31) Jacob Olofsson — Center — Timra (Allsvenskan)

A center with size and a lot of different tools, Olofsson helped Timra advance from the Allvenskan to the SHL, but then disappeared at the U18s. Creativity and compete are issues.

32) Martin Kaut — Right Wing — HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Extraliga)

33) Mattias Samuelsson — Defense — USNTDP (USHL)

34) Ryan Merkley — Defense — Guelph Storm (OHL)

35) Jack McBain — Center — Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL)

36) Jacob Bernard-Docker — Defense — Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)

37) Benoit-Olivier Groulx — Center — Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

38) David Gustafsson — Center — HV71 (SHL)

39) Xavier Bernard — Defense — Drummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL)

40) Filip Hallander — Center — Timra (Allsvenskan)

41) Niklas Nordgren — Right Wing — HIFK (Liiga)

42) Kirill Marchenko — Right Wing — Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

43) Adam Ginning — Defense — Linkoping (SHL)

44) Jay O’Brien — Center — Thayer Academy (USHS)

45) Jesse Ylonen — Right Wing — Espoo United (Mestis)

46) Adam Mascherin — Left Wing — Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

47) Cole Fonstad — Left Wing — Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

48) Albin Eriksson — Left Wing — Skelleftea (SHL)

49) Nils Lundkvist — Defense — Lulea (SHL)

50) Alec Regula — Defense — London Knights (OHL)

51) Allan McShane — Center — Oshawa Generals (OHL)

52) Cam Hillis — Center — Guelph Storm (OHL)

53) Filip Johansson — Defense — Leksands (Allsvenskan)

54) Scott Perunovich — Defense — University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)

55) Gabriel Fortier — Center — Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

56) Jakub Lauko — Left Wing — Pirati Chomutov (Czech Extraliga)

57) Sean Durzi — Defense — Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

58) Blake McLaughlin — Left Wing — Chicago Steel (USHL)

59) Jake Wise — Center — USNTDP (USHL)

60) Curtis Hall — Center — Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

61) Toni Utunen — Defense — Leki (Mestis)

62) Calen Addison — Defense — Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

63) Philipp Kurashev — Center — Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

64) Nicolas Beaudin — Defense — Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

65) Jett Woo — Defense — Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

66) Alexander Alexeyev — Defense — Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

67) Kevin Bahl — Defense — Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

68) Stanislav Demin — Defense — Wenatchee Wild (BCHL)

69) Ivan Morozov — Center — Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

70) Kristian Reichel — Center — Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

71) Aidan Dudas — Center — Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

72) Jack Drury — Center — Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

73) Jan Jenik — Center — HC Benatky nad Jizerou (Czech2)

74) Adam Samuelsson — Defense — USNTDP (USHL)

75) Luka Burzan — Left Wing — Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

76) Spencer Stastney — Defense — USNTDP (USHL)

77) Curtis Douglas — Center — Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

78) Logan Hutsko — Right Wing — Boston College (NCAA)

79) Vladislav Kotkov — Left Wing — Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

80) Nando Eggenberger — Left Wing — Davos (NLA)

81) Jesper Sellgren — Defense — MODO (Allsvenskan)

82) Riley Sutter — Center — Everett Silvertips (WHL)

83) Nathan Dunkley — Center — London Knights (OHL)

84) Ty Emberson — Defense — USNTDP (USHL)

85) Lukas Wernblom — Left Wing — MODO (Allsvenskan)

86) Axel Andersson — Defense — Djurgardens (SuperElit)

87) Jakub Skarek — Goaltender — HC Dukla Jihlava (Czech Extraliga)

88) Martin Fehervary — Defense — IK Oskarshamn (Allsvenskan)

89) Justin Almeida — Center — Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

90) Alexander Khovanov — Center — Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

91) Jacob Ragnarsson — Defense — Almtuna IS (Allsvenskan)

92) Anderson MacDonald — Left Wing — Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

93) Tristen Nielsen — Left Wing — Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

94) Xavier Bouchard — Defense — Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

95) Joey Keane — Defense — Barrie Colts (OHL)

96) Chase Wouters — Center — Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

97) Jonathan Gruden — Left Wing — USNTDP (USHL)

98) Pavel Gogolev — Right Wing — Peterborough Petes (OHL)

99) Justus Annunen — Goaltender — Karpat (Jr. A. SM-liiga)

100) Connor Dewar — Left Wing — Everett Silvertips (WHL)

101) Oscar Back — Center — Farjestad (SuperElit)