NHL Mock Draft 2018, final edition: Canadiens weigh trade down; Senators nab Erik Karlsson heir

NHL Mock Draft 2018, final edition: Canadiens weigh trade down; Senators nab Erik Karlsson heir
NHL Mock Draft 2018, final edition: Canadiens weigh trade down; Senators nab Erik Karlsson heir

Will the Montreal Canadiens trade down? How many defensemen will be picked in the top 10? These two questions and many more all will be answered on Friday when the hockey world converges on Dallas for the 2018 NHL Draft.

Not much has changed in terms of the top tier, as both Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov are all but guaranteed to be the first two picks to Buffalo and Carolina, respectively. Things have gotten interesting since out last mock, however, as there is talk that the Canadiens could be willing to either move down from the No. 3 pick in order to draft a center, or simply stay put and take the best one.

Right now, it appears as though Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is the player the Habs could target, especially when you consider he’s one of the best pivots in a draft devoid of elite center depth. If the Canadiens stay put and take Kotkaniemi, then the likelihood of one of the six star defense prospects after Dahlin — Adam Boqvist, Quinn Hughes, Noah Dobson, Ty Smith, Evan Bouchard and Rasmus Sandin — to fall into the middle of the first round increases greatly. In fact, there’s a slight chance we see five forwards drafted consecutively after Dahlin goes to the Sabres, with one of them almost certainly being power winger Brady Tkachuk.

BIG BOARD: Final rankings of top 100 prospects in 2018 class

Yet still, some believe it would be folly for Bergevin to pass up the chance to take a gifted sniper like Filip Zadina or Oliver Wahlstrom, or maybe even Tkachuk, with the third pick simply to address a need. Also to be considered is the 2019 draft is deep with quality centers with franchise-changing upside, and there’s a good bet the Habs next season will be closer to a lottery team rather than one contending for the playoffs.

History tells us there will be at least one “off-the-board” prospect who shoots up into the upper half of the first round, while one or two notable names plummet into the later stage of Day 1 or not get his names called until the next day.

Last year, the Rangers made a surprising choice with Lias Andersson seventh overall, while center Gabe Vilardi slipped out of the top 10 until the Kings grabbed him at 11. Based on recent pre-draft speculation, players like wingers Martin Kaut, Jonatan Berggren and Vitaly Kravtsov should all be considered legitimate options for one of the teams picking in the top 15.

Sporting News’ final mock draft goes two rounds deep and attempts to shed light on what may happen beyond the seemingly obvious choices the Sabres and Hurricanes will make at 1-2. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

MORE: Why Andrei Svechnikov’s star potential is on par with Rasmus Dahlin


NHL Mock Draft 2018, version 3.0

1. Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin, LHD, Frolunda (SHL)

The Sabres hit the jackpot by winning the chance to draft the best defense prospect in years. Dahlin automatically becomes their best defenseman.

MORE: How Rasmus Dahlin can fit Sabres, fast-track rebuild

2. Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)

Carolina hasn’t had a forward with this much star potential since they drafted Eric Staal in 2003. Svechnikov’s impact on the league should be immediate.

MORE: Andrei Svechnikov takes cues from Capitals countrymen

3. Montreal Canadiens: Filip Zadina, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)

The talk of Montreal trading down to draft a center could be posturing by GM Marc Bergevin, who at this point doesn’t have one prospect in his pool who resembles what a 200-foot sniper like Zadina brings every night.

4. Ottawa Senators: Quinn Hughes, LHD, Michigan (Big 10)

The uncertainty surrounding Erik Karlsson’s future means the Senators need an NHL-ready puck rusher as a contingency. Hughes may be listed as a smaller player, but he’s strong, fast and incredibly talented.

MORE: Quinn Hughes ‘as valuable as anyone’ playing a style his own

5. Arizona Coyotes: Noah Dobson, RHD, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

A solid second half shouldn’t preclude GM John Chayka from further bolstering Arizona’s blue line with an elite three-zone defender like Dobson, who one day could partner with Jakob Chychrun to form a super pairing.

6. Detroit Red Wings: Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

This fearless power winger is more than just a goal scorer with an elite shot; Wahlstrom is defensively responsible and is a strong stickhandler to help lengthen possession time.

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7. Vancouver Canucks: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat (SM-Liiga)

The Canucks’ critical need for a center to feed their growing list of scoring wingers makes this an easy pick, especially after Kotkaniemi’s outstanding under-18 world championship increased his value.

8. Chicago Blackhawks: Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston U. (Hockey East)

It seems like there’s always one player who slips a few picks lower than expected, but by no means should this abrasive winger with soft hands be consider a consolation prize. Tkachuk can dominate multiple shifts in a period and wear down defenders of any size.

MORE: For polarizing talent Brady Tkachuk, rewards outweigh risks

9. New York Rangers: Adam Boqvist, RHD, Brynas J20 (Superelit)

It’s been a while since the Rangers had a defenseman who could run their power play with silky-smooth effectiveness, and Boqvist has that perfect blend of speed and skill that will make their young forwards more dangerous.

10. Edmonton Oilers: Evan Bouchard, RHD, London (OHL)

Nominating this elite power-play quarterback to run the Oilers’ power play for the next decade likely makes Connor McDavid happier than anyone else. Bouchard can hammer the puck and executes clean breakouts with both his skating and his passing.


11. New York Islanders: Ty Smith, LHD, Spokane (WHL)

The Islanders’ defense this year was a mess, but if any one rearguard outside of Rasmus Dahlin can help tilt the ice away from their goal, it’s this swift-skating playmaker who handles the puck responsibly and can be entrusted with late-game situations.

12. New York Islanders (via CGY): Vitaly Kravtsov, RW, Chelyabinsk (KHL)

Adding another finisher to their prospect pool like this mature Russian scorer will make the Islanders all the more dangerous when you consider they have Mathew Barzal and John Tavares feeding them pucks. Kravtsov was a beast against adults-age players in the KHL playoffs.

MORE: Biggest sleepers, risers and fallers to watch in 2018 NHL Draft

13. Dallas Stars: Joel Farabee, LW, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

The Stars have drafted a lot of wingers lately, but none have the complete skill set this Syracuse native presents on a nightly basis. Farabee is a leader and a tireless worker with a high IQ who is an assassin inside the hash marks.

14. Philadelphia Flyers (via STL): Rasmus Sandin, LHD, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

The Flyers already have plenty of quality prospects, so they can afford to aim high with this cerebral defenseman who by season’s end was Sault Ste Marie’s best overall blue liner. Sandin is poised and positionally sound, but he can skate the puck out of danger and make fancy plays.

15. Florida Panthers: Grigory Denisenko, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

The loss of 2016 pick Adam Mascherin leaves a void on the flanks that this Russian super-scorer can fill in nicely. Denisenko is a fleet-footed puck hound who can finish from just about anywhere in the offensive zone.

16. Colorado Avalanche: Joe Veleno, C, Saint John (QMJHL)

One of the fastest centers among draft eligibles also is an elite playmaker that can improve any power play. Veleno’s production skyrocketed after a second-half trade from Saint John to Drummondville, and he’s helped increase power-play efficiency everywhere he’s gone.

17. New Jersey Devils: Bode Wilde, RHD, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

The Devils are an exciting team with a deep prospect pool, so they can afford to take a risk on the draft’s biggest risk taker, at least in terms of offensive defensemen. Wilde is a fantastic skater with size and a hard shot.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets: Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra IK (Allsvenskan)

The best rookie in Sweden’s top minor league has the size, speed and three-zone understanding to become an elite talent. Olofsson’s average play at several international events should not override what he did during league competition.

19. Philadelphia Flyers: Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Distinguishing oneself as a draft eligible on a team loaded with NHL prospects is tough to do, but this hard-shooting pivot was by season’s end one of the Greyhounds’ best players, especially in the playoffs.

20. Los Angeles Kings: Jonatan Berggren, LW, Skelleftea J20 (Superelit)

If the Kings want to remain a tough competitor but one with more speed, then this Swedish dynamo with excellent one-on-one skills is the perfect choice for them.

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MORE: Best No. 1 and 2 overall draft duos in NHL Draft history

21. San Jose Sharks: Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (SM-Liiga)

One of the draft’s top centers had an inconsistent year but has shown flashes that he’s capable of dominating a game. Kupari is a dual threat either passing the puck or firing the puck from in close.

22. Ottawa Senators (via PIT): Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (SHL)

Trading 2017 first-round center Shane Bowers in the Matt Duchene deal stung Ottawa’s prospect pool. But a nice replacement from a depth chart standpoint would be an excitable yet responsible center like Lundestrom, who’s done well the last two seasons as a teenager in the SHL

23. Anaheim Ducks: Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)

Being a difficult opponent to overmatch in the physicality department is a big reason why the Ducks have been so successful. McLeod’s speed, size and puck skills should seamlessly fit into Anaheim’s attack.

24. Minnesota Wild: Martin Kaut, RW, Pardubice (Extraliga)

A strong under-20 world junior championship was just a small part of Kaut’s season, which culminated with a regular shift during Pardubice’s playoff run. He is a playmaker with good vision and causes a lot of problems in front of the opposing net.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs: Dominik Bokk, RW, Vaxjo J20 (Superelit)

Finishing off the pass seems like a lost art, but this German sniper can fire any kind of pass on net with accuracy. Bokk is a creative offensive player with very good speed and soft hands who rarely misses when he’s staring at an opening.

MORE: Best draft class for every NHL team

26. New York Rangers (via BOS): Jay O’Brien, C, Thayer HS (Mass.)

With both head coach David Quinn and GM Jeff Gorton native Bay Staters, you have to figure they saw plenty of this explosive pivot who shredded the New England prep circuit. O’Brien can fly and he loves to wire the puck.

27. Chicago Blackhawks (via NSH): Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL)

Sometimes it’s best to treat an additional first-round pick as an opportunity to swing for the fences, which is exactly what a raw yet talented power forward like Noel should be considered. He can play either a power or finesse game, and his finishing abilities are underrated.

28. New York Rangers (via TBL): Blake McLaughlin, LW, Chicago (USHL)

The Rangers seem to favor wingers that can control the puck and use their vision to set up plays, which is why they’d be wise to nab this Minnesota-born playmaker who next year will play collegiately for the Golden Gophers.


29. St. Louis Blues (via WPG): K’Andre Miller, LHD, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

A converted forward with a booming shot and a graceful stride, Miller improved significantly as the season progressed and his true abilities were somewhat masked by a deep NTDP blueline. He’s still a bit green but the potential to anchor a top pairing is there.

30. Detroit Red Wings (via VGK): Jonathan Tychonick, LHD, Penticton (BCHL)

A gifted puck mover with strong skating ability like the North Dakota-bound Tychonick would give the Red Wings an offense-pure dimension to help exploit overcommitting opponents. Tychonick plays with a hunter’s mindset and always looks to control the puck deep in opposing territory

31. Washington Capitals: Jakub Lauko, C, Chomutov (Extraliga)

Having exciting players appears to be a requirement to play in Washington, so this Czech roadrunner should fit right in. You can count on Lauko for at least one breakaway or odd-man rush a game.

Craving more NHL Draft information? Steve Kournianos’ 2018 Draft Report includes nearly 200 scouting reports on this year’s top prospects, in-depth previews for all 31 NHL teams, a two-round mock draft and more. BUY IT HERE FOR $5.

NHL Mock Draft 2018: Round 2

32. Buffalo Sabres: Jared McIsaac, LHD, Halifax (QMJHL)

Mobile shutdown defender can carry the play and deliver big hits.

33. Detroit Red Wings (via NYR/OTT): David Gustaffson, C, HV71 J20 (Superelit)

Strong-skating center is a threat in open ice and battles hard.

34. Florida Panthers (via ARI): Mattias Samuelsson, LHD, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

Kjell’s son is far more mobile but also uses his size and reach effectively.

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MORE: Big defenseman Mattias Samuelsson follows in father’s footsteps

35. Montreal Canadiens: Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint (OHL)

Mature center has goal-scoring ability and can match up against top players.

36. Detroit Red Wings: Jacob Bernard-Docker, LHD, Okotoks (AJHL)

Hard-shooting puck mover will play college hockey for North Dakota.

37. Vancouver Canucks: Filip Hallander, C/W, Timra IK (Allsvenskan)

Aggressive power forward had a solid year playing against men.

38. Montreal Canadiens (via CHI): Liam Foudy, C, London (OHL)

Foudy’s athleticism and speed helped London make the playoffs after roster was gutted.

39. New York Rangers: Sampo Ranta, LW, Sioux City (USHL)

Finnish sniper took the USHL route and displayed jersey-flapping speed and a hard wrist shot.

40. Edmonton Oilers: Akil Thomas, C/W, Niagara (OHL)

Versatile forward is a great stickhandle but gets a lot of mustard on his shot.

41. New York Islanders: Jakub Skarek, G, Jihlava (Extraliga)

Arguably the most NHL-ready goalie among his draft-eligible peers.

42. Carolina Hurricanes: Ivan Morozov, C, Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

Top two-way center has a lot of skill and makes goalies flinch first.

43. New York Islanders (via CGY): Jake Wise, C, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

Slick playmaker has top-line potential die to his incredible vision.

44. Dallas Stars: Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

Hard-nosed center is a tough competitor who also is an excellent penalty killer.

45. St. Louis Blues: Nils Lundkvist, RHD, Lulea (SHL)

Quick little defenseman provides speed and creativity from the blue line.

46. Washington Capitals (FLA/NJD): Oskar Back, C, Farjestad J20 (Superelit)

A strong second half and growth spurt makes this playmaking two-way center a hot commodity.

47. Colorado Avalanche: Jesse Ylonen, RW, Espoo United (Mestis)

Speedy winger with an accurate shot has NHL bloodlines.

48. New York Rangers (via NJD): Ryan Merkley, RHD, Guelph (OHL)

Few can pass the puck like this offensive defensemen, who needs to improve his decision making.

49. Columbus Blue Jackets: Michal Kvasnica, RW, Trinec U20 (Extraliga Jrs.)

Underrated goal scorer can fly and dominate when he wants to.

50. Philadelphia Flyers: Jack McBain, C/W, Jr. Canadiens (OJHL)

Boston College-bound power forward is the best player on the ice when he’s locked in.

51. Los Angeles Kings: Adam Ginning, LHD, Linkoping J20 (Superelit)

Abrasive defender loves to throw his weight around and may opponents pay for moves towards his net.

52. Toronto Maple Leafs (via SJS): Alexander Alexeyev, LHD, Red Deer (WHL)

Quick-witted defenseman with size likes to play with pace and can orchestrate a power play.

53. Pittsburgh Penguins: Nicolas Beaudin, LHD, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Impressive puck mover with smarts and creativity whose defensive game is undervalued.

54. Anaheim Ducks: Calen Addison, RHD, Lethbridge (WHL)

Quick playmaker from the back end who can run a power play with the best of them.

55. Arizona Coyotes (via MIN): Milos Roman, C, Vancouver (WHL)

An ankle injury slowed down a hype train that could have landed this 200-foot Slovak pivot in the first round.

56. Montreal Canadiens (via TOR): Filip Johansson, RHD, Leksands J20 (Superelit)

Calm and poised blue liner is the epitome of a safety net for a flashier partner.

57. Boston Bruins: Allan McShane, C, Oshawa (OHL)

Top-notch passer never gives up on plays and fights hard in the corners.

58. Colorado Avalanche (via NSH): Cole Fonstad, RW, Prince Albert (WHL)

Talented winger was the WHL’s top draft-age scorer at even strength.

59. Tampa Bay Lightning: Philipp Kurashev, C, Quebec (QMJHL)

Swiss pivot with skill helps Bolts’ replenish prospect pool.

60. Winnipeg Jets: Curtis Douglas, C, Windsor (OHL)

6-9 center is a load to handle and has deceptive quickness

61. Vegas Golden Knights: Dmitry Zavgorodniy, RW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

Relentless attacker with a deadly shot who plays three or four inches bigger than he’s listed.

62. Montreal Canadiens (via WSH): Olivier Rodrigue, G, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Mature netminder marries cat-like quickness with calm, poised approach.

Steve Kournianos is the founder of TheDraftAnalyst.com, a blog dedicated to the NHL Draft. He is a former prospects writer for ESPN.com and worked briefly for the Associated Press and McKeen’s Hockey. He also covered the Boston Bruins, the AHL and Hockey East for SportsTicker, and was a minor league baseball editor for Howe SportsData.

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