Ryan Wagman

Mock Draft

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Mock Draft 2.0

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Welcome to the second of three mock drafts I am writing for Rotoworld.

 

There have been a great number of changes made since the first one, which was written before the draft lottery was conducted. Even though the order at the top of the draft has changed (Carolina moved up from 11 to second overall with nine other picks dropping by one slot), the top three of this mock look the same as last time.

 

The changes begin with the fourth pick and with a few exceptions, they continue through the 31st and final pick of the first round.

 

This mock draft was completed shortly after the Washington Capitals took a two games to one lead over the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. As the Cup winner gets the final pick in the draft and the runner-up gets pick 30, I completed this mock with the assumption that Washington would win twice more before Vegas can win three and picks 30 and 31 are slotted accordingly. For the record, I would maintain the players I have them picking here even if the pick order was reversed.

 

As a reminder, I cannot assume any trades in this exercise, even though a number of teams have discussed the possibility of shopping their selections.

 

For more about the upcoming draft, please head to mckeenshockey.com. Our annual draft guide was published yesterday for all subscribers and profiles on 125 players are included in the offering along with much, much more.

 

Editor’s Note: Fantasy Baseball season is here! With over 15,000 reviews, DRAFT is the highest rated fantasy sports app. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money fantasy baseball draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link.

 

Listen to the Rotoworld Hockey Podcast every week both on Rotoworld and iTunes.

 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @RAWagman on Twitter.

 

Without further ado, I call the Buffalo Sabres up to the podium to make the first pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft:

 

1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (SHL)

Some years there is doubt about who will be selected with the first overall draft pick. There may have been lip service paid in some quarters early in the season about alternate possibilities, but even those whispers died away early. Rasmus Dahlin has four elite or near-elite tools in his skating, shooting, puck skills and hockey IQ. He even has a decent physical to tie it all together. No matter how you look at it, he is ready for the NHL and will be the top NHL-affiliated prospect in the game from the moment his name is called on the podium in Dallas until he suits up for his first game in October. The rebuild in Buffalo will be kicked into high gear with the addition of a superstar blueliner defining the pace of play for years to come.

 

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

As GM of the perennial sad sack Atlanta Thrashers from 1998-2006, Don Waddell, recently named as Ron Francis’ replacement in the GM chair in Carolina had more than his share of top draft picks. He selected Czechs, Russians, Canadians, Finns. As the big winners in the Draft Lottery this year, jumping from the 11th slot to pick second. After Dahlin, the choice comes down to two dynamic European wingers who have been rounding off their development in Canada. Assuming he keeps the pick (he is reportedly open to listening to offers), we project him to select Svechnikov, who is the Russian playing in Ontario over Zadina, who is the Czech playing in Halifax mostly because the former has a gritty, hard-nosed edge that the latter lacks. Either player would give the Hurricanes’ offense a needed boost.

 

3. Montreal Canadiens – Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

There are rumors that the Canadiens, who crave centers and toughness would either trade down, or go off the board here for a center like Joe Veleno (a rumor fanned by the flames of French Canadian angst wanting on of their own on the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge) or a big tough winger like Brady Tkachuk. It would not be the first draft day shocker in recent memory; The Blue Jackets dropped jaws two years ago by selecting Pierre-Luc Dubois over Jesse Puljujarvi, the consensus pick. That worked out well. In 2013, everyone expected the Avalanche to kick things off with Seth Jones before they took Nathan MacKinnon. Either choice would have worked out. I won’t bet on a surprise, though, and I will go with Zadina for Montreal, who could use more dynamic scoring as much as they could anything else. Zadina is as dynamic as they come.

 

4. Ottawa Senators – Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)

Assuming the first three picks are the players mentioned above, this is the first point in the draft where a team is realistically choosing between more than two players. The Senators are a tough team to project as they usually draft for hockey IQ more than pure skill and seem more concerned with floor than ceiling. Then again, they usually pick much lower than this. This pick is their first top ten selection since drafting Mike Zibanejad sixth overall in 2011. Presuming they do not give this pick to Colorado to close out the Matt Duchene trade, they will be able to choose between players with both high floors and high ceilings. High IQ players with skill, to boot. The two players who best fit that template are winger Brady Tkachuk and defenseman Evan Bouchard. In this scenario, I see them taking the right-shooting defenseman, who also serves as a hedge in case Erik Karlsson leaves in the next 12 months.

 

5. Arizona Coyotes – Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (NCAA/Hockey East)

The Coyotes are in a bit of a weird spot. Their 2017-18 season was over almost before it began, with a first half that was awful in every sense. In the second half, though, they played like a playoff team. It was a case of too little, too late, but there are reasons for optimism here. While Brady Tkachuk has already publicly proclaimed that he will return to college for his sophomore season, he is as close to ready as any player outside of the top three. A strong power forward with great hands, high end hockey IQ and puck possession ability, he would make a great future compliment to Clayton Keller, who preceded Tkachuk with both the USNTDP and BU by one year. He can create space for both his own teammates to maneuver while also being fully capable of taking advantage of that space himself. As an added bonus, his father is a Coyotes alum.

 

6. Detroit Red Wings- Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan University (NCAA/Big 10)

This is the ideal result for the Red Wings. The easy connection is Hughes’ current team just down the road from Detroit in Ann Arbor. The more pertinent connection is the fact that Hughes spent must of the last month under the watchful eye of Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill as the only draft eligible player invited to play for Team USA at the recent World Championships. By all accounts, Hughes impressed greatly at the event, capping off a fantastic freshman season with the Wolverines. His game took off in the second half after he returned to campus from being the seventh defender for the Bronze Medal winning American WJC squad. He is an incredibly dynamic blueliner who absolutely controls the game whenever his team has the puck and is growing more confident and assertive in his own zone as well. Could use another year on campus, but he is not too far from making a serious NHL impact.

 

7. Vancouver Canucks – Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (WHL)

Two years ago, the Canucks used a single digit pick on a do-it-all blueliner who was fresh off a victory in the Memorial Cup. Last year, they looked to the Memorial Cup winners again for a goalie in the third round. This year, they will be primed to go that route again early, with right handed defender Noah Dobson, who was fantastic all season long, really, but stepped it up a notch in the postseason and in the Memorial Cup. A 200-foot player, Vancouver brass and fans should be envisioning a long term first pairing with Juolevi and Dobson. The latter can do everything at a plus level. Strong, smart play in his own zone. Fleet of foot from end to end and willing and able to jump into the rush and rip off a strong shot from the slot.

 

8. Chicago Blackhawks – Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USNTDP (USHL)

The dynasty in Chicago may be over, but the Blackhawks have done a good job of drafting sneakily high upside players on their way to college in recent years and reap the benefits of one or two new ones every year. Last year, John Hayden began to make his mark. Next season, Dylan Sikura is expected to win a top nine slot. Oliver Wahlstrom, a gifted goal scorer with the USNTDP may be ready to follow in their footsteps next year if he plays as expected with Boston College. A stellar skater and the best sniper this side of Svechnikov/Zadina, he has the inherent skills to damage opponents even in what may seem like a down game. He is more than just a shooter, though, as he also brings high end puck skills to the table and a mature physical frame. You would like to see more consistency in his intensity level, but this is a high impact prospect.

 

9. New York Rangers – Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas (SHL)

The word out of Manhattan is that the Rangers would prefer if they could use their first of three first rounders on a defenseman or a center, as long as he is a right handed shot. While the best centers on the board (Joe Veleno, Barrett Hayton, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi) are all left handed shots, the last available high end defender is a righty. Boqvist is not as advanced as Dahlin, Bouchard, Hughes, or Dobson, his upside rivals each of those not from Sweden. He is undersized, a little raw in his own zone, and has not experienced much success out of the Swedish junior ranks yet, but the potential he brings to the offensive attack is tremendous. He is a jaw dropping skater, gifted puck player and owns a heavy point shot. He needs a full season of exposure to men’s hockey in Sweden before he might be ready to come over, and may, in fact, need two, but one he learns how to bring his skill set to the fore against more experienced and physically mature opponents, he could be a stud.

 

10. Edmonton Oilers – Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Since selecting Magnus Paajarvi with the 10th pick in 2009, all of the Oilers’ first picks save one were out of the CHL. With a fast, gifted playmaker like Veleno available here, there is no reason why that trend should not continue. The only player ever (yet) granted exceptional player status in the QMJHL, Veleno started his draft year off slowly, with a rebuilding Saint John Sea Dogs. Following a mid-season trade to Drummondville, his play and production picked up a few notches, and Veleno was lighting lamps again. He combines his great speed with an advanced hockey mind and silky smooth puck skills. His future presence down the middle may also make the Oilers feel more comfortable in moving one or both of Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the wing.


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