1. Buffalo Sabres: Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (Sweden). He would be equivalent of a five-tool outfielder in baseball. Dahlin is exceptional in all aspects of playing defense. He is a dominant skater and puck-handler, a player capable of going end to end like a modern-day Brian Leetch. He’s also a difference-maker on the power play and an exceptional one-on-one defender. And he will play physical. He’s the perfect No. 1 defenseman prospect, as a young Denis Potvin.
2. Carolina Hurricanes: Right-wing Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie (Ontario Hockey League). Pencil him in as a leading Rookie of the Year candidate next season. He’s a 6-2 pure scorer, a top-line performer with an enviable blend of skill, power, skating ability, and moxie. He has moves and determination. He can drive to the net or score off the rush. Wouldn’t be shocking to see him net 25 goals next season in the NHL. He scored 40 goals in 44 OHL games this season.
3. Montreal Canadiens: Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat Pori (Finland). At 6-2, Kotkaniemi might be the only potential No. 1 center in this year’s draft. He had 10 goals and 29 points playing as a 17-year-old in the Finnish league this past season. He’s a handful for opposing defenseman. He plays a power game. Hard shot. Plays physical. Coaches love players like Kotkaniemi.
4. Ottawa Senators: Left wing Brady Tkachuk, Boston University. He’s Keith’s son and Matthew’s brother and he will play the same power forward game that his family members played. The younger Tkachuk only scored eight goals in his freshman season, but he is projected to be a top-line power forward at the NHL level. He plays a rugged, mean, physical game and he will own the corners and the space in the front of the net. Might be able to play next season in the right situation.
5. Arizona Coyotes: Center Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). Hayton tries to play the game like Patrice Bergeron. He’s a smart, effective, well-rounded player who had 60 points in 63 games this season. Very safe pick. Can kill penalties, win an important faceoff and contribute offensively. Never will be among the league scoring leaders, but will always be one of his team’s most important players.
6. Detroit Red Wings: Left wing Filip Zadina, Halifax (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League). He’s another player who can step in and play immediately. The flashy scorer has some dance moves in traffic. He doesn’t need much room to get a shot rocketing toward the net. An accurate shooter, Zadina registered 82 points in 57 games. He makes things happen.
7. Vancouver Canucks: Defenseman Quinn Hughes, University of Michigan. Hughes could be the 21st-century version of American legend Phil Housley. Hughes can look spectacular as he motors up ice and creates offensive chances. He is dazzling because of his skating and offensive instincts. He didn’t look out of place at the recent World Championships. Might be able to sign now and step into a lineup, or play one more season at Michigan. Needs to get stronger and improve his defensive game. He’s only 5-9 on a tall day. He is the older brother of Jack Hughes, a dominant center who could be the No. 1 pick in 2019.
8. Chicago Blackhawks: Defenseman Adam Boqvist, Brynas (Sweden): Scouts use the word “electrifying” when describing Boqvist’s playing style. He likes to push the puck up ice like he is running the 100-meter dash. He is one of the top skaters in the draft, and his acceleration is NHL-caliber. He can get up to top speed in a hurry. Sees the ice extremely well. Will quarterback an NHL power play someday.
9. New York Rangers: Left wing Vitali Kravtsov, Chelyabinsk (Russia). Looked comfortable playing in the KHL this season, recording eight points in 37 games. He’s 6-2 and has the skill set necessary to play as a top-line player in the NHL. His skating is strong. He’s creative with his passing. He anticipates where he needs to go to score. High-level offensive instincts.
10. Edmonton Oilers: Defenseman Evan Bouchard, London (OHL). Smooth and measured, Bouchard can help a team in a variety of ways. He’s 6-2, giving him size and strength to go with his impressive shot and keen passing ability. Smart defensive player. Understands how the game should be played. Not overly physical, but can handle himself in a rugged game. Will be a top-pairing defenseman, logging heavy minutes, and has a shot to make the team this season. Think Ryan Suter as a comparison.
11. New York Islanders: Center/wing Oliver Wahlstrom, U.S. National Team Development Program. When you see Wahlstrom setting up for a one-timer on the power play, you would swear you were watching Brett Hull tee it up. Wahlstrom’s shot is dangerous, memorable and accurate. He also can beat you with speed or a power move. Fans will love this guy.
12. New York Islanders: Defenseman Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL). Dobson, a 6-3 potential top-pairing defenseman, had 69 points, including 17 goals, in 67 games this season. He has been compared to Zach Werenski or Alex Pietrangelo. He has the offensive upside and has the frame necessary to beef up. He’s a good skater.
13. Dallas Stars: Center Ty Dellandrea, Flint (OHL). Many scouts have gone into Flint and come away fascinated with the speedy Dellandrea. Remember Kris Draper? Dellandrea might remind you of him because of the skating and the fact that he is a strong two-way player who ends up with plenty of scoring chances. The hope is he might score enough to be a No. 2 center. He scored 27 goals this past season.
14. Philadelphia Flyers: Left wing Joel Farabee, U.S. NTDP. His coach, Seth Appert, has compared Farabee to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel. He was one of the top offensive stars (40 points in 25 USHL games) on one of best teams in U.S. NTDP history. Farabee is a smart, creative offensive player with a notable shot and superb instincts. Heading to Boston University.
15. Florida Panthers: Left wing Grigori Denisenko, Yaroslavl (Russia). Could be a sleeper. His skills package ranks with some of the top players in the draft. He thinks outside the box in his passing game and can be a show stopper with the puck on his stick. The problem is his game hasn’t quite come together. He lacks the consistency of a premium prospect. But scouts are fascinated by his potential.
16. Colorado Avalanche: Right wing Martin Kaut, Pardubice (Czech Republic). Scored nine goals as an 18-year-old in the Czech pro league. He’s a highly skilled offensive player with a quality wrist shot, quick release, impressive playmaking ability and a natural scoring touch. He is elusive and projects to be a top-six forward.
17. New Jersey Devils: Defenseman Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL). With 73 points in 69 games, Smith showed the potential to be a high-caliber puck-moving defenseman at the NHL level. He has exceptional skating ability and can jet up the ice with the puck. He moves the puck quickly and effectively out of the zone. His passes are sharp. His moves are fancy. He’s a game-breaker.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets: Center Liam Foudy, London (OHL). Foudy can wow you with his warp speed. NHL coaches will have to decide whether Foudy will be a third-line checking center or a second-line center with the potential to chip in 20 goals. He scored 24 this past season. He can back up defenses with his dynamic skating ability. Very intriguing.
19. Philadelphia Flyers: Center Jay O’Brien, Thayer Academy. Thayer Academy is the school that produced Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte. O’Brien is a difficult read because he didn’t play against other top prospects. But he was a dominant prep school performer with skating ability, a quick shot release and overflowing offensive instincts. He produced 43 goals in 30 games this season. Heading to Providence College.
20. Los Angeles Kings: Center Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Finland). Known for blazing speed, Kupari posted six goals and 14 points over 39 games in the Finnish League. He just turned 18. Enthusiastic checker. Nice hands. Enough creativity. Plenty of potential for high-impact performances.
21. San Jose Sharks: Defenseman Ryan Merkley, Guelph (OHL). Scouts view Merkley as a high-risk, high-reward player because of his willingness to jump up into an offensive rush. He put up 67 points in 63 games this season after getting 55 points the season before. He’s 5-11, 170 pounds. He needs to mature, and if he doesn’t pay more attention to defense, he might have trouble making the NHL.
22. New York Rangers: Defenseman K’Andre Miller, U.S. NTDP. Miller has an athletic package that few in this draft can match. He’s a 6-4 defenseman with impressive skating and offensive tools. He’s built like an NFL linebacker and he can play a physical game. He hasn’t put his game together – he makes too many mistakes – but there’s potential to be a high-impact player. Heading to the University of Wisconsin.