With both the draft lottery and draft combine now behind us it’s officially mock draft season. The combine is a great opportunity for both teams and media to get a closer look at these teenagers but I’m not sure it really changes much. Rasmus Dahlin is still going to go first. Andrei Svechnikov is still going to be drafted second. There will still be at least four defensemen selected in the top ten. So why do another mock draft? My theory is to take as many shots as you possibly can and you may just hit something.
I may be exaggerating on this but no mock draft in the history of mock drafts has ever perfectly mocked the draft. Here’s my second attempt at the 2018 draft in Dallas, which I’m looking forward to covering for the fine folks here at The Nation.
1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin (D)
I could do a fresh mock draft every single day and this pick is never going to change. The Sabres got screwed over when they missed out on McDavid but got lucky this year hanging on to the pick needed to land franchise blueliner Rasmus Dahlin. Would be an all-time knucklehead move to pass on this kid.
2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov (RW)
I know some people are expecting significant changes in Carolina and that may involve a little bit of craziness but not with this pick. Svechnikov has the game-breaking ability the Hurricanes have been desperately lacking. This pick isn’t as much of a lock as Dahlin at one, but it should be.
3. Montreal Canadians – Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C)
Time to start getting crazy. I had Jesperi Kotkaniemi at six in my first mock draft so the Habs taking him at three doesn’t seem like a huge reach to me. The Canadiens have been looking for a big first line center for the last 25 years. Kotkaniemi tested extremely well at the combine and has worked his way into being a surefire top ten selection. If he develops into a similar mold as countryman Alex Barkov the Habs will have found the center they’ve been desperately lacking. The Kotkaniemi hype train is rolling full steam ahead right now.
4. Ottawa Senators – Filip Zadina (RW)
Zadina didn’t test overly well at the combine but he has too much skill for the Sens to pass up at this point. Zadina is dynamic offensive force that absolutely torched the QMJHL as a rookie in Halifax this past season. The Senators would be very happy to see Zadina on the board at four and will have a player to develop their offense around moving forward.
5. Arizona Coyotes – Noah Dobson (D)
Prior to selecting Pierre Oliver-Joseph in 2017 the Coyotes had used five consecutive first round picks on forwards. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson, a first rounder in 2009, always rumoured to be on the move it’s probably time to take another stab at a possible replacement. Dobson was terrific at the Memorial Cup with seven points in four games helping the lead the Titan to a championship.
6. Detroit Red Wings – Quinn Hughes (D)
In the past ten years the Wings have only used one first round pick on a defenseman. That changes this year. Hughes already has a year in college and a trip to the World Championships on his resume. He was the youngest player in college hockey and it showed with a slow start. By the second half of the season he was controlling games from the backend. This Wolverine is probably only one year away from being ready to contribute on the Wings blueline.
7. Vancouver Canucks – Brady Tkachuk (C/W)
I could see the Canucks being tempted by both Bouchard and Boqvist but one of Tkachuk or Wahlstrom seems like the smart pick here. Tkachuk will be returning to Boston University next year but after that he could be ready to make an impact on the West Coast. Tkachuk will play in the NHL for the next ten years it’s just a matter of what his upside looks like.
8. Chicago Blackhawks – Oliver Wahlstrom (RW)
I had Wahlstrom landing in the same spot in Mock Draft 1.0. I just can’t see him falling any lower. His offensive upside is outstanding. He is heading to Boston College in the fall but I’d be surprised if the Hawks leave him there for more than one season. Wahlstrom would be an excellent offensive compliment to Kane and DeBrincat. Chicago ends up in the top ten for the first time in a long time and they get an offensive stud.
9. New York Rangers – Evan Bouchard (D)
The Rangers have three picks in the first round, which makes them a real threat to move up if they want to. Evan Bouchard seems like a safe pick at nine. He put up 87 points in 67 games with the London Knights. He is a workhorse who is just as reliable in his own end as he is in the offensive zone. He is not afraid to shoot the puck, leading all OHL defensemen in shots on goal by a significant margin.
10. Edmonton Oilers – Adam Boqvist (D)
I’m sure the Oilers will be tempted to select Ty Smith but in the end I’d like to see them take the d-man with a higher offensive upside. Boqvist has a booming shot from the point, shoots right and is excellent on the power-play. He checks off all the boxes for an Oilers team searching for a true offensive d-man. Boqvist still has some work to do in his own end and has dealt with some injury issues; which is the only reason he’d still be on the board at ten. He torched the Swedish Junior league but didn’t get much opportunity when playing with the Senior team in Byrnas.
OTHER OPTIONS AT TEN
Ty Smith (D) – Well rounded d-man that the Oilers will be very familiar with.
Barrett Hayton (C) – Has more offensive upside than we’ve seen so far in the OHL.
Vitali Kravtsov (RW) – Excellent skater with high-end skill.
Bode Wilde (D) – Smooth skater, shoots right and put up some nice numbers.
Joe Veleno (C) – More of a complimentary player with 3 years of QMJHL experience.
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