1) Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin, Defenseman, Frolunda (Sweden)
Rasmus Dahlin is the clear-cut number one pick in this draft and it is not even close. Dahlin is easily the most well-rounded prospect on the defensive end the league has seen since Drew Doughty. Dahlin is six foot three inches and can play a nimble skilled game on the offensive side of the puck. He can also establish a physical game on the back end. There is no doubt Buffalo is hitting a home run with this pick. The Sabres have been in the basement for what feels like forever now but they have a franchise center in Jack Eichel and now a franchise defenseman in Dahlin. The core of a legitimate contender is forming.
2) Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov, Right-Wing, Barrie (Ontario Hockey League)
Andrei Svechnikov is dynamic in every sense of the word. He plays the game with an offensive flair that one would expect from a skilled Russian forward. However, he also isn’t afraid to go the net and pot in some garbage goals. The 18-year-old netted 40 goals and 72 points overall for Barrie and was also outstanding at the World Junior Championship. The Hurricanes are getting an NHL ready player who has a chance to fill the net at least twenty times in his rookie campaign.
3) Montreal Canadiens: Brady Tkachuk, Center/Left Wing, Boston University (NCAA)
The Montreal Canadiens cannot afford to make a mistake in this situation. The last player they drafted third overall didn’t pan out and was recently shipped off to the Arizona Coyotes. Brady Tkachuk is physical but boasts a ton of skill as well. The phenomenal thing about Tkachuk is how fast he has risen in the draft rankings. He has gone from a lower tier prospect to a can’t miss player. His brother Matthew Tkachuk was slated to be the best in the family, but Brady has surpassed his ceiling. A one-two punch of Tkachuk and Poehling will have the Habs set with size and skill at the center position for years to come.
4) Ottawa Senators: Evan Bouchard, Defenseman, London Knights (OHL)
The elephant in the room is the Erik Karlsson situation and it’s not going away in Ottawa. With the best defenseman in franchise history having one foot out the door, his replacement must be found. There is no better option than Evan Bouchard. While not being Karlsson, he brings the smooth skating and vision that made Karlsson elite. He is extremely intelligent in all three zones and never seems to be out of position. It’s doubtful that he will be able to step right into the Senators lineup and make an impact, but in the future, he can undoubtedly fill the void left by Karlsson.
5) Arizona Coyotes: Filip Zadina, Left Wing, Halifax (QMJHL)
Elite offensive skill describes Filip Zadina perfectly. There was no shortage of highlights from the 18-year-old during his rookie year. Zadina does not lack size either as he comes in at six foot one inch, but he plays the game with extreme fluidity. His hockey sense is off the charts and he creates chaos for opposing defenders. His shot is deadly accurate and is supplemented with top-level playmaking. He is just as effective on the defensive side of the puck and has the capabilities to be a top two way forward in the league. If Arizona truly plans to play the recently acquired Alex Galchenyuk at center, Zadina on his wing could make a dynamic duo.
6) Detroit Red Wings: Quinn Hughes, Defenseman, University of Michigan (NCAA)
While not a massive big body presence on the back end, Quinn Hughes ends the Red Wings search for a blue chip blueline prospect. Hughes has the ability to control a game’s pace and dominate. The right-handed defenseman pressures offensive players into frustrating turnovers allowing his team capitalize because of it. Highly skilled Hughes can lead a rush out of his defensive zone and make a great first pass to initiate breakouts.
7) Vancouver Canucks: Joe Veleno, Center, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
With the seventh pick in the draft, the Canucks will be getting their long-awaited replacement for Ryan Kesler. Joe Veleno plays a hard game at an extremely high rate of speed. His playmaking far exceeds his goal-scoring prowess, but that isn’t a detriment to his game. Where he excels is on the defensive end. He can control a game by being extremely aggressive on the puck. While he lacks the flair of some of the other players in the draft, his two-way game will have him in Selke contention sooner rather than later.
8) Chicago Blackhawks: Oliver Wahlstrom, Center/Right Wing, U.S. National Team Development Program (U18 Program)
Oliver Wahlstrom has been in the public eye since he dazzled the world with a between the legs spin-o-rama goal on NESN at just nine years old. The offensive gifts he showed at a young age improved as he got older. Wahlstrom is coming off a 94 point campaign for the UDSP U18 program. His hockey IQ allows him to read the game at an elite level and thrive on opposing players mistakes. He is the definition of a natural goal scorer. The Blackhawks find themselves the next American born stud to follow in Patrick Kane’s footsteps.
9) New York Rangers: Noah Dobson, Defenseman, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
While not on the same tier as some of the defenseman that will be taken ahead of him, Noah Dobson is a great defenseman that will make the departure of Ryan McDonagh easy to stomach in years to come. Tallying 17 goals for the Titans, he brings a cannon of a shot. Dobson has shown the ability to log big minutes and his aggressive play allows him to limit the time and space of his opponents.
10) Edmonton Oilers: Adam Boqvist, Defenseman, Brynas (Sweden)
This is the powerplay quarterback the Oilers desperately need. Offensively gifted and extremely mobile Boqvist will give the Oilers a much-needed boost on the back end. The team has two of the most dynamic young forwards in the game, shoring up the back end with legit offensive prowess will advance the team. That said, knowing Peter Chiarelli, I wouldn’t rule out them selecting Bode Wilde here.