2018 NHL Draft Grades

Rasmus Dahlin 2018 NHL Draft Grades

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2018 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.

The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL draft.  Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now.  However, we don’t want to wait, instead we follow our yearly tradition and do our draft grades now.

LWOH 2018 NHL Draft Grades

Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean best player drafted.  It means the best value. For Example, Rasmus Dahlin was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Sabres. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.

A second note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.

Anaheim Ducks: B

Picks: Isac LundestromBenoit-Olivier Groulx, Blake McLaughlin, Lukas Dostal, Jackson Perbix, Roman Durny, Hunter Drew
Value: McLaughlin

It is difficult to find quality centres in the NHL, and the Ducks have to be wary of the fact that Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler aren’t getting any younger. They addressed that with their top three picks. Lundestrom could be a solid two-way forward at the NHL level, capable of playing in all situations and putting up points. Groulx played wing this year but has been a centre in the past. He is another player who is solid at both ends of the ice. McLaughlin is another two-way centreman, capable of putting up points and playing defensive hockey.

From there the Ducks took one of the better goalies in this draft in Dostal. A bit confusingly they also took a second goalie in Durny. Perbix is a hard-working forward who must improve his skating. Drew is a defender with good size and passing ability.

Arizona Coyotes: B-

Picks: Barrett Hayton, Kevin Bahl, Jan Jenik, Ty Emberson, Ivan Prosvetov, Mike Callahan, Dennis Busby, David Tendeck, Liam Kirk
Value: Emberson

For the number of picks the Coyotes made, they did not have a very good draft. Hayton was the biggest reach of the first round. We don’t project him as a future #1 centre, and from a top 5 pick, you have to get that. Bahl is a big defenceman and has the potential to be a shutdown defender in the NHL. While he will likely never be a big scorer, his long reach, strong positioning and good skating should all translate at the NHL level. Jenik good size at six-foot-one but is underdeveloped at just 165 pounds. He plays an aggressive game but really needs to bulk up for it to translate to the pros. He went much higher than our ranks as well. Emberson is another physical defensive defender. He might have some untapped offence.

The Coyotes also took two goalies in Prosvetov and Tendeck. Prosvetov is a prototypical tall goaltender who plays a stand-up style. Tendeck is smaller and plays more of a butterfly game and relies on his reflexes. Callahan is another defender known for his defensive play and not his puck moving skill. Busby finally brings skill and puck moving ability to their backend in this draft. He injured his collarbone in the summer and had a difficult year though. He could bounce back next year. Kirk is the first UK born and trained player ever drafted. He shows flashes of offensive skill, but little structure to his game especially defensively. He needs some quality coaching.

Boston Bruins: C+

Picks: Axel Andersson, Jakub Lauko, Curtis Hall, Dustyn McFaul, Pavel Shen
Value: Lauko

Swedish defencemen were the order of the day in Dallas and the Bruins got in on the act with Andersson. He shows great mobility on the back end. This allows him to push the puck and play a real offensive game. Lauko may never have the high-end offence to anchor a top line but could play against the other team’s best unit and provide secondary scoring. Hall has great speed and acceleration. This makes him a threat off the rush, where defenders need to back off and respect his skating. He also causes havoc in front of the opposition’s net.

McFaul is more known for his defensive game than his offence. He will attend Clarkson in the fall. Shen is a Russian centre with playmaking ability. Overall the Bruins did decently with the picks they made. The grade here suffers from the lack of a first-round talent and the overall lack of picks.

Buffalo Sabres: A

Picks: Rasmus Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson, Matej Pekar, Linus Cronholm, Miska Kukkonen, William Worge-Kreu
Value: Pekar

Rasmus Dahlin is quite simply a generational defenceman. He is the best draft-eligible defenceman we have seen. He is every bit as good a prospect on defence, as Connor McDavid was as a forward in 2015. The Sabres were getting an A for this class regardless of anything else they did. In Samuelsson, they take a left-shot defenseman who is strong defensively and has a little offence. In a couple years he could develop into the perfect compliment to Dahlin, playing behind him on the second pair.

The USHL Rookie of the Year, Pekar is another two-way centre. He has excellent vision and hockey sense, anticipating where his teammates are going to be before hitting them with a tape-to-tape pass. Cronholm is a left-shot defenseman who plays a stay-at-home game. Kukkonen is a right-shot defender who has shown some two-way ability, but has been injury prone. Worge-Kreu is a tall and lanky left-shot defender, who uses his long stick to cut down passing lanes and play a defensive game.

Calgary Flames: D+

Picks: Martin PospisilDemetrios Koumontzis, Milos RomanEmilio Pettersen,
Dmitry Zavgorodny
Value: Roman

The Flames didn’t draft until the 4th round and only had five picks overall. This causes their grade to suffer dramatically. Pospisil is a big forward with a mean streak. He’s also shown some playmaking ability. Koumontzis played high school hockey last year, he’s committed to Arizona State. The bread and butter of Roman’s game is his playmaking ability. He has excellent vision and high-end hockey IQ. Roman sees plays developing and finds open teammates in traffic. He’s also solid defensively. Pettersen is a Norwegian centre with excellent stickhandling and a good wrist shot. Zavgorodniy is an undersized forward with good passing skill and a decent shot. He must be faster to overcome his lack of size though.

If we included trades, the Flames would move up several notches for a draft day steal from the Hurricanes.

Carolina Hurricanes: B+

Picks: Andrei SvechnikovJack Drury, Luke Henman, Lenni Killinen, Jesper Sellgren, Jake Kucharski,
Value: Kucharski

In Svechnikov, the Hurricanes get the best pure goal scorer in the draft class. In most years he would be a worthy first overall selection. Drury has the potential to be a two-way middle-six centre at the NHL level. He may never be a top line centre, but he can be an important piece if he develops. Henman is a smallish centre with good hockey IQ and passing skills.

Killinen is a Finnish winger who was unimpressive at the recent Under-18s. Sellgren is a 20-year-old who is in his third draft. He is undersized, but has good mobility. He’s more known for his defensive game. Kucharski has the size, and the athleticism to be a strong goaltender. His technique is also good. Playing on a poor team hurt his numbers.

Chicago Blackhawks: A

Picks: Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Jake Wise, Niklas Nordgren, Philipp Kurashev, Mikael Hakkarainen, Alexis Gravel, Josiah Slavin
Value: Gravel

The Hawks had a great draft. Boqvist has all the tools and potential to be a franchise defenseman at the NHL level, he just needs time. He is tremendous offensively. Beaudin has the offensive skills to succeed at the next level, but needs to continue to work on his skating and defensive game to get past his lack of size. Wise has outstanding hands. His stickhandling and puck control are both excellent. He can beat defenders one-on-one. He is a great playmaker. Nordgren is undersized and needs to work on his skating, however, the rest of his skills package is high-end.

Kurashev is a dynamic skater. He is lightning quick, with a great first step, top-notch acceleration, and incredible top speed. He can blow by the defence, creating breakaways and odd-man rushes in transition. Hakkarainen was undrafted twice but had a big season for Muskegon in the USHL. He has good vision and passing skill. Gravel is one of the top goalies in the draft and a real steal where he was selected. Slavin is the brother of Jaccob Slavin of the Hurricanes. He scored 23 goals for Lincoln after being passed over in last year’s draft.


Check Out Part 2 For the Next 8 Teams.


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