Scouching’s 2018 Pre-Conference Final Mock Draft

  1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin (D) – Frolunda (SHL)
  2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov (RW) – Barrie (OHL)
  3. Montreal Canadiens – Brady Tkachuk (C/LW) – Boston University (Hockey East)
  4. Ottawa Senators – Filip Zadina (LW) – Halifax (QMJHL)
  5. Arizona Coyotes – Adam Boqvist (D) – Brynas U20 (SuperElit)
  6. Detroit Red Wings – Quinn Hughes (D) – University of Michigan (Big-10)
  7. Vancouver Canucks – Evan Bouchard (D) – London (OHL)
  8. Chicago Blackhawks – Ty Smith (D) – Spokane (WHL)
  9. New York Rangers – Noah Dobson (D) – Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
  10. Edmonton Oilers – Joe Veleno (C) – Drummondville (QMJHL)
  11. New York Islanders – Oliver Wahlstrom (C/RW) – USA NTDP (USHL)
  12. New York Islanders – Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C) – Assat (Liiga)
  13. Dallas Stars – Barrett Hayton (C) – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
  14. Philadelphia Flyers – Grigori Denisenko (LW) – Loko (MHL)
  15. Florida Panthers – Bode Wilde (D) – USA NTDP (USHL)
  16. Colorado Avalanche – Joel Farabee (LW) – USA NTDP (USHL)
    While there’s a large part of me that thinks Farabee will go earlier than 16, the upside of Denisenko and the options at centre in Kotkaniemi, Veleno and Hayton leads me to believe that it’s possible that Colorado could steal the buzzsaw winger from the USDP. Farabee is a skilled and speedy player who plays a bit smaller than he is. He’s evasive and creative with the puck, and is headed to a great Boston University program. He has a ton of potential if he can get stronger on his feet and bring his skilled game to the next level.
  17. New Jersey Devils – Ryan McLeod (C) – Mississauga (OHL)
    I’m hotter on McLeod than most, and I think the Devils would benefit from his combination of speed and intensity. He gives everything he’s got on most shifts I’ve seen, and he’s a valuable piece down the middle of the ice. I might think Akil Thomas would be a better alternative for New Jersey, but I think McLeod has a massive ceiling if his hands and brain can get up to the same speed as his feet. He was scorching hot to start the season, and joining his brother in New Jersey’s system wouldn’t be a bad add for a Devils team that’s starting to play a faster game.
  18. Columbus Blue Jackets – Rasmus Kupari (C) – Karpat (Liiga)
    Kupari is a pure and simple upside pick to me. He’s a bit of a prospect, but the tools are definitely there for a devastating playmaker. I’m not sure of his upside as a centre, but he’s got the speed and creativity to be a solid quarterback off the boards and from medium danger areas. His shot is solid, but his best asset is his agility and IQ with the puck. His deeper metrics aren’t as promising as Kotkaniemi and his playoff left a lot to be desired, but when he’s at his best, he’s excellent. Around this range, he’s worth the risk, and I think you could end up with a solid middle six winger.
  19. Philadelphia Flyers – Akil Thomas (C) – Niagara (OHL)
    Thomas is one of my more interesting options available this year. He’s similar to Kupari in a few ways, but he also pushes into high danger areas and gets his share of chances. His two way game is solid and his shooting percentage leads me to believe he could be an even better scorer over a larger sample size next year. He’s a great skater and has a strong puck possession game. His size will require a bit more strength to his game, but he’s creative and has the tools for a successful NHL career in a deep Flyers centre crop.
  20. Los Angeles Kings – Serron Noel (RW) – Oshawa (OHL)
    I get the vibe that Noel’s game puts him in the top 10 for some teams, and outside the 1st round for others. I’m warmer on him than many services for his rare combination of size, speed, creativity, and intensity. You still need players like Noel, but those players need to be able to move and play with the puck. Noel crosses those off in spades. His U18 was excellent, and his play in junior was at times overpowering. He landed 2.3 primary points and 2.7 points per hour of even strength ice time, bested only by Andrei Svechnikov’s 3.9/4.2 of OHL first year eligibles. 62% of his points were at even strength and goals or primary assists, which also is among the best of top OHL options. He’s faster than he looks, he pushes to high danger areas at a ridiculous rate, and is destined to destroy the OHL if he continues to grow and get stronger. To me he is almost certainly an NHL player in the future who could slot in on a 2nd line and a lot to handle for most NHL defenders, especially as the league trends away from size. The Kings are notoriously built to be intense, big, and hard to handle, and Noel seems like a great step in the right direction for their future.
  21. San Jose Sharks – Jared McIsaac (D) – Halifax (QMJHL)
    McIsaac is a player I really have a hard time getting a gauge on. I don’t think there’s a ton of upside there, and his defensive play needs a lot of work, but when I view him, I see his potential. I dislike defenders that are mentioned as having “no real strengths or weaknesses”, but McIsaac seems to be a guy who has room to grow into a two-way defender with a solid shot and good puck moving ability. San Jose could do much worse than to add a solid defender for the future, and options are relatively limited at 21. While I’m low on McIsaac when names like Lundkvist, Sandin, and Addison are available, he seems like a future versatile defenseman with middle pair upside.
  22. Ottawa Senators – Jack McBain (C) – Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL)
    Of all the options left, McBain seems like the most “NHL Hockey Man” value at centre, and I believe that the Senators are a team that would fall into the category of valuing that type of player. McBain has a great frame, is playing far below his weight class, and will play a big role on a building Boston College team. His playoff was great, but his biggest weakness is what can make or break a career: his skating. For every powerful play or great shot I saw, I noticed just how slow and grinding he was getting up the ice. He is powerful and relies on his strength, and I had high expectations coming into the season, but his production really doesn’t lend itself to being a high value OJHL prospect. His 32%INV is highly valuable in major junior, but most high level Jr. A’s are usuall at 40% or higher, but McBain’s positives are what could come down the road if his skating can improve at BC. He’ll have every chance to take a leading role, and Ottawa can be patient with him if they so choose.
  23. Anaheim Ducks – Martin Kaut (RW) – Pardubice (CZE-Extraliga)
    I’ve been a huge fan of Kaut since spotting him at the World Juniors as a pair with Martin Necas. Kaut struck me as a good skater with a really smart approach to the game. He is older for the draft class, but he has outscored Martin Necas in almost every way relative to Necas’ 2016-17 season. He’s a winger, which could push him down the list a bit, but the Ducks aren’t afraid of going a bit off the board and taking Europeans with upside. He makes the smart, simply play and is not afraid to shoot. His 9.1 shots per 60 at even strength puts him at the top for prospects playing against men in Europe. He has rocketed up the rankings this year, but if he’s around at 23, the Ducks are laughing.
  24. Minnesota Wild – K’Andre Miller (D) – USA NTDP (USHL)
    I started the year being a huge fan of Miller, but the more I watched and tracked, the more he kinda slipped a bit down my list. That being said, Miller is a calm, mobile puck mover who has quite a bit of upside if he can continue to improve his skating and drive more offense off his shot. I think he’s a 1st round talent, but I think he’s going to need quite a while at Wisconsin to hit his stride. Minnesota is not shy about drafting home state players, and Miller fits that bill. His highest upside reminds me of a fellow Wisconsin alum Jake Gardiner-type with perhaps a little less offensive output.
  25. Toronto Maple Leafs – Isac Lundestrom (C) – Lulea (SHL)

    For a long time, I really thought I would be putting Jake Wise here. I have been a big fan of his game, especially as it’s evolved over this year, but being realistic, he doesn’t strike me as the best player available at 25 for Toronto here. Isac Lundestrom appears to be a guy who could be a really good fit with some more development, be it in the AHL or SHL. He’s a good skater, but his strength lies in his play around the net and his ability to make simple plays off a rush. He’s playing against men in a great league and landed a 14.5%INV, which puts him remarkably on par with Lias Andersson last season. He plays a north-south game, can be dangerous around the net, and he would fit in well in an NHL system. The Leafs need centres, and you can never have too many. Lundestrom might not be one to dethrone an Auston Matthews, but slotting in as a versatile and reliable two-way centre every night is something you could always use.

  26. New York Rangers – Nils Lundkvist (D) – Lulea (SHL)
    It pained me greatly to pass on sending Lundkvist to the Leafs and on to the Rangers. He’s rocketed up rankings this year, and while I’m cooler than most, he’s a right hand shot who produced well on a young Lulea men’s team. His goal differential was positive in a relatively large role, and there could be some solid two-way upside. He’s a good skater, and will need some time, but adding two right handed defensemen with a ton of potential gives the Rangers a couple of lethal weapons to carry them into the next decade.
  27. Chicago Blackhawks – Jacob Olofsson (C) – Timra (Allsvenskan)
    Between Isac Lundestrom and Jacob Olofsson, I’m very much torn between which I’d rather have. Olofsson is the more skilled of the two, but Lundestrom appears to play a more pro-ready NHL game at a higher level of hockey. Chicago has drafted quite a few defenders in the last few years, but their future crop of forwards appears to need a bit more depth. Olofsson’s style of game has a lot of upside if he can fill out his frame a bit more. Timra earned promotion, and he’ll likely be a major part of the team in their SHL season next year. He played on a line with Allsvenskan MVP Jonathan Dahlen, who did appear to stir the line’s drink more often than not, but Olofsson is no slouch. His skill is tantalizing and he has potential as a power play producing offensive centre. Chicago appears to be trending in the direction of speed and skill, and coming out of Day 1 of 2018 with Smith and Olofsson is a step in the right direction.
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