2018 NHL Draft Ranking: May’s Top-31
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing, with excellent competition dominating the airwaves and thoughts of passionate hockey fans throughout the world. And, while this action is incredible to watch and is the sole outcome of the NHL’s long and arduous regular season, the annual postseason casts a long and rather unfortunate shadow over the quickly approaching NHL Draft and its wealth of immensely talented young prospects. However, with such incredibly skilled players set to enter the league, the 2018 NHL Draft has continued to demand attention. Fortunately, the event received a spark when the NHL Draft Lottery was completed on Apr. 28 — a process which awarded the Buffalo Sabres with the first overall selection while promoting both the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens within the draft order. So, who will be the first three players selected this year, and how have other prospects manipulated their personal stocks since we last convened? Let’s dive into May’s Draft Ranking. Sabres Herding StarsYes, he’ll be made the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. And yes, he’ll likely be a member of the Sabres for the duration of his NHL-career. However, what exactly does Rasmus Dahlin possess which separates him so definitively from his competition? Well, in addition to his powerful skating, puck-strength, and natural two-way abilities, Dahlin is overwhelmingly creative when the puck is on his stick. Unlike most, Dahlin boasts an unwavering confidence which allows him to take jaw-dropping yet calculated risks on the ice. Fortunately for Dahlin, these risks lead to the creation of excellent scoring chances with remarkable frequency and stand as a glaring indication of his ultimate potential at the NHL-level. Dahlin will — without question — be made the first overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) As a future member of the Sabres, Dahlin will stand as a solid pillar within what is a slowly strengthening Buffalo organization. Although he will surely endure his fair share of hardships, Dahlin and his presence will be crucial to the Sabres’ success, and especially so if they wish to become a legitimate Eastern Conference contender in the near future. Storm Brewing in Carolina?When the Carolina Hurricanes jumped from 11th to second-overall in the 2018 NHL Draft order, it put the stagnant franchise in position to select a potentially game-changing prospect. Long desperate for elite offensive talent, the Hurricanes’ sudden surge has put them in play for one of Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina, although the former appears to be the more likely choice of the two. As a strong skater who plays a sound professional style, Svechnikov should be able to transition to the NHL-level as early as next season, as his bludgeoning frame and endless skill-set will surely pry open a place within the Hurricanes’ roster. Svechnikov’s presence in Carolina would immediately bolster the team’s sputtering offensive attack. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images) Further, given Carolina’s weakness at right-wing, Svechnikov could very well claim a place on the team’s first-line. With the likes of Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho relied upon by the Hurricanes far too heavily to produce offence, the addition of Svechnikov will immediately add greater depth and skill to the organization’s steadily improving young roster — if they decide to select the native of Barnaul, Russia, that is. Plugging Edmonton’s Oil LeakAlthough a long shot, adding Adam Boqvist could be the boost the Edmonton Oilers desperately need on defence. Long lacking a dynamic defender and power play quarterback, nabbing Boqvist with the 10th overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft would add immense skill and creativity to an overly direct Oilers roster. As a terrific skater, Boqvist can meander through opposing defenders in order to generate lethal scoring opportunities as well as move the puck to his teammates with remarkable force and consistency. Boqvist would provide the Oilers with an asset which they have long lacked: a dynamic offensive defenceman. (Photo courtesy Ján Súkup) However, Boqvist is much more than simply an elite offensive defenceman. Boasting a quick and active stick and the ability to read the play as it develops before reacting accordingly, Boqvist stays one step ahead of his competition and, as a result, can diffuse attacks devised by his opposition with regularity. Although he would do well to strengthen his slender 5-foot-10 frame ahead of his NHL-debut, Boqvist stands as an incredibly promising defender and one who has drawn comparisons to Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Who is Jesperi Kotkaniemi?Jesperi Kotkaniemi was ranked as the 22nd-best player in my January Draft Rankings. Now, he sits as the 13th-best prospect available, and deservedly so. What makes Kotkaniemi such as valuable young player and prospect is his proven ability to play an incredibly successful professional game. In fact, in his 51 games played with Ässät this season, Kotkaniemi put forth 10 goals and 29 points — a whopping offensive total for a player just 17 years-old. Contributing to Kotkaniemi’s success this year was his strong frame, as the youngster already stands 6-foot-2 and 190-pounds. Kotkaniemi could become a dominating centre at the NHL-level. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) Having drawn comparisons to Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, Kotkaniemi’s well-rounded game and tantalizing talent should combine to allow for his ascension to the NHL-level sooner rather than later. Although adapting to the North American game could pose a threat to Kotkaniemi’s development, his maturity and blatant skill should allow for a seamless transition. Come draft day, don’t be surprised if you hear Kotkaniemi’s name called much earlier than anticipated. Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2018 Edition The Ranking: May’s Top-31It’s hard to believe that the 2018 NHL Draft is less than two months away. With that being said, a great deal of time does remain for each and every prospect to state their respective cases to prospective NHL organizations. And, although the regular season has concluded for most, the postseason represents an excellent opportunity for prospects to prove themselves as elite players and legitimate NHL talents. So, although movement within rankings will become increasingly difficult as we approach the Draft, it does remain possible through excellent play and consistent performance — as you will see in some cases below. Recent Draft Rankings:January’s Top-31 ProspectsFebruary’s Top-31 ProspectsMarch’s Top-31 ProspectsApril’s Top-31 ProspectsRank +/-PlayerPositionTeam1–Rasmus DahlinDFrolunda HC (SHL) 2 +1Andrei SvechnikovRWBarrie Colts (OHL)3-1Filip ZadinaLWHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 4 +1Evan BouchardDLondon Knights (OHL)5+1Brady TkachukC/LWBoston University (NCAA) 6 -2Adam BoqvistDBrynas IF (SHL)7–Quinn HughesDUniversity of Michigan (NCAA) 8 +1Noah DobsonDAcadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)9+1Oliver WahlstromC/RWU.S. National U18 Team (USDP) 10 -1Barrett HaytonCSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)11+1Joe VelenoCDrummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) 12 +1Bode WildeDU.S. National U18 Team (USDP)13+11Jesperi KotkaniemiCÄssät (Liiga) 14 +1Rasmus KupariLWKarpat (Liiga)15+1Joel FarabeeLWU.S. National U18 Team (USDP) 16 -2Grigori DenisenkoRWLoko Yaroslavl (MHL)17–Serron NoelRWOshawa Generals (OHL) 18 –Akil ThomasCNiagara IceDogs (OHL)19-8Ryan MerkleyDGuelph Storm (OHL) 20 -1Jared McIsaacDHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)21-1Ty SmithDSpokane Chiefs (WHL) 22 -1Ryan McLeodCMississauga Steelheads (OHL)23-1Jett WooDMoose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 24 -1Benoit-Olivier GroulxCHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)25 +2Mattias SamuelssonDU.S. National U18 Team (USDP) 26 –Isac LundestromC/LWLulea HF (SHL)27-2Allan McShaneCOshawa Generals (OHL) 28 –Aidan DudasCOwen Sound Attack (OHL)29 –Jacob OlofssonCTimra IK (Allsvenskan)30 –Filip HallanderC/WTimra IK (Allsvenskan)31–Jonatan BerggrenLWSkelleftea AIK (SHL) The post 2018 NHL Draft Ranking: May’s Top-31 appeared first on The Hockey Writers.