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Photo Credit: RDS.ca

2018 NHL Draft: Consolidated Industry Rankings for January 2018

January is just about over, but there’s still enough time to sneak in some NHL Draft content. I’ve put together another of the ever popular consolidated rankings, as there has been plenty of change in the past month. January is one of the big ones for draft watchers, with the World Junior Championships and the CHL Top Prospects games, and most services can’t wait to get their new rankings out after big events like these.

Before we get into the list itself, I have some housekeeping to take care of, including a disclaimer and a bit of advice.

First, as with all consolidated rankings since last year’s “incident”, I’ll remind everyone that consolidated rankings are here simply to gauge the general industry impression of the year’s top prospects. The list that follows below is a useful way of seeing where players sit in the eyes of those who do this for a living. It does not, however, reflect or influence our own rankings or opinions at this site, nor mine personally. You can find my most recent rankings here. Interestingly, the consolidated top six now aligns with my own – that wasn’t the case a few weeks ago, but Filip Zadina’s performance at the WJC and Top Prospects game has cause some to bump him up their lists.

Next, I’d like to give Jackson McDonald’s article on scouting the WJC a little plug, as I think it’s relevant here. Jackson laid out some do’s and don’t’s for scouting big tournaments like the World Juniors, and I think his advice fits the CHL Top Prospects game appropriately as well. Some of the do’s include using the tournament to compare players in different leagues, or assessing base attributes, while some of the don’t’s include putting too much stock into boxcar statistics, or valuing the events over regular season play. Some of the biggest jumpers since December are players that performed well at the World Juniors or the TPG, so the future will tell us if those adjustments were appropriate or ill-advised.

With that out of the way, let’s check out which services and analysts have been included in this month’s consolidated list.

SERVICE FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS HOCKEY PROSPECT ISS HOCKEY MCKEEN’S TSN INDUSTRY TSN CRAIG’S LIST SPORTSNET THE ATHLETIC THE HOCKEY NEWS ESPN DOBBER PROSPECTS
AUTHOR STAFF STAFF STAFF STAFF BOB MCKENZIE CRAIG BUTTON JEFF MAREK CORY PRONMAN RYAN KENNEDY CHRIS PETERS CAM ROBINSON
DATE JAN 15TH DEC 22ND JAN 10TH DEC 8TH JAN 26TH JAN 8TH JAN 10TH JAN 29TH JAN 22ND OCT 31ST JAN 9TH

Eight out of the ten services used in December have since updated their rankings (only McKeen’s and ESPN remain the same), and Ryan Kennedy’s list for The Hockey News has been added to bring the total number of lists used to 11. As with last time, some lists are either partially (HockeyProspect.com) or fully (The Athletic) behind pay walls. Explicit details of their lists are not given here.

Finally, here we have the top 31 prospects available this June, according to the industry consensus.

This first round list has three players that moved up at least eight spots, including defenceman Evan Bouchard (23rd to 13th), defenceman Noah Dobson (20th to 11th), and Dominik Bokk (27th to 29th), a teammate of Elias Pettersson in Vaxjo in the Swedish Hockey League.

At 60 points this year, Bouchard is the single most productive player in this draft class, and his scoring rate is the second best among all first time eligible defencemen, trailing on Rasmus Dahlin. The former protege of Olli Juolevi has grown into a dynamic but extreme calm presence on the blueline. I had Bouchard 10th on my list, and that certainly seems to be the direction that he’s headed.

Joe Veleno and Jared McIsaac are two of this month’s biggest fallers, but no one is tumbling quite as quick as Jack McBain, a centre currently plying his trade in the OJHL. Junior A players are notoriously divisive for scouts and prognosticators. Some swear he’s a first round talent, while others are far from convinced. Personally, I haven’t had a chance to see him yet, so it’s difficult to know which way I’d lean.

On to the draft tiers, which is always one of my favourite charts. Rasmus Dahlin is pulling away from the pack, and any discussion that Svechnikov could challenge him for first overall has faded away. At this point, Svechnikov should be more concerned about the players chasing him. Filip Zadina, Adam Boqvist and Brady Tkachuk have each appeared at second on some lists, and Quinn Hughes isn’t far behind.

Oliver Wahlstrom is hanging on the the end of that tier, and there’s a precipitous drop off after that. Every player between eighth and 21st on this consolidated list appears in the top ten at least once, and most also appear in the 20’s and 30’s as well. That is to say, there’s very little consensus about who belongs in the middle of the first round at this point. That can often be an indication that the draft isn’t particularly well regarded.

I have one more chart of interest (for those of you who are interested in charts), and it’s one that I don’t think Don Cherry will like very much. Less than half of the top 31 players here are Canadian born, which continues the trend from the last few of seasons (12 Canadians were selected in the first round in each of 2017, 2016 and 2015, down from 14 in 2014). That in and of itself is not that surprising, given the international depths of prospects these days.

However, just one of the the top ten players is Canadian – Ty Smith at eighth – and he’s hardly a lock to stay there. My Winter Rankings had three Canadians in the top ten (Ryan Merkley, Joseph Veleno, and Evan Bouchard), but they were eighth through tenth, and none of them are locks either. It seems downright likely that no Canadian will be taken in the top five this year, which hasn’t happened since 1999, and it’s conceivable that there could be no Canadians drafted in the top ten this year, which hasn’t happened ever.

Is this an indictment on Canadian hockey, or a testament to the international spread of the sport we love? Either way, you can bet that there’s going to be some serious discussion about it as we get closer to draft day.

  • Nuck4U

    The word has been out for a while now on adjusted rankings. A look in April will be interesting if there are any large swings. Though a teams tanking list may differ as say if there isn’t a real difference between Zadina and Boqvist but say pure number ranking a team desperate for RS D over a scoring winger would see an relatively equal BPA in players and take the one with better need or more difficult to get.

    So the Canucks may have as their BPA rankings in tier form something like this 1-5 as Dahlin then Boqvist and 6-10 Bouchard then Dobson.

  • Spiel

    Canucks will most likely be picking 5th-7th and there are a few d-men who are reasonable bets to be there. If the Canucks do win a lottery and pick 2nd or 3rd, what will they do? Trade the pick and move down, take Zadina or Svechnikov as they appear to be the best available, or reach for a D?

    • truthseeker

      In my opinion they should go with position. Seems to me, as mentioned in the article, there is no clear consensus about who is better between the two wingers Tkachuk, and the swedish D guy. And the other D Hughes is in that mix as well. So if that’s the case they should for sure take the D man as the trade value of D in the NHL is much higher than wing. If Tkachuk is selected as being a Center then that does give him some more value and should be a stronger consideration with the D guys. But if he’s seen as a winger at the NHL level, then pass and go with the D.

      In my opinion you only go BPA when the talent gap is so obvious it puts the player into a new grouping. Like with Dahlin.

  • FireGillis

    I think Evan Bouchard is a tantalyzing prospect. 60 points with his entire first line injured. 2nd defenseman on the knights has 13 points. If boqvist and Dahlin are gone (which they will be wherever we pick) I think we should consider trading down and picking Bouchard, or a different defensemen in that range (bode Wilde, etc)

  • Burnabybob

    I bet Brady Tkachuk will go in the top four. He had a strong WJC tournament, and his pedigree is solid. He’s the kind of player most GM’s want on their team.

    If I were Benning, though, I would set my sights on Boqvist, Dobson and Bouchard. Given how things usually go for the Canucks at the draft lottery, they’ll probably pick somewhere 5-8, but at least one of those players will likely be available. They all look solid, and they’re all right handed, which they have a shortage of.

      • Burnabybob

        It might be hard to pass on someone like Svechnikov, who has consistently been ranked number 2. The Canuck forward prospects are stronger than their defensive prospects, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

  • rediiis

    I never would draft for today. You can pick up depth in free agency. Pick the best player available. If your assets are forward heavy, trade a good one for a good defenseman. This isn’t rocket science, please see Gillis (to the moon).

  • Steamer

    Dahlin – Svech/Zadina? – Tkachuk, Boqvist, – After Dahlin, I’d take Tkachuk, then Boqvist, then Bouchard – this year’s Sergachev ? In running for OHL D of the year. Really, any of these picks are likely to improve the club – all great prospects.

  • rakish

    Someone wrote a book a few years ago called the Wisdom of Crowds, and the idea is that if you ask any group its opinion, it will be a better predictor of, say, the Oscar nominations, than any single member of that group. As such, I think this collected rankings will do a very good job predicting who teams will take.
    That said, I plan on writing a book called the Idiocy of Crowds, because crowds do a terrible job of finding who is actually the best. Just look at the past years best movie winner, for example, just terrible picks. I keep track of past drafts on my website as to who the analyst would have chosen given their draft board. Generally I use Buffalo’s choices. It’s pretty clear that consensus picking, McKenzie recently, but you can go back 20 years with Central Scouting, has the worst track record for making selections.
    Canucks Army made their first appearance in my contest in 2017, they’re doing well. Since most people took Vilardi in Buffalo’s spot, who has been injured, it’s too early to come to conclusions.

  • Sami Ohlund

    I wonder how the actual birthdate plays in to the rankings. Tkachuk and Hughes on the older end just missed last year’s draft. Boqvist is barely old enough to be drafted this year. Other young players are Merkley, Noel and Kotkaniemi. Kotkaniemi has good size and is holding his own against men in the Finnish League. Do these elite younger players have a higher development ceiling?

    • rakish

      I think actual birthday consideration helps analytical drafting because it’s hard to watch players using the eye-test and retain the context of the player’s situation. Players this age are improving so quickly, getting the importance of the actual age becomes critical

  • apr

    Are we still watching hockey if the Oilers win the draft and ruin Dahlin’s career? This market loses their minds trading McCann (who has 6 goals in 70) games and 2nd (that no one knows his name) for Gudbrandson while Chiarelli got Reinhart for Barzal (who Button says may be a better skater than McDavid) AND a second. Wow, just super fn wow. I thought the Erickson for Seguin trade was bad.

    • Dirty30

      It is painful to consider.

      But the positive is that they will head into cap trouble at some point, and maybe a draftee simply says No to the soilers and looks to be drafted again next year. Lindros said no to the Nordiques and forced a trade. Buttman would likely have a fit but who cares.

    • canuckfan

      Really Oilers traded Barzal that is just too funny. Imagine if Oilers actually had Barzal they would be stacked at centeR … but still would be in the same spot will be hard to sign all those young players as they come of age of hitting real negotiations besides ELC. Don’t hear much noise about how great Chiarelli is this year he was made to be the NHL’s most gifted GM last year and how teams needed to follow Oilers plan to build a team. Perhaps they should test the water in Edmonton or the air.