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2018 NHL Draft: Consolidated Industry Rankings for April 2018

It’s been nearly three months since I last dropped a consolidated draft rankings on this site, so it’s I’d say it’s high time to check on how the 2018 class is shaking out. In the time since the last list was published, there haven’t been any major events (World Juniors and CHL Top Prospects game had recently taken place), but all eligible prospects have now finished their 2017-18 regular seasons and shot into the playoffs for their respective leagues (and many have already been knocked out). For some prospects (cough, Vitali Kravtsov), that will springboard them up the rankings. For others, it might expose them to some sort of “doesn’t perform when it counts” narrative.

As always, we’ll begin by going over which mainstream services were used in the creation of this list.

Service Future Considerations Hockey Prospect ISS Hockey McKeens The Athletic TSN Craig’s List TSN Industry The Hockey News Sportsnet ESPN Dobber Prospects
Author Staff Staff Staff Staff Scott Wheeler Craig Button Bob McKenzie Ryan Kennedy Jeff Marek Chris Peters Cam Robinson
Date March 20 March 6 April 4 April 9 February 19 March 19 January 26 January 22 March 7 January 30 March 18

The majority of the rankings have been updated since the last installment – only Bob McKenzie, The Hockey News, and ESPN have not – which has led to plenty of movement. Before we get into some of the minutiae of the draft class, let’s take a look at the reason you all clicked on this article: the consolidated list for April, 2018.

The Top of the Class

Rasmus Dahlin continues to stand alone in the number one spot. No mainstream rankings have him going anywhere lower than first overall, and seriously, your takes would have to be so, so, so hot to continue having any one else besides the Swedish defensive phenom on top of your board.

Right after Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina are continuing to duke it out for second overall, and at this point, Svechnikov is winning the battle. Funny, if I’d done a consolidated ranking in February, or even March, the two prominent wingers would have been a lot closer to each other – a handful of services had Zadina ahead of Svechnikov, liking owning to the former overshadowing the latter at the World Junior Championships (Brady Tkachuk also took points away from both of the other two for much the same reason). However, with a little extra time, balance is being restored and Svechnikov is regaining his hold on second. His performance in the OHL playoffs has a lot to do with that.

Speaking of Brady Tkachuk, he passed Adam Boqvist for fourth overall in the aggregated list. Tkachuk’s size, style and bloodlines are pushing him forward, in addition to a strong second half in college hockey. Boqvist hasn’t exactly been cementing his case either. Despite continuing to make the occasional highlight reel, the fact that he struggled to stick in the SHL at any point this season makes it difficult to guarantee him a spot in the top five.

Now let’s take a closer look at some of the players who are on the move on the list.

Risers

One of the biggest risers all season long has been Evan Bouchard, and that hasn’t changed in the past couple of months, as the London Knights captain has moved from 13th to 8th. Bouchard achieved the highly impressive feat of leading all first time eligible players in raw points – as a defenceman in the OHL no less. Bouchard excels in a lot of areas, though his acceleration and top speed are still just average, which is likely what will keep him in the latter half of the top ten.

Though he only moved up a couple of spots, I’d like to draw attention to Joe Veleno, now of the Drummonville Voltigeurs. Back in January, when I released my personal Winter Rankings, I wrote this about Veleno, who has just been traded:

Playing for the woeful Saint John Sea Dogs wasn’t helping matters, so we’ll keep an eye on how he performs now that he’s been traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Two signs that his luck could turn around soon: he has a shooting percentage of just 6.3% so far this season, and his 25 assists are seventh in the QMJHL despite playing for the lowest scoring team in the league. The Voltigeurs, by the way, are the Q’s highest scoring team.

Lo and behold, the change did Veleno quite a bit of good, and he’s been back in top ten conversations ever since.

Another prominent riser over the last couple of months is Finnish forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. I’ve been a booster of his since early on in the year, labeling him as an underrated prospect to that point, particular in comparison to his countryman Rasmus Kupari, who was routinely ranked higher in spite of inferior results in nearly every area. Most people seem to have caught on, as Kotkaniemi is now ranked above Kupari on six of the 11 lists used herein, and is above Kupari on the consolidated board for the first time all season. One thing to keep an eye on for those that have a positional preference: while both are listed as centres, only Kupari spent significant time there this season, while Kotkaniemi spent the majority of time on the wing – not that he couldn’t transition back to the middle in the future.

The biggest riser of the month is Rasmus Sandin, who has jumped up eight spots from 32nd to 24th. The Swedish born defenceman had a fantastic second half for the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds and continues to add to his resume in the Ontario League playoffs, with seven points in 11 games so far as Sault Ste. Marie enters the OHL conference finals against Kitchener.

The next biggest jump came from Russian Vitali Kravtsov, who just missed this top 31 list after jumping seven spots from 39th to 32nd. Kravtsov has always been a well regarded prospect, but his historical run in the KHL playoffs last month had people tripping over themselves to move him up their boards – and rightfully so. Kravtsov’s 11 playoff points were the most in KHL history by a U20 player, with names like Evgeni Kuznetsov and Valeri Nichushkin in his rear-view mirror. The fact that Kravtsov isn’t in this consolidated first round yet is likely only due to the fact that most services haven’t updated their lists since he caught fire. I’d wager that by the time the next wave of lists come out, he’ll be considerably higher across the board.

Fallers

The aforementioned Kupari is the most notable faller on the board, but he isn’t the only one. Bode Wilde has tumbled a handful of spots, but that likely has more to do with other players in that area turning up the heat than it does with Wilde diminishing himself in anyway. Wilde has long been a sturdy, offence-second defenceman anyway, and he could probably do with a little downward adjustment anyway.

Halifax’s Benoit-Olivier Groulx fell six spots, hanging by a thread at the end of the list at 31st. Groulx’s scoring pace dipped towards the end of the season, and he finished well under a point per game in the Q. Over his last 27 games, he scored 21 points, and it’s notable that nine of those points came in two games against Saint John and Moncton, a pair of bottom feeders, leaving just 12 points in the other 25 games from mid-January to the end of the year.

Two prospects fell half a dozen spots and landed outside the first round. The first was Jack McBain, a centre from the OJHL who’s going to continue having trouble impressing as long as he’s in junior A. An appearance on Team Canada in the forthcoming World Under-18 tournament could have a prominent effect of his final rankings, offering scouts one last chance to see him compete against his peers.

The other was Calen Addison, a high scoring defenceman with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. This one’s a bit more of a headscratcher: Addison had a pretty prominent second half, despite a noticeable dip in production in late January. Addison’s skating and puck skills are his calling card, though he lacks any sort of physical edge. Deficiencies aside, Addison’s drop might have more to do with the likes of Kravtsov and Czech forward Martin Kaut moving up, than any failing of his own.

Tiers

Tiers and drop offs are always a focus of draft fans. Everyone wants to know when the talent starts to thin out, especially at a time like now when the season has ended and the pre-lottery positions are set. So, as the people pleaser that I am, I’ve thrown this chart together to give an impression of where the talent drop offs are, according to the industry averages.

Once again, Rasmus Dahlin is in a tier of his own. Svechnikov and Zadina are now is a second group of their own as well, instead of being lumped together with the likes of Tkachuk or Boqvist.

The most noticeable drop off begins after ninth (Noah Dobson), and a second substantial drop off occurs after 18th (Grigori Denisenko). After that point, you’re getting into the list of controversial players who could go anywhere from the early teens to right out of the first round.

The World Under-18’s are right around the corner, and this tournament is chock full of draft eligible prospects, which means that players are likely to be on the move again in future rankings. If you’re scouting the tournament, mind your sample sizes! And perhaps take another look at Jackson McDonald’s do’s and don’ts for evaluating prospects at tournaments like this.

  • Beefus

    Considering the Canucks are probably doomed to pick either eighth or ninth I like both players that are ranked in those positions. I think Bouchard is probably closer to being NHL ready but Dobson is a future first pairing guy as well.

    • The more I read about Dobson, the more I’m thinking that he’s the guy that the Canucks should be targeting. I would want to know more about Dobson’s contributions to Acadie-Bathurst’s revival. When Brisebois was drafted, the team was garbage with a 0.309 win %. In Dobson’s two years there, they were 0.618 and now 0.706. Dobson was 12th (26 pts) and then 2nd (69 pts) in team scoring respectively.

      • TD

        Love the prospect debates. Either would probably be good, but I prefer Bouchard over Dobson. Bouchard led his team in scoring by 30 points (final roster) and put up 87 points in the OHL vs Dobson’s 69 in the QMJHL. They both played 67 games. The extra 18 points in a harder league is impressive, especially with the lack of help. Dobson is more dynamic, but Bouchard may be the best passer in the class and has a very high hockey IQ. Then there was the 4 assists in the top prospects game…

  • Assuming that neither of the Islanders picks win the lottery AND assuming Tavares resigns there (so they are looking to get competitive now and not rebuild again), what are the odds the Isles move one or both picks at the draft? What are the odds the Canucks can put together an enticing package for both of them? Could Tanev (and a goalie?) to the Isles for a problem contract (Clutterbuck looks to be their only really terrible contract on the books going forward) pry one or both of those picks away from them?

    Seems like there will be several quality defencemen available in that 9-14 range where both those picks will likely end up.

  • argoleas

    The Canucks organization has 3 glaring needs: A great PP QB puck mover, a prospect with top-2 potential, and someone to add to their dearth on the right side. They have multiple options to fill all of these needs in Just. One. Person. Now way they can pass up on that. No way.

  • apr

    I’m a firm believer that there is no difference between 2 and 9; and its more likely that guys like Kupari and Wilde will be the best forward and d-man in the draft as Pasternak and McAvoy were in theirs.

    • truthseeker

      that’s the way it looks to my untrained eye too. Really all I care about are the numbers these kids put up and if there are any glaringly obvious issues. I don’t really get how the 2 and 3 wingers for example are considered way better than Bouchard. The russian kid maybe by a little bit given his point totals but how is Zadina’s 82 points in the supposedly inferior quebec league better than Bouchard’s 87 points in the OHL from the back end no less?

      Once again I say the canucks take Bouchard no matter where they pick, aside from number one obviously.

      • apr

        I was listening to the 1040 guys in the am about Pasternak and McAvoy. Was thinking how happier I am that we have EP instead of Hischier and Patrick. In my untrained eyes as well, I would be happy for any of the top 9 guys.

        • truthseeker

          yeah ultimately I don’t really know sh… about these kids….lol. I think Benning’s draft record is good enough to give him the benefit of the doubt about whoever he takes. If he thinks there is someone better than Bouchard at whatever position they are in then that’s fine with me.

          Only time will tell so making judgements on who’s going to be a great NHL player is basically useless.

          • Kootenaydude

            Truthseeker I totally agree. As fans we really don’t have a clue who to draft. We look at a few articles like this, a few lists of rankings and some stats and we feel ready to make draft selections. The Truth is, except for highlights, most of us have never even really seen the top ten prospects play. Yes there are a few top prospects game, but that doesn’t tell you much. Benning might not be the best at evaluating UFAs or making the hard to do trade, but he’s pretty darn good at drafting. Now with Utica the Canucks can actually develop that talent too!!

  • Gino über alles

    Seeing as it’s the Canucks and we’re sitting 6th right now we should probably just resign ourselves to being happy with whomever is left at 9th overall. I mean seriously, fool me once…

    I’m praying Bouchard makes it that far but am also really pleased if it’s Dobson….not sure how happy I’d be if it’s Hughes.

  • speering major

    Benning should focus on working a deal with Chicago, Edmonton, and Dallas. All have cap troubles and aren’t in a rebuild. We need to see how the lottery plays out but as it stands now, the Chicago and Edmonton picks should leave a high quality D prospect available.

    This draft is the perfect scenario to restock the empty D prospect pool. If they move Tanev they could get 2 D in that tier below Dahlin. These GM’s know their jobs are on the line and they have stars under monster contracts long term. They have not choice but to get better now. They have cap issues. The Canucks need to capitalize on this and accelerate the rebuild. Take any two of Dahlin, Boqvist, Hughes, Bouchard, and Dobson and the rebuild looks like it has come a long way. D also take longer to develop. The sooner they build a pool of solid prospects on the back end the better. Top 5 forwards can be impact players in their draft +1 at a reasonable rate

      • speering major

        You seem confused. I think Chicago is in a world of trouble also but they aren’t in a rebuild until they have moved or are shopping Toews or Kane. They aren’t even shopping Keith AFAIK. Just like the Canucks weren’t in a rebuild when they signed Eriksson. They should have been, but they weren’t.

        Toews, Kane, Keith, and Seabrook are all under monster contracts for 5+ seasons. The team either needs to start shipping those guys out or building around them. Until they start shipping them out, they will be looking to build around them. The GM is forced to try and get better or they will lose their job. Missing the playoffs 2 years in a row and heads will roll in Chicago, Edmonton, and Dallas.