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24

The 2018 NHL Draft Synopsis

by Bill Plazcek on Feb. 24, 2018

The 2018 Draft will provide a chance for almost each and every NHL team to re-stock their prospect cupboards. There is clear number #1 this year, Rasmus Dahlin, and then the next two slots are likely forwards, Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina. 

There is a possibility that this year’s draft results in a record number of defenseman being chosen in the first round. That’s because the oddity about this draft is that right after the four premier prospects are drafted, there is an uncanny amount of new age “offenseman prospects.” These are junior players that are lightweight, six foot or under, and who are really dynamic skating attackers with terrific sticks. They generate offense at a high level as cogs that make the wheels roll on the junior teams. One could easily predict every team will take an offenseman in the first three rounds.

However, these “push defenders” are so very far behind in the defensive side of the game, and so many are lightweights, you wonder if they will ever be counted on in defensive schemes that don’t protect them. Despite this, these smaller push defenders may still have an effect on the board. They may cause the second wave of really nice forwards not to hear their names until about slot ten, and even then there will be more tempting defenseman sprinkled in before the round ends.

The new lottery style could work for or against a team because no longer are you guaranteed a slot based on where you ranked at the end of the season.

The first year of the new lottery scheme, the 2017 draft, saw two teams move up to win the first two picks. Despite having the best odds to win the No. 1 pick, the Colorado Avalanche dropped down to the No. 4 pick last year.  The Devils, who had an 8.5 percent chance at winning the lottery, won the No. 1 pick, moving up from No. 5. The Philadelphia Flyers won the No. 2 pick, moving up from No. 13, and the Dallas Stars got the No. 3 pick, up from No. 8.

This year’s draft possesses a very strong draft beyond the third round. Any team with a decent scouting staff should get at the very least one NHLer out of those rounds. The one thing that is missing in the nearly-can’t-miss first round is a big scoring centre. That is surprising because centres have been a strength in most of the last five drafts. There are, however, under-producing ‘exceptional’ guys like Joe Veleno, sleeper Euro players, average sized lightweight junior scorers, and scores of possible second-generation NHL players. Stay tuned.