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The NHL Draft concluded on Saturday Afternoon at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Hockey players dreams came true when they heard there name called. Some players will play at the NHL level right away, while some others will start at the AHL level, go back to juniors, or go back to the country they are currently playing in.
The first round of the draft was Friday Night and rounds two thru seven were Saturday. Who were the first 15 players selected in the NHL Draft and how can they make an impact?
1. Buffalo Sabres- Rasmus Dahlin, Defenseman: It is no surprise that Rasmus Dahlin was the number one overall pick in the NHL Draft. Analysts and scouts have said for the past several months he was the consensus number one pick and Buffalo's scouts must have agreed with them. Dahlin will be a key piece in the Buffalo Sabres rebuild. He is a solid two-day defenseman, skater, and offensive talent. In 41 games with the Frolunda HC in the SweHL, Rasmus Dahlin scored seven goals and recorded 13 assists. His plus/minus was 4. In six-playoff games, he recorded three assists and Dahlin's plus/minus rating was 3. Dahlin has the potential to be a Norris Trophy Candidate one day. He will play a big role in Buffalo right away. Rasmus Dahlin will probably be one of the favorites to win rookie of the year heading into the 2018-2019 season. He is just 18 years old.
2. Carolina Hurricanes- Andrei Svechnikov, Winger: The Carolina Hurricanes have pieces in place to be a playoff team, but they need some tweaking. Drafting sniper Andrei Svechnikov number two overall will only help this team get better offensively. He scored 40 goals and recorded 32 assists, in 44 games with the Barrie Colts (OHL) in the 2017-2018 season. His plus/minus was 26. In eight-playoff games, Svechnikov scored five goals and recorded six assists. His plus/minus was -1. He is a very good two-way player, and Sevchnikov will be atop in the scoring goals category for the next decade. Eighteen-year-old Andrei Svechnikov could make noise as a rookie and lead the Carolina Hurricanes to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.
3. Montreal Canadiens- Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Center: This was the first curve ball in the 2018 NHL Draft. I don't recall teams wanting Kotkaniemi in the top five. The Montreal Canadiens love his potential upside. He is just 17 years old and Kotkaniemi might need a year or two more polishing with the Assat Pori (SM- Iiiga) before he comes into the NHL. Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored 10 goals and recorded 19 assists in 57 games played. His plus/minus was -1. In seven-playoff games, Kotkaniemi only recorded one assist. His plus/minus was -4. He needs some work on his defensive game, but Kotkaniemi has potential to be a 30-goal and 40-assist player every year in the NHL.
4. Ottawa Senators- Brady Tkachuk, Winger: Brady Tkachuk is the younger brother of Matthew Tkachuk, who currently plays for the Calgary Flames. Brady will be in the same country as him for most of the NHL season, but on opposite sides. Tkachuk is an 18-year-old stud who is ready to turn heads at the NHL level. He played with Boston University (NCAA) last season. Brady scored eight goals and recorded 23 assists. His plus/minus was 15. He now has a decision to make. Does Tkachuk go back to college or does he go to the Ottawa Senators next season? This is actually a tough one. The Ottawa Senators are in complete dissaray right now. I think he should go back to college for one more season, but I totally understand why Tkachuk would want to go to the NHL now. It is so he can go sign his first contract. Brady Tkachuk will be a part of Ottawa's rebuild.
5. Arizona Coyotes- Barrett Hayton, Center: The Arizona Coyotes are closer to contending than people they think they are. The 18-year-old Hayton will most likely not join the Arizona Coyotes this season and he will continue to develop his game with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL). In 63 games, Hayton scored 21 goals and recorded 39 assists. His plus/minus was 24. In 24-playoff games, he scored eight goals and recorded 13 assists. His plus/minus was -2. Hayton was one of the reasons why the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds made it all the way to the OHL Finals, but they lost in six games to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Hayton will most likely be the number two centerman one day with the Arizona Coyotes because of Dylan Strome.
6. Detroit Red Wings- Filip Zadina, Winger: The Detroit Red Wings must have been stunned when they realized that Filip Zadina was still available at number six. A lot of mock drafts had him going into the top three. Detroit got one of the steals in the first round. Zadina one day will be a historic player in Detroit's franchise like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were. In 57 games with the Hailfaix Mooseheads (QMJHL), Zadina scored 44 goals and recorded 38 assists. His plus/minus was 23. In nine-playoff games, he scored five goals and recorded seven assists. His plus/minus was 2. I could see 18-year-old Zadina being on the Red Wings roster to start the 2018-2019 season, but it wouldn't be surprising if he went back to juniors for one more season.
7. Vancouver Canucks- Quinton Hughes, Defenseman: The Vancouver Canucks don't really have an astonishing blue line prospect in there system right now. They took advantage of drafting defenseman Quinton Hughes seventh overall. He was a freshman at the University of Michigan last season. Hughes scored five goals and recorded 24 assists in 37 games last season. His plus/minus was 14. Hughes is a solid two-way defenseman and he is very good at moving the puck. Hughes can be a number one defenseman one day as well. Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski went to the University of Michigan. He was drafted fifth overall in 2015 and Werenski has turned out to be a very good player for them. The Vancouver Canucks hope the 18-year-old Quinton Hughes can turn out to be the same player as him.
8. Chicago Blackhawks-Adam Boqvist, Defenseman: The Chicago Blackhawks must have been surprised that Boqvist was available at number eight. A lot of mock draft did not have Adam Boqvist falling to the Chicago Blackhawks at number eight. He has the potential to be one of the best offensive defenseman in the NHL one day. Analysts have compared him to Erik Karlsson and the Chicago Blackhawks sure hope that is the case. With Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook getting older, the Blackhawks are one day going to need a new number one defenseman and Adam Boqvist fits that description. Boqvist didn't exactly put up any sparkling offensive numbers last season, but he has quite the potential on the defensive end as well. In 15 games with Brynas IF Gavle (SweHL), Boqvist recorded one assist and his plus/minus was -7. In three-playoff games, he was non existent on offense. Boqvist also played for Almtuna IS in the Swe-1 league. He recorded two assists in seven games. His plus/minus was 2. Adam Boqvist is only 17 years old and he has a lot of developing to do.
9. New York Rangers- Vitali Kravtsov, Winger: Kravtsov is an interesting pick for the Rangers. One thing that the New York Rangers have lacked for a long time is an elite goal scorer. Kravtsov has the potential to fit that description. Russian players are known for scoring the puck into the net. He played in the KHL last season with the Chelyabinsk Traktor. In 35 games, Kravtsov scored four goals and recorded three assists. His plus/minus was three. Vitalo Kravtsov picked up his game in the postseason. He scored six goals and recorded five assists in 16-playoff games. His plus/minus was -1. Kravtsov is 18 years old and he probably won't be with the New York Rangers for the next few years.
10. Edmonton Oilers-Evan Bouchard, Defenseman: The Edmonton Oilers needed to draft a blue liner in the worst way. They had one of the worst defensive units in the NHL during the 2017-2018 season. Bouchard is an offensive defenseman, but he also very good defensively. Evan Bocuhard scored 25 goals and recorded 62 assists, in 67 games last season with the London Knights (OHL). In four-playoff games, he scored a goal and recorded four assists. His plus/minus was -5. Bouchard will be able to quarterback the power play when he gets to Edmonton. Bouchard is 18 years old and he has played in juniors for the past three seasons. I think he will play one more year with the London Knights in the OHL and then Bouchard will probably sign a entry-level deal with the Oilers. He could be in Edmonton before the year 2020 or 2021 rolls around.
11. New York Islanders- Oliver Wahlstrom, Winger: Wahlstrom has the potential to be an elite goal scorer at the NHL level. The 18-year-old scored 22 goals and recorded 23 assists, in 26 games last season with the U.S. National Under-18 Team in the USHL. His plus/minus was 30. Wahlstrom is very underrated defensively. He could be a top-six forward as well.
12. New York Islanders (from Calgary Flames)-Noah Dobson, Defenseman: Dobson is a puck moving defenseman and he could be the Islanders number one defenseman in a couple of years from now. Dobson was one of the reasons why the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL), won the Memorial Cup. He scored 17 goals and recorded 52 assists, in 67 games. His plus/minus was 33. In 20-playoff games, Dobson scored three goals and recorded 10 assists. His plus/minus was 9. I see Noah Dobson playing juniors for one more season and then he will probably make the jump to professional hockey. Noah Dobson has a higher ceiling than Ryan Pulock does, who is currently on the New York Islanders roster.
13. Dallas Stars- Ty Dellandrea, Center: The Dallas Stars don't have a lot of depth at the center position and this was a very good pick for them. With Tyler Seguin on a contract year, it is unknown whether or not he will re-sign with them after the 2018-2019 season. Just in case he doesn't, Dellandrea will be ready to make noise in Dallas in a couple of years. He is just 17 years old and Dellandrea's offensive game is developing rapidly, but his defensive game is a major concern. In 67 games with the Flint Firebirds at the OHL level, he scored 27 goals and recorded 32 assists. His plus/minus was -30. Ty Dellandrea has the potential to be an offensive star at the NHL level, but he could be a defensive liability if he doesn't polish up on the defensive end.
14. Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis Blues)- Joel Farabee, Winger: The Philadelphia Flyers already have a deep prospect pool and they just made it even deeper. Joel Farabee is an offensive stud. He is also a versatile player. Farabee scored 15 goals and recorded 25 assists, in 26 games with the U.S. National Under-18 Team in the USHL. His plus/minus was 26. Farabee can't wait to be a part of the Philadelphia Flyers. It will probably take him a couple of years to reach the NHL level. He is just 18 years old. Farabee has top-six potential, but he will most likely be more of a very good role player in the NHL. Joel Farabee's father has ties near the Philadelphia area because he was from Warminster in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
15. Florida Panthers- Grigori Denisenko, Winger: Grigori Denisenko has the potential to be a solid goal scorer at the NHL level. Denisenko is just 18 years old and he has played in Russia even since the beginning of 2014-2015. In 14 games with the Russian U-18 team, he scored six goals and recorded five assists. His plus/minus was even. Denisenko played in four-playoff games with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavi (KHL) and he didn't score or record an assist, but his plus/minus was -2. Grigori Denisenko needs to develop his game some more, but he has the potential to be an impact player for the Florida Panthers.