Written by Griffin Dowd (@griffindowd98)
What a ride it’s been for the Washington Capitals, they were able to capture their first ever Stanley Cup and did they ever let the world know it. They partied their ass off and they definitely had the right to do so. Because I know that like me, you all fought back tears watching Ovie lift that cup.
The 2017-2018 season has concluded and our focus shifts to tonight’s draft and a week from now, free agency opens. There is a handful of top free-agents available this season, and players like John Tavares and John Carlson are going to get PAID! Tonight in Dallas however the future of the league will find out which clubs they will be playing for, top prospects like generational talent Rasmus Dahlin, or Filip Zadina from the Halifax Mooseheads are eager to find out. Below, I go through my predictions for the top five selections this evening.
1. Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (Sweden)
Dahlin is the clear No.1 going into this draft, with many comparisons to Erik Karlsson, and Nick Lindstrom. The Swedish defenceman tallied 7 goals, 20 assists in 41 games last season whilst playing for Frolunda in the SHL (Pro level in Sweden). Those numbers are not eye-popping by any means but this is a 17-year-old. With a year of pro hockey under his belt, he is used to playing with grown men, which makes him even more NHL ready come next fall. Dahlin plays in all zones, his offensive abilities are not to be overshadowed by his ability to defend in his own zone. His skating ability is incredible, his hockey sense is premier and he wants to win. Buffalo currently holds the first overall selection, and according to TSN’s Craig Button, the Sabres will be selecting Dahlin with the first pick. At first, I was entertaining the idea of Buffalo acquiring assets and moving down a few slots to select winger Brady Tkachuk, I think adding another winger for Jack Eichel would really bolster their offence. Imagine Middlestadt-Eichel-Tkachuk, there’s a line that would be filling the net. But the Sabres don’t have many top defencemen, other than Rasmus Ristolainen, they need the support and offensive abilities from Rasmus Dahlin. Welcome to Buffalo kid.
— Sabres Goal a Day (@SabresGoalADay) June 22, 2018
2. Carolina Hurricanes
Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie Colts
Like Buffalo, the Hurricanes have made it clear they will be taking Svechnikov. The Barrie Colts star posted 40 goals and 72 points in just 44 games in the OHL. The guy is nasty, his talents in the offensive zone are unbelievable and oh man can he score. A player like Svechnikov who has size and skill fits an NHL roster today, it helps him score from all areas of the offensive zone, whether it be in front of the net tap-ins or shots from the top of the circle. With a wicked shot, Carolina will add the winger to their lineup to hopefully team up with Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, and continue to build this franchise to being a playoff team. They have plenty of young talent on the back-end and goal-scoring is needed for this team, Svechnikov offers talents that this team is missing. This is a perfect selection for the Hurricanes.
WATCH THIS: 🚨🚨🚨 alert
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 6, 2017
3. Montreal Canadians
Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax Mooseheads
In my opinion, Zadina is the definite 3rd pick, but the “experts” think otherwise. Zadina is a complete player and flourished in Halifax this past year, he also had an excellent showing for Czech Republic in the World Juniors. Zadina had no problem scoring the QMJHL last year, he tucked 44 in 57 appearances. He has great hands and finds ways to escape defenders in the offensive zone. Zadina would join a struggling Montreal Canadiens club, he is another player that is expected to jump right into an NHL lineup. Zadina will have to adjust to life in a wild hockey market but you never know and he could be the piece to bolster a successful future for the Habs.
#GoldenPuck | ICYMI : Seen by almost all experts as the league’s top professional prospect, rookie Filip Zadina of the @HFXMooseheads scored 44 goals and picked up 82 points in only 57 games this season before seeing his name end up on the Mike-Bossy Trophy! #NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/CYr7SRi3FK
— QMJHL (@QMJHL) April 14, 2018
4. Ottawa Senators
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat (Finland)
I’m not as familiar with this European skater, but from what I have watched, this Finnish national did very well in the top level of hockey in Finland. Like Dahlin he has the experience of playing against older, bigger and stronger players and he also excelled at the World U-18 Championships bumping his draft stock up. This pick goes against the NHL Central scouting rankings but it is felt by many in the hockey community that Jesperi will be a top-5 selection. At 4th overall, he would be selected by the Ottawa Senators, the most dramatic and controversial organization in the league…lol. But they need to replace a goal scorer who put up 20 goals in the past 4 seasons…and was able to land one crazy fiancé. The future of the senators is questionable, keep in mind they need to give Colorado a first round selection, whether it is this year or next… I hope Matt Duchene was worth it!
Jesperi Kotkaniemi's performance was very strong in the semifinal win over Sweden. Check out the 2-0 goal and another great play late in the game, where he gets the puck out of the zone in a key situation and his teammate has a chance to score. #HockeyIQ #Ässät #2018NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/CZZeoy2euv
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) April 29, 2018
5. Arizona Coyotes
Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University
Like his father, Brady will be a Coyote if he goes 5th overall and will be joining a very young and upcoming team. Believe it or not I am a big fan of what Arizona is doing right now, they are piece-by-piece working towards becoming a successful franchise. Young talents like Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Perlini, Jakob Chychrun, and Dylan Strome will give them the opportunity to compete in the next few years. Tkachuk however has decided to head back to Boston University, for the girls…obviously (Shoutout Ralph Cox). But really this is a smart move by Tkachuk, he gets another year at one of the top programs in the country, getting more NHL ready and I’m sure he wants to push for a National Championship. In a few years’ time, Brady can be an elite player in this league, he is a big-power forward that plays with a chip on his shoulder, and when you mix that with a player with offensive talent… boom you have Tom Wilson (not a big deal).