2018 NHL Mock Draft: Final Mock 2 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 16-31
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: June 22, 2018.
Colorado Avalanche: Bode Wilde, D, USNTDP (USHL)
- Colorado grabs the best defenseman on the board here. That's Bode Wilde, who Alan Wepple believes could be a complete two-way defenseman down the road. Wepple has raved about Wilde like he's a lottery pick so I have to believe Colorado's front office will be Born To Be Wilde on draft day.
- The 6-2 197 lb defenseman had 12 goals, 29 assists, and 41 points for the USNTDP Team in the USHL. Wilde is going to Michigan in 2018 following this years NHL Draft and he will either take over for Quinn Hughes on the top line next season or become his line mate with Michigan potentially having one of their bet rosters in years if they get Wilde and both Hughes brothers on the top line. Wilde's USNTDP teammate is going to be mocked next and spoiler alert he's going to play for one of Michigan's Big 10 Rivals once his College career starts.
New Jersey Devils: K'Andre Miller, D, USNTDP (USHL)
- When the Devils won the top pick last year, my initial impression was that they should take Nolan Patrick at 1. As the 2017 NHL Combine unfolded they gave Nico Hischier a lot more positive body language cues during the interview process at the 2017 NHL Combine. At that split second, I knew the Devils were taking Nico Hischier at 1.
- This year the guy Ray Shero, New Jersey's GM gave a lot of positive body language cues too during a Devils Combine interview was K'Andre Miller who was line mates with Bode Wilde on the USNTDP USHL team.
- The 6-4 194 lb K'Andre Miller is more of a defensive defender then an offensive defender like Wilde. Miller had 4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points, and a +13 +/- ratio in 22 USHL games. Miller is going to Wisconsin and interviewed well with a lot of teams besides the Devils at the 2018 NHL Combine after testing well.
- Miller is now considered a top 20 prospect as a result of this. New Jersey needs defense more then anything else so if you don't like Miller and you are on the Devils you need to speak up before Shero locks in on Miller at 17.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Akil Thomas, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
- Columbus will pick at 18 this year. I honestly feel like they have the luxury to take the best player on the board here with a pretty deep overall team that has the talent to make a run. This team should still be a playoff team next season even if they lose Jack Johnson. One player I heard they showed a lot of interest in as far as developing goes is Akil Thomas.
- Akil Thomas had 21 goals, 27 assists, and 48 points in 61 regular season games. The -23 +/- ratio is concerning. He also didn't get a point in the 2017 OHL Playoffs and had a -6 +/- ratio during the 2017 OHL Playoffs.
- Akil Thomas has the slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, passing, offensive awareness, and ability to win face offs that NHL teams covet. He has good instincts and reaction timing as well. He mirrored the goalie and kept adjusting on tape.
- Thomas needed to add more muscle and improve his defensive play in 2017-2018 if he was going to improve his draft stock from a top 25 pick to going higher.
- The 5-11 170 lb Akil Thomas had 22 goals, 59 assists, 71 points, and a +6 +/- ratio this season making major improvements from his 48 point campaign the previous season. That kind of growth and improvement helps Akil Thomas get selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the eighteenth pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Philadelphia Flyers: Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
- Philadelphia takes another winger at 19. The 6-5 209 lb Serron Noel had 28 goals, 25 assists, and 53 points this season taking his biggest leap yet. Despite being a good skater with great size, he's still a defensive liability despite having the tools to be a player who can be a 25/25 player in the NHL as far as goals and assists go. He will need at least two more years in juniors just like the rest of the players that have been picked from 14-18 before him, but with that additional time to develop you have to be optimistic about Noel becoming a line 1 right winger down the road with the right development.
Los Angeles Kings: Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea HF (Elitserien)
- The Kings can take the best player on the board at 20. At this point I believe that's Isac Lundestrom of Lulea HF. He's versatile enough to play left wing, center, or right wing in the NHL at 6-0 185 lbs.
- Isac Lundestrom had 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, and a -5 +/- ratio in 45 games in the SHL. Lundestrom has the skating, deking, stick handling, vision, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, versatility, and offensive awareness to be a good player.
- Lundstrom has things he needs to improve on. Lundestrom needs to develop a slap shot. He also needs to develop power and accuracy on that slap shot. Improving by getting more assists and developing as a passer is another area Lundestrom needs to work on. You'd like to him win more face offs. Defensive awareness and hockey IQ are also things Lundestrom needs to work on.
- Heading into this season I thought Lundestrom was a boom or bust prospect. He had 8 pros to his game, but also had 7 cons in his game as well when we entered October 2017.
- Lundestrom had 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, and a +7 +/- ratio improving in a lot of categories. He developed as a passer and improved his defensive awareness. I'd say there are now 11 strengths and 4 weaknesses to Lundestrom's game after watching him grow a lot with Lulea HF this past season. He still needs another two years to develop, but he's someone the Kings can bring in and groom for the future here.
San Jose Sharks: Rasmus Kupari, C, Oulun Karpat (SM Liiga)
- San Jose grabs the best overall player rather than drafting for need at 21. They get Rasmus Kupari.
- The 5-11 163 lb center has the versatility to play left wing, center, or right wing. His 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, and +4 +/- ratio is disappointing, but Kupari was consistent as a defender and he's an effective player for the Sharks to develop down the road considering most believe he's a consensus top 20 player.
Ottawa Senators: Martin Kaut, RW, HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice (Extraliga)
- Martin Kaut only has 9 goals, 7 assists, and 16 points. He doesn't have a contract with HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice and may be able to compete for an NHL roster spot on a third line right out of the draft despite having the ceiling of a third line player. I've seen him mocked as high as tenth overall to the Edmonton Oilers so this is a nice value pick for Ottawa.
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
- Its sounding like Anaheim may take a center at 23. I am giving them Ryan McLeod since he's the top center on the board.
- Back in 2015, many thought Ryan McLeod may be the top pick in the 2018 NHL Draft because he won the OHL Cup MVP on his Midget Hockey League team where he was teammates with 2017 draft pick Matthew Strome. The Flint Firebirds were an expansion franchise and they took him third overall.
- The 6-2 190 lb center got traded from the Flint Firebirds to his hometown team in Mississauga. He would be re-united with his older brother Michael McLeod a first round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft as well as team captain of the Mississauga Steelheads.
- Ryan McLeod had 7 goals, 13 assists, and 20 points in his rookie season. McLeod had 9 goals, 33 assists, and 42 points. He also improved his +/- ratio from -6 as a rookie to +12 in his second season. McLeod also had 5 goals, 15 assists, 20 points, and a +13 +/- ratio during the 2017 OHL Playoffs.
- McLeod has the slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, passing, vision, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, vision, hockey IQ, and the ability to win face offs. McLeod is a special player. I think the only thing holding him back from a top 5 grade is the fact that he plays on Mississauga's second line behind his older brother. McLeod would probably be a first line player on any other OHL team.
- McLeod broke out this season with 26 goals, 44 assists, and 70 points. He even got promoted to an alternate captain role for showing more leadership. The Ducks will be thrilled to have McLeod in their system as they continue to stockpile their team with future centers after getting Sam Steel out of the Regina Pats from the Frederik Andersen trade along with McLeod thanks to this pick.
Minnesota Wild: Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
- The Minnesota Wild reload on defense by taking the best player on the board here. Jett Woo is someone I really like and I wish the Dallas Stars would take him at 13, but he's gonna fall to the 21-31 range as someone gets a huge steal. The Minnesota Wild are a good fit for Jett Woo here.
- The 6-1 200 lb Jett Woo sounds like an extra in a Bruce Lee movie. In all seriousness, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 WHL Draft is a player that I viewed as a top 5 talent on tape heading into the season.
- Jett Woo had 5 goals, 17 assists, 22 points, and a +12 +/- ratio in 67 regular season games. Woo had 3 assists in the 2017 WHL Playoffs before the Moose Jaw Warriors got eliminated in 7 games during the opening round.
- Jett Woo has the skating, explosive speed, slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, passing, checking, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, hockey IQ, and the ability to block shots effectively on tape. Woo is someone who can play the quarterback on the power play or penalty killing to develop into a line 1 defenseman.
- He was also team captain for Canada on their Under 17 team at the World Cup of Hockey last fall showing leadership as well. If he shows he can maintain all of these skills in his draft year, he's someone who could easily creep into the top 10 maybe even the top 5 because outside of Rasmus Dahlen this was the only player that checked out all the boxes when watching Woo's tape.
- Woo only played in 44 games compared to his 65 games last year. He only improved marginally statistically too with 9 goals, 16 assists, 25 points, and a +29 +/- ratio this season. Woo is someone who should go a lot higher then 24, but Minnesota will get a steal with Woo if they look past the injuries that caused him to miss time this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph Storm (OHL)
- Toronto is loaded offensively. They need defensive help though.
- Toronto gets someone to pair up with last years first round pick on the blue line Timothy Liljegren at 25. The 5-11 165 lb Ryan Merkley was the top pick in the 2016 OHL Draft after being the team captain of the team he was on in Midget Hockey prior to the OHL.
- Merkley had 12 goals, 43 assists, and 52 points in 62 OHL games. Merkley also had a -41 +/- ratio and that's horrible when you consider how undersized Merkley is. He has 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, and a -2 +/- ratio in 4 games this season.
- Merkley has the slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, passing, and offensive awareness you look for. This guy can be a quarterback on the power play. He has good handles and can maneuver the puck effectively. He is terrible defensively though and needs to fix that area of his game. That's the biggest reason why some NHL teams have a second round grade on him while others have a first round grade on him.
- Ryan Merkley had 13 goals, 54 assists, and 67 points. He's still a liability as far as his defensive play goes, but he may be the best offensive defender in the entire class which is why Merkley is worth a late first round flyer for the Toronto Maple Leafs with this pick.
New York Rangers: Matias Samuelsson, D, USNTDP (USHL)
- New York got this first round pick from Boston thanks to the Rick Nash trade. Their defense is such a liability that they may have to draft multiple defensemen in this loaded blue line class which is the deepest defender draft since 2012 and the most top heavy defenseman draft since 2008.
- Samuelsson has the slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, passing, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, and hockey IQ you want in a skater. Samuelsson may end up needing multiple years to develop at Western Michigan, but will be their best hockey player the day he steps on Western Michigan's campus and by the time he's done developing you will have Kevin Shattenkirk and Ty Smith on the top line allowing Samuelsson to ease into a second line role in the NHL if he gets picked by the Rangers at 26.
Chicago Blackhawks: Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- I'm still speechless that Chicago got Nashville's first round pick for Ryan Hartman. Chicago gets another center for depth here and they get a good one this late with Benoit-Olivier Groulx.
- The 6-1 176 lb Benoit-Olivier Groulx had 17 goals, 14 assists, 31 points, and a -18 +/- ratio in 62 games. Benoit-Olivier Groulx had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, and a +3 +/- ratio in the 2017 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Playoffs where he improved defensively. The top pick in the 2016 QMJHL Draft is a player Chicago can get at 27.
- Benoit-Olivier Groulx has the slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, vision, and offensive awareness, defensive awareness, and hockey IQ to thrive in the NHL down the road. You'd like to see him develop more as a passer in the QMJHL, but he was a great passer on his midget team where he was an alternate captain with 30 assists before Halifax took him first overall in the 2016 QMJHL draft. You'd also like to see Benoit-Olivier Groulx show the versatility to play left wing or right wing with his size.
- I wouldn't call Benoit-Olivier Groulx a complete player yet as a prospect. I want to see how he does on the top line now that Nico Hischier is gonna be on the Devils plus there are a few tweaks he can make to his game. He had 28 goals, 27 assists, 55 points, and a +9 +/- ratio on the top line taking over for Nico Hischer. He didn't have the same impact on that top line that Hischier had, but he still played well enough to warrant a late first round selection, and he will do much better on a team like Chicago where he will never have to worry about being the line 1 center as long as Jonathan Toews is there which gives him more time to develop and a better chance to succeed.
New York Rangers: Vitali Kravtsov, RW, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
- The Rangers got this third first round pick thanks to sending Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now they take the top Russian skater on the board which is something Yzerman would probably do if he didn't deal this pick to the New York Rangers for McDonagh.
- The 6-2 183 lb Vitali Kravtsov could get drafted as early as ninteenth overall. He had 4 goals, 3 assists, and 7 points in the regular season before having 6 goals, 5 assists, and 11 points in the 2018 KHL Playoffs showing the skills of a clutch playoff performer.
- Kravtsov has the size and speed to be a top 6 forward who can play on a first line or a second line in the NHL. He's an ideal replacement for Rick Nash on the New York Rangers at 28.
St. Louis Blues: Jack Drury, C, Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
- The St. Louis Blues get a replacement for David Backes here. I think this years player that will creep into the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft despite having a second or third round grade by some outlets is Jack Drury. I know Draft Site had a fourth round grade on this guy, but I did my research on Jack Drury and he's got first round tape so I'm not sure what they were thinking there.
- Waterloo has had great captains over the past few years from Brock Boeser to Shane Bowers. Now they got another team captain who has first round tape with Jack Drury and his uncle is Chris Drury.
- Jack Drury has the speed, skating, slap shot power, slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, vision, and hockey IQ NHL teams covet. Drury had 24 goals, 41 assists, and 65 points with Waterloo after succeeding both Boeser and Bowers as a team captain in Waterloo so there is no reason for the Blues to pass on Jack Drury unless they like one of the other centers in this class more.
Detroit Red Wings: Bulat Shafigullin, RW, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL)
- Detroit takes a high upside player at 30 who is getting compared to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. I realize he's raw, and that most scouts have a second to third round grade on him. At the same time, if you believe someone in this draft is so good that the upside to be a line 1 All Star like Jamie Benn is there then you take that player at 30 and keep the Washington Capitals from having someone with Jamie Benn upside be mentored by the NHL's newest Stanley Cup Champion Alex Ovechkin period.
- The 6-0 165 lb Bulat Shafigullin only had 2 assists in the KHL despite showing promise with 20 goals, 16 assists, and 36 ponts in the MHL. He's versatile enough to play left wing, center, or right wing with his versatility. The upside to be a guy who has 30 goals and 30 assists is there. Shafigullin also needs to get stronger though. I still believe if you think a player has Jamie Benn upside why pass on him in the late first round.
- Shafigullin has the wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, passing, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, vision, hockey IQ, checking, and ability to block shots on tape. His puck handling is exceptional. His one knock is that he needs to get stronger by adding more muscle. You'd also like to see him show these tools versus KHL competition rather than MHL competition, but the upside to be a special player is there.
- Detroit will have Evgeni Svechnikov, Michael Rasmussen, and Quinn Hughes if they take him at 6 ready to go for 2018. Their 2016 first round pick Dennis Cholowski will also be on Grand Rapids in the AHL as he takes the next step into developing into a role player on Detroit's blue line down the road. Detroit has some aging right wingers so drafting Bulat Shafigullin for the future and developing him for down the road is a smart decision at 30 if you believe he can be the next Jamie Benn.
Washington Capitals: Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
- The Washington Capitals draft another defender to groom for the future with Bulat Shafigullin off the board Rasmus Sandin is the best defender on the board and is the thirteenth defenseman drafted in this first round. It's perfect timing too with John Carlsson set to become a Free Agent.
- The 5-11 190 lb Rasmus Sandin was teammates with Timothy Liljegren on the top line for Rogle B.K.'s defense. Then the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds got a loan to use Sandin for this season where he had 12 goals, 33 assists, 45 points, and a +35 +/- ratio dominating as an offensive defender in the OHL. Now he will head back to Rogle B.K. where he will be expected to be the leader of that team next season before he works his way up to the Hershey Bears in the AHL and eventually the Washington Capitals.
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