Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: June 22, 2018.
Colorado Avalanche: Martin Kaut, RW, Pojistovna Pardubice (Extraliga) C Grade
- This guy was twenty second on my board. I'm not questioning Alan Wepple. NBCSN believes he has line 1 upside and he will play on a second line behind veterans like Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen so I love the fit for Martin Kaut at 16. Okay pick that warrants a C grade as HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice.
New Jersey Devils: Ty Smith, D, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) A+ Grade
- New Jersey got the best player on the board that fills a position of need at 17. Ty Smith played on the Spokane Chiefs top line in the WHL for two years in a row in Spokane and I really believe he's worthy of a top 10 pick.
- Smith finally worked his way up to top line on the Spokane Chiefs last season. He played on the first line with Kailer Yamamoto and had 5 goals, 27 assists, and 32 points in 66 games. The downside is he had a -12 +/- ratio. The upside is he will have two years of experience on a first line next season.
- The slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, passing, and offensive awareness is there. Smith can be a quarterback on the power play and is a clutch player who can step up offensively in critical situations.
- There are some questions with Smith though. Smith is only 5-11 175 lbs. He hasn't developed a good wrist shot yet in terms of power or accuracy meaning he relies on his slap shot. He also needs to improve his ability to play physical on defense, become more of a defensive defender, and improve his hockey IQ.
- I think Ty Smith can be a first round prospect. Especially if he was taken first overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. The problem with Smith is he is a boom or bust prospect with six pros and six cons to his game. That's the big objection with Adam Boqvist as well.
- Smith had a strong 2017-2018 season with 14 goals, 59 assists, and 73 points, and a +44 +/- ratio. Smith corrected all of his weaknesses on tape so he may end up being NHL ready for New Jersey at 17.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Liam Foudy, C, London Knights (OHL) F Grade
- Liam Foudy is a third line center at best. I had him being the first player being picked in the third round. Huge reach by Columbus and you can argue this pick definitely warrants an F grade.
Philadelphia Flyers: Jay O'Brien, C, Thayer Academy HS (MA) F Grade
- Jay O'Brien is talented, but Philadelphia already has a ton of centers on their roster. This player is a huge project and while he went to the same High School as Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte he's a massive reach at 19 by the Flyers.
Los Angeles Kings: Rasmus Kupari, C, Oulun Karpat (SM Liiga) A Grade
- 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 Kings to develop down the road considering most believe he's a consensus top 20 player.
San Jose Sharks: Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph Storm (OHL) B Grade
- San Jose drafts a defender with maturity issues that does not like playing defense at 21. He sounded mature in his interview with NBCSN though. 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 San Jose Sharks with this pick.
New York Rangers: K'Andre Miller, D, USNTDP (USHL) B Grade
- K'Andre Miller is talented. I am not sure I'd take him over Bode Wilde. He's talented, but the Rangers gave up 26 and 48 to get him so I'll give this a B grade.
- 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 York needs defense so this is a solid pick.
Anaheim Ducks: Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea HF (Elitserien)
- The Ducks can take the best player on the board at 23. Lundestrom is one of the top 5 players on my board at this point and I had the Kings taking him at 20. 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 Ducks can bring in and groom for the future here.
Minnesota Wild: Filip Johansson, D, Leksands IF (Elitserien) D- Grade
- I said on my podcast that I would not give an F grade to a team for reaching for a defender in the first round. Filip Johansson is a huge reach despite being part of a very strong blue line class. Minnesota passed on Jared McIsaac, Bode Wilde, and Jett Woo here so yeah I think this D- grade is justified its one of the worst first round picks the Wild have made over the years.
St. Louis Blues: Dominick Bokk, LW, Vaxjo Lakers (Elitserien) C Grade
- Solid pick by the Blues. I believe Bokk is a second round guy, but some scouts believe he's got the best shot in the 2018 NHL Draft so that may be one reason why he fell in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Ottawa Senators: Jacob Bernard-Docker, D, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) C+ Grade
- Jacob Bernard-Docker had 20 goals, 21 assists, 41 points and a + 34 +/- ratio at 6-1 172 lbs. He may creep up into the late first round and he did end up creeping into the first round. Solid first round pick that warrants a C+ grade.
Chicago Blackhawks: Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) B Grade
- Solid pick. I'm not sure if I'd take him over Joe Veleno, but you can argue he's a first round talent.
New York Rangers: Nils Lundqvist, D, Lulea H.F. (Elitserien) B- Grade
- Some scouts in Sweden think Nils Lundqvist has more upside then Adam Boqvist. I had a second round grade on him, but the worst I can give this pick is a B- grade.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) A Grade
- 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 Toronto Marlies in the AHL, who just won the 2018 Calder Cup and eventually the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Detroit Red Wings: Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) A+ Grade
- I had Veleno going to Dallas at 13 and the Red Wings got him at 30 so this is a huge steal.
- The 6-0 181 lb Joe Veleno did alright as rookie with 13 goals, 30 assists, 43 points, and a +7 +/- ratio as a rookie. Veleno was the first Quebec Major Junior Hockey player to gain exceptional status entering the QMJHL Draft at the age of 15. The Saint John Sea Dogs drafted Veleno first overall in the 2015 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft.
- Veleno only had 13 goals, 27 assists, 40 points, and a +8 +/- ratio last season. As far as tape goes Veleno has the slap shot power, slap shot accuracy, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, passing, deking, stick handling, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, and hockey IQ you look for.
- Veleno was expected to get promoted from the second line on the Saint John Sea Dogs to the first line after guiding them to the 2017 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs where he had 11 points on a second line in the playoffs guiding the Saint John Sea Dogs to the 2017 Memorial Cup as their team captain.
- Veleno had 22 goals, 57 assists, and 89 points in 2017-2018. He had his best year in his draft year despite being traded from Saint John to Drummondville for three first round picks and two second round picks.
- Veleno only won 36 percent of his face offs a rookie after being the first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player to enter Quebec's junior league a year early. He improved that number to 44 percent when the Saint John Sea Dogs made the 2017 Memorial Cup before trading Veleno. This season, Veleno only won 46 percent of his face offs.
- Veleno has the ceiling of a line 1 winger on either side and a line 2 center. He will never be a top line center with his abysmal face off percentage, but he could be a very good line 3 center behind Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen down the road when Henrik Zetterberg retires so I love this pick for the Red Wings.
Washington Capitals: Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL) B Grade
- The 6-3 190 lb defender had 30 assists and while he's a project defensively he can be a great quarterback on the power play. I can see why Washington took him here and it's a solid pick that warransts a B grade.