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NHL.com: Top 10 Defensemen for 2018 NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Writer

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the days leading to the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position.

Today: Defensemen...

Rasmus Dahlin of Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League is not only the best defenseman of the 2018 NHL Draft, but the best player.

"Dahlin is an exceptionally talented prospect who will be able to contribute, influence and impact a team's fortunes much in the way that Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman have in the NHL," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "If you wanted to pick one player from the 2018 draft who could potentially be viewed as a generational talent, Dahlin would be the only candidate."

After Dahlin, there is a second tier of top defenseman prospects from which to choose.

There were 79 defensemen selected in the 2017 NHL Draft, including nine in the first round. Miro Heiskanen, chosen No. 3 by the Dallas Stars, and Cale Makar, selected No. 4 by the Colorado Avalanche, were the only defensemen chosen in the top 10. 

No defenseman taken in the 2017 draft remained with their NHL team in 2017-18. Dahlin, who will likely be taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 1 pick, is a good bet to remain in the NHL next season.

Here are NHL.com's top 10 defensemen eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft:

1. Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (International skaters)

The left-handed Dahlin (6-foot-3, 185 pounds), 18, had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 41 games this season and was the highest-scoring under-18 defenseman in the history of Sweden's top division with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 67 games. He won best defenseman at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship and was the youngest player by seven years on his country's roster for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

2. Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (North American skaters)

Dobson (6-3, 176) was named a QMJHL First Team All-Star after setting career highs in goals (17), assists (52), points (69), power-play goals (11) and shots on goal (276) in his second season at Acadie-Bathurst. The right-hand shot, an excellent skater who can support the rush and push opposing players back with confidence at the blue line, had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) and 75 shots in 20 playoff games to help the Titan to a league championship.

3. Quintin Hughes, University of Michigan (Big Ten)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 6 (North American skaters)

Hughes (5-10, 173), a left-hand shot, has great hockey sense, always looking one or two plays ahead of his opponent. Once familiar with the college game, his poise and patience really came through, exhibiting a good transition from defense to offense with his feet or with a quick pass. Hughes finished third in scoring for the Wolverines with 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 37 games and was eighth with 35 blocked shots.

4. Evan Bouchard, London (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American skaters)

After Dahlin, Bouchard (6-2, 195) might be the next sure thing on defense in the 2018 draft after three seasons in the OHL. The right-hand shot tied for seventh in the OHL with 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists), the first defenseman to finish among the top 10 league scorers since Windsor's Ryan Ellis (Nashville Predators) was tied for fourth with 101 points (24 goals, 77 assists) in 2010-11. He finished first in the Western Conference OHL Coaches Poll for 'Hardest Shot', second for 'Best Shot' and third for 'Smartest Player.'

5. Adam Boqvist, Brynas Jr. (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (International skaters)

An extremely skilled defenseman with excellent vision and plenty of room to grow as a right-hand shot. He had 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) and a plus-6 rating in 25 regular-season games, and five points (three goals, two assists) in three playoff games. Boqvist (5-11, 165) had six points and led all defensemen in the 2018 IIHF World under-18 Championship with three goals and 29 shots on goal for bronze medal-winning Sweden.

6. Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 11 (North American skaters)

Sandin (5-11, 185), No. 11 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists), a plus-35 rating and 94 shots on goal in 51 games as a rookie in his first season in North America. He is elusive and mobile, and capable of effectively working the point on the power play. Sandin, born in Uppsala, Sweden, has tremendous upside since he'll add strength and weight.

7. Bode Wilde, USA U-18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 17 (North American skaters)

The right-handed shot, committed to the University of Michigan in 2018-19, can play any style with his strength and big shot. Wilde (6-2, 197) led all defensemen on USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team with 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists), four power-play goals, three game-winning goals and 114 shots on goal. Born in Montreal but raised in Birmingham, Michigan, he's an offensive-defenseman who won't go end-to-end but begin the transition with an accurate pass.

8. Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 14 (North American skaters)

An elite left-handed shot capable of working well in traffic to maneuver his team out of danger, Smith has 107 points (19 goals, 88 assists) in 137 WHL games. Smith (5-11, 176), good at dissecting a forecheck, set career highs in goals (14), assists (59), points (73), plus-minus (plus-44) and power-play points (27).

9. K'Andre Miller, USA U-18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 23 (North American skaters)

Miller (6-3, 198) started playing defense three seasons ago when his high school coach at Minnetonka in Minnesota suggested he try it to strengthen their blue line. He had 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists), two shorthanded goals, a plus-23 rating and 103 shots on goal for the USNTDP. Committed to the University of Wisconsin in 2018-19, Miller has the skill set to be an elite defenseman. He's got good range, a good defensive stick and is a solid skater.

10. Mattias Samuelsson, USA U-18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 21 (North American skaters)

Samuelsson (6-4, 218), the son of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson, had 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists), 93 shots on goal and 113 penalty minutes in 58 games for the USNTDP. Samuelsson, a left-hand shot who exhibited improved footwork this season, will attend Western Michigan University in 2018-19.

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