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NHL Draft

NHL Draft went really well for nine teams

Sabres, Islanders among those that improved with picks, Flames by trade: analysis

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

All 31 teams arrived in Dallas for the 2018 NHL Draft with a plan to get better.

Most will leave feeling they did so, either through the players they selected or through trades they made during two days at American Airlines Center.


[RELATED: Pick-by-pick results | Complete 2018 NHL Draft coverage]


Here are nine that might have had the most successful draft (teams listed in alphabetical order):


Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo added the best player in the draft with No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin, who could be its No. 1 defenseman by the time next season ends.

But that wasn't the Sabres' only solid selection.

Mattias Samuelsson, the first pick of the second round (No. 32), is a big (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), defensive-minded defenseman with a high hockey IQ and leadership skills.

The Sabres used five of their six picks on defensemen, including seventh-round selection (No. 187) William Worge Kreu (6-6, 172), a left-shot defenseman regarded for his strong defensive-zone play with Linkoping in Sweden's junior league.

Their only forward selection, Muskegon center Matej Pekar in the fourth round (No. 94), was the rookie of the year in the United States Hockey League.

"This was our first draft with our organization with all our new amateur scouts in there, and I think they did great job of preparation for it," general manager Jason Botterill said. "We're very happy with how some of the players were able to fall to us in those [later rounds], and we came away with really adding a lot of depth to our defense corps within our entire group there. So we feel as it's a process here right now where we have Dahlin stepping into our team right away and some players now in the pipeline."

Video: Sabres draft D Rasmus Dahlin No. 1


Calgary Flames

Calgary's biggest addition of the draft could be forward Elias Lindholm, acquired along with defenseman Noah Hanifin in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and defenseman prospect Adam Fox on Saturday. Lindholm scored 16 goals this season and could play right wing on the Flames' top line with center Sean Monahan and left wing Johnny Gaudreau. Hanifin had NHL career highs of 10 goals and 32 points this season, his third in the NHL, and at 21, he's four years younger than Hamilton.

Of their five draft picks, the most intriguing is Slovakia-born center Milos Roman of Vancouver in the Western Hockey League, selected in the fourth round (No. 122). He had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games in his first North American season and scored two goals in five games at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Video: Hurricanes, Flames announce big trade


Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina appears to have achieved its goal of upgrading offensively. The biggest part of that came with the selection of right wing Andrei Svechnikov at No. 2; he scored 40 goals in 44 games for Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League this season. The Hurricanes also selected center Jack Drury in the second round (No. 42); he was fourth in the USHL with 65 points (24 goals, 41 assists) and set a league record with a 23-game point streak.

Hamilton, acquired in the trade from the Flames, tied for the NHL lead among defensemen with 17 goals this season. He also provides a bit of cost certainty, with three seasons left on his contract; Hanifin and Lindholm each can become a restricted free agent July 1.

"We all know goal-scoring is at a premium in the League, so we felt [Hamilton] was a huge addition for us on our blue line," Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said.

Video: Hurricanes draft F Andrei Svechnikov No. 2


Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago needed to get younger and more skilled defensively, and its two first-round picks, defensemen Adam Boqvist (No. 8) and Nicolas Beaudin (No. 27), are regarded as strong skaters with high-end offensive ability.

Third-round pick (No. 69) Jake Wise, a center from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (USNTDP), plays a solid two-way game and will continue to develop at Boston University. He played 38 games because of a broken collarbone but returned in time to play well for the United States at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

Halifax goaltender Alexis Gravel, a sixth-round pick (No. 162), was No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies.

Video: Blackhawks draft D Adam Boqvist No. 8


Colorado Avalanche

Colorado secured its goaltending in the present and the future at the draft.

The Avalanche acquired Philipp Grubauer, along with defenseman Brooks Orpik, in a trade from the Washington Capitals for a 2018 second-round pick Friday, and signed Grubauer to a three-year contract Saturday. Then in the third round (No. 64), they selected goalie Justus Annunen from Karpat in Finland's junior league; he had a .914 save percentage to help Finland win the gold medal at the World U-18 Championship.

The Avalanche have goalie Semyon Varlamov signed through next season.

"He's had two really good years in a backup role, and we all feel he's ready to take the next step and become a No. 1," general manager Joe Sakic said of Grubauer. "We're excited to have two No. 1 goalies."

First-round pick (No. 16) Martin Kaut and third-round pick (No. 78) Sampo Ranta each has a promising future if allowed to develop at the right pace. Kaut, a right wing, has experience playing against men in his native Czech Republic, and Ranta, a left wing, will play for former Avalanche coach Tony Granato at the University of Wisconsin.

Video: NHL Tonight analyzes the Capitals/Avalanche trade


Detroit Red Wings

Detroit got full value with the 10 picks it used, starting with the selection of arguably the top offensive talent in the draft, Halifax right wing Filip Zadina, at No. 6. In his first season in North America, Zadina led rookies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists). Then at No. 30, the Red Wings selected skilled, hardworking center Joseph Veleno.

"We were surprised (Zadina was available)," Red Wings GM Ken Holland told NBCSN on Friday. "Obviously we thought Zadina would go in the top five, and we're certainly thrilled to get him. A guy that can score. You always need scoring. And then obviously with Joe Veleno, we got great speed. … We're happy with two high-skilled players."

In the second round (No. 36), they picked Halifax defenseman Jared McIsaac, who was No. 13 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American players. Third-round pick (No. 67) Alec Regula of London (6-3, 203) won't turn 18 until Aug. 6 but was second among OHL rookie defensemen with 25 points (seven goals, 16 assists). Madison right wing Ryan O'Reilly, selected in the fourth round (No. 98), scored 21 goals in 45 USHL games.

Video: Red Wings draft F Filip Zadina No. 6


Edmonton Oilers

GM Peter Chiarelli said before the draft he would consider trading the No. 10 pick for a defenseman; he kept it and picked right-shot defenseman Evan Bouchard, who could play in the NHL next season. Bouchard (6-2, 196) tied for seventh in the OHL with 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists) and was second with 297 shots on goal.

"He had a terrific year and he's got a bomb of a shot," Chiarelli told the Oilers website. "He's physically big, he's got a very good shot, he's a terrific passer, his hockey sense is terrific.

"There was a need there, and there was a lot of defensemen that were available throughout that first round. … He's one of the guys we coveted. It's the age-old cliche: you're lucky he was there."

The Oilers also did well in the second round. Mississauga center Ryan McLeod (No. 40) was considered one of the better skaters and passers in this draft, and Drummondville goaltender Olivier Rodrigue (No. 62) was No. 1 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies.

Video: Oilers draft D Evan Bouchard No. 10


New York Islanders

New York had an outstanding draft in Lou Lamoriello's first as its GM. USNTDP right wing Oliver Wahlstrom (No. 11) is a top-end offensive force big enough (6-1, 208) to score from down low and has a hard, accurate shot he can beat goalies with from the outside. Acadie-Bathurst's Noah Dobson (No. 12) was considered by some to be the most complete defenseman in the draft after Dahlin.

Second-round pick Bode Wilde (No. 41), a defenseman from the USNTDP, was expected to go in the first round; he was No. 17 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. They also used a third-round pick (No. 72) on goalie Jakub Skarek, who could pay dividends. Skarek, who was No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of International goalies, had a 2.41 goals-against average in 21 games for Jihlava in the top Czech Republic league.

"I don't think we could be more pleased with how it turned out," Lamoriello said of the Islanders' eight picks. "… We got three quality defensemen, a goaltender that our goaltending department is excited about, and four forwards each with different dimensions. What we've done is put players into our system, in different areas, so we can decide what the development process should be."

Video: Lamoriello on new beginning with Islanders


Vancouver Canucks

The selection of Quintin Hughes from the University of Michigan at No. 7 fills a need for a speedy, puck-moving defenseman who can lead the rush or make smart breakout passes for the Canucks. He'll need at least another college season to get stronger and further develop his defensive play, but he has star potential.

Moose Jaw defenseman Jett Woo, their second-round pick (No. 37), brings a physical presence with an offensive upside. A sleeper selection could be third-round pick (No. 68) Tyler Madden, a center from Tri-City of the USHL. He has high-end hockey sense and plays a solid two-way game, two assets he'll continue to develop at Northeastern University.

Video: Canucks draft D Quintin Hughes No. 7

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