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Dahlin unanimous No. 1 in first 2018 mock draft

Sweden defenseman consensus top pick by NHL.com experts

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Guillaume Lepage agree that Sweden defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will be the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, but little else in their look at how the first round might go.

The 2018 draft will be held at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23.

The order used for this mock draft was based on the standings after games played Monday; the final draft order will be set after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Two teams have multiple first-round picks. The Philadelphia Flyers have their selection and the St. Louis Blues' first pick, which they acquired with forward Jori Lehtera and the Blues' first-round pick in 2017 for forward Brayden Schenn on June 23. The New York Islanders have their pick and the Calgary Flames' No. 1 choice, acquired in the trade for defenseman Travis Hamonic on June 24.

 

1. Arizona Coyotes

Kimelman -- Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (SWE): Hands-down the most talented player in the 2018 draft class. His offensive instincts are first-rate, and at 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, he's not afraid to play physically if needed. He's starred at every level of hockey and likely will have a big impact for Sweden at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics as a 17-year-old (he turns 18 on April 13). He's the kind of player you build your franchise around.

Morreale -- Dahlin: A smart two-way defenseman with the skating, puck-handling, vision and intelligence required to play in the NHL as early as next season.

Lepage -- Dahlin: Do I really need to justify this pick? Dahlin has been firing on all cylinders since last season and he will be the first player selected in the draft.

 

2. Buffalo Sabres

Kimelman -- Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL): An elite-level offensive performer. One scout said he's like an NHL player already. At 6-2, 186, he has the size to play in the League right away.

Morreale -- Svechnikov: Offers excellent offensive instincts and power with high-end skills and puck control.

Lepage -- Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (H-EAST): He is the upgraded version of his brother, Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk. Brady (6-3, 196) appears to have better offensive potential and can easily get under his opponents' skin.

 

3. Ottawa Senators

Kimelman -- Tkachuk: The Senators could use some more strength up front. Tkachuk is big and strong enough to get anywhere he wants on the ice, and produce in a big way when he gets there.

Morreale -- Tkachuk: Possesses the size, hands and ability down low to create matchup problems for the opposition.

Lepage -- Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax (QMJHL): The Czech Republic-born forward showed what he is made of at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. Zadina (6-0, 196) has continued to dominate since returning to Halifax. A sniper of this caliber doesn't come along every day.

 

4. Vancouver Canucks

Kimelman -- Quintin Hughes, D, Michigan (BIG10): His ability to control the game far exceeds any questions about his size (5-9, 170). A dazzling skater and puck-handler with a hard, accurate shot from the point.

Morreale -- Zadina: The Czech Republic native is a dynamic goal scorer with a quick, accurate release and speed.

Lepage -- Svechnikov: This power forward is surprisingly fast and has individual skills that cannot be taught.

 

5. Montreal Canadiens

Kimelman -- Zadina: The Canadiens need an influx of skill up front and Zadina has the offensive flair to be a big contributor.

Morreale -- Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas Jr. (SWE-JR): A skilled right-shot defenseman, Boqvist (5-11, 168) has excellent vision, good understanding of the game and solid on-ice awareness in transition.

Lepage -- Hughes: Offensive defensemen are in great demand these days and that's exactly what Hughes brings to the table. Give him the puck and he will create a scoring chance.

 

6. Florida Panthers

Kimelman -- Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL): Big (6-2, 193), strong, skilled right-shot defensemen are a rare commodity. The Panthers have one with Aaron Ekblad (6-4, 216) and shouldn't pass on a chance to grab another in Bouchard.

Morreale -- Bouchard: His elite-level passing enables him to transition quickly. The right-shot defenseman can quarterback a power play and has a good one-timer.

Lepage -- Boqvist: Here is yet another Sweden-born defenseman who is compared to countryman Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators). Boqvist is a dynamic defender with excellent vision of the game and a powerful shot.

 

7. Edmonton Oilers

Kimelman -- Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USA U-18 (NTDP): He has the puck skills to create room for himself and get his shot off from above the dots, and the size (6-1, 205) and strength to execute below the circles.

Morreale -- Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL): An effective two-way, right-shot defenseman (6-3, 180) capable of supporting the rush or skating the puck out of trouble; has great upside.

Lepage -- Dobson: Though Dobson wasn't expected to be in this group at the start of the season, he has established himself as one of the best at his position. He combines reliable defense with offensive punch and may continue to improve his ranking.

 

8. Detroit Red Wings

Kimelman -- Boqvist: The Red Wings have drafted some good young forwards and now need some defensemen to get them the puck. Scouts see a lot of Erik Karlsson in Boqvist, who has dominated against players his own age in Sweden but hasn't gotten much time in the Swedish Hockey League.

Morreale -- Hughes: A prototypical offensive-defenseman, Hughes is a strong skater with good poise and puck skills.

Lepage -- Wahlstrom: A natural goal scorer who is lethal around the net. He's a powerful skater and can make an exceptional deke look like a routine play.

 

9. Carolina Hurricanes

Kimelman -- Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (SWE): The Hurricanes need more skilled depth through the middle and with Lundestrom (6-0, 185) and 2017 first-round pick (No. 12) Martin Necas, they would be building around two solid players.

Morreale -- Wahlstrom: Known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, Wahlstrom has a quick release and creates space for himself and linemates.

Lepage -- Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (FIN): The skilled Finland-born forward (6-1, 183) did not really have an opportunity to prove himself at the World Junior Championship but showed flashes of his potential thanks to his speed and soft hands.

 

10. Chicago Blackhawks

Kimelman -- Dobson: The Blackhawks will need to find someone to replace Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook at some point, and Dobson would make a strong candidate. The smooth-skating, right-shot defenseman has good size and mobility.

Morreale -- Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL): Chosen No. 1 in the 2015 WHL bantam draft, Smith (5-10, 176) exhibits poise, patience and the ability to play big minutes.

Lepage -- Bouchard: Without Victor Mete and Olli Juolevi in London this season, Bouchard has taken on more responsibilities and he's met the challenge with flying colors. His intelligence and poise serve him very well.

 

11. New York Islanders

Kimelman -- Kupari: The Islanders need young defensemen but Kupari's skill set is too dynamic to pass on.

Morreale -- Joseph Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL): A skilled offensive player (6-1, 195) with a strong work ethic, leadership traits and the ability to create offense with his skating and intelligence.

Lepage -- Bode Wilde, D, USA U-18 (NTDP):

 

12. Pittsburgh Penguins

Kimelman -- Joel Farabee, LW, USA U-18 (NTDP): His strengths are his quick-release shot, work ethic and hockey IQ. Farabee (5-11, 164) blends well with what the Penguins look for in their wings.

Morreale -- Lundestrom: A strong, smart skater who is very responsible in all areas of the ice. He succeeded in a checking role for Sweden at the 2018 World Junior Championship.

Lepage -- Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): He plays more of a supporting role in a dynamic Sault Ste. Marie offense, but he has proven to be a complete player. Some scouts have compared Hayton (6-1, 191) to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.

 

13. Anaheim Ducks

Kimelman -- Hayton: He might not produce offensively in the NHL like he has this season in the OHL (42 points in 44 games), but he plays a complete game that could make him a valuable middle-six forward.

Morreale -- Kupari: Can play center or on the wing and is a strong, mobile skater who can create offensive opportunities at top speed.

Lepage -- Smith: His ability to consistently make the right decision in transition is what sets him apart from other defensemen. Smith's vision and offensive flair is reflected in his 38 assists in 46 games.

 

14. New York Rangers

Kimelman -- Wilde: Highly skilled right-shot defenseman skates well, and is big and strong enough to handle the opposing forecheck.

Morreale -- Wilde: An offensive-minded, right-shot defenseman with good size and strength, plus a good shot from the point.

Lepage -- Farabee: He may not be the most imposing forward, but Farabee does not back down. His speed allows him to avoid contact and there is no doubt that he can thread the needle with his passes.

 

15. Philadelphia Flyers

Kimelman -- Smith: The Flyers value smart, mobile defensemen who can make safe but strong plays with the puck. He can get the puck up the ice quickly or carry it and create in transition.

Morreale -- Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL): At 6-5, 200 pounds, Noel is much more than a prototypical power forward because of his good hands and creativity in the offensive end.

Lepage -- Lundestrom: In a thin crop of top-line centers, Lundestrom catches the eye with his speed, puck protection skills and offensive zone flair.

 

16. Columbus Blue Jackets

Kimelman -- Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat (FIN): Kotkaniemi (6-1, 188) is playing regular minutes in Liiga, Finland's top pro league and won't turn 18 until July 6. He's used in the middle and on the wing, and kills penalties, which speaks to his high hockey IQ.

Morreale -- Hayton: The center exhibits high-end puck skills, compete, poise and quick hands that enable him to make plays at top speed.

Lepage -- Grigori Denisenko, LW, Yaroslavl 2 (RUS-JR): Although on the smaller side at 5-11, 176 pounds, Denisenko is doing very well in his second season in the Russia junior league. A talented offensive performer, he knows how to explode when a lane opens in front of him.

 

17. Los Angeles Kings

Kimelman -- Noel: One scout said Noel reminds him of Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler. Speed and size are NHL caliber, and as he continues to develop and get stronger he has the upside of a top-end power forward.

Morreale -- Kotkaniemi: A playmaker with good hockey sense and a knack for getting off a shot quickly and accurately.

Lepage -- Veleno: He had a slow start to the season with Saint John, but a trade to Drummondville seems to have done him a world of good. He has 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in 10 games since the trade; he had 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 31 games with Saint John.

 

18. New York Islanders (from Calgary Flames)

Kimelman -- Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph (OHL): A high-risk/high-reward right-shot defenseman with top-end speed (5-11, 170). The same reservations some scouts have about Merkley are the same ones they had 10 years ago about an 18-year-old Erik Karlsson. Under general manager Garth Snow, the Islanders have shown a willingness to take chances at the draft and Merkley could be their latest one.

Morreale -- Farabee: A good puck mover with outstanding vision, Farabee is hard on pucks in all areas of the ice and has good offensive instincts.

Lepage -- Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (QMJHL): After an impressive first season in Halifax in 2016-17, McIsaac took a while to get going this season but has hit his stride. The left-shot defenseman (6-1, 195) is effective on both sides of the puck, but it is his defensive-zone play that helps him stand out.

 

19. New Jersey Devils

Kimelman -- McIsaac: The Devils have done a great job building a deep group of young forwards. McIsaac fills a need as a two-way presence who can start the breakout with smart passes.

Morreale -- Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): Sweden-born left-handed shot defenseman (5-11, 183) has great mobility and poise in handling the puck in all situations.

Lepage -- Akil Thomas, C, Niagara (OHL): With 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 44 games, this 5-11, 169-pound fast skater has picked up as where he left off last season, when he was third among OHL rookies with 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games. Thomas is a hard worker who never lets up.

 

20. Toronto Maple Leafs

Kimelman -- Mattias Samuelsson, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): He uses his size (6-3, 217) and strength the way his father, 14-season NHL veteran Kjell Samuelsson, did, but has an offensive game with room to grow.

Morreale -- Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, Halifax (QMJHL): Has a good hockey IQ, competes hard and has a strong two-way game. Groulx (6-1, 192) is good at winning battles in the offensive zone.

Lepage -- Groulx: He quickly took to the important responsibility of centering the top line this season, which demonstrates his reliability. There still is room for improvement on offense but he is trending in the right direction.

 

21. Minnesota Wild

Kimelman -- Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge (WHL): There might be some questions about his ability to play defense in the NHL, but the right-shot defenseman (5-10, 179) has dynamic offensive skills that make him a top-end prospect.

Morreale -- Thomas: Has NHL-caliber speed and is relentless on the puck. He's unselfish and gives his team an honest, two-way effort every game.

Lepage -- Merkley: His offensive skills are top-notch but he still has a lot of work to do defensively. A team capable of living with the holes in Merkley's defensive gaps will get an extremely dynamic and productive defenseman.

 

22. Colorado Avalanche

Kimelman -- Denisenko: Creative, skilled and a strong skater who needs to add some size but projects as a top-six forward. The Avalanche focused on defense at the 2017 draft with Cale Makar and Conor Timmins as their first two selections, so now they can shift to adding to their prospect pipeline up front.

Morreale -- Denisenko: The right-shot forward maneuvers well in traffic, can protect the puck and is strong and effective in the corners.

Lepage -- Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra (SWE-2): The left-shot center effectively uses his size (6-2, 192) for excellent puck protection and does everything the right way even though no particular facet of his game stands out.

 

23. Dallas Stars

Kimelman -- Jack McBain, C, Toronto JC (OJHL): His size (6-3, 197) is tantalizing and he answered some questions with a strong showing (six points in four games) for Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge in December. He's committed to Boston College and if allowed to develop eventually could provide quality depth behind Tyler Seguin.

Morreale -- McIsaac: A good puck-moving defenseman capable of supporting the rush and distributing on the power play.

Lepage -- Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL): Seems to have inherited the same speed as his older brother Michael McLeod, chosen by the Devils with the No. 12 pick in 2016. Ryan (6-2, 200) is a little bigger than Michael (6-2, 188) and is very effective in the face-off circle.

 

24. San Jose Sharks

Kimelman -- Veleno: More of a playmaker than a goal scorer, Veleno is an outstanding skater with a great work ethic.

Morreale -- Merkley: The right-shot defenseman, one of the more offensively gifted draft prospects at his position, has the vision and skills to quarterback a power play.

Lepage -- Sandin: The Sweden-born defenseman has been quick to adapt to the North American style of play with Sault Ste. Marie. He has 28 points (five goals, 23 assists) and a plus-24 rating in 32 games.

 

25. Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis Blues)

Kimelman -- McLeod: Philadelphia loves finding centers and shifting them to the wing. McLeod, a left-handed shot, has the skating ability, strength and size to prosper at the NHL level playing on the wall.

Morreale -- Samuelsson: He has the size, style and edge as his father, former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson, who played 14 NHL seasons.

Lepage -- Samuelsson: He inherited some of his father's size (6-6, 235) and is solid defensively. Scouts believe he has some offensive potential.

 

26. Washington Capitals

Kimelman -- Groulx: He might not be an offensive standout in the NHL but can play in all situations and could develop into a top checking center. With so many offensive-minded players in Washington, having someone with a willingness to play hard through all 200 feet could develop into a key piece.

Morreale -- McLeod: Can play in all situations and has the speed to take defensemen wide and gain the offensive zone with regularity.

Lepage -- Kotkaniemi: The Finland-born forward is producing offense while playing against men in Liiga, Finland's top pro league. But there are questions about his skating ability and that could drop him in the mind of some scouts.

 

27. Nashville Predators

Kimelman -- Thomas: A versatile center who also can play the wing, scouts like Thomas' skating and high-end 1-on-1 offensive skills.

Morreale -- Olofsson: A skilled playmaker with good acceleration, confidence and puck skills. He plays an effective two-way game.

Lepage -- McBain: He has the size of a prototypical power forward. McBain has done well playing in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and performed well at the World Junior A Challenge.

 

28. Boston Bruins

Kimelman -- Olofsson: Has a power-forward skill set and is developing nicely as a 17-year-old playing in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second-highest professional league.

Morreale -- Dominik Bokk, LW, Vaxjo Jr. (SWE-JR): Germany-born forward is a skilled puck mover with smooth hands, good offensive instincts and a good shot.

Lepage -- Noel: The big forward is a surprisingly powerful skater for a player of his size. With 17 goals in 40 games, he also has shown that he is capable of contributing offense.

 

29. Winnipeg Jets

Kimelman -- Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer (WHL): He'd be a solid bookend to Logan Stanley (6-7, 226), the No. 18 pick of the 2016 draft. Alexeyev (6-3, 200) is a strong skater who is good at getting the puck out of his zone with quick, smart passes.

Morreale -- Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw (WHL): The 6-foot, 205-pound right-shot defenseman is effective taking away time and space, and is one of the hardest hitters in the WHL.

Lepage -- Woo: Don't expect Woo to become an offensive defenseman in the NHL, but his defensive qualities could allow him to establish himself as a reliable future NHL player.

 

30. Vegas Golden Knights

Kimelman -- Woo: Projects as a player the opposition will hate playing against. He likes to play physical and has learned how to stay disciplined.

Morreale -- Blade Jenkins, LW, Saginaw (OHL): He is learning how to utilize his quickness and strength effectively in his first OHL season, and has 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games. Jenkins (6-1, 195) could be a player who rises fast during the second half.

Lepage -- Addison: He may be smaller than the average defenseman, but he has what most teams are looking for in a player at the position, speed and energy.

 

31. Tampa Bay Lightning

Kimelman -- Bokk: The Germany-born forward has impressed in his first season in Sweden, and earned a promotion to the Swedish Hockey League. With the Lightning flush with skill players, Bokk will get all the time he needs to develop.

Morreale -- Adam Ginning, D, Linkoping (SWE): A reliable 6-3, 196-pound two-way defenseman who is tough to beat 1-on-1 and is effective in transition.

Lepage -- Martin Kaut, RW, Pardubice (CZREP): The Czech Republic-born forward (6-1, 176) proved he belongs with the cream of the crop with seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games at the 2018 World Junior Championship.

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