Center Andrei Svechnikov of Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23.
Central Scouting revealed its final list of the top North American skaters and goaltenders, and top international skaters and goaltenders on Monday.
Svechnikov (6-foot-2, 188 pounds), who was No. 1 on Central Scouting's midterm list in January, had 72 points (40 goals, 32 assists), 174 shots on goal and a plus-26 rating in 44 regular-season games as a rookie for Barrie this season. That includes a run of 58 points (30 goals, 28 assists) in 34 games after returning Dec. 8 from a hand injury that cost him 17 games. He also had five assists for Russia at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.
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[RANKINGS: North American Skaters | North American Goalies | International Skaters | International Goalies]
The 18-year-old forward has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in seven OHL playoff games playing on one of the top lines in the league, with center Aaron Luchuk, who led the league in scoring during the regular season, and Dmitry Sokolov (Minnesota Wild).
"Svechnikov's play actually improved once he got back (from the hand injury) and I think has become a more complete player with understanding the game in how he uses the whole ice and his teammates," said David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting. "He's an elite skater and finisher and I believe has separated himself from the rest to be our No. 1 skater in North America."
There was plenty of debate over the next five spots during Central Scouting's final meetings earlier this month.
Left wing Brady Tkachuk (6-3, 196) of Boston University in Hockey East moved to No. 2 from No. 3; right wing Filip Zadina (6-0, 195) of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League moved to No. 3 from No. 2; defenseman Evan Bouchard (6-2, 193) of London (OHL) moved to No. 4 from No. 5; defenseman Noah Dobson (6-3, 180) of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) moved to No. 5 from No. 8; and defenseman Quintin Hughes (5-9, 170) of the University of Michigan in the Big 10 moved to No. 6 from No. 4.
"Tkachuk brings both a skill game and a power forward game," Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "He can dictate and control the play with his speed and physical attributes while creating and finishing scoring chances. Both he and Zadina have the skills and assets to be difference makers."
Tkachuk, 18, was fourth for Boston University with 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists), was first in shots on goal (131) and second in plus/minus rating (plus-15) in 40 games. He also had nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven games to help the U.S. win the bronze medal at the WJC.
Zadina, 18, won the Michael Bossy Trophy as the top professional prospect in the QMJHL after leading league rookies with 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games in his first season in North America. He had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in nine QMJHL playoff games, and had eight points (seven goals, one assist) in seven games for the Czech Republic at the WJC.
"Zadina is a natural scorer with an innate ability to always get open on plays, and he has a great finishing touch to capitalize on scoring chances," Marr said.
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Bouchard, 18, tied for seventh in the OHL with 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists) in 67 games. He's the first defenseman to finish among the top 10 OHL scorers since Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis was tied for fourth with 101 points for Windsor in 2010-11. Bouchard also had five points (one goal, four assists) in four OHL playoff games.
"Bouchard, Dobson and Hughes have had strong and successful seasons and it will come down to what an NHL club is looking for," Marr said. "All three upgraded their status as the season went along. With our group of scouts it came down to style of play with their skills and assets and the upside projection which made a difference. But these differences really are minute and you can make a case for taking any one of them over the other."
Dobson, 18, had 69 points (17 goals, 52 assists) in 62 games, a sizable increase from the 26 points (seven goals, 18 assists) he had in 63 games as a league rookie last season. This season Dobson also had 11 power-play goals and 276 shots on goal.
"[Dobson] sees the ice extremely well, makes good decisions under pressure, supports the rush and has a big shot from point," said Troy Dumville of Central Scouting. "The team added some key players that took some pressure off him but his game matured the more confidence he gained."
Center Liam Foudy (6-0, 175) of London (OHL) made one of the biggest jumps into the first round, moving to No. 19 from No. 91. The 18-year-old forward had 40 points (24 goals, 16 assists) in 65 games in his second OHL season, including four game-winning goals and five shorthanded goals.
"Foudy was a B (rated player) at the start of the season," Marr said. "His role on his team had been limited due to the number of veterans London had in their lineup and this made it difficult to rank him at midterm. When London made some trades (in January), that created more ice time for their younger players and Foudy thrived with his NHL speed, quickness and hockey sense."
The top North American goaltender is Olivier Rodrigue (6-1, 159) of Drummondville (QMJHL). Rodrigue, who was No. 2 on Central Scouting's midterm list of North American goalies, was 31-16-3 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in 53 games.