Forward Andrei Svechnikov of Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League was named the No. 1 North American skater on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top prospects for the 2018 NHL Draft.
The draft will be held June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The OHL has 11 players ranked among the top 31 North American prospects, followed by the United States Hockey League with nine players, including six from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program.
[View midterm rankings: NA Skaters | NA Goalies | Int'l Skaters | Int'l Goalies]
Svechnikov, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound right wing, has 32 points (19 goals, 13 assists), 92 shots on goal and a plus-11 rating in 24 games for Barrie this season. He hasn't missed a beat since returning to the lineup Dec. 8 after missing 17 games because of a hand injury sustained Oct. 14, with 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 14 games.
He also had five points, all assists, and four shots on goal in five games as the youngest player for Russia at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.
"Svechnikov has the power game getting the puck through checks and driving to the net," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "He's able to create and finish scoring chances in a timely manner."
Rounding out the top five in the North American midterm rankings are right wing Filip Zadina of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; left wing Brady Tkachuk of Boston University in Hockey East; defenseman Quintin Hughes of the University of Michigan in the Big 10; and defenseman Evan Bouchard of London (OHL).
"There are strong cases to be made for either Svechnikov or Zadina to be ranked in the No. 1 spot," Marr said. "Both are first-year players who quickly established themselves on their respective teams and in their leagues as impact players capable of influencing the game every time they're on the ice.
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"There are more similarities than differences, which is why it's tough at this stage to distinguish a No. 1 or No. 2, but Svechnikov got the slight edge."
Zadina (6-0, 196) has 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games with Halifax. He had eight points and led all 2018 NHL Draft-eligible players with seven goals, including four power-play goals, and 37 shots on goal for the fourth-place Czech Republic at the 2018 WJC.
"Zadina has the quick, skilled game to capitalize on opportunities as well as having an excellent finishing touch," Marr said.
Tkachuk (6-3, 196), the son of United States Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk and brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists), 77 shots on goal, and a plus-8 rating as a freshman in 24 games for Boston University.
"[Rasmus Dahlin] will probably will go No. 1 in the NHL Draft, but second is pretty close with Svechnikov, Zadina, and myself; I think we're all right there for it," Tkachuk said. "Credit to those guys and it should make for a great second half of the season."
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Tkachuk helped the U.S. win the bronze medal at the 2018 WJC, and was third in scoring with nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven games.
"This year there are three strong North American candidates who could vie for the top position; the rest of the top 10 will really be quite interchangeable," Marr said. "Svechnikov, Zadina and Tkachuk all possess the skills and attributes to be successful players in the NHL from an offensive and impact standpoint. Each can influence a game's outcome and all are competitive and consistent, which will make it tough for NHL clubs to determine an order."
Hughes (5-9, 170), a left-handed shot, has 14 points (one goal, 13 assists), 55 shots on goal and a plus-10 rating in 21 games as a freshman at Michigan. He had three points, all assists, and a plus-1 rating for the U.S. at the 2018 WJC.
"The game really just slows down for him; he has ice in his veins and poise everywhere," said U.S. coach Bob Motzko. "He has the great vision to make plays and every time he has the puck it's, 'Wow,' so he's a pretty special player."
Bouchard (6-2, 193), a right-handed shot, leads OHL defensemen with 54 points (15 goals, 39 assists), five game-winning goals, three overtime goals and 202 shots on goal in 45 games for London.
"He's the type of player you want on your team; he's quick to get the puck, quick to transition the puck and has a blast from the point," said Karl Stewart of NHL Central Scouting. "You need to respect that if killing penalties."
The top North American goalie is Alexis Gravel (6-2, 226) of Halifax. In 24 games, Gravel is 11-7-4 with a 3.28 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.