TORONTO -- Who would the top prospects eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft compare to in the NHL?
NHL Central Scouting, currently meeting here to determine its final rankings of the top North American skaters and goaltenders for the 2018 draft, offered some insight on the top five North American skaters on its midterm ranking and the No. 1 skater on its international ranking.
Past years have seen Nico Hischier, selected by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, compared to former NHL center Pavel Datsyuk; forward Auston Matthews, taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs at No. 1 in the 2016 NHL Draft, with a skill set comparable to Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews; and forward Patrik Laine, selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 2 pick of the 2016 draft, compared to Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.
Players are listed in order of the midterm ranking, released in January.
1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (SWE)
2017-18: 41 games, 7-13-20, 20 PIM, plus-4, 84 shots on goal
Height/weight: 6-2, 181
Best assets: Hockey sense, competitiveness, poise
Possible NHL comparable: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman
NHL Central Scouting analysis: "Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."
Video: Mike Morreale on potential NHL Draft prospects
1. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie Colts (OHL)
2017-18: 44 games, 40-32-72, 67 PIM, plus-26 rating, 174 shots on goal
Height/weight: 6-2, 186
Best assets: Shot, competitiveness, passing
Possible NHL comparable: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues forward
NHL Central Scouting analysis: "He thinks the game a couple steps ahead and will make decisions with or without the puck that not many can make. He's on a very powerful line but teams focus to stop him. He lets the play and pressure come to him, and he can survey the ice so well. The vision and smarts are impressive."
2. Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
2017-18: 57 games, 44-38-82, 36 PIM, plus-23 rating, 234 shots on goal
Height/weight: 6-0, 196
Best assets: Skating, shot, hockey sense
Possible NHL comparable: David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins forward
NHL Central Scouting analysis: "He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."
3. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (H-EAST)
2017-18: 40 games, 8-23-31, 61 PIM, plus-15, 131 shots on goal
Height/weight: 6-3, 196
Best assets: Competitiveness, hockey sense, physical play
Possible NHL comparable: Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers forward
NHL Central Scouting analysis: "I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"
4. Quintin Hughes, D, Michigan (BIG10)
2017-18: 36 games, 5-24-29, 24 PIM, plus-13, 92 shots on goal
Height/weight: 5-9, 170
Best assets: Skating, passing, competitiveness
Possible NHL comparable: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman
NHL Central Scouting analysis: "Quinn is a smooth-skating, mobile defenseman who carries the puck very well and can transition from defense to offense with his feet or by making a pass. He reads the play very well and lets things develop to make a play. He uses good positioning and use of his angles to defend. He projects to be a top-four defenseman in today's game because his skating and puck skills allow him to possess the puck and dictate the play."
5. Evan Bouchard, D, London Knights (OHL)
2017-18: 67 games, 25-62-87, 54 PIM, plus-23, 297 shots on goal
Height/weight: 6-2, 193
Best assets: Shot, conditioning, leadership
Possible NHL comparable: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues defenseman
NHL Central Scouting analysis: "A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."