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David St-Louis’ 2018 NHL Draft Rankings: Top 50 prospects

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After careful deliberation, a list of the best players available at the entry draft in Dallas.

USHL Fall Classic - Day 3 Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

As promised, these are my top-50 prospects for this year’s draft.

This is not a mock draft, but simply a ranking of players I value the most going into this weekend. I expect a lot of those prospects will be picked later or earlier than where I have them on my board.

I tend to value certain things more than others. Above all, the ability to read the game at a high level, to anticipate and play quickly, and the skill to manipulate the game and opponents to create favourable outcomes on the ice are my key factors. In other words, what most scouts call hockey sense. This can manifest in different ways both offensively and defensively.

Then there are the tools, like a prospect’s skating ability in all its different facets, and his puck-handling and shooting technique. Those skills, honed to a high level, enable plays that otherwise would not be possible. That being said, they can be improved, while awareness and vision are harder to teach.

The ranking is a reflection of the prospects’ abilities and also their perceived ceiling, as much as it is possible to project those. It doesn’t only list by upside (like other lists around) but with a balance of the perceived chances of a prospect to one day evolve in the NHL and his star potential in mind.

This project necessitated hundreds of viewings over countless hours, especially in the past few months where I was playing catch-up after mostly covering Habs prospects this season.

I don’t pretend to be a perfect talent evaluator — I don’t think anyone can be — but I hope this gives some more insight into how I truly view the prospects in relation to each other. This could also give some good indications as to who I think the Habs should target.

There are only 50 listed here, as I don’t have as strong a feeling for prospects after reaching that number, but there’s a good chance that some players I have below are still available to be picked in the later rounds.

I won’t give specific reasoning for each picks as the Eyes On The Prize team has been doing in-depth profiles on prospects for a while now. By clicking on each name, you will be taken to that profile and have a ton of info on the player’s style and background.

And it just so happens that each one of the top 50 prospects on my board was covered (or will be later today) with an article. Coincidence? We may never know....

So without further ado, here is the list. Enjoy!

(You can address your questions and complaints in the comment section below. I’ll be responding as much as I can thorough the day.)

  1. Rasmus Dahlin
  2. Andrei Svechnikov
  3. Quinn Hughes
  4. Filip Zadina
  5. Jesperi Kotkaniemi
  6. Adam Boqvist
  7. Oliver Wahlstrom
  8. Brady Tkachuk
  9. Noah Dobson
  10. Evan Bouchard
  11. Ty Smith
  12. K'Andre Miller
  13. Ryan Merkley
  14. Jonatan Berggren
  15. Ty Dellandrea
  16. Dominik Bokk
  17. Joe Veleno
  18. Rasmus Sandin
  19. Rasmus Kupari
  20. Joel Farabee
  21. Martin Kaut
  22. Kirill Marchenko
  23. Barrett Hayton
  24. Vitali Kravtsov
  25. Isac Lundestrom
  26. Grigori Denisenko
  27. Jesse Ylonen
  28. Akil Thomas
  29. Ryan McLeod
  30. Bode Wilde
  31. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
  32. Jake Wise
  33. Liam Foudy
  34. Niklas Nordgren
  35. Filip Hallander
  36. Serron Noel
  37. Nicolas Beaudin
  38. Calen Addison
  39. Jett Woo
  40. Cam Hillis
  41. Jared McIsaac
  42. Jan Jenik
  43. Ruslan Iskhakov
  44. Jonny Tychonick
  45. Alan McShane
  46. Jacob Olofsson
  47. Jacob Bernard-Docker
  48. Jay O’Brien
  49. Jack McBain
  50. Aidan Dudas

Quinn Hughes at #3

I have been hesitating between Hughes and Filip Zadina a lot before finally settling on the defenceman. There’s an in-depth article on Hughes today that gives insight into why I think Hughes should be/will be the pick at #3, but, as a summary, I think he will end up as a top-pairing defenceman with elite transition ability, and that’s something that I value more than even a great goal-scorer.

K’Andre Miller at #12

If Miller had just a little more offence to his game, he would be an easy top-10 pick. He is an incredibly smart defender, amazing at shutting down the opposition, but also very valuable in a team’s breakout and transitions. I think his upside is very high, especially as he only recently switched to the position. I have no doubt he will discover how to be a better contributor to his team’s offence due to of his innate ability to read the game, something he currently uses to great effect away from the puck.

Ryan Merkley at #13

I know what has been said about his attitude and defensive game. They are very valid concerns. That being said, Merkley is so gifted that it is hard for me to place him any lower. He is the best playmaker in the draft and has blown me away a lot this season. I hope he fixes his issues and becomes the game-breaking player he can be.

Ty Dellandrea #15

You can read my thoughts on this underappreciated player later today.

Kirill Marchenko #22

Marchenko’s has a crazy ability to attack defenders head-on, often more than one, and come out with the puck in great scoring areas. His skill level is incredibly high, and he has shown that he can use that skill to create amazing chances for himself and others. The other Russian forwards are pretty close (Kravtsov and Denisenko), but I think Marchenko edges them out in consistency and pure ability.

Bode Wilde #30

I have had Wilde lower during the season, but his numerous high-level tools generally kept him around the middle of my board. There are consistency and decision-making issues both with and without possession of the puck. He has the potential to become something special, but there’s a lot of ironing to do.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev #31

I really think Der-Arguchintsev is a special player in this draft and has been forgotten by most. He is an incredible playmaker who can both slow the game down and make very quick decisions. He baits defenders, opens up passing lanes and creates space for his teammates. Plus, he is one of the better stickhandlers I’ve seen this year.

He has size issues and has to work on some elements of his skating, but is the youngest player in the draft (along with Jan Jenik) and should mature physically. I expect him to break out in a major way next season — just like Jenik, who possesses some of the same skills, though maybe not to the same level while also adding size to the overall package.

Nicolas Beaudin #37

Beaudin also has some size and skating issues, but he is one of the best defencemen I’ve seen at breaking the puck out. He is a truly great passer and has shown to be very calm under forechecking pressure. I think he also has more potential as a quarterback than he has shown this year. He is more of a long-term project, but could become very valuable to an NHL team wanting to add pace and fluidity to their game.

Cam Hillis #40

A strong two-way center with more offence to his game than what he has shown. He is a good passer who has to shoot more. I think this was a year of learning and adapting for Hillis. It was his first in the OHL and he is to me another candidate to have a breakout season in 2018-19.

Ruslan Iskhakov #43

I was blown away by his skill when I watched the Russian team compete internationally. He is very small, but is incredibly smart and a deft stickhandler. I’d bet on those qualities in the latter rounds, but I also would have no problem with him going high on Saturday. He is just that good despite the obvious knock against him.

Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for prospect updates.