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McKeen’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings – December 2017 – Top 31

For the second time this season, and the last time before the annual prospect bonanza that is the World Junior Championship, McKeens Hockey is pleased to present an update to the 2018 draft list.

With more hockey under our belts – and more pertinently, the belts of the players – we are expanding our list this month. We have watched a lot more and they have played even more than that. This list now goes to 62, showing the players that our team of scouts envisions as being worthy of selection in the top two rounds next June in Dallas.

The list will grow and change over the remaining months of the season, but this is where we see things today. You can consider the ordinal ranking below to be our view of things should the prospect season end now and this is all that NHL teams had to go on.

For example, Russian import Alexander Khovanov has yet to suit up with the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) – or anywhere else for that matter – after contracting Hepatitis A before the season began. He is incredibly talented, but his illness is more serious than the common bouts with mononucleosis that many teenagers (not just hockey prospects) contract. Should Khovanov return to full health in the near future, he could not just reach this list, but has hinted at first round potential in the past.

Andrei Svechnikovof the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Andrei Svechnikovof the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Unlike him, fellow Russian CHL import Andrei Svechnikov has played enough this year before breaking his hand that we are still comfortable ranking him second overall. The fact that he jumped from Muskegon off the USHL to what had been a struggling squad in Barrie and shown zero degradation of his scoring talents, has remained prominent in our minds. The additional note that his injury is not extreme and that he is expected to return shortly (perhaps for the WJC) allows us to make the choice of slotting him at #2 without too much hesitation.

If there was any hesitation at all, it was due to the continued excellence of another European import to the CHL, in Filip Zadina, a Czech star who has been ripping up the QMJHL for Halifax. While we have all been immensely impressed by Zadina’s exploits in the Maritimes, we ultimately chose to keep Svechnikov on the silver medal winner’s podium due to a combination of his longer track record in North America, his rangier, more projectible frame, and his four additional months of youth. Nevertheless, we are happy to bump Zadina up two spots from fifth on last month’s list to third. Zadina’s ascent and the associated downward shuffle was the only change in the top seven from our initial ranking.

Joe Veleno, Saint Johns, photo courtesy of the QMJHL
Joe Veleno, Saint John Sea Dogs, photo courtesy of the QMJHL

The next change of note goes to Joe Veleno, the former “Exceptional Status” in Saint John. Veleno is still very talented and having a fine season for the Sea Dogs, but the fact that he has not taken a noticeable step forward between last year and today causes us to question his upside more audibly. He was dropped down from eighth to 13th. Ty Smith is the big beneficiary, as the undersized Spokane blueliner leapfrogged both Veleno and Jared McIsaac to the eight slot. There was some debate between those two among our scouts, but for now, the Westerner’s dynamic offensive game gives him the temporary edge.

Noah Dobson on Acadie-Bathurst. Photo courtesy of the QMJHL.
Noah Dobson on Acadie-Bathurst. Photo courtesy of the QMJHL.

To avoid the risk of getting caught up in every player who moved up or down one or two spots, we will move ahead to highlight the ascendance of Noah Dobson, who has leapt from 20 to 14 in the past month. His continued strong play with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan has assured our scouts that his hot start has not been a flash in the pan. He is the real deal, as well as being one of the few likely first round blueliners to have prototypical size.

With Dobson moving up, Ryan McLeod dropped by four spots (13 to 17). He is still playing well, but there is some speculation that some of his production may be the result of playing with a star-studded Mississauga squad in the OHL.

Before jumping into the second round, it is somewhat notable that each of the bottom five players in last month’s list (Adam Ginning, Ty Dellandrea, Jesse Ylonen, Allan McShane, and Rasmus Sandin) have dropped into the second round, making way for some new faces. Joining the tail end of the first round this month are K’Andre Miller, a highly athletic defender with the USNTDP, Evan Bouchard, a pure offensive defensemen with London, Jonny Tychonik, this year’s start from the BCHL, who is about to get a showcase at the WJAC, Grigori Denisenko, who some scouts suspect has top ten upside, and Alexander Alexeyev, a Russian defenseman playing a strong two-way game with Red Deer.

The article continues on the second round for subscribers here. To see our top 62 ranking for the 2018 NHL Draft link here.

1 Rasmus Dahlin D Frolunda (Swe) 6-2/185 13-Apr-00 25-5-6-11
2 Andrei Svechnikov RW Barrie (OHL) 6-2/185 26-Mar-00 10-10-4-14
3 Filip Zadina RW Halifax (QMJHL) 6-0/200 27-Nov-99 30-23-21-44
4 Adam Boqvist D Brynas (Swe Jr) 5-11/170 15-Aug-00 16-10-7-17
5 Quinn Hughes D Michigan (B1G) 5-10/175 14-Oct-99 15-1-9-10
6 Brady Tkachuk LW Boston University (HE) 6-3/195 16-Sep-99 17-2-10-12
7 Oliver Wahlstrom RW NTDP (USA) 6-1/205 13-Jun-00 23-16-15-31
8 Ty Smith D Spokane (WHL) 5-10/180 24-Mar-00 28-5-23-28
9 Jared McIsaac D Halifax (QMJHL) 6-1/195 27-Mar-00 29-2-14-16
10 Ryan Merkley D Guelph (OHL) 5-11/170 14-Aug-00 28-7-28-35
11 Akil Thomas RW Niagara (OHL) 5-11/170 2-Jan-00 28-8-22-30
12 Joel Farabee LW NTDP (USA) 5-11/165 25-Feb-00 23-12-12-24
13 Joe Veleno C Saint John (QMJHL) 6-1/195 13-Jan-00 31-6-25-31
14 Noah Dobson D Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) 6-3/180 7-Jan-00 30-3-25-28
15 Isac Lundestrom C Lulea (Swe) 6-0/185 6-Nov-99 23-3-7-10
16 Rasmus Kupari C Karpat Oulu (Fin) 6-1/185 15-Mar-00 19-3-1-4
17 Ryan McLeod C Mississauga (OHL) 6-2/200 21-Sep-99 29-7-23-30
18 Barrett Hayton C Sault Ste Marie (OHL) 6-1/190 9-Jun-00 28-11-14-25
19 Serron Noel RW Oshawa (OHL) 6-5/200 8-Aug-00 24-14-8-22
20 Jett Woo D Moose Jaw (WHL) 6-0/205 27-Jul-00 18-6-11-17
21 Bode Wilde D NTDP (USA) 6-2/195 24-Jan-00 23-4-11-15
22 Jesperi Kotkaniemi C Assat Pori (Fin) 6-1/190 6-Jul-00 30-6-8-14
23 Jacob Olofsson C Timra (Swe 2) 6-2/190 8-Feb-00 23-5-4-9
24 Benoit-Olivier Groulx C Halifax (QMJHL) 6-1/195 6-Feb-00 30-15-9-24
25 Jack McBain C Toronto Jr Canadiens (OJHL) 6-3/195 6-Jan-00 31-12-26-38
26 Calen Addison D Lethbridge (WHL) 5-10/180 11-Apr-00 28-6-26-32
27 K'Andre Miller D NTDP (USA) 6-3/205 21-Jan-00 23-2-6-8
28 Evan Bouchard D London (OHL) 6-2/195 20-Oct-99 28-9-25-34
29 Jonny Tychonick D Penticton (BCHL) 5-11/175 3-Mar-00 25-5-18-23
30 Grigori Denisenko LW Loko Yaroslavl (Rus Jr) 5-11/165 24-Jun-00 19-3-8-11
31 Alexander Alexeyev D Red Deer (WHL) 6-3/200 15-Nov-99 21-1-13-14