Whyhockey February Prospect Rankings

In the table below you will find the Whyhockey February Rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft. Under the table I provided notes and thoughts. Based on today’s standings–and not taking into context the Lottery drawing deciding the first 3 picks: Florida Panthers would be selecting 8th and Philadelphia Flyers, currently in the playoffs, would likely end up drafting between 16th and 20th determined by their playoff fate.

***Please note, a column for NHLe is used. NHLe is a formulaic way of finding an NHL season’s equivalency for outside NHL production. This is included as more as a fun reference at this juncture. NHLe has cons on it’s own (goals aren’t weighted more than assists, not enough data from all the leagues, US National Program skews everything with gaudy numbers in weaker junior league, etc.)… it can be problematic. That is why the NHLe wasn’t even calculated until after we had our rankings worked out and put into this nice table.

Some leagues do not have a lot of data points  (players who played in that league and in the NHL). If you use the linked calculator below you will see an asterisk next to the league name of those with smaller sample sizes. Some leagues aren’t included like the junior Swedish and Finnish leagues. Instead, other junior leagues were substituted. Since we aren’t using NHLe for decision making, we didn’t need exact translation for the league multipliers, and they carry an asterisk and note in the table below. So enjoy.

(For reference, you can use the NHLe calculator and find out more information on it and what it entails here.)***

Tier Ranking Name Position League GP G Pts NHLe
Tier 1 1 Rasmus Dahlin D SHL 35 6 17 23
Tier 2 2 Andrei Svechnikov RW OHL 29 27 43 37
3 Filip Zadina LW QMJHL 41 33 59 29
4 Adam Boqvist D SuperElit 23 14 21 18*using QMJHL
Tier 3 5 Jesperi Kotkaniemi C/W Liiga 50 8 22 16
6 Rasmus Kupari C/W Liiga 30 5 9 11
7 Oliver Wahlstrom C/RW USHL 15 15 24 35
8 Ty Smith D WHL 49 8 50 24
9 Noah Dobson D QMJHL 50 12 52 21
10 Joe Veleno C QMJHL 47 13 59 25
11 Jacob Olofsson C Allsvenskan 37 9 20 16
12 Brady Tkachuk LW NCAA 28 7 22 24
13 Evan Bouchard D OHL 49 18 63 32
14 Quinn Hughes D NCAA 25 1 16 17
15 Ryan Merkley D OHL 50 12 58 29
16 Dominik Bokk W SuperElit 29 13 34 24*using QMJHL
17 Joel Farabee LW USHL 15 10 24 35
Tier 4 18 Benoit-Olivier Groulx C QMJHL 52 21 40 15
19 Akil Thomas C OHL 50 15 59 30
20 Grigori Denisenko LW MHL 23 4 14 9
21 Jesse Ylonen RW Mestis 39 12 20 15*using Allsvenskan
22 Rasmus Sandin D OHL 34 6 30 22
23 Isac Lundestrom C/LW SHL 33 5 12 17
24 Barrett Hayton C OHL 49 17 46 24
25 Alexander Alexeyev D WHL 37 6 31 20
26 Philipp Kurashev LW/C QMJHL 48 12 48 20
27 Bode Wilde D USHL 15 1 10 15
28 Mattias Samuelsson D USHL 12 2 8 15
29 Ryan McLeod C OHL 50 18 54 27
30 Filip Hallander C/W Allsvenskan 36 8 19 16
31 Jonatan Berggren C/RW SuperElit 32 17 47 30*using QMJHL
HM HM Marcus Karlberg W SuperElit 30 14 40 27*using QMJHL
HM Carl Wessenius C SuperElit 26 12 32 25*using QMJHL
HM Albin Eriksson LW SuperElit 30 17 32 21*using QMJHL
HM Axel Andersson D SuperElit 35 6 29 17*using QMJHL
HM Calen Addison D WHL 50 7 49 23
HM Serron Noel RW OHL 45 20 38 21
HM Jett Woo D WHL 30 8 23 18
HM Ryan O'Reilly C/RW USHL 31 16 22 16
HM Sampo Ranta LW USHL 36 14 22 14
HM Jared McIsaac D QMJHL 50 7 32 13
HM David Gustafsson C SHL 36 3 7 9
HM Martin Kaut RW Czech 1 34 5 9 9
HM Marcus Westfalt C/LW SHL 28 1 3 5
HM Adam Ginning D SHL 19 0 0 0

*all numbers as of February 7th. Source: http://www.eliteprospects.com/


Thomas Krulikowski’s Notes…

Tier 1

It felt weird last time having a tier for one player but this time around it felt weird not having a single tier for Dahlin. It has little to do with how Dahlin has played (nonetheless Dahlin had a wonderful WJC), and more to do with Zadina and Boqvist continuing their play and giving Svechnikov some company, as to not have two single occupancy tiers in a row.

Tier 2

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Andrei Svechnikov

Andrei Svechnikov is still the second best prospect. Svechnikov didn’t get much of a chance to shine in the WJC but his OHL numbers and play has been prolific, almost a goal per game fighting through injuries and interruption. Zadina’s coming out party in the WJC plus consistent scoring on rebuilding Halifax team is enough to nudge him over Defenseman Adam Boqvist. Boqvist has the same dynamic offensive toolset Ryan Merkley or Quinn Hughes possess, but its the overall package Boqvist boasts that dwarfs the other defenseman in this draft and puts him in the same tier as top end scoring wingers. Heck, Boqvist goal scoring knack is just as natural. These three have franchise, best-on-team potential.

Tier 3

Kotkaniemi & Kupari — Both Finns, both playing in top professional leagues, both can play center or wing, and both make high IQ plays at a quick pace. Kupari certainly has the pedigree and WJC team selection in his column, Kotkaniemi has seen more consistent production at Liiga level. Kupari is more patient and a patent F3 making him more likely than Jesperi to remain a center. Kotkaniemi is a little more chancy and aggressive. And while it certainly could change before Draft day, Kotkaniemi’s consistent play during Kupari’s WJC break deserves the nudge, whereas Kupari needed a spell in the lower Mestis to get going.

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Oliver Wahlstrom

Oliver Wahlstrom’s continued dominance of North American junior circuit is impressive and his natural skillset puts him on an even plane with the two Finns above him. It’s great Wahlstrom has separated himself from the middle round center pack a bit (Veleno, Olofsson, Groulx, Hayton, Thomas) but this may be the ceiling in the prospect ranking for him. The US Dev team is loaded and playing inferior competition, he can’t out talent Zadina nor Svechnikov, and Kupari and Kotkaniemi have promising experience in as good/better junior leagues and professional leagues.

Smith & Dobson — Picking defenseman early in the draft is a risky game. Lately, it seems less so. Ekblad hasn’t been quite the #1 overall stumble defenders usually are. Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Ivan Provorov, and others highlight the games new mobile defenseman. This year, the quality defenders run deep into the second round. Noah Dobson and Ty Smith from opposite coasts of the CHL fit that mold. They may not have the generational talent of Dahlin or possible franchise talent of Boqvist, but they have minute eating top pair ceilings. Both defenders do it all and are equally comfortable with and without the puck. There aren’t a lot of flaws and if they don’t hit their offensive ceiling, there is more to fall back on.

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Noah Dobson

Veleno and Olofsson — Joe Veleno looked to be tumbling down the rankings after a slow start production wise on a thin team, much like Travis Konecny and Sash Chmelevski before him. However, since being traded to Drummondville, Veleno has gone from a point per game to 1.75 pts per game, production worthy enough to buoy him around the Top 10. Jacob Olofsson continues to enjoy his time with highflying Timra. Olofsson, turning 18 this month, has kept pace with Timra’s forwards. Olofsson is a shifty center who keeps his legs moving and is quick to move the puck to his line mates.

Brady Tkachuk may be a surprise to see in the double rather than single digits. His rough and tumble style, pedigree (his brother’s early career must help even more than his father’s), and early entrance to NCAA are all positives in his scouting report. But that physical play comes with drawbacks and seem to stand out more nights than his skills,  in the no fight ranks of NCAA.  Even with a good WJC, there is just too much skill to have him in the top 10 at the moment.

Bouchard, Hughes, Merkley –On talent alone, Merkley and Hughes could be up there with Boqvist. Merkley and Hughes are very similar players. Top end skaters and puck handlers, Hughes and Merkley have to try hard not to produce whether they are having good or bad games. Both also have to overcome their small frame, and to their credit, they have been able to up to this date. But both struggle without the puck, the hardest part of transitioning up the ranks. From our perspective, Merkley has the better tools but Hughes seems closer and more committed to rounding out. If you are looking for offensive bent puck carriers those two are it. But Evan Bouchard right now is the better overall defensive prospect. London Knights are re-tooling the team around their Captain powerplay quarterback, and while his production may benefit from the Knight’s system, he is not that far from Hughes or Merkley’s offensive value, if albeit as a puck mover and point shooter and not a quick footed puck rusher. MVP of the Top Prospects game doesn’t hurt either. His footwork isn’t a red flag, though his outright speed might end up being a tick below average.

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Joel Farabee

Bokk & Farabee– Both of these wingers just make the tier 3 cut off on talent level and potential alone. Dominik Bokk is a name some may only know from Corey Pronman’s surprise inclusion as his 8th ranked skater (we aren’t so gun-ho yet). In December, he was an honorable mention for us, as his start in the SHL as a German born rookie was impressive. But how hard is it to match Bokk’s talents to his production to his competition when he goes from German junior to SHL? Since December, Bokk has found more of a home in the SuperElit Swedish junior league where he can show case more of his elite talent in top minutes. A late learning curve is expected of a prospect making a jump from years of German junior leagues to Sweden. Second half of the season should point to whether Bokk has caught up to his skill level or is a longer term, later in the first prospect. Joel Farabee is similarly hard to scout like Bokk. Although Farabee didn’t make a jump or change in league play this season, Farabee’s talent is hard to accurately measure as he lines up on one of the US Development program’s deepest squads in recent memory. Are his offensive instincts that good, or is it that easy for this team/line to score? Most years it is hard to put a top US Dev player’s performance into context with Europeans playing in pro leagues and others in more known quality CHL leagues, Farabee seems to be one of those guys who could be penalized for that, making him a 17th overall pick instead of 8th or 9th. Draft is four months away though–it’s not impossible both of these forwards are at the top of Tier 3 by next month.

Tier 4

At this point in the draft, 2018 starts living up to its “deep” moniker. There are clear favorites rising from the pack (hence Tier 4) but anywhere from 18-60 there’s an argument to be made a team is getting a NHL player. Starting off the tier is the group of four forwards who are historically first round talents I can’t help but root for: Groulx, Thomas, Denisenko, and Ylonen.

Groulx, Thomas — Benoit-Olivier Groulx isn’t having the numerical season he needs to have but he’s been doing a lot of grunt work for Halifax. Out of the rest of the field, Groulx is the one player I’d bet on making contributions in the NHL playoffs in 8 years. And that is why he leads the tier. Akil Thomas constantly proves me wrong, and I am always tempted to move him up rather than back. Heading into the year, I was expecting a breakout in goals. Instead, Thomas has relied on playmaking and contributing to the team in every facet but scoring. During the WJC though, Thomas goal scoring increased and if he can hold onto that he could jump up in the rankings… defensemen be damned.

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Barrett Hayton

Denisenko, Ylonen — Grigori Denisenko is another top talent whose numbers have fallen. For Denisenko, his MHL point pace isn’t as strong but he is dynamic and on the scoresheet in his age group internationally. Like Martin Necas and Lukas Elvenes last year, I just like the way he plays and think size, production, consistency, all that comes together for him. Jesse Ylonen is on the older end of the draft, isn’t as big as other recent first round Finnish wingers but he is another forward I see it all coming together by the time he’s in the NHL. Ylonen has good instincts and can beat opponents one on one, either side of the puck. I worry about his draft+1 year in the Mestis but if he can use this year in the 2nd Finnish pro league to round out his game and find a different spot to play next year, it’ll take pressure off the need to score more to alleviate fears.

Sandin, Lundestrom, Hayton — These three prospects have played like first round picks but all give me pause if they truly are first rounders in such a deep draft. Rasmus Sandin and Barrett Hayton share the Greyhound asterisk. SSM Greyhounds have gone on a historic winning streak, have seven players over 40 points (in 51 games), 10 players with 20 assists, and four players with 20 goals. How do we treat their numbers? On the flip side, that program has churned out smart, team oriented talent and Morgan Frost was a missed gem by me last year for similar reasons.  Lundestrom is a safe bet for 20something pick. He’s shown well in the SHL and had a better than expected WJC with 2 goals. This is his second season in the SHL which is nice, but did it stunt offensive growth? I don’t know if he has the overall offensive ceiling to live up to his early teens ranking elsewhere but a second half surge can change that.

Alexander Alexeyev is another prospect who, despite progressing in his game, has fallen back in the rankings since last June. Alexeyev is driving the bus on a bare bones Red Deer team in a bad WHL division. He’s decisive with the puck and always moving. Aggressive and with a good stick, he separates puck from puck carrier like a good WHL boy does. At 25, he is the best defenseman on the board, and has a higher ceiling than the US development duo.

Wilde & Samuelsson — Kurashev is ranked higher than these two but since they were just mentioned above I figure Kurashev can wait. Bode Wilde has, perhaps, the best name in the draft. He’s also got a decent set of feet and hands for a classical defenseman. He does everything right and doesn’t have many flaws. His only flaw may be that he hasn’t played high enough competition to know. Ditto with Mattias Samuelsson who has a great name and a better pedigree (Father is Kjell). What’s his true offensive ability when he doesn’t have two lines of Italian sports cars in front of him? What’s his defensive prowess when he isn’t playing 17, 18 year old USHL forwards?

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Philipp Kurashev

I want Philipp Kurashev higher on the list. His WJC wasn’t bad especially on a Swiss team that probably was banking on one more year of Nico Hischier. His Q team, Quebec, is second in their division and there his production is point per game. But with Kurashev, there should be more. He is one of the few forwards left in this draft who, on a talent level, is comparable to prospects in Tier 3. If he can have a stronger second half, he could be up at top of this tier with Groulx.

McLeod, Hallander, and Berggren — I like Ryan McLeod more than his brother but I usually never take a liking to these first round Mississauga forwards and his numbers don’t jump off the page for a player who can skate by the whole league. Filip Hallander caught my eye in the Timra games I’ve watched. On a very skilled team where flash is in abundance, he’s stood out breaking up plays and starting the counter attack. Late in the first round, teams want affordable players who can compliment and play around talent with enough of it themselves (they have the top end talent that is why they are picking 29th, 30th). Hallander fits that profile. Jonatan Berggren is another reason to be excited for this draft class. The talent is strong, the names are strong, and my inability to pronounce or spell these names is strong. I watched Berggren at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. Wearing #48 in league play is fitting for a forward who won’t be expected to do much defensively but offensively has a killer instinct.

Honorable Mentions

*I’ll just pick out some to note*

Carl Wessenius was high on our list last summer but slipped since. This year, Wessenius is doing heavy lifting on a bottom of the league scoring Orebro HK team. But his skill level is high and he can score off the rush. He may start popping up on some lists as we get closer with just how impactful he is for his team.

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Serron Noel

Serron Noel is here because I don’t know where to put him. His size, shot, hands and finishing ability in tight are first round quality. But are his net front skills so efficient because he’s such a man in a kids’ league? His overall production numbers doesn’t help him. Though he’s the type of forward who gets his assists when his teammates can finish rebounds and not sure Oshawa is that team. Simply, I’m not sure where I’d buy Noel stock just yet though I am an interested buyer.

Martin Kaut had a tremendous WJC and has cracked a few Top 31s because of it. He’s a hard worker with a decent skillset and a simple game that works for him. He’s flashed some higher end ability which helps his case.

David Gustafsson is a bias callout. He’s strong on the puck and controls the ice down the middle and in front of the net. He has good hands and finishing ability, and although his footwork could improve he is on the younger side of the draft and should have a lot of room for growth left. His production is good considering bottom 6 minutes at the pro level for a 17 year old. His offensive ceiling is a question mark but he screams NHL center to me.

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Martin Kaut

Jett Woo is a potential Top 4 defenseman who has been plagued by injuries. Closet name competition to Bode Wilde, Woo is a right hand shot who plays well in the neutral zone and chips in offensively. I’d like to see him be more settled in the defensive end but he also hasn’t had much stability this year with said injuries. Injuries dropped him out of the first round, but draft class talent level that seems to rise every month may be why he stays out.




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