WRITTEN BY SENSCHIRP READER- Sens97
Its Sens97 here with another 2018 Entry Draft ChirpEd.
I am going to break the draft down into two separate articles. The first will be an in depth look at the first pick the Sens have currently at 4th overall and the second will look at the rest of the draft. I want to start out by saying this article is based off my opinion of who I think will be the best players available at each pick, it’s just my personal opinion and not based on any inside information.
As of today the Ottawa Senators hold picks, 4, 22, 95, 126, 157, 188, 194
Let’s start by looking at the first pick at 4th overall. Obviously Rasmus Dahlin goes first overall and I think it is pretty safe to assume both Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina will be off the board as well but if one were to fall to 4, they should be the obvious selection. After the top three, I believe there is a next tier of players of about 6-7 where there is not much separation. In my opinion it might actually be a good idea to look at trading back with a team like Detroit having multiple second round picks, other teams like Chicago, or the New York Rangers have multiple first round picks that they could be willing to move.
With all that being said let’s take a look at these projected top 10 players.
Wahlstrom played on both USNTDP Juniors and the U.S. National U18 Team “A” this past season absolutely lighting both leagues on fire. He then finished his season by playing lights out at the U18 World Championship where he scored 7 goals in 7 games and added 2 assists. Wahlstrom is an elite shooter in the USHL where he finished his season averaging almost 5 shots per game. He also finished second in the league’s points per game at 1.73 points per game. This is better than Clayton Keller and Kyle Connor at the same age. Wahlstrom is one of the best goal scorers eligible for the 2018 NHL draft, especially on the power play. Wahlstrom is a right not but on the power play can play the left side to allow him to shoot one timers. When he slides into that spot he looks very similar to Patrik Laine with the way he shoots the puck. I wouldn’t consider Wahlstrom to be an elite skater however I don’t think it will be an issue transitioning at the next level. Size isn’t an issue as he stands at 6’1” and weighs around 205 lbs. ?Next year Wahlstrom was committed to Harvard University but yesterday he officially committed to Boston College for next season.
Boston University Terriers
As most people know by now Brady Tkachuk is probably the most highly debated prospect of the 2018 draft. He is a late birthday only missing last year’s draft by a single day. He’s known for his outstanding World Junior performance where he scored 9 points in 7 games and winning a bronze medal with Team USA. In this tournament a couple of Brady’s best skills were put in the spotlight. Firstly Brady skates very well for a big guy standing at 6’3”: he has a very long stride, strong balance and good top speed. He is also known for being a pest on the ice; he’s strong in battles for pucks around the corners. He’s got silky smooth hands in and around traffic. His most underrated skill is probably his vision/play-making ability which is why some teams may actually project him as a center at the NHL level. Now there are some question marks about Brady’s game. Only scoring 8 goals at BU in his freshman season is slightly concerning. His point production on his USHL and USDP teams were not exactly elite either. Over the last two seasons at all levels (International tournaments aside) Brady has put up very similar numbers to fellow 2018 draft eligible Quinn Hughes as a defenseman. I personally don’t see Tkachuk having the same offensive upside as Zadina or Svechnikov but I do think Tkachuk can be a top 6 forward someday. At this point Tkachuk hasn’t specified whether or not he will return to Boston University for the 2018-2019 season but after only putting up 8 goals in 40 games it might be a good idea for him to go back and dominate the NCAA.
Kotkaniemi is a large 6’2” play-making center. He just finished his first season with Assat in Finland’s top men’s league playing the entire season as a 17 year old. Kotkaniemi is more of a play-maker than a shooter. He often skates down through the middle of the ice and skates the puck into the offensive zone before slowing down to distribute the puck. He has excellent patience with the puck, vision and offensive instincts that lead to high danger chances. He doesn’t shoot as much as one might like however he still manages to generate many high danger scoring chances. Kotkaniemi needs to improve his strength, work on shooting more, and could use some work on having a more explosive first step. These are fairly minor fixes and can be fixed with some NHL coaching and development. I believe he could use another season in Finland before coming over to North America. If he develops properly I would expect Kotkaniemi to be in the NHL at some point in the 2019-2020 season.
Quinn Hughes is an extremely gifted offensive defenseman. Hughes uses his excellent skating ability to move the puck end to end usually leading to a scoring chance or at the very least gain the offensive zone with control of the puck. He has great vision, passing ability, and a decent shot. The knock on Hughes is his size, standing at 5’10” and roughly 174 lbs, he is undersized. However Hughes actually put up better offensive numbers in his rookie collegiate season (29 pts in 37 games played) than last years 4th overall pick Cale Makar even though Hughes is a full draft year younger than Makar. I believe Hughes has the offensive and skating ability to be a top pairing defenceman at the NHL level. His development may take another season of college and some AHL time. His development path could looking similar to former U. of Michigan defencemen Zach Werenski.
Bouchard a late 1999 birth date played his season as the number 1 defenceman for the London Knights. He put up amazing numbers for a draft eligible defenceman (87 points in 67 games) and put up the most 5v5 points for draft eligible defenseman. He led the Knights in points and second in goals (Alex Formenton had 29 goals). He also captained his team as a draft eligible which is very impressive considering there were older and more experienced players on the team. His skating seems to be good but his game doesn’t have a lot of urgency to it. He may seem slow or lazy as a result of this. His game also doesn’t have a lot of flash to it because he’s not an elite skater, his stick handling isn’t elite but he makes very smart first passes. He is one of the more NHL ready defencemen in this draft however I don’t think another year in the OHL and leading the way on Canada’s blue line would hurt his development.
Adam Boqvist started his 2017-2018 season with a bang. He had an excellent Ivan Hlinka on Sweden’s blue line with 8 points in only 5 games. Boqvist is very offensively talented; he has an elite shot, vision, hands and passing ability. His shot release is quick, accurate, and hard. He makes very clean breakout passes, moving the puck to wingers in stride and in doing so he creates good scoring chances. Boqvist isn’t as NHL ready as some other draft eligible defenseman like Hughes or Bouchard; however he has a similar long term projection.
Noah Dobson finished his draft eligible season with just over a point per game pace (69 points in 67) in his second season in the QMJHL. Dobson is more of an puck moving defenceman. He skates decently well for a bigger guy but his first step could use some work. He has a great shot and knows when to jump into the rush or make a good first pass. I thought Dobson had a strong Top Prospects Game which showed again why he should be a top 10 pick. ?His defensive game could use work, he sometimes loses his defensive positioning or he is soft on his stick and it allows the forward in front of the net to get lose and generate scoring chances. If Dobson can add some muscle he should be able to translate his game to be a top 4 defenceman at the NHL level.
Honourable Mentions- Joe Veleno, Barrett Hayton, and Joel Farabee