Rasmus Dahlin (D, BUF): The sky is the limit with this rookie defenseman, being compared to Nicklas Lidstrom and one of the best defenseman to emerge in the league in quite sometime has set others on their high horse about Dahlin. He will 100 percent play right away too, and right in the top four mix. Dahlin is slotted on line two right now with Zach Bogosian. These two will be eating up 20+ minutes per game, while Dahlin will also be working on power play with Rasmus Ristolanien. Dahlin as we all know is a very solid offensive defenseman, who will learn the importance of being as solid on both ends of the puck early on. He picks up on things quickly and is an extremely quick learner. While he may not be the biggest guy on the ice, he is not afraid to be physical although his speed and awareness is the biggest part of his game. Dahlin is capable of 45 plus points this season and an early Calder favorite.
Andrei Svechnikov (RW, CAR): The second most highly sought after rookie coming into the draft, the Hurricanes number two overall pick and top three forward will be thrown into the mix right away. Svechnikov is coming off a 40 goal season in the OHL with the Barrie Colts and 11 points in 8 playoff games with Barrie as well. Svechnikov played in 16 International games between the U18 and U20 Russian team and in those 16 games he collected a total of 20 points. This is a good sign for Carolina as they may be able to add another scoring forward to their offense to help supplement Sebastian Aho as well. Svechnikov is slotted with Aho and other Russian counter part Valentin Zykov as well. Between seeing first line time and power play time, Svechnikov has the potential for a big rookie season a player you for sure will keep an eye on in the draft.
Brady Tkachuk (LW, OTT): After telling Boston University he intends to sign with Ottawa for the 2018-19 season and signing an entry level deal it is apparent Tkachuk wants to make an impact on the Senators line up right away. Withdrawing from BU and jumping into the NHL will be a big transition for the young forward. Tkachuk is coming off a 31 point season in 40 games with BU and 9 points in 7 games with USA’s U20 team during the World Juniors. Tkachuk is a little different than the Tkachuk we know on Calgary, Brady is more of a playmaking, scoring type of forward, where his brother is known for his offensive ability as well as his on-ice antics. Brady is slotted with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ryan Dzingel as well as the second power play right now. Tkachuk may not have the best tools around him but he does have some solid line mates to help him ease his way into his first year, to start Tkachuk may be a little snake bitten but once he gets comfortable I think we can expect a 35 point season out of him.
Filip Zadina (RW, DET): This kid is on a mission. With a couple teams passing on Zadina and falling to sixth overall Zadina even said he is out to make those who passed on him feel sorry for it. Zadina is an all around forward who can play two sides of the puck very well while also being a dynamic goal scorer. Zadina is coming off a 44 goal and 82 point season in 57 games with Halifax in the QMJHL. He has signed with Detroit and as of now he is slotted to make the opening day roster but we may not know about Zadina’s situation until early September. Zadina could potentially play with Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Vanek or Henrik Zetterberg a lot of question marks for this roster. Either way, if Zadina is playing with a puck moving forward and someone able to help the scoring winger get his chances we may see a solid first year out of Zadina. If he does play the full 82 games Zadina has potential for a 40 plus point year.
Elias Pettersson (C/RW, VAN): The 2017 5th overall draft pick, spent his time in the SHL last season 56 points in 44 games. After a full year of development and Vancouver scouts analyzing his game it is apparent they believe Pettersson is ready for the next level. We saw a lot of Pettersson during International play where he tallied 14 points in 21 games. Pettersson is a very solid forward with ability to play all three zones, luckily he will be with other young prospect Jonathan Dahlen and veteran Loui Eriksson to start. If Dahlen and Pettersson get off on the right foot they will be making noise from the start. Being on a team like Vancouver is tough but Pettersson is capable of being a top six forward in Vancouver for many years and a player we will being hear a lot of over the next few years.
Eeli Tolvanen (LW, NSH): Tolvanen was drafted late in the first round in 2017, and being on a team like Nashville it is tough to crack that line up. Tolvanen played a few games late in the year last season and some playoff games but not enough to get an idea of what type of NHL player he. Tolvanen is slotted on the third line with Ryan Hartman and Nick Bonino, two very solid counter parts for the young forward. During the 2017-18 season he played in the KHL scoring 36 points in 49 games, and most known for his World Junior play with Finland. Tolvanen is a little under sized but being on a team like Nashville will really help his confidence and development. If all goes right and he sticks in the NHL next season Tolvanen could be a solid 3rd line 35 point guy next season.
Casey Mittlestadt (C, BUF): Mittlestadt spent his time last year with the University of Minnesota, the highly sought after prospect went 8th overall to Buffalo in 2017. Being passed by some teams due to size and physical ability, Mittlestadt will have a lot to prove at the NHL level. As Buffalo continues to improve on both ends of the puck this is an exciting time for Buffalo fans and players. Mittlestadt emerges at the same time as Dahlin so the attention may not be all on him, which is a good thing. Right now he is slotted next to Connor Sheary, a player who learned a lot from the best forward in hockey and Kyle Okposo a veteran, will be good for Mittlestadt. Mittlestadt played in six games last season scoring 1 goal and 4 assists, as well as 30 points in 34 games with Minnesota and being the MVP of the World Juniors tallying 11 points in 7 games. Mittlestadt will be a sure fantasy option next year for teams, he may get off to a slow start, or “slower” start than many expect but when he gets situated and settles in look for a solid 50 point season out of Mittlestadt.
Potential to crack the line up
- Quinn Hughes (D, VAN): Drafted by Vancouver in the first round in 2018, Hughes has potential to crack the line up due to Vancouver lacking defensive depth but it may be best for the young defenseman to develop a little more and see more minutes at the NCAA level.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C, MTL): The most infamous pick of the draft as the Canadiens really stretched on Kotkaniemi it would be weird to not see him on the Canadiens roster as their offense has very little depth and they could some more solid center pieces.
- Noah Dobson (D, NYI): Maybe late in the season but the Islanders are in no rush with Dobson as they know this kid will be a solid counter part to Ryan Pulock and the Islanders defense.
- Oliver Wahlstrom (RW, NYI): No rush here with all the Islanders offensive prospects but Wahlstrom did sign an entry level deal and we may see him later in the season.
- Adam Boqvist (D, CHI): As the biggest reason Chicago failed last season was due to lack of defensive depth it may be smart to play Boqvist but as the young defenseman is ready for the NHL level it may best to let him see more minutes elsewhere.