NHL Draft 2018: Breaking Down Top Prospects in Draft Class

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 7, 2018

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 4: Rasmus Dahlin #8 of Sweden during the IIHF World Junior Championship against the United States at KeyBank Center on January 4, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

As the NHL's elite prepares for the high-octane postseason, the teams at the bottom of the standings are starting on their detailed scouting reports for the 2018 NHL draft.

The last five No. 1 selections have made immediate impacts on their respective franchises, and the teams at the top of the draft order will hope the trend continues in 2018.

This year's draft class features a wealth of foreign talent and the son of a former NHL star thriving in the collegiate ranks.

The Buffalo Sabres are the owner of the worst record in the NHL, with the Ottawa Senators and Arizona Coyotes right behind, but the selection order won't be solidified until the draft lottery Saturday, April 28, in Toronto.

Below is a look at who the teams at the top of the first round will be targeting once the order is set.


Rasmus Dahlin

The consensus No. 1 draft pick is Swedish defender Rasmus Dahlin, who plays for Frolunda HC in Sweden.

The 17-year-old, who played at the 2018 Winter Olympics, where Sweden were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Dahlin is likely going to be at the top of every team's draft board, and he should make an impact for whichever franchise selects him.

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 05: Rasmus Dahlin #8 of Sweden skates the puck past Kale Clague #10 of Canada during the second  period of play in the IIHF World Junior Championships Gold Medal game at KeyBank Center on January 5, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo
Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images

Elite Prospects' scouting report lauded Dahlin's skating ability and stick-handling, while his defensive attributes also earned high praise.

Dahlin's 23 points in 41 regular-season games in the Swedish league proved what kind of a threat he can be, and his attacking skills will only develop further as he grows in the NHL.

The Swede is far and away the best prospect in the class, which makes the decision easy for any team holding the No. 1 pick.


Andrei Svechnikov

Andrei Svechnikov will be the second member of his family selected in the NHL draft in the last four years; his brother Evgeny went 19th overall to the Detroit Red Wings in 2015.

The younger Svechnikov told Dana Wakiji of the Red Wings' official team website he would love to play alongside his brother. 

"It would be like a dream because we could win a Stanley Cup together," Svechnikov said at the under-18 Five Nations tournament in Plymouth, Michigan.

PLYMOUTH, MI - FEBRUARY 16: Andrei Svechnikov #7 of the Russian Nationals skates up ice with the puck against the USA Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 16, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. USA defea
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

In order for his dream to come true, the Red Wings need a little bit of luck in the lottery, as they have the fifth-worst record in the NHL.

The 18-year-old Russian right winger currently plays for the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League, where he produced 40 goals and 32 assists in the regular season.

With NHL pedigree and a proven scoring record, Svechnikov won't last long in the draft, and where he goes could come down to how teams value him compared to the next man.


Brady Tkachuk

Speaking of NHL bloodlines, Tkachuk could become the second son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk to be drafted.

Brady's brother Matthew was selected with the No. 6 pick by the Calgary Flames in 2016 after his dad was selected 19th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1990.

The Boston University center could be the highest-drafted member of his family. NHL Central Scouting ranks him as the third-best prospect in the class.

Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

The 18-year-old recorded eight goals and 23 assists for the Terriers, contributing to a goal in eight of his last 10 contests in his freshman season.

Tkachuk was a member of the United States under-18 team that won gold in the World Junior Championships.

As one of the most well-rounded players in the draft pool, Tkachuk should be a top-three selection. Depending on the needs of the team at No. 2, he could go right behind Dahlin.


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