The Buffalo Sabres secured the first overall selection in the 2018 NHL draft by winning the lottery Saturday in Toronto. The Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens will pick second and third, respectively, after winning the night's other lotteries.
After those teams, the rest of the top 15 is set by using the reverse ranking of the regular-season standings. The playoff teams will be placed into the order based on how far they advance in the postseason. The Stanley Cup champion gets pick No. 31.
Let's take a look at an updated first-round mock draft following the lottery results. That's followed by a closer examination of the best players available in the 2018 class.
Round 1 Predictions
1. Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (SHL)
2. Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)
3. Montreal Canadiens: Filip Zadina, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
4. Ottawa Senators: Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)
5. Arizona Coyotes: Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (NCAA)
6. Detroit Red Wings: Oliver Wahlstrom, C, USA NTDP (USHL)
7. Vancouver Canucks: Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas (SHL)
8. Chicago Blackhawks: Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan (NCAA)
9. New York Rangers: Joel Farabee, LW, USA NTDP (USHL)
10. Edmonton Oilers: Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL)
11. New York Islanders: Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
12. New York Islanders (from CGY): Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
13. Dallas Stars: Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (FEL)
14. Philadelphia Flyers (from STL): Jesperi Kotkaniemi, RW, Assat (FEL)
15. Florida Panthers: Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
16. Colorado Avalanche: Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (SHL)
17. New Jersey Devils: Bode Wilde, D, USA NTDP (USHL)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph (OHL)
19. Philadelphia Flyers: Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
20. Los Angeles Kings: Grigori Denisenko, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (KHL)
21. Anaheim Ducks: Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
22. Minnesota Wild: Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
23. Toronto Maple Leafs: Jakub Lauko, LW, Pirati Chomutov (CEL)
24. San Jose Sharks: Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
25. Ottawa Senators (from PIT): Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (QMJHL)
26. New York Rangers (from BOS): Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge (WHL)
27. St. Louis Blues (from WPG): Akil Thomas, C, Niagara (OHL)
28. Washington Capitals: Dominik Bokk, RW, Vaxjo (SHL)
29. Detroit Red Wings (from VGK): Mattias Samuelsson, D, USA NTDP (USHL)
30. New York Rangers (from TB): Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer (WHL)
31. Chicago Blackhawks (from NSH): Martin Kaut, RW, Dynamo Pardubice (CEL)
Breaking Down Top Prospects
1. Rasmus Dahlin, LHD, Frolunda (SHL)
Dahlin never faltered as the draft's top prospect over the past 10 months. The Swedish defenseman looked like the best player in this year's class coming out of the 2017 draft, and that's still the case after another strong two-way campaign with Frolunda.
Last month, the 18-year-old sensation told Rory Boylen of Sportsnet that staying home to play professionally allowed him to avoid the hype that would come from being in North America in his draft year.
"I'm still just having fun," Dahlin said. "Here in Sweden it's not so big pressure. Everybody's just positive and all that stuff. I have my old friends. In Sweden, it's kind of calm. I think it's helping because I'm in Sweden."
The blueliner registered seven goals and 13 assists across 41 appearances for Frolunda. He also earned the opportunity to play a couple of games for Sweden during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, because NHL players didn't participate in the Games.
Dahlin is ready to make an immediate impact in the NHL. He's an effortless skater, future power-play quarterback and has made steady strides to become reliable in his own zone. It shouldn't take more than a year or two for him to develop into a true No. 1 defenseman for the Sabres.
2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is a wizard with the puck on his stick. His ability to generate open ice for himself to create scoring chances is unmatched in this class. He's not a pure dangler who shies away from physical play, however, as his 135 penalty minutes over the last two seasons show.
The 18-year-old Russian is mostly known for his offensive ability, though. He racked up 72 points in 44 games for Barrie. He added five goals and six assists in eight contests during the team's playoff run.
That success allowed him to pull away from fellow winger Filip Zadina as the top forward available. Mitch Brown of The Athletic provided a closer look at that battle:
Svechnikov isn't a lock to make the NHL next season. He could still benefit from another year of adding more power to his 6'3" frame. But a strong performance during training camp and the preseason with Carolina could buy him a nine-game tryout with the big club before the OHL decision is made.
3. Filip Zadina, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
It's a legitimately close race between Zadina and Svechnikov. They possess similar natural playmaking ability and can make defenders miss with a variety of moves in the offensive zone. Both players should be consistent top-six wingers in the NHL for a long time.
The Halifax standout tallied 82 points in 57 appearances this season. It showed his dominance against a younger group of players after putting up just two points in 25 games at the pro level in the Czech Republic the previous year.
Tristen Eicher of The Game Haus is bullish on the explosive winger:
Tristen Eicher @TristenEicher
Don’t sleep on Filip Zadina. The Czech born winger has all the tools to be an elite player in the NHL. Zadina can score at will as well as create space for other players around him. Here he dances a Canadian defender at the World Juniors #NHLDraft #NHL https://t.co/7DFAEDkrLU
Zadina is another prospect who will probably find himself on the Habs' roster fringe next fall. His prior experience against older players could play into his advantage, but as more of a pure sniper, he'll be better off playing top-line minutes in the QMHJL if he can't secure a scoring-line NHL role right away.