The 2018 NHL draft in Dallas started Friday with the selection of potential superstar defenseman Rasmus Dahlin by the Buffalo Sabres. It ended Saturday with the selection of center Eric Florchuk by the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
This draft will almost certainly be remembered as the Dahlin Draft, because the Swedish defenseman was by far the most highly touted prospect with the greatest talent and upside.
The Sabres have not been a playoff team since 2011, and they need to give their long-suffering fans reason for optimism about the upcoming season and the future.
Buffalo had the No. 2 pick in 2015 and selected center Jack Eichel after the Edmonton Oilers took Connor McDavid with the No. 1 pick. They were hoping that Eichel could lead a turnaround for the franchise, but he has not been able to carry the team on his shoulders.
The combination of Eichel and Dahlin may allow the Sabres to write a new chapter.
The Sabres added another defenseman in Mattias Samuelsson from the United States National Development Team at the top of the second round. Samuelsson has excellent skills and size (6'4" and 218 pounds), and he should be a top-four defenseman for the Sabres once he develops a bit more consistency to his game.
See how every pick played out on the NHL.com Draft Tracker.
2018 NHL Draft
Best Selection and Overall Draft Grade (Teams listed in alphabetical order)
Anaheim Ducks: Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea, Grade: B+
Lundestrom is a consistent player with a solid two-way game.
Arizona Coyotes: Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie, Grade: B
Hayton is still developing and has shown he can play a solid 200-foot game, but he needs to develop on offense at this point.
Boston Bruins: Axel Andersson, D, Swedish Junior, Grade: C+
Andersson has good size and skating ability with excellent hockey sense.
Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda, Grade: A
Dahlin is the dominant player in this draft and the best defensive prospect in years. The Sabres are hoping he can become a dominant defenseman like countrymen Nicklas Lidstrom, Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson.
Calgary Flames: Martin Pospisil, C, Sioux City, Grade: C-
Pospisil, a fourth-round selection, appears to be the best of an ordinary group.
Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie, Grade: A-
Svechnikov is the best forward in the draft and will give the Hurricanes some badly needed scoring and pizazz.
Chicago Blackhawks: Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas Jr., Grade: B
Perhaps a bit overlooked because of Dahlin's presence, Boqvist is solid in all areas and makes few mistakes.
Colorado Avalanche: Martin Kaut, RW, Pardubice, Grade: B-
Kaut has good but not great tools and appears to be a second- or third-line player.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Liam Foudy, C, London, Grade: C+
Foudy showed significant improvement in the second half of the season, and he also opened eyes with his explosive speed.
Dallas Stars: Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint, Grade: B+
Dellandrea has played with a huge effort on an every-night basis and stood out in the Top Prospects Game.
Detroit Red Wings: Filip Zadina, LW, Halifax, Grade: A
Zadina has a terrific shot, and his ability to go to the front of the net is notable. He's also solid on both ends of the ice. Center Joseph Veleno, right wing Jonatan Berggren and defenseman Jared McIsaac all look like potential big-time contributors.
Edmonton Oilers: Evan Bouchard, D, London, Grade: B+
Bouchard has excellent defensive instincts and the ability to make tape-to-tape passes.
Florida Panthers: Grigori Denisenko, LW, Yaroslavl 2, Grade: B-
Denisenko is an aggressive player who has excellent offensive skills and will go after opponents hard even though he is not a big man.
Los Angeles Kings: Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat, Grade: B
Kupari is a talented player who seems to play well in streaks, but he can't always play up to that level. Will need a year or two of seasoning.
Minnesota Wild: Filip Johansson, D, Leksand Jr., Grade: B+
Johansson is not as flashy as Dahlin or Boqvist, but he is reliable defensively, and the Wild will not be afraid to use him as a penalty killer or in end-of-game situations. Fine puck mover and a rising star.
Montreal Canadiens: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat, Grade: C+
The Canadiens are desperate for strength up the middle and are hoping Kotkaniemi can provide a significant upgrade. He appears to have excellent hockey sense but needs to upgrade his skating.
Nashville Predators: Jachym Kondelik, C, Muskegon, Grade: C-
The Preds did not have a pick until the fourth round, and they took the biggest man in the draft in the 6'6" Kondelik. The German native has a ways to go before he reaches the NHL, but his impressive size will give him an opportunity to work his way up the ladder.
New Jersey Devils: Ty Smith, D, Spokane, Grade: B+
Smith is an excellent defensive prospect with outstanding skating ability. He sees the ice well and is a tireless worker.
New York Islanders: Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USA U-18, Grade: A-
Wahlstrom is a strong and powerful forward who can turn the corner on the defense and get his shot off from any number of angles.
New York Rangers: K'Andre Miller, D, USA U-18, Grade: A
Miller will bring eye-opening skating ability and shocking strength for the rebuilding Rangers.
Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University, Grade: A-
The struggling Senators can eventually turn Tkachuk into the face of their franchise. A return to Boston University is likely this year, but he will be a tone-setter for a team that needs leadership and stability.
Philadelphia Flyers: Joel Farabee, LW, USA U-18, Grade: B+
Farabee is a fine goal scorer, but he excels at all aspects of the game and works on his defense and shot-blocking as much as his offensive skills.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge, Grade: B-
The Penguins took undersized Addison with their first choice in the second round. He skates quite well and can be a power-play asset once he reaches the NHL.
St. Louis Blues: Dominik Bokk, RW, Vaxjo Jr., Grade C+
Bokk has excellent offensive skills and is a plus skater. He has done well in limited competition against elite talent, but he will have to prove he can do it on an every-night basis before he gets a chance to play in the NHL.
San Jose Sharks: Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph, Grade: C-
Merkley is the bad boy of this year's draft. He has the skating and puck-carrying skills, but he lacks discipline at this point.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Gabriel Fortier, LW, Baie-Comeau, Grade: C
Fortier is a smaller forward who can skate with a burst and has impressive offensive skills. He needs to develop greater consistency to contribute to the Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie, Grade: B+
The Leafs need help on the defensive end, and Sandin should provide an upgrade when he gets his opportunity. He is a smart player and a gifted skater who can pass the puck quite well.
Vancouver Canucks: Quinn Hughes, D, University of Michigan, Grade: A-
Sensational all-around talent who appears to have stardom in his future as he gets bigger and stronger.
Vegas Golden Knights: Ivan Morozov, C, Russian Juniors, Grade: C
Morozov has some size and skill at 6'1" and 178 pounds, but he needs seasoning before he can contribute at the NHL level.
Washington Capitals: Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer, Grade: B-
Alexeyev is a big and powerful skater who came back after the death of his mother to perform well before breaking his finger. Tremendous potential as an impact player because he can take over a game.
Winnipeg Jets: David Gustafsson, C, HV 71 (Sweden), Grade: C+
Gustafsson was selected near the end of the second round, and he showed dramatic improvement in the second half of the year while playing in Sweden.
Players to watch
RW Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes appear to have selected a pure goal scorer with the No. 2 pick.
Svechnikov has all the tools needed to become a star in the league and get to the heights quickly. He has an equal combination of skill and power, and it will be difficult for opposing defenses to slow him down late in games when he can lean on players with his 6'3" frame and assert his abilities.
The 18-year-old should be ready to contribute in the 2018-19 season, and one of the keys to his development will be getting a bit stronger to compete with the tougher defensemen in the league.
He was thrilled with his selection on Friday night. "It was my dream and it came true," Svechnikov said, per Luke DeCock of the News & Observer. "Just the best day."
LW Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators
The Senators had a disappointing 2017-18 regular season, and they are currently in flux, with star defenseman Karlsson a possible trade target for other teams.
However, the selection of Tkachuk appears to be something that Senators fans can embrace. He has excellent talent, aggressiveness, skating ability, size and strength.
In addition to the measurables, he has leadership skills in the locker room, and it would not be a shocker if he eventually becomes the team captain. He is the brother of Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and the son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk.
General manager Pierre Dorion was pleased to get Tkachuk with the fourth overall pick.
"We were ecstatic," said Dorion, per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. "At our pick, we've talked in the last few days about character, accountability and leadership and we know Brady Tkachuk brings a lot of those elements of to the table.
"We feel he's going to be an integral part of our team and it could be as soon as this upcoming September."
RW Oliver Wahlstrom and D Noah Dobson, New York Islanders
No team in the league is facing a more critical offseason than the Islanders. They have already made some excellent moves, hiring Lou Lamoriello to take over as president of hockey operations and general manager and bringing in Barry Trotz as head coach.
The key will be bringing back free agent John Tavares, who will take meetings with five teams in addition to the Islanders, per TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
The Islanders made a splash on the first night of the draft by selecting Wahlstrom and Dobson with the 11th and 12th picks in the first round.
The 6'1", 208-pound Wahlstrom has an NHL-ready shot. He needs to show he can bring it every night. Dobson is an ascending star who has all the tools needed to be a top player on the blue line.
Lamoriello said, per Andrew Gross of Newsday:
"I don't think we can be more delighted. You have to feel extremely good. Both are exceptional players. I don't think you don't ever not make a trade if it's going to make your team better. Obviously, that didn't happen. But when you see a player like these players there, you feel very good because they're outstanding prospects."
All heights and weights courtesy of the NHL.com Draft Tracker.