The SBNation NHL mock draft continued yesterday with picks eighteen through twenty-one. Over the next couple days, the NHL sites here at SBN will be finishing the first round deciding who they think their teams should pick. The Lightning don’t have a first round pick this year, so we won’t be included. Even so, we’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings so that you know what to expect come Friday, June 22nd when the draft starts.
We’ll cover picks 25, 26, 27, and 28 today. Today’s picks start with a big trade. The Toronto Maple Leafs were scheduled to pick 25th but they traded the pick along with prospect Jeremy Bracco and the rights to negotiate with pending UFA Tyler Bozak to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Wayne Simmonds.
For the Leafs, they add another high end winger who’s dangerous in front of the net and can be dominant on the power play. For the Flyers, they get back into the first round for a third time and as we’ll see shortly, they continue to make smart picks.
To start, we’ll look at pick 25 forthe Philadelphia Flyers via Broadstreet Hockey followed by the New York Rangers via Blueshirt Banter, Chicago via Second City Hockey, and the New York Rangers via Blueshirt Banter again. The 25th pick for the Rangers was acquired from Boston in the Rick Nash trade and the 28th pick is the Lightning’s pick that was included in the Ryan McDonagh trade.
The 25th Pick - Nils Lundkvist
In previous posts in this series, I’ve complimented the Flyers twice. First, when they picked Rasmus Kupari. And again when they picked Vitaly Kravtsov. I’m going to have to compliment them again because Lundkvist is another smart high upside pick at a prime position. Right handed defenders are so hard to find and the Flyers have grabbed one with lots of potential here.
This is what Broad Street Hockey wrote about their pick:
Nils Lundkvist is a late riser and one of the younger players available in the 2018 NHL entry draft. He spent time not only with Lulea’s SHL team, but also played for their SuperElite team and for the Swedish National team at the WJC. He has exceptional puck skills and excels as an outlet passer. He’s not a big defender, but he doesn’t shy away from physical hockey while defending or when he needs to take a hit to make a play. He’s a very good skater and his ability to adjust to the faster pace of the SHL showcased his hockey sense and smarts.
They continued later in the same profile:
Watching video of Lundkvist, especially after he became acclimated to the SHL, was a treat. In our review, we saw a well rounded defenseman that was outstanding in the transition game. He did a good job reading plays in the neutral zone and adjusted well to the situation in front of him. The bulk of the video we watched was from later in the year (which was after he got comfortable in the SHL) and more than a few of us were surprised that early draft rankings had him so low.
Despite the fact he was picked in the mock draft, in the real draft, Lundkvist might be an option for the Lightning in the second round. He’s a player who has the potential to slide to where the Lightning are picking and if he does, he would be a great addition at that spot.
The 26th Pick - Akil Thomas
The Rangers make good use of Boston’s pick here taking Akil Thomas. Lightning fans are probably familiar with Thomas because he’s from the Tampa area. He scored 81 points in 68 games this year in Niagara and I doubt that he will fall this far in the real draft. But for this mock, this is a great pick for the Rangers.
Here’s what Blueshirt Banter wrote about Thomas in their profile:
Thomas averaged 0.46 primary assists per game, which was good for third among U18 forwards in the OHL. It’s a number that ranks higher than what Nick Suzuki and Morgan Frost, now considered two of the top playmaking center prospects in hockey, produced in their draft season. However, Thomas is notably older than both were as well.
It’s a mixed bag for him as a shooter, though. Isolating for his shot, he reminds me of Derek Stepan, sort of, in that he can roof a pretty hard wrist shot if given time and space to get off the shot on his own terms.
But as he moves on to pro hockey, and eventually maybe the NHL, he won’t be afforded the same time and space. Not as frequently, at least. When it comes to getting off a quick release, he lacks the poise to finish. Here are a few examples from my viewings where he clearly shows this lack of finishing ability off of quick passing sequences. This is an area where I think he could work with a skills coach on improving.
Defensively, Thomas is strong. He’s not going to “wow” you in any particular way, but he covers his assignments, checks his man, and battles along the boards. He was a go-to penalty killer for Niagara Head Coach Billy Burke. Not many 17-year-old centers in the OHL get tough assignments like Thomas, but he did a more than respectable job in the role.
The Rangers have three first round picks. They’ve used the first two so far on Evan Bouchard and Akil Thomas. That’s an impressive haul. They’ll pick again at 28 and have a chance to add a third good decision.
The 27th Pick - Calen Addison
Another righty defender goes of the board at 27 to Chicago in Calen Addison. He put up 65 points in 68 games in the WHL. Any number around a point per game for defenders in the CHL is impressive but according to those who watched him, his defense is not on par with his offense.
Here’s some more info on his game via Habs Eyes on the Prize:
Addison is an exceptional offensive talent, but at times he can be too eager to get involved, and it oftens ends up hurting his team. Despite the vision and awareness that serve as some of his top attributes, he does make poor decisions to go all-in on offence when the situation calls for more patience.
He has some tools at his disposal that can help him become less of a liability defensively. In addition to the active stick and fluid mobility that help him engage attacking players, he has the lower-body strength to engage physically both in front of his net and in board battles, but his desire to turn every play into an offensive opportunity prevents him from incorporating those elements into his play with enough regularity.
He is trusted with short-handed time, and is more positionally sound in a situation that dictates it, patrolling his area of the ice effectively. It seems most of his issues on the defensive side of the puck are a matter of maturity rather than an inability to play that style.
Players who are this one-dimensional are always risky picks. But at this point in the draft, there aren’t any perfectly well-rounded high-skill players left so choices come down to whether teams want players with high-end skills in one area but lacking in others or players who are well-rounded but have a lower ceiling. Chicago has chosen the single high end talent here hoping that Addison can develop the rest of his game.
The 28th Pick - Ryan McLeod
The Rangers make their third and final pick of the first round here and take another intriguing player with upside in McLeod. He started the year as a top prospect but appears to be sliding due to some concerns about his game.
From the first look at him, McLeod’s tools will jump out at you. He has very good size for the OHL and, while there’s always room for growth and strength training, he’s pretty much at NHL size. He’s an extremely fluid skater with an effortless stride.
He also has tremendous vision and hands. When he has the puck, he is very hard to knock off of it. He darts in and out of spaces and will stickhandle around defenders. He also threads some impressive passes in tight spaces. He’s the type of player you want to put with other creative types because it will result in a number of long possessions in the offensive zone full of creative passing and cycling, or a killer combination play.
Herman continues later:
McLeod has a really strong wrist shot. However, he does not use this shot enough. Among the 81 OHL forwards with at least 150 shots last season, McLeod ranked 16th in shooting percentage, which is a high conversion rate. However, his 2.41 shots per game is not a high number relative to his ability and usage. Unlike the majority of centers, who rely on scoring from above the crease, McLeod has the ability to beat goaltenders from distance. Because of his ability to hold onto the puck for long stretches, he doesn’t need to throw junk at the net and can instead seek out better opportunities. However, sometimes he needs to just let it rip. McLeod did significantly increase his shot volume from 2016-2017, though, so he has shown an awareness of the problem and a desire to improve.
Away from the puck, has some inconsistencies. He is actually a smart tactical defender. In Mississauga, he was frequently used on the penalty kill. He uses his quickness to close down lanes and pressure puck carriers. He also fits well into an aggressive forechecking structure not just because of his ability to press, but also because he’ll get back quickly to cover any leaks if the puck does get past his line of defense.
However, he does not use his size. At 6’2.25 and 206 pounds, he has a distinct physical advantage over many players. But scouts rightfully deem him a perimeter player.
With Bouchard, Thomas, and McLeod, the Rangers have acquired talented players with tons of upside. If even one of these players hits his ceiling, the Rangers will have had an excellent first round. If more than one does, they could have two important parts of the team that will get them back to winning games and competing in the metro a few years from now.
And with that, we’re through the top twenty-eight picks of the draft. Tomorrow’s article will cover the final three picks of our 2018 SBN NHL mock draft.
Those will be picks twenty-nine, thirty, and thirty-one with the Blues, Golden Knights, and Capitals on the clock.
SBNation NHL Mock Draft Recap:
- Buffalo Sabres - Rasmus Dahlin
- Carolina Hurricanes - Andrei Svechnikov
- Montreal Canadiens - Filip Zadina
- Ottawa Senators - Quinn Hughes
- Arizona Coyotes - Brady Tkachuk
- Detroit Red Wings - Adam Boqvist
- Vancouver Canucks - Noah Dobson
- Chicago - Oliver Wahlstrom
- New York Rangers - Evan Bouchard
- Edmonton Oilers - Martin Kaut
- Washington Capitals (via New York Islanders) - Jesperi Kotkaniemi
- New York Islanders - Ty Smith
- Colorado Avalanche (via Philadelphia, via Dallas) - Joe Veleno
- Dallas Stars (via Philadelphia) - Joel Farabee
- Florida Panthers - Bode Wilde
- Philadelphia Flyers (via Colorado) - Rasmus Kupari
- New Jersey Devils - Barrett Hayton
- Columbus Blue Jackets - Isac Lundestrom
- Philadelphia Flyers - Vitaly Kravtsov
- Los Angeles Kings - K’Andre Miller
- San Jose Sharks - Ryan Merkley
- Ottawa Senators - Jonatan Berggren
- Anaheim Ducks - Grigori Denisenko
- Minnesota Wild - Dominik Bokk
- Philadelphia Flyers (via Toronto) - Nils Lundkvist
- New York Rangers - Akil Thomas
- Chicago - Calen Addison
- New York Rangers - Ryan McLeod