The SBNation NHL mock draft finished yesterday with picks twenty-nine through thiry-one. Over the next ten days or so, the NHL sites here at SBN ran through the first round and decided who they thought their teams should pick. The Lightning don’t have a first round pick this year, so we weren’t included. Even so, we kept an eye on the proceedings so that you know what to expect come Friday, June 22nd when the draft starts.
We’ll cover picks 29, 30, and 31 today. Even though this is the end of the round, we still have a couple of interesting picks to evaluate including a player who slipped further than he probably will in the real draft.
The Red Wings pick is the one they acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline as part of the package for Tomas Tatar. The Islanders are picking last because earlier in the mock draft, they swapped first round picks with the Washington Capitals in order to land goalie Philipp Grubauer.
The 29th Pick - Mattias Samuelsson
Samuelsson is an interesting player. I think this is a little early for him. He’s rated as a second-round pick in most places. He’s also a player to keep an eye on for the Lightning. Our rankings currently have him in the middle of the second round but it wouldn’t be too surprising if he was an option and the end of the round.
Here’s what Habs Eyes on the Prize wrote about him in their profile:
Even if Samuelsson has an aura of the old-time defenceman in his game with his size and physicality, his ability with the puck contrasts with this image. He is an effective offensive defenceman with a great shot.
He won’t come blazing down the wing to get into the offensive end, but he still does his fair share of carrying the puck through the neutral zone. He can capitalize on the turnovers of the opposing team to create offence the other way for his team, getting across the offensive blue line with his flair and stickhandling abilities. Once he is in, he can make some scoring chances happen by locating his teammates in the slot.
He remains more of a shooter than a passer in the offensive zone. He can release in different ways and can be a threatening force from the point. He is precise and powerful with his wrist shots, knows how to get the puck through traffic, and will constantly move up in the offensive zone to get a better chance at beating a goalie by shooting from the top of the circles.
Samuelsson is a player who will appeal to teams who value traditional defenders. The key will be where he gets taken. If a team in the middle of the first round selects him, that would be a reach. But anywhere from the end of the first round to the second round is probably a fair place to expect Samuelsson to go.
The 30th Pick - Jay O’Brien
O’Brien is another player getting selected a bit ahead of where I expect him to go on draft night. We have him ranked toward the end of the second round right in the range where the Lightning will pick so this is another player to keep an eye on.
Dominik Bokk was my lock pick at 30, but he was taken earlier. Since I wanted to take a forward, it wasn’t difficult for me to pick up Jay O’Brien, a prospect who has been grossly underrated in this year’s class. This kid is total workhorse with a toolbox full of skill.
O’Brien can really wheel — his edge work makes tons of space, which makes him difficult to defend. His coach at Thayer, NHL hall-of-famer Tony Amonte calls him a tenacious player who will “chop your leg off” to get the puck if you take it from him. When I watch O’Brien play, I’m really impressed that he doesn’t hesitate to muck it up along the boards to get possession.
HEOTP also praised him in their profile:
Numbers are one thing, but why is a high school prospect ranked as a second-rounder by scouting services?
Watching O’Brien, it’s clear that he didn’t belong with the players that surrounded him this year. He oozes skill and is a very good stickhandler capable of multiple different moves to make defenders miss. He has his head up at all times while shuffling the puck, looking for plays to set up great scoring chances for teammates.
He attracts a lot of attention from opposing defences, and has learned to use this to his advantage to get the puck to others in open areas.
O’Brien is one of the wild cards of this draft. Because he didn’t take the normal route for a prospect, teams will have to fight the uncertainty of how to project his performance to the NHL. He could go anywhere in the second or third round and has some boom or bust potential because of the question marks about how he would look against better competition.
The 31st Pick - Serron Noel
The final player drafted in our SBN mock draft is one who likely won’t fall this far on draft night. Noel is projected to go in the teens on most lists. He’s one of the most divisive players in the draft. He has an imposing physical profile but he doesn’t have as well-rounded of a game as some of the other forwards projected to go in the first round.
Here’s what Mile High Hockey wrote in their profile:
Noel is a very intriguing player that will likely cause a few battles in draft rooms. At 6’5 and nearly 210lbs, he is going to open the eyes of a lot scouts that still value size and grit over other things. They will see his game down low and in front of the net and envision James van Riemsdyk or even Blake Wheeler. There are aspects to Noel’s game that give him the possibility to become that good - it will just be a long development process. He has proven the ability to put the puck in the net, particularly in close to the crease.
On the flip side, Noel isn’t a player that tracks well. Teams that keep analytical data on him see a player that barely breaks even when weighing the positives against the negative. A lot of this probably has to do with the fact that Noel doesn’t shoot the puck enough. The shot generation metrics leave a lot to be desired because it looks like he isn’t creating offense for his line. Noel only really shoots the puck from high-danger areas, as a result, he’s got an abnormally high shooting percentage of a little under 27%. He has very good hands and can finish off plays down low better than just about any player in the OHL.
This is a good spot for a team to take a risk on Noel. He has the potential to turn into a valuable player at the NHL level and picking him at thirty-one mitigates the risk that would come with picking him earlier in the first round.
And with that, we’ve reached the end of the 2018 SBN mock draft. We’re now less than a week away from draft. This week should be fun as everyone releases their final rankings. We’ll keep you updated with new consolidated rankings later this week so keep an eye out for that.
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
- St. Louis Blues - Mattias Samuelsson
- Detroit Red Wings - Jay O’Brien
- New York Islanders - Serron Noel