The SBNation NHL mock draft started yesterday with the Buffalo Sabres’ site Die By the Blade and the Carolina Hurricanes’ site Canes Country making the first two picks. Over the next ten days, the network of NHL sites here at SBN will run through 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.
The first two picks don’t hold much mystery this year. Rasmus Dahlin, the defender from Sweden, and Andrei Svechnikov, the forward from Russia who played in the OHL last season, are the clear top two picks. This has been true for most of the season.
Dahlin scored 20 points in 41 games playing in the top league in Sweden. For an 18 year old, that’s an incredible season. Svechnikov put up 72 points in 44 games for the Barrie Colts, fulfilling the expectations placed on him heading into the season.
To learn more about what Dahlin will mean for the Sabres, here is what Die by the Blade wrote yesterday after making the pick. They think he can be a key part of turning around their struggling team.
It’s not just that Dahlin is very good in his own end of the ice, but he has incredible offensive upside. His stickhandling, playmaking and scoring talent even have some people saying he would still go first overall as a forward.
He’s an excellent skater and is very shifty with the puck on his stick for a 6’2” defender. It’s easy to see why he’s drawing comparisons to Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Dahlin is really the full package and exactly what the Sabres have been looking for to anchor their blue line for the next 10 years. He’ll slot right into the opening night lineup next season and start to form a pretty good young core with Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Casey Mittelstadt.
For a more in depth scouting profile, Habs Eyes on the Prize covered Dahlin’s prowess in the SHL at the end of April.
His strength lies in his understanding of the game and the vision he possesses, which makes him stand out in all situations on the ice. His physical game is underrated because of his awareness and hockey mind; he doesn’t have to use it as much because of his other strengths. This might change with a move to smaller rinks, and it could surprise quite a few people when he comes across the Atlantic.
While every highlight reel will include his dangles in the offensive zone, his defensive work is very good. It’s something that was visible in this year’s World Junior Championship, where he took a more defensive role than the previous year, claiming the award as the tournament’s best defenceman.
The crew at Canes Country is happy to have Svechnikov. While Dahlin is the clear top pick in this draft, Svechnikov is much more than a consolation prize. One of Carolina’s weaknesses in recent years has been finishing talent, and Svechnikov’s 40 goals in 44 games this season suggest he’ll be able to help correct that issue.
A top-end forward is exactly what the Canes need in their prospect pool. Svechnikov will fill that void nicely.
When looking to build a goal-scoring winger, Svechnikov would be a hell of a prototype. At 6’3”, he is big enough to win battles both along the boards and at the front of the net, but he also has all the tools to be effective on the perimeter. He has the innate ability that so many top-end goal scorers possess where he can find an extra half second to unload his NHL-ready shot through and around defenders. When paired with his nose for the net and willingness to get to rebounds and deflect pucks, it’s a lethal offensive combo. However, don’t peg him as a one-dimensional player, as he is just as dangerous when creating for his line mates if defenders get caught watching him with the puck on his stick.
The crew at Broad Street Hockey dove into Svechnikov’s profile a little more deeply last month, as well.
The first positive that jumps out with Svechnikov is his goal scoring. The 18-year old CHL rookie scored almost a goal per game in the OHL with the Barrie Colts. Svechnikov is your prototypical high-scoring Russian winger, but there’s more to his game than just his quick shot. His passing vision is fantastic and he uses his plus skating ability to open up passing opportunities. His 6’3” 187 pound frame makes his fantastic skating all the more dangerous. He’s strong on the puck and drives the net extremely well. He also has the hands to play in front of the net, making him an all around offensive talent.
He doesn’t sacrifice all that much defensively either despite his aggressive style. This is why Barrie put him on their penalty kill as well as power play last season. In addition to his 72 regular season points, he accumulated 11 points in eight playoff games. In the 2018 World Juniors, Svechnikov posted five points in five games, all assists. The speed down the wing, plus the top notch shot, and netfront presence makes Svechnikov clearly one of, if not the best, forward in this draft.
So, the top of this draft is well settled. Barring something shocking, Dahlin and Svechnikov will be the first two picks in that order. But that doesn’t mean there’s no mystery in the rest of the draft!
We’ll update you with the next three picks tomorrow. That’s where we’ll start to see team sites make some interesting decisions.
SBNation NHL Mock Draft Recap:
- Buffalo Sabres - Rasmus Dahlin
- Carolina Hurricanes - Andrei Svechnikov