Lighting the Lamp: Complete 2018 NHL Draft primer, predictions


Welcome to Lighting the Lamp, a year-round NHL column. This week it’s all about the upcoming 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

The Washington Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup and, though Signing Season doesn’t begin until July 1, we can for all intents and purposes consider each team back at 0-0-0 heading into the 2018-19 season.

Such promise, such potential each team has. Now, the St. Louis Blues aren’t the team that watched their playoff berth slip through their fingers on the last day of the regular season. Now, the Edmonton Oilers aren’t the team that missed the postseason by a wide (wide) margin.

Everyone’s slate is wiped clean, and the NHL Entry Draft, beginning on Friday, marks the first huge opportunity this offseason for teams to put themselves in position to contend.

Outside the top three of defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, right wing Andrei Svechnikov and right wing Filip Zadina, who are the top prospects who will hear their names called on Friday? Which teams really need to hit on something this year, and which teams are simply bolstering their depth?

Let’s get into it in this all-draft edition of Lighting the Lamp. You can find the full draft order for all seven rounds here.

NHL power rankings

Top 31 prospects in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft

1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds (Frolunda, SHL)

2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, 6-foot-2, 188 pounds (Barrie, OHL)

3. Filip Zadina, RW, 6-foot, 195 pounds (Halifax, QMJHL)

4. Brady Tkachuk, LW, 6-foot-3, 196 pounds (Boston University, NCAA)

5. Adam Boqvist, D, 5-foot-11, 168 pounds (Brynas Jr, Sweden)

6. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, 6-foot, 205 pounds (USNTDP)

7. Noah Dobson, D, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL)

8. Evan Bouchard, D, 6-foot-2, 193 pounds (London, OHL)

9. Quinn Hughes, D, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds (University of Michigan, NCAA)

10. Barrett Hayton, C, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL)

11. Joel Farabee, LW, 5-foot-11, 164 pounds (USNTDP)

12. Ty Smith, D, 5-foot-11, 175 pounds (Spokane, WHL)

13. Joe Veleno, C, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds (Drummondville, QMJHL)

14. Bode Wilde, D, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds (USNTDP)

15. Serron Noel, RW, 6-foot-5, 205 pounds (Oshawa, OHL)

16. Grigori Denisenko, LW, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds (Yarolsavl Jr, Russia)

17. Martin Kaut, RW, 6-foot-1, 176 pounds (Pardubice, Czech)

18. Jared McIsaac, D, 6-foot-1, 196 pounds (Halifax, QMJHL)

19. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, 6-foot-1, 188 pounds (Assat, Finland)

20. Mattias Samuelsson, D, 6-foot-3, 217 pounds (USNTDP)

21. Rasmus Kupari, C, 6-foot-1, 183 pounds (Karpat, Finland)

22. Vitali Kravtsov, RW, 6-foot-2, 170 pounds (Chelyabinsk, KHL)

23. Isac Lundestrom, C, 6-foot, 185 pounds (Lulea, SHL)

24. K’Andre Miller, D, 6-foot-2 206 pounds (USNTDP)

25. Rasmus Sandin, D, 5-foot-11, 184 pounds (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL)

26. Benoit Olivier-Groulx, C, 6-foot 192 pounds (Halifax, QMJHL)

27. Akil Thomas, C, 5-foot-11, 171 pounds (Niagara, OHL)

28. Dominik Bokk, LW, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds (Vaxjo, Sweden Jr.)

29. Ryan McLeod, C, 6-foot-2, 203 pounds (Mississauga, OHL)

30. Jacob Olofsson, C, 6-foot-2, 192 pounds (Timra, Allsvenskan)

31. Ryan Merkley, D, 5-foot-11 170 pounds (Guelph, OHL)

Lamp Lighters: Draft prospects’ best goals

Since there are, obviously, no NHL goals to rank this week (boo!), let’s take a look back at some of the lamp lighters the top prospects in this year’s NHL Draft have put on film.

Look at that puck handling from Andrei Svechnikov:

Congratulations on your future stud, Hurricanes:

Do you think Brady Tkachuk could be even better than his brother, Matthew, in the NHL?

He might be the best pure goal scorer in the draft, and he’s been doing it since he was nine years old. It’s Oliver Wahlstrom!

Ryan Merkley will likely fall in the first round, but the OHL Rookie of the Year is a gifted playmaker. To wit:

Coast to Coast: What you might have missed around the league

  • It’s a big week in the NHL. On Tuesday, June 19, the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship will take place at Final Allied Esports Arena, Luxor Hotel & Casino, at approximately 9 p.m. ET.
  • The 2018 NHL Awards are coming up on Wednesday, June 20 at The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, at 8 p.m. ET.
  • Then, of course, it’s the Big Kahuna — the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, beginning with the first round on Friday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN, TVAS) and then continuing with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday, June 23 at11 a.m. ET (NHLN, SN, TVAS).
  • If you’re living under a rock, you may have somehow missed the trade that sent shockwaves through the NHL this weekend. The swap: the Canadiens get forward Max Domi from the Arizona Coyotes in return for forward Alex Galchenyuk. Sure, it’s early to grade this trade when neither player has taken the ice for his new team. But it’s hard not to feel like this is a really, really bad move for Montreal.


1. Heading into this year’s NHL Draft, there are seven teams without a first-round pick: Calgary​​ Flames, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers have three first-round selections (Nos. 9, 26 and 28), the New York Islanders have two back-to-back (Nos. 11 and 12). The Chicago Blackhawks (Nos. 8, 27), Philadelphia Flyers (Nos. 14, 19) and Ottawa Senators (Nos. 4, 22) also have two picks in the first round. Needless to say, be on high alert for trade talks this week.

2. Speaking of trades, here’s the latest from around the league. Currently in a position to have to take whoever the Hurricanes don’t between Svechnikov and Zadina, Montreal is reportedly willing to trade No. 3 overall. “I’ll listen, I’m open,” Marc Bergevin said, per Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette. The Blackhawks are also reportedly willing to part with their selection at No. 8 overall…for the right price.

3. On Wednesday, the debate surrounding which player deserves this year’s Hart Memorial Trophy will finally be over. But who, really, should it be? This feels like the closest race in years, and almost everyone you talk to in the NHL media has a different selection among Devils left wing Taylor Hall, Kings center Anze Kopitar and Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon. Kopitar may not be as sexy a choice as either Hall or MacKinnon, but it’s hard not to give him the edge. With 92 points (35 goals, 57 assists), Kopitar guided the Kings into the postseason firstseason, with 31 more points than the next-highest scorer on his team (Dustin Brown, 61). He also led all forwards in ice time per game (22:05) and finished with a plus/minus of 21.

4. John Tavares was expected to be the biggest prize when free agency opens officially on July 1, but he may not be going anywhere after all. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Tavares and the Islanders are having daily conversations regarding his contract. Tavares finally has the support he needs from Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle to lead this franchise to a Stanley Cup win. Almost certainly, the Islanders’ front-office shakeup of Garth Snow and Lou Lamoriello was done to court him to stay.

5. I asked on Twitter if anyone had any thoughts or questions for me to ruminate on this week. I loved this one from @simonvaccaNHL, as Ryan Merkley is one of the most interesting prospects in this year’s class:

Merkley has the potential to be a steal in this draft if he falls as a result of perceived red flags. A pure offensive defenseman, he’s one of the best playmakers in the class, but as TSN’s Bob McKenzie puts it, NHL scouts have flagged him as “temperamental and a potential problem child with a questionable attitude.” Based on talent alone, Merkley could get drafted right outside the top 10. Given the red flags, the Senators’ pick at No. 22 makes too much sense.

Tweet of the week

The Ukko-Pekka cannot be stopped!

Is there something you want to see more of? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MichelleBruton. Want more hockey? Follow @FanSidedNHL on Twitter.