When we released the Top 5 at the end of September we knew completing the rest of the list would bring more difficult decisions. It took us some time, but here we are now, publishing our first extended in-season ranking for the 2018 NHL draft. This marks our first Top 20 update since the Blue Dispatch draft guide release back in June.
Three players on that ranking are not eligible anymore for our lists, as they left Europe to play out their draft season in North America (we only rank prospects that are playing in Europe): Filip Zadina and Dmitri Zavgorodny are displaying their abilities in the QMJHL these days, while defenseman Filip Kral joined the Spokane Chiefs after beginning the season with Kometa Brno top team. The two forwards were respectively #3 and #6 on our ranking at the end of last season, so they’re a significant loss for a European draft class that is however still rich of talents at the forward position. On the other hand, Kral’s departure leaves only two defensemen in our top 20.
One of them, of course, sits on top of the list. Rasmus Dahlin also gets a #1 projection overall, as this is our first 2018 list to provide an overall assessment of the ranked prospects’ value.
Following the top 5 that we already revealed a couple of weeks ago, we have Jesse Ylonen at #6. Although Ylonen hasn’t had the most productive start to his season in the second tier Finnish men league, we still like his high-end skill level. Speaking of high skill level prospects, Russian right winger Vitali Kravtsov comes next. He has been sidelined for a few weeks with a wrist injury, but he is back with Traktor in KHL now and scored his first of the season just yesterday. Swedish forward Filip Hallander already saw action in Allsvenskan last season but this year has started finding ways to contribute some offense.
At #9 is German forward Dominik Bokk. We have liked his upside since last year and have been encouraged by how he stacked up playing against prospects like Jonas Rondbjerg and Alexandre Texier last April in Bled during the U18 Div.1A World Championships. He is still raw, but has continued to show his pure talent in Sweden with Vaxjo J20 team.
Completing the top 10 is diminuitive Russian forward Ruslan Iskhakov who has been a bit of a revelation for us at this year’s Hlinka Memorial. When seeing him in MHL action he has done nothing but back up his strong August performances. While his tiny size is a weak point, we have liked his game to the point of ranking him ahead of other more popular names.
The intriguing talent among forwards goes in fact well beyond the top 10.
Rasmus Kupari‘s potential appears obvious at this point, but we would like to see him display more sense in his game at a consistent level before ranking him higher.
Another Finn, Niklas Nordgren, has been putting his offensive talent on display in this initial part of the season and while he does have flaws beyond just being undersized, we have liked his offensive ability and confidence enough to place him inside our Top 20.
Meanwhile, Russian forward Alexander Khovanov has continued to be sidelined after being diagnosed with hepatitis A and his status as far as where he might play this season remains unclear.