There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that when the 2018 NHL Draft gets underway next week, Rasmus Dahlin will be the first name off the board.
The Buffalo Sabres retained the first overall pick so will either get the privilege of wasting his potential or having him turn their franchise around, so there is little to no point wasting a blog post explaining exactly why he should be the first overall pick. Just watch his highlights, he’s going number one and that’s all you need to know.
But then it gets more tricky, it’s the toughest choice (and more difficult to spell) since if you were Team Edward or Team Jacob from the Twilight series.
So for the team picking second, that’s the Carolina Hurricanes, are you Team Zadina or Team Svechnikov?
It appears that most pundits (whether they are qualified or not to comment on the upcoming draft, I myself am part of the latter) have Andrei Svechnikov of the OHLs Barrie Colts as their second pick behind Dahlin, and this was even before the Hurricanes moved up in the draft, while Filip Zadina who plays in the QMJHL for the Halifax Mooseheads is likely the third overall pick.
So who should actually go second, and who should go third? Or should one of them slip out of the top three completely? That would be more exciting no matter how unlikely.
Now, I have a bit of personal resentment for Svechnikov. I’ve never met him, but he’s born in the year 2000 and he’s 18-years-old and I’m not ready to accept that yet, I can only imagine how old that makes people even older than myself feel.
But, as a hockey player I cannot deny this kid has talent. Originally from Barnaul, Russia he first moved to North America to play hockey in the 2016/17 season, joining the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL where he had an impressive showing of 58 points in 48 games, registering 29 goals as well as 29 assists, being named to the USHL All-Rookie Team, USHL First All-Star Team as well as picking up USHL Rookie of the Year honours.
After one season in the USHL, he moved on to his most recent home in the OHL with the Barrie Colts.
He was the first overall selection in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, 10 spots ahead of Zadina who went 11th overall in the same draft.
Svechnikov is a dynamic winger with tremendous offensive upside that really puts him in the conversation to not just be a top-two pick in June, but also a future star in the NHL. His defensive work isn’t terrible either, granted it needs a bit of work but if he can improve on that, and continue his trajectory with his offensive play and physical edge, there is no reason why we can’t see Svechnikov becoming a vital part of the Hurricanes top six in just a matter of seasons if they do take him second overall.
Standing a 6’3 and around 190 lbs,and the potential to still grow some more, he’s a scary prospect for the future and could be one of the leading goalscorers of the 2018 draft class.
He was electric in his first season in the OHL, posting 72 points in just 44 games which was second most on the team behind Lucas Chiodo who posted 79 in 68 games, while Svechnikovs’ point totals included a team high in goals with 44.
He’s the number one in North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting, but that doesn’t mean that the Montreal Canadiens won’t be hoping that he maybe falls to them with the third pick.
So after such a glowing report for Svechnikov, does Zadina even have the necessary skills to go second instead of third? (Or even fourth…I mean don’t sleep on Brady Tkachuk or Evan Bouchard either)
Much like Svechnikov, this was Zadina’s first year playing in the Canadian junior leagues, and he shone for the Halifax Mooseheads.
He finished top 10 in points in the overall league with 82 in 57 games (the most by a league rookie too) and only two players finished with more goals than him. Alex Barre-Boulet lead the league with 53, while Vitalii Abramov was second with 45. Zadina was tied for third with Alexandre Alain and Maxime Comtois with 44 on the season. Not a bad rookie campaign for the native of Pardubice, Czech Republic, who he’s played for from the junior level right through to their senior squad, making his senior debut in the 2015/16 season.
At 6’1 and pushing 190lbs, Zadina has a solid frame that could translate to physical game but he is more likely to apply pressure on the forecheck than throw the body. He’s a top end scorer in junior level and it won’t take long for that to translate to the pro game, wherever he ends up (most likely Montreal).
I suppose it could come down to character fit for the GMs of both Montreal and Carolina, and also fitting a need. Both are elite scoring wingers so it won’t play too much of a factor although they are utilised more on opposite wings.
Zadina was a star for the Czech Republic at this year’s World Juniors, notching 7 points in 7 games and being named to the All-Star Team, along with the consensus number one pick Rasmus Dahlin.
Like Svechnikov, Zadina has a hell of a future ahead of him, but is he in a spot right now in his career that would see him taken ahead of the Russian winger?
Andrei Svechnikov seems to be the people’s choice when it comes to the second overall spot. His big body and big game will make him one of the next elite Russian wingers and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him push for the Calder trophy when he gets a crack at the NHL, while Zadina although is still an incredible talent in the draft, could even see himself slip out of the top three overall in favour of Brady Tkachuk or even defenceman Evan Bouchard.
But I guess we’ll find out on June 22nd