The 2018 NHL Entry Draft is less than three weeks away, and teams and pundits around the league are finalizing their rankings. Today, TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button released his final list of the top-100 prospects eligible for the draft, and Rasmus Dahlin remains on top. That’s not unexpected, neither is Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina at the number two and three spots respectively.
Where Button’s list may vary from others is where he lists his top two center prospects, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Barrett Hayton. The two young pivots are fifth and seventh respectively, ahead of top defensive prospects like Noah Dobson, Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist. Button is also high on towering power forward Serron Noel (#13) and shifty winger Akil Thomas (#17). Joe Veleno, once expected to be selected at the very top of the first round, is way down at #28.
- Scott Hartnell has begun training for the 2018-19 season, but as Adam Vingan of the Tennessean writes in his recent profile on the Nashville Predators free agent, if the 36-year old forward doesn’t find a contract he’s okay with that too. After registering 24 points in 62 games this season there is still reason to believe that Hartnell can be an effective bottom-six player, but it was just a year ago that he was bought out by the Blue Jackets and had to settle for a $1MM contract. If it is the end of his career, he’ll go out with 707 points in 1,249 games—a great career to say the least.
- Toronto Maple Leafs fans were up in arms last night questioning what it could mean when James Mirtle of The Athletic reported that Auston Matthews had changed agencies. Matthews has followed his agent from CAA to the Orr Hockey Group, with many pointing to the fact that they also represent Connor McDavid and negotiated his league-leading eight-year $100MM extension. Matthews can sign an extension on July 1st, and could be the league’s next highly-paid young star. While it may not match the $12.5MM/year that McDavid will start earning next season, Jack Eichel’s eight-year $80MM deal is certainly within reach.