The NHL Central Scouting has released their final rankings for the 2018 Entry Draft, listing the best prospects in both North America and the rest of the world. Though Jack Hughes is still expected to be taken with the first-overall pick, Kaapo Kakko is giving him a run for the top spot while the rest of the top ten is anyone’s guess.
At this year’s Draft Lottery, the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks were able to secure the top three selections. The full draft order can be found here. These scouting lists will help to inform who your team might have a chance at, though obviously anything can happen. The top-5 North American and International skaters are listed below:
- Jack Hughes, USA U-18, NTDP
- Bowen Byram, Vancouver Giants, WHL
- Kirby Dach, Saskatoon Blades, WHL
- Alex Turcotte, USA U-18, NTDP
- Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL
- Kaapo Kakko, TPS, Finland
- Vasily Podkolzin, Neva St. Petersurg, Russia
- Victor Soderstrom, Brynas, Sweden
- Ville Heinola, Lukko, Finland
- Philip Broberg, AIK, Sweden
While Hughes and Kakko leading their respective lists doesn’t come as much of a surprise, there are some interesting other rankings to be found. Byram’s rise to the second spot for North America is sure to draw plenty of attention, as he passes over his WHL rivals in Dach and Cozens from the midterm ranking. Byram has had an incredible season for the Giants with 71 points in 67 games and offers real first-pairing NHL upside. Arguably the best defenseman available in the class, he won’t have to wait long to hear his name on draft day.
Not to be outdone, undersized defenseman Heinola jumps up several spots from the midterm after a similarly excellent season in Finland. Though the doesn’t have the eye-popping point totals that Byram does—Heinola scored 14 points in 34 games—the fact that he recorded a regular shift in a professional league is impressive enough. Add that to a World Junior gold medal and things have gone quite well for the left-handed defenseman this season. He could potentially be the second defenseman off the board if his stock keeps rising.
Central Scouting also released their rankings for the top goaltenders, but there is no doubt that Spencer Knight leads the way at the position. The USNTDP netminder has a chance to be one of the highest selected goaltenders in several years, and should go at some point in the middle of the first round.