The 2018 NEFHL Entry Draft took place on June 21st-22nd in the intimate setting of Broadways in Orleans, Ontario Canada. Leading up to draft day, GM Gallant admitted that he was actively pursuing potential draft day deals with multiple teams depending on which players were still available when their clock started. Boston was active from the beginning and remained so until the later rounds.
Trade: Bruins trade picks #14 (1st RND) and #75 (3rd RND) to Jets in exchange for pick #10 (1st RND)
Pick 1 Round 1 - Joe Veleno – Centre - 10th overall (30th NHL - DET)
One thing that stands out when reviewing Veleno’s scouting report: speed, and lots of it. Not only is his first step and acceleration top-notch, he has the ability to make plays at top speed. In today’s game, that’s a big advantage. He has great hands and puck-handling ability and is primarily pass-first, but will capitalize on scoring chances as well.
His defensive play is just as good. He’s a hard-nosed backchecker and is rarely caught out of position. He is deployed on the penalty kill regularly and isn’t afraid to block a shot. He will need to work on his discipline, often taking ill-advised penalties.
Being drafted by the Red Wings will work to his advantage. He’ll be able to refine all of his skills under that very patient organization.
64 GP, 22 G, 57A, 79PTS, 48PIM
Pick 2 Round 1 - Bode Wilde – Defense - 15th overall (41st NHL – NYI)
The NHL NY Islanders already had Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, Josh Ho-Sang and Ilya Sorokin, among others, in their system. On June 22nd 2018 they added Oliver Whalstrom and Noah Dobson with picks #11 and #12. It’s safe to say that the Islanders are building towards having a solid, young core group of players that will lead the team over the next 4-5 years. Bode Wilde will look to be an important part to that as well.
He plays a 200-foot game very well, especially on the defensive end. He has the speed that allows him to be positioned well. He’s a physical player that takes time and space away from the opposition and pursues the puck. He does have a tendency to be a little over-aggressive and find himself in the penalty box.
Offensively, his game can use a bit of work but is able to connect consistently on outlet passes. He plays a very smart game and has an accurate shot that booms off his stick, but could stand to let it go quicker.
56GP, 12G, 29A, 41PTS, 61PIM
Pick 3 Round 1 - Ryan McLeod – Centre - 29th overall (40th NHL – EDM)
It’s pretty safe to say that the 2018 draft was hard to predict. Even the top 5 didn’t pan out the way everyone believed it would. With the NEFHL focused on forwards over defense, it’s no surprise that McLeod dropped to the 2nd round in the NHL draft, going to the Oilers.
He checked off a lot of boxes in what I was looking for and I decided he was worth the pick at #29. He possesses great speed (seems to be the theme) and is a smooth-skater, able to start-stop and crossover very well. Even at his top speed, he’s able to handle the puck well. He has a fast release that catches goaltenders off-guard and is a skilled playmaker with great vision and hockey IQ.
His two-way game is excellent and takes out passing lanes effectively in his own end. His speed allows him to take time away from the opposition as well. He seems to have a great defensive game overall and accumulates a large number of steals.
One of the more attractive skills, on top of what was mentioned above, are his leadership skills. A two-way center with speed, creative hands and leadership has the makings of a long NHL career.
68GP, 26G, 44A, 70PTS, 26PIM
Trade: Bruins trade pick #43 (2nd RND) to Canucks for picks #46 (2nd RND) and #128 (5th RND)
Pick 4 Round 2 - Benoit-Olivier Groulx Centre – 46th overall (54th NHL – ANA)
The Ducks are not short on prospects up the middle. They’re not short on prospects period. Groulx will have his hands full cracking the lineup with players like Sam Steel, Troy Terry and Antoine Morand in the mix already. It remains to be seen where Anaheim will have him slotted but as a worse-case, he could turn into a checking center due to his defensive capabilities. He cuts passing lanes well and creates a ton of turnovers. He also improved his acceleration to reach top speed, which will help him defensively as well.
I like his work ethic – he works hard out there and makes up for his lack of elite skills. He passes very well and has a heavy shot too. Work ethic often is rewarded, and I’m hoping that’s the case here.
68GP, 28G, 27A, 55PTS, 100PIM
Pick 5 Round 3 - Curtis Hall – Centre - 90th overall (119th NHL – BOS)
Curtis might not light up the scoreboard, but he brings forth a lot. He’s already topping 200lbs and has the strength to go with it, but also possesses great speed for a player his size. He protects the puck very well in all areas. He can play the part of the power forward but also has good hands and can dangle when he needs to. Reports say he’s improved his intensity this past season and goes hard to the net.
He plays a very smart defensive game and can clear the lane for his goaltender to see the play. His willingness to block shots makes him an important piece on the penalty kill too.
He won’t score 30 goals but he’ll work hard, make smart plays and contribute at each end. He tends to be over-aggressive in his own zone but that is not believed to be a concern.
54GP, 13G, 18A, 31PTS, 30PIM