Since the Nashville selected 24 players in the 2018 draft, the Predators’ draft will be broken down by rounds (except for the last part which will combine round 6-7).
Before the start of the first round, let’s preface the draft 2018 review with a couple of general comments:
- - In general, NEFHL puts higher value on forwards, which means they will go earlier than in the NHL on average while defensemen will go later than in the NHL.
- - In the NHL, it only takes one team to like a player for him to get selected. This means that it’s entirely possible that some players are within only one team’s selection range. So a prospect could go out in the NHL in the 4th round because a team is really high on that player but could be undrafted otherwise. This can explain wide differences between selections in the NEFHL and the NHL.
- - It happens quite often that players that are drafted in the NEFHL but undrafted in the NHL ends up being signed by the NHL or drafted in the years after. I think this highlights the quality of the NEFHL GMs when drafting. Since 2015, this happened for a couple of Nashville’s prospects: Will Reilly, Josh Dickinson, Ty Lewis and Radim Salda.
- - Each selection will show three different rankings. The consensus rankings is a homemade calculation based on different available draft resources about where the players should go. The Predators rankings is where I had the player on my shortlist (to note that the list didn’t feature many defensemen due to the Predators’ focus on forwards this year). The last ranking is where they were selected (or undrafted) in the NHL.
In Round 1, the Predators made 4 selections:
Pick #3 – Filip Zadina
Consensus ranking: 4
Predators ranking: 3
NHL Selection: 6
Not many draft eligible prospects play at the WJC where the majority of players are 19 years old. Zadina was the most impressive forward, being tied as the 2nd best scorer of the tourney with 7 goals in 7 games. This video shows it wasn’t a fluke:
Zadina is one of the best goal scorers of this draft. Still, he is not a one-trick pony, he also plays a complete game. He is a fierce competitor that will do whatever it takes to generate offense.
At the combine, his results were pretty average. More conditioning could improve his game further.
“Deadly shooter is a pure sniper who doesn’t need much time or space to score.”
“He’s a much better passer and playmaker than he gets credit for; he has a good hockey sense and he’s a smart player.”
“Quick hands very shifty and smart. Not too many players with his hands and skills. Plays the game like a N.A. player. He competes and goes in traffic.”
Potential - High: Top line sniper
Potential - Low: 2nd line offensive contributor
Pick #4 – Oliver Wahlstrom
Consensus ranking: 9
Predators ranking: 4
NHL Selection: 11
The highest volume shooter of the draft, Wahlstrom is one of the most proficient goal scorers of this draft. He was dynamite at this year’s U18:
Wahlstrom not only has one of the best shot in hockey, he also knows where to be on the ice to shoot the puck a lot. He combines this with good size and stick-handling to create opportunities offensively. Often compared to Tkachuk but almost a year younger.
Sometimes plays a little passive and could improve in his own zone.
“A scoring threat whenever he is on the ice. Wahlstrom has one of the best shots of any 2018 eligible draft prospect. Gets himself into dangerous spots and has a shot that can beat any goaltender at any level.”
“Wahlstrom is a dynamic power forward who’s a technician on the ice, using superior hockey sense that allows him to anticipate defenses, then break them down with his high-level skill-set.”
“At times looks like he’s not involved, but he’s always reading play, ready to strike like a cobra.”
Potential – High: Top line sniper
Potential – Low: 2nd liner on a weak team that scores on the PP
Pick #8 – Barrett Hayton
Consensus ranking: 11
Predators ranking: 7
NHL Selection: 5
Looking at the reports and the numbers paints a story of Barrett Hayton. Watching Hayton play, getting less ice-time because he’s playing on a strong team, paints another. Hayton clearly has some high end offensive abilities:
Hayton is an intelligent center that plays a 200 feet game. However, he also has very good hands highlighted by his superior stick handling and shot.
Has heavy boots which he will need to improve as a center in the NHL.
“He is consistently engaged in all three zones, plays in all situations, and has way more skill with the puck than most give him credit for.”
“He was their best player on some nights. He’s just so creative...and I’m not sure there is a prospect with better hands.”
“Plays a very complete game and is strong away from the puck, especially for a highly skilled kid.”
Potential – High: Two-way top line center in the mold of Patrice Bergeron
Potential – Low: Third line winger that can fill in the top six occasionally
Pick #25 – Ty Dellandrea
Consensus ranking: 25
Predators ranking: 9
NHL Selection: 13
Before I get tomatoes thrown at me, Dellandrea was 9 on my short list because I purposefully left some defensemen off the list. To be fair, I had Bouchard and Dobson ahead of him, just not on my short list. About Dellandrea, what most people don’t know is that he suffers from the Celiac Disease and was just diagnosed early this year. After a change of diet, he stopped suffering from symptoms of the disease which led to play improvements. Playing on a terrible Flint team, Dellandrea was one of the only offensive threat on the team. While he is a good two-way player, he also showed good offensive acumen through the year:
Dellandrea is a high compete two-way center. While he doesn’t have elite offensive skills, he does have above average hands, high IQ on the ice and a lot of compete.
During the season, had up and downs and will need to improve his consistency.
“He’s got one of the best release points in this class, it comes off his stick extremely quickly while also generating a lot velocity.”
“He’s capable of making difficult passes at a high-rate; we have seen him cut around defenses while under heavy pressure, and despite being off-balance, still make a blind-pass from below the goal-line into the slot area for a scoring chance”
“Keeps pucks alive and extends plays, turning nothing into an instantly dangerous chance.”
Potential – High: Two-way top line center
Potantial – Low: Third line center that provides offense