If the Ivan Hlinka tournament is the official start of the draft season for the scouts, then the release of TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s preseason ranking for the 2018 draft class is the green light for everyone else from the media to the fans. Even though McKenzie surveys from scouts, many of the opinions will change by the time June rolls around. Still, it’s the best peek behind the curtain to see where the industry stands and where some of the most interesting storylines lie. We’ll look at some other lists as the season rolls along but the gold standard sets the table for now.
As expected, Rasmus Dahlin was tops on McKenzie’s list but for the other 30 teams who won’t land the Swedish defenseman, they’ll have to dig a bit deeper into the draft class. Some other familiar names in forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Brady Tkachuk fill out the top four along with another Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist. It is at Boqvist where we begin to see the Ivan Hlinka results come into play. His eight points in the tournament plus showing off the dynamic offensive skill in front of scouts gets him a front seat in the draft class for now.
Rounding out the top five, forward Joe Veleno cemented himself in the conversation for top center and Canadian in the draft after he captained Canada to a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka. Another who recieved a boost from a strong tournament is Sault Ste. Marie center Barrett Hayton with six points and showed good two-way play. He wasn’t even really on first round radar after scoring 27 points in his rookie year but now is getting high consideration including sliding in at number 15 on McKenzie’s list. Hopefully Hayton can carry the momentum from the tournament over to the season and we’ll see plenty of him playing with Conor Timmins.
Other than a few leagues in Europe, much of the hockey world waits for the puck drop on their season. Therefore, not much jockeying for position has happened since the Ivan Hlinka has concluded and prospects headed to their various club team camps. However, some preseason action has commenced and there’s one name who has percolated some interest. That would be 2017 first overall selection in the QMJHL, Alexis Lafreniere, who is tied for preseason league lead with 12 points (3G, 9A) in six games. Yeah I know, I said preseason. But it’s eyebrow raising from a rookie when a strong 2017 QMJHL draft class and draft eligible rookies from Europe such as Filip Zadina are in the mix as well. Plus the fact that Lafreniere is still 15 years old. That’s right, he’s a late birthday prospect who doesn’t turn 16 until October and that makes him a 2020 draft eligible. So file away the name Alexis Lafreniere for future reference, chances are it will come in handy.