Dreaming of the Draft: Getting Defensive

While all the attention paid to the 2018 NHL entry draft is funneling toward expected first overall selection Rasmus Dahlin, there’s an array of other talented and coveted defensemen in this draft that the 30 teams who will not win the draft lottery should begin paying attention to. One sure to be high draft selection is Ty Smith, a 5’11 174 lbs left shot defenseman who plays for the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL. Smith is on the radar as possibly the first Canadian selected and likely the first from the WHL, he might even sneak in as the second defenseman drafted behind Dahlin if he continues to have a strong season.

Smith is a fluid skating puck moving defenseman who is playing in all situations as the top defenseman for the Chiefs and is currently leading his team in points with 13 (2G, 11A) in 12 games. He uses his mobility and high hockey IQ to create and defend plus a nice shot he can score on as seen below. He was the first overall selection in the WHL draft in 2015 and has been a Hockey Canada staple for years and several as captain on various U16, U17 teams and was alternate captain on the gold medal winning Ivan Hlinka team this past August in which he recorded three assists. With a high pedigree and formidable start, Smith is one to watch this draft season.

Earlier this week one of our Avs prospect teams, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, recieved the good news that defenseman Rasmus Sandin has finally agreed to leave Rögle in the Swedish Hockey League and spend his draft year in North America. Sandin was the Greyhounds’ first round pick at 52nd in the import draft and there had been rumors all summer that either he or Finnish standout forward Rasmus Kupari would eventually report. Sandin had an excellent Ivan Hlinka tournament where he captained team Sweden and finished the tournament with three assists.

Currently he is on the radar in the range of a second to third round pick as a B rated skater by Central Scouting but has also recieved high marks by Craig Button, who had Sandin ranked 33rd on his initial list. Sandin is a 5’11 183 lb two-way puck moving left shot defenseman with good smarts, mobility and plays a safe, solid game. He’s not overly dynamic but getting a chance to play in North America and with the Greyhounds’ stable of high end forwards he should be able to grow his game in this important year for him. He hasn’t made his Greyhounds debut yet but could very soon and could see time in a pair with Conor Timmins.

Speaking of NHL Central Scouting, they have released their annual players to watch list. Twenty-three names on the A list, which indicates first round potential. In total, over 200 names are listed and gives the scouts a road map of where to focus their attention at the beginning of the season. A numeric ranking will be released by Central Scouting after the holidays.

Get a jump on the 2001 born players and the 2019 NHL entry draft class with the World U17 Challenge roster for Canada. Such names to keep in mind are 2016 WHL first overall selection for the Kootenay Ice forward Peyton Krebs, 2017 OHL first overall selection for the Barrie Colts forward Ryan Suzuki and 2017 QMJHL first overall selection for the Rimouski Oceanic forward Alexis Lafrenière, who is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2020 due to his late birthdate. Coincidentally all three are going to play on Canada Red with Rouyn-Noranda head coach Gilles Bouchard as their head coach. Numerous other top five selections from Canada and high end talents from other nations will partake in the tournament over several weeks in early November. This is the event where draft stock truly begins to take hold.

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