When you look at the rankings for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, you’ll notice that there is a lot less consensus than in most years. After the top three - Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina - there is a mass jumble of prospects that we could see selected anywhere from four to twenty. Thanks to this fluidity, it’s going to be incredibly hard for anyone -including the team themselves - to pin down exactly who will be available when the Colorado Avalanche select 16th overall.
The team could use a scoring winger - of which there are a few that should be available to them - but more importantly the Avalanche need to select the best player left on their board regardless of position. Amassing the most talent possible is always more beneficial to an organization, especially when you’re talking about prospects that likely won’t make an impact at the NHL level for a few years.
There are going to be a number of very good prospects available to the Avs in the first round. Here is a look at some of the options:
Joel Farabee - LW - USNTDP U18
From Broad Street Hockey:
The New York native’s greatest asset most likely would be his skating, he’s not blistering fast at top speed, but he’s great on his edges which makes him very tough to keep track of defensively. There were many instances during the U18 WJC’s where he was able to twist and turn his way by defenders and create a scoring chance.
From Habs EOTP:
There are a lot of buzzwords in that last sentence,. Typically, someone being heralded as a “two-way player” is someone who is not going to blow people away with his play at either end of the ice, but is instead adequate enough to not hamper his team at either end. Farabee looks like the rare type of player to excel in both facets of the game with his combination of quick skating and great awareness on the ice. He’s always in a position to make plays happen and cut options for the other team.
Vitali Kravtsov - RW - Traktor Chelyabinsk, KHL
From Habs EOTP:
Kravtsov won the rookie of the year award in the KHL this season. He should be gone at the end of the first round on his one-on-one talent alone, as he surpasses the majority of other prospects in this aspect. That skill has its downsides, coming with a tendency to do a little too much with the puck. But given time, the Russian forward should learn to better use his size to shield possession, wait for teammates, and utilize them to create more effective scoring chances.
From The Cannon:
Kravtsov followed up a decent regular season with a terrific playoff run with Traktor, rocketing him up the draft charts, finishing as the third-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting. If a team can be patient with him, in a few seasons they’ll have a top-six contributor who should be lethal on the powerplay.
Barrett Hayton - C - Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, OHL
Hayton is everything you want in an NHL prospect. He has all of the tools, the tool box, and even the tool shed, and he hasn’t hit 18 yet. I am not going to mince words here. More likely than not, Barrett Hayton is going to be an NHLer one day, and I don’t think his path to the NHL is going to be a very long one. In a sense, you could say that Hayton is a very safe pick, but that can be misleading to say, as it can connote that he doesn’t have the ceiling to be anything more than a bottom six forward. It is quite the opposite with Hayton, who I think has the skill, smarts, and attention to detail in how he approaches the game that he could become a fixture in the top six on an NHL team for years. Certainly, there are options that have higher offensive ceilings in this year’s draft, but prospects who are as balanced and complete as Hayton is, while still having high-end offensive skills, are very rare.
Ramus Kapuri - C - Oulun Kärpät, Liiga
Kupari’s a good enough carrier and playmaker to run a second powerplay unit, but he’s also a respectable scoring threat in the middle of the 1-3-1 set up. He stood out as Finland’s best player while playing against a tough Canadian team at the Hlinka, as he was of the only players who could consistently set up shop in the offensive zone. His most recent showing at the U18 tournament was a bit of a mixed bag, but he did notch two points in a gold medal win over the United States.
From Habs EOTP:
A team will take Kupari because they see his offensive game as a strength rather than an obstacle to a more disciplined defensive game. He will doubtless gain confidence in his own zone the more he plays and gains experience. His skating and balance are excellent, and once he gains a bit of muscle, he could very well come to be regarded as a steal of the draft. At the end of it all, when it comes to pure offensive skill, Rasmus Kupari is one of the best prospects available
Serron Noel - RW - Oshawa Generals, OHL
From All About the Jersey:
Not only is he a big body that competes hard, but he has the offensive instincts and excellent wrist shot to change games as a goal scorer. Whether it’s creating chances for his teammates by opening up ice or causing havoc in front of the net, or by simply taking defenders on and muscling his way to into open ice or driving the net, Noel is often able to make his presence felt on the scoresheet. Overall, there is a lot that I find intriguing about Noel. He’s still young for this class as he doesn’t turn 18 until August. He’s already 6’5, 211 lbs. and should fill out that frame even more as he gains muscle over the next few seasons. He’s reliable defensively at even strength and on the PK. He can score goals from open ice with a hard, accurate wrist shot or in tight on loose pucks or deflections. My main concern with Noel is his skating - which is something he’s already been taking extra time to work on and has shown improvements from his rookie season in the OHL.
He has a lot of growing to do before he can be counted as a sure-fire NHLer, and he knows it. Noel sees his weaknesses and works hard to improve them. One of the biggest concerns with players his size is skating ability. Last summer, Noel started taking power-skating classes and he’s made a big improvement as a result. He has a long powerful stride that generates good speed, but he is still very weak on his skates. He gets knocked off stride easily. If that happens to a kid his size in junior, it’s going to be a big problem at the professional level. He looks awkward at times and clearly needs to work on his coordination - though that can be said about any 17-year old that stands 6’5”. A lot of that will change as he matures physically. There is a ton of room to add strength to his frame and as he becomes conformable with his body, we should see him become a lot more stable on the ice. Noel is a smart player that knows his strengths and plays within them. He is a high risk, high reward prospect. For a team that values patience and development, he could be an outstanding pick in the bottom half of the first round this June.