The first round of the 2018 NHL entry draft begins tonight at 7:30 PM on NBCSN, SN, and TVA Sports. The Capitals will be picking last in the first round because they won the Stanley freakin’ Cup. Here’s a look at some guys I think could be available for selection by the Caps at pick #31.
We did the forwards yesterday. Onto the defensemen.
Note: This is all assuming that the Capitals do actually pick at #31 and the pick is not used to trade up or down in the draft or acquire a roster player. Some of these prospects may be projected as higher or even second round selections, but that’s why they’re just projections. NHL comparables are just style comparisons, nothing else.
Ryan Merkley – RHD, Guelph OHL – Merkley is a player that could easily go much higher than #31 or even much lower due to perceived off the ice and on the ice attitude issues. He has all of the talent in the world as an offensive defensemen with incredible vision, elite passing ability, and a smooth skating stride. He is only 5’11 so he can get tossed around a bit in his own end and when you add that to his commitment issues with giving max effort in that zone, he is a definite work in progress that has superstar potential if he gets the right coaching and focus. NHL comparable: Kris Letang
Rasmus Sandin – LHD, Sault Ste. Marie OHL – If Merkley is the risky pick, Sandin is the safe pick which obviously means he could go before the Caps have a chance to select him. Sandin is nothing fancy when it comes to the offensive side of the game, but he is a cerebral player that makes accurate, crisp passes and has a Christian Djoos like smoothness to him. You’re not going to see him take unnecessary risks, but he can carry the puck himself up the ice which is what a defenseman in today’s NHL needs to be able to do. NHL comparable: Sami Vatanen
Alexander Alexeyev – LHD, Red Deer WHL – Big (6’4, 200) two-way defenseman that matches his size with agility and sneaky quickness. Alexeyev is just as comfortable in a run and gun type environment as he is in a more trap style, slow paced system. That adaptability, mature play for his age, and good first pass out of the defensive zone makes him one of my top wants for the Caps in this draft. If he’s there at #31, he’s who I would want barring any major falls for any higher ranked prospects. NHL comparable: Josh Manson
Mattias Samuelsson – LHD, USA NTDP USHL – Another huge (6’4, 217) defenseman that plays with a bit of a nasty side to him and has reported leadership qualities. Samuelsson has some untapped offensive potential, is an adept defender, and is a very good skater for someone of his size. He’s the son of former NHLer Kjell Samuelsson and is committed to Western Michigan University. NHL comparable: Erik Johnson
Nils Lundkvist – RHD, Lulea SHL – It may feel very repetitive at this point calling Swedes in this draft smooth, but Lundkvist is just another of this Swedish class that can be characterized that way. Just like his other Swedish brethren he is an intelligent player, reliable in his own zone, and has a certain calmness and maturity about him that I think may lead to him being taken a few spots ahead of the Caps on the draft board. NHL comparable: Josh Morrissey
Nicolas Beaudin – LHD, Drummondville QMJHL – We’re going to see more and more defensemen like Beaudin as time goes on and the NHL gets faster. He is another smaller (5’10, 175), offensive defenseman that likes to make quick, incisive passes and has a ton of puck skills. He also has a very creative, playmaking mind that will suit a team’s power play one day. He led all Drummondville skaters in scoring with 69 points (nice) in 68 games. NHL comparable: Matt Dumba
Calen Addison – RHD, Lethbridge WHL – Much like Beaudin, another smaller (5’10, 178) offensive defenseman. I actually like Addison a bit more than Beaudin because although both have some serious struggles in their own zones at this stage of their development, Addison has a certain snarl and battle to his game that I think cant be taught. With that and some good defensive coaching, you’ll have quite the player with his already elite power play QB skills, great skating, hard shot, and offensive mind. NHL comparable: Tyson Barrie
Jett Woo – RHD, Moose Jaw WHL – First of all, fantastic name and if he becomes a regular Capitals player one day I’d bet on some kind of RMNB shirt regarding him being designed because of said name. Other defenders on this list are both riskier picks than Woo and riskier offensive players in general. Woo is more poised defensively and is a safer bet than most to eventually reach the NHL, albeit with a lower ceiling than some of his peers. He likes to lay the body and will give you 100 percent every game. NHL comparable: Ian Cole
Adam Ginning – LHD, Linkoping SHL – Another bigger defenseman (6’4, 206) that uses his size very well to shut down opposing forwards and can throw some massive body checks. You’re not going to get a ton of offensive impact out of Ginning, but he’s not going to be a liability either as he is a good puck mover and a strong skater. If I had my personal choice of picks he’d come right after Alexeyev and Addison. NHL comparable: Jaccob Slavin
Jonathon Tychonick – LHD, Penticton BCHL – Another player that I’m highlighting that is both rising on draft boards and headed to the NCAA, this time to North Dakota. Tychonick is a very mobile, offensive leaning defenseman. With that comes his strongest attributes which are his skating and ability to run a power play. I think the Caps could wait until their pick #46 in the second round if they want to key in on Tychonick. NHL comparable: Nick Leddy
Others: Jacob Bernard-Docker (RHD, Okotoks AJHL), Kevin Bahl (LHD, Ottawa OHL), Filip Johansson (RHD, Leksands J20), Sean Durzi (RHD, Owen Sound OHL)
Headline photo: NHL
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