TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button on the latest news and notes in the world of hockey prospect evaluation:
1. Rasmus Dahlin, a 17-year-old playing for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League (2-3-5 in 10 games), is no ordinary defenceman or teenager. He has every single attribute necessary to be an elite number-one defenceman in the NHL and stands alone as the consensus top pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. You can see with your own eyes why everyone is excited about his potential.
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2. Oliver Wahlstrom, a right wing with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, was a YouTube sensation as a nine-year-old with this nifty shootout move at a Boston Bruins game.
Wahlstrom continues to develop (9-5-14 in eight games) and is a gifted offensive player with excellent puck skills. He possesses arguably the best shot and release of any player available in the 2018 NHL Draft.
3. Matthew Phillips, a right winger with the Victoria Royals and sixth-round pick (2016) by the Calgary Flames, leads the WHL in scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists in 11 games. The diminutive (5-foot-7) winger scored 50 goals in 2016-17 and was the WHL Rookie of the Year in 2015-16. Phillips was invited to Team Canada’s 2017 World Junior summer development camp and continues to make a case to be on the roster when the tournament begins on Boxing Day in Buffalo.
4. Dmitri Zavgorodny is a Russian forward playing with Rimouski in the QMJHL, where he has six goals and 12 points in 10 games. He’s not tall (5-foot-9) but he’s a very talented offensive player who finds ways to create offence. He was the leading scorer at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup with five goals and 10 points. He’s been a prolific scorer and shows elite ability, but I’m sure the narrative will be about his size instead of his obvious talent – just as it was with players like Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Alex Debrincat. He was rated No. 19 on September’s Craig’s List.
5. Jacob Olofsson is a 17-year-old centre playing for Timra in the Swedish Allsvenskan league. It’s the same team that produced Henrik Zetterberg and Vancouver Canucks’ 2017 first-round selection Elias Pettersson. Olofsson has four goals and five points in 10 games, and has the skill, intelligence and competitiveness to be a top-two centre in the NHL. He has a style similar to Ottawa’s Derick Brassard. Expect him to be a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Injury update: Andrei Svechnikov, a power winger for the Barrie Colts who has 10 goals in 10 games and is a certain top-5 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, will have hand surgery next week. He’s expected to miss eight weeks.