Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-11-2018
11. New York Islanders--C, Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It's hard to believe a center hasn't been take off the board to this point, which is a good thing for the Isles as they may have a huge hole to fill if John Tavares leaves this summer. Not only is the dark specter of a Tavares departure looming over the wandering Islander franchise, but for the second year in a row a division rival has made the jump from double-digits in the draft to No. 2 thanks to the lottery. Even with the Garth Snow soap opera era over and Lou Lamoriello in charge, some of the moves, especially their city/arena issue is just plain messed up and can't really sit well with Tavares, who's been a good soldier throughout his tenure. Anyhow, if Tavares does leave, he won't be replaced by an 11th-ovearll pick but Kotkaniemi is a helluva good player with plenty of upside who had a strong season (10 goals, 19 assists in 57 games) as a 17 yr. old playing against men the top Finish league.
12. New York Islanders (from CGY)--D, Ty Smith. Not even Snow, were he still GM, could pass on Smith at this spot in the draft. It's a new era on the back-end in the National Hockey League with elite-skating/offensive-minded puckmovers being the d-man d'jour and Lamoriello knows the score. Size doesn't matter, which is good for the 5' 10" 170 lb. Smith who racked up 73 points (14+59) in 69 games for the Spokane Chiefs of the rough and tumble Western Hockey League. Those totals were second in the league amongst defensemen to David Quenneville, an Isles seventh-round pick (200th) from last year.
13. Dallas Stars--C, Barret Hayton. The host city for this year's NHL Draft wasn't planning on making a splash and sticks to best player available. Last year the Stars made a huge jump via the draft lottery moving up five spots to land defenseman Miro Heiskanen at No. 3. It was manna from heaven and although it won't help them find a goalie, Heiskanen, who immediately jumped to the top of the prospect pool, will make any goalie's life a bit easier. So will Hayton, who's a well-rounded, two-way center likened to Patrice Bergeron. That kind of player will also balance out the projected return of winger Valeri Nichushkin, the 2013 10th-overall pick who left for the KHL in a huff when things weren't going his way. Although Hayton isn't the flashiest player, he skates very well and has solid offensive acumen (21 goals and 39 assists in 63 games last year.)
14. Philadelphia Flyers (from STL)--LW, Joel Farabee. The Flyboys have nine picks in the 2018 NHL Draft including two first-rounders which will add to a deep prospect pool that includes plenty of depth on defense. It's a good thing for them as defensemen have been flying off the board leaving plenty of solid forward prospects to choose from. This is a very strong Flyers organization and although they won't need to worry about President Trump uninviting them to a championship gathering at the White House in the next year or two, the future beyond that looks very, very promising. Enter LW, Joel Farabee, a 6'0" 161 lb. product of the USNTDP. The Cicero, NY native has the ability to cut to open ice and the skill to finish or set up. He plays a 200' game, is said to be a high-character player and captained the U.S. U-18 team. Sounds like a real good fit as a future Fly-boy.
15. Florida Panthers--C, Joe Veleno. The Cats prospect pool is loaded with forwards, three of which rest atop their rankings, but they can't pass on center Veleno who is the best player on the board. Although Florida is still feeling the pangs of Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, along with former head coach Gerrard Gallant (whom they kicked to the street,) helping lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup Final, there's lot to look forward to with this team. Veleno was granted exceptional status in the QMJHL as a 15 yr. old and was projected to be a top center. Although it hasn't gone swimmingly for him, Veleno still has great speed and an excellent set of tools despite not having the creativity or production of a top-five pick. Some think that in the right situation and with the right chemistry, he can be a force. Perhaps Florida is that place.