Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-12-2018
16. Colorado Avalanche--LHD, Mattias Samuelsson. Colorado's rebuild is going swimmingly and they've been reaping the benefits of trading Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene. Nikita Zadorov and JT Compher from Buffalo (O'Reilly,) plus a very young Samuel Girard played roles (some prominent, like Zadorov) for the 'Lanche this season and they loaded up with draft picks in the process. In fact they had so many young picks and prospects that they could conceivably hatch a trade with Buffalo to bring Ryan O'Reilly back. Ha ha. Just kidding. Colorado has some serious talent up front but they could still use some help on the back end. Luckily this draft is deep with defensemen and they literally decide to go heavy on the left side by drafting Samuelsson, a 6'4" 218 lb. d-man who's the son of Cup-winning defenseman, Kjell, who was a defensive defenseman for the Pittsburg Penguins in the early 90's.
17. New Jersey Devils--LW, Grigori Denisenko. The Devils have been on a roll since GM Ray Shero came aboard in 2015. Shero was downright devilish when he hosed the Edmonton Oilers in a trade for LW, Taylor Hall, something that got the franchise off and running. That and a jump from No. 5 to No. 1 in the 2017 draft to select Nico Hischier was enough to catch the attention of the NHL's top bandwagoner, Justin Bieber. "Sup, Selena?" was the tweet from Hall to Gomez after she was seen in Bieber's Devils jersey back in November. Methinks Hall has a real jersey worn by a real NHL'er for Gomez, you know, since her and the Beibs are now on the outs. Hall and a career-best 93 points (39+54) while Hischier and free agent college defenseman Will Butcher were in the top ten in rookie scoring and the Devils made the playoffs. Although there was no shot at the first-overall this year, the Devils do land a Shero-type player in Denisenko who has great speed and skills while oozing offense. Coach John Hynes likes to call hockey "controlled chaos," and reminds Hall that it's a thought for what happens on the ice and it's best to keep chaos out of one's personal life. Hall's girlfriend Rachel agrees.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets--RW, Vitaly Kravtsov. Columbus is loaded with talent thanks to some stout drafting by GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Co. They're loaded up and down the lineup and well into their prospect pool, but they're still struggling with deeper talent up-front and haven't found the right mix to get them past the first round of the playoffs. The top-end forwards (read, winger) they could use is up at the top of the draft and the player they'll be taking at No. 18 won't help immediately. Kekalainen can find talent anywhere and this time it's off to Russia where the very talented Kravtsov just set a KHL record for points in the playoffs by a U-20 player. His 11 points bested by two the high of nine that was previously held by Evgeni Kuznetzov and Valeri Nichushkin. Although the Nikita Filatov situation a few years back may still have lingering affects in Buckeye Country (the Jackets have selected exactly two Russians since 2010, a 6th-rounder in 2016 and a 3rd rounder in 2017,) Kekalainen pulls the trigger on Kravtsov and may end up with the steal of the 2018 draft.
19. Philadelphia Flyers--RW, Serron Noel. It's hard for them to resist the raw talent Noel, who played for the Oshawa General (OHL) as a 17 yr. old. Twenty-eight teams interviewed him at the NHL Combine, according to Kris Baker of sabresprospects.com, as teams were intrigued by his 6'5" 203 lb. frame and the ability to anchor in front of, and produce from, the front of the net. Noel is at least a few years away from the NHL and with the Flyers prospect pool as deep as it is, they'll be able to develop Noel at a pace that suits him.
20. Los Angeles Kings--C, Rasmus Kupari. Had this been the 2014 LA Kings, they may have bemoaned missing out on a powerforward like Noel, but this is 2018 and GM Rob Blake is moving his team more towards speed. The traditional western conference "heavies" the Kings were built upon went to the playoffs with last month were overtaken by the hornet's nest that was the Vegas Golden Knights. Although the Knights didn't have a lot of top-end talent they buzzed around the Kings and disposed of them in a four-game sweep which included a 56-shot onslaught in Game-2. LA gets a lucky here as Kupari, an explosive skater with pure offensive skills, drops to them at No. 20 where they snatch him up. Kupari , who played in Finland's top professional league as a 17/18 yr. old last season, should eventually compliment their highly skilled (and highly paid) beast of a center in captain Anze Kopitar.