Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-13-2018
21. San Jose Sharks--LHD, Jared McIsaac. First off, long-time GM Doug Wilson traded for and eventually re-signed former Sabre LW Evander Kane. Now news has come out that the Sharks interviewed 35 yr. old pond-jumping left winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who wants back into the NHL. In addition to that there's even been talk about the Sharks being a possible destination for John Tavares. Buying out Paul Martin and not re-signing Joe Thornton will help create some room for these grandiose plans but it would take some crafty cap configuring for them to accommodate some pretty pricey players. Luckily they've drafted extremely well to the point where there's a pool of cost-controlled youngins ready to contribute at the NHL level. Names like LeBlanc, Meier, and Ryan are ready to roll (or are already rolling) and they add another solid prospect in McIsaac, a 6'1" 196 lb. defenseman and reigning QMJHL Defenseman of the Year. Although offense isn't his forte, he's solid on the back end, very agile on his skates and he still has time to grow into his frame to become a physical presence on the back end.
22. Ottawa Senators (from PIT)--RW, Martin Kaut. Ottawa's been getting a bad rap lately and it seems as if much of it is deserved. Melnyk is one thing, as billionaire owners have their own mindset (regardless of country) which is usually taken in stride, but AGM Randy Lee's debacle at the NHL Combine really leaves a black mark on the front office. Now Erik Karlsson's wife files for a restraining order against team mate Mike Hoffman's girlfriend? And you thought Buffalo was bad when Evander Kane was in town? This is looks like it will be the end of Karlsson's time in Ottawa which will put the Sens in full rebuild-mode. Drafting an impact player fourth-overall certainly helps them down the road as does landing Kaut who rose up from mid-term rankings but falls a bit to No. 22. The solid two-way play of the 18 yr. old right winger who played in the top Czech league makes for an intriguing pick here. Kaut isn't flashy, but he's quick and is smart in all zones plus he has some finish to his game, which is good for the Sens as they'll need solid foundational pieces as they move on from the present soap opera.
23. Anaheim Ducks--C, Isac Lundestrom. The Ducks know how to draft and although they're not quite at a Detroit Red Wings level they continue to bring in quality NHL players and continue to make the playoffs despite a draft history that had them in the top-10 only three times since 2005. Anaheim still has a very deep talent pool on defense and have been drafting plenty of centers lately but still take Lundestrom, a speedy, versatile player with an NHL frame who plays a strong, two-way, north/south game and can also play the wing. The model of consistency that has been the Ducks since their 2007 Stanley Cup win is being tested right now as rumors of big changes are swirling. RW Corey Perry is said to be on the block and C, Ryan Kesler might miss all of next season because of bad hips. Both are 33 yrs. old and have seen better days with Perry possibly done in Anaheim.
24. Minnesota Wild--LHD, Rasmus Sandin. New GM Paul Fenton came from the Nashville Predators organization, the model for the new blueline approach to the NHL game, and served under Preds GM David Poile who was never afraid to pull off a big trade (see Shea Weber and Seth Jones trades.) Welcome to Minnesota where it's assumed that Fenton will do both. He's got his work cut out for him with the Wild, not so much talent-wise, but building a roster that can make it past the first round of the playoffs, something they've been unable to do the last three years. Will he blow it up? Or will he slowly disassemble this group of playoff underachievers? Perhaps because of his background we can expect at least one big move this off season, maybe at the draft. The Wild head into next week with a good pool of defensemen but you can never have enough good d-prospects and they find one in Sandin. Although he's the third Rasmus taken at this draft he's still a damn good player who thinks the game extremely well, is solid in his own end and is a great puck-mover, something Fenton is sure to love. Sandin crossed the pond and quickly became a top-pairing, all-around defenseman on a stacked Sault Ste. Marie squad and his selection by the Wild is a pretty good way to start the Paul Fenton-era in Minnesota.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs--RHD, Ryan Merkely. The Leafs have been propped up as the model for a successful rebuild, and they've earned it so far. Team president Brendan Shanahan built the organization with some of the best minds in the business which included Hall of Famers and analytics gurus leading the hockey operations. Although GM/Senior Advisor Lou Lamoriello bailed and it's said that head coach Mike Babcock is having some issues with his young stars, it's still the Leafs lead by three-time Cup-winner Shanahan atop and an almost enviable hockey department. New GM Kyle Dubas, who was promoted from AGM, is an analytics guru who served under an old-school type in Lamoriello providing a nice balance. But with 'Sweet Lou' gone, Dubas can't help himself when selecting Merkley as the Leafs need defense and the 18 yr. old checks all the analytics boxes in a dramatic way. Merkley has it all in the offensive zone and eventually it will be up to Babcock to bring out the full potential of a dynamic offensive-minded defenseman that is said to have issues, which is why he's dropped this far in the draft.