The real suspense at the seven-round NHL Draft on Friday and Saturday in Dallas may come from the anticipated flurry of trades since Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is the consensus No. 1 pick and Russian-born right wing Andrei Svechnikov is a close No. 2.
Meanwhile, the Senators’ Erik Karlsson, the Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly, the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk and Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer are among the prominent players who could possibly be moved.
Round one will be Friday night at American Airlines Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m.. Rounds two through seven will be Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.
“It’s very solid,” analyst Pierre McGuire, part of the NBC Sports Network broadcasting team for the draft, said of the talent pool. “It’s weighted toward the top half. The top part of the draft is very good. It’s a solid draft. The 2019 and 2020 drafts, if they project the way they are now, those are off the charts, really, really good.”
The Islanders have two first-round picks, at Nos. 11 and 12, while the Rangers have selections Nos. 9, 26 and 28.
Here is Newsday’s mock draft for the first round:
1. Buffalo Sabres: RASMUS DAHLIN, D, Frolunda (Swedish Hockey League). 6-2, 181. He’s got all the tools. Look, he played against men in the SHL this winter and had seven goals and 20 points in 41 games. Enough said.
2. Carolina Hurricanes: ANDREI SVECHNIKOV, RW, Barrie (OHL). 6-2, 188. Two-way forward netted 40 goals in 44 games for Barrie and is rated the top North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau.
3. Montreal Canadiens: FILIP ZADINA, RW, Halifax (QMJHL). 6-0, 195. Pure scorer had 44 goals for Halifax and seven in seven games at the World Juniors for Czech Republic, but Habs have choices here.
4. Ottawa Senators: EVAN BOUCHARD, D, London (OHL). 6-2, 196. If the Sens are serious about trading Karlsson, drafting a righthanded-shooting, offensively skilled D-man makes sense.
5. Arizona Coyotes: BRADY TKACHUK, LW, Boston University. 6-3, 196. Dad Keith played 10 seasons for Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise, so if he’s here, the pressure will be on to take him.
6. Detroit Red Wings: QUINN HUGHES, D, Michigan. 5-10, 173. Wolverines star won bronze with both the U.S. World Junior Championship and U.S. World Championship teams. He’s not big, but he can play.
7. Vancouver Canucks: ADAM BOQVIST, D, Brynas (Swedish Junior). 6-0, 165. Rated by CSB as the No. 2 European skater (behind Dahlin), he’s been compared with Karlsson. But he’ll probably need a year or two before he’s ready for the NHL.
8. Chicago Blackhawks: JESPERI KOTKANIEMI, C, Assat (Finland). 6-2, 181. Began rising up mock draft boards late, and could go as high as No. 3 to Montreal. Had 10 goals and 19 assists in 57 games in Finland’s top professional league.
9. Rangers: OLIVER WAHLSTROM, RW, US-U18 (NTDP). 6-1, 208. Another pure goalscorer, who is committed to Boston College next season.
10. Edmonton Oilers: NOAH DOBSON, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL). 6-3, 177. Offensive-minded defenseman had 17 goals and 69 points and led his team to the Memorial Cup title.
11. Islanders: TY SMITH, D, Spokane (WHL). 5-11, 176. Has thrived in both ends of the ice and particularly as a power-play quarterback in the physical WHL despite being a tad undersized.
12. Islanders(from Calgary): BARRETT HAYTON, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). 6-1, 190. A playmaking, unselfish two-way center who projects as a top-nine NHL forward and had 21 goals and 39 assists in 63 games last season.
13. Dallas Stars: JOE VELENO, C, Drummondville (QMJHL). 6-1, 194. Some draft experts believe this explosive skater might be the best center available.
14. Philadelphia Flyers(from St. Louis): RASMUS KUPARI, C, Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga). 6-2, 189. One of the top skaters available in the draft and best with the puck on his stick, though he must adjust to the North American game.
15. Florida Panthers: JOEL FARABEE, LW, US-U18 (NTDP). 6-0, 162. The product of Cicero, New York, is one of the top, two-way forwards available and had 15 goals and 25 assists in 26 USHL games last season. He’s committed to Boston University.
16. Colorado Avalanche: SERRON NOEL, RW, Oshawa (OHL). 6-5, 204. Noel, who turns 18 on Aug. 8, has scouts excited by his size and potential as a bruising power forward. He has a scoring touch, too, with 28 goals and 25 assists in 62 games.
17. Devils: BODE WILDE, D, US-U18 (NTDP). 6-2, 198. A sturdy defenseman, who has perhaps the most upside among the Team USA d-men, plays right into GM Ray Shero’s wheelhouse.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets: VITALI KRAVTSOV, RW, Chelybinsk (KHL). 6-3, 184. The third-ranked European skater was the KHL rookie of the year and his strong north-south game would likely make coach John Tortorella smile.
19. Philadelphia Flyers: GRIGORI DENISENKO, LW, Yaroslav-2 (Russia-Jr). 5-11, 172. Consistency concerns may keep clubs from drafting the flashy wing higher than this but his skating and playmaking are first class.
20. Los Angeles Kings: RASMUS SANDIN, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). 5-11, 186. The Swede adapted well to North America with 12 goals and 33 assists in 51 junior hockey games, plus scouts love his hockey IQ.
21. San Jose Sharks: LIAM FOUDY, C, London (OHL). 6-0, 174. One of the most intriguing draft prospects as he jumped in the CSB North American skater rankings from 91 at midseason to 19 in the final listings with 24 goals and 16 assists in 65 games. Still, some project him to go as late as the third round.
22. Ottawa Senators(from Pittsburgh): JARED MCISAAC, D, Halifax (QMJHL). 6-1, 189. The Senators are likely going to need defensemen, and McIsaac’s skating and mobility allow him to carry the puck up ice on the rush – sort of like Karlsson.
23. Anaheim Ducks: RYAN MCLEOD, C, Mississauga (OHL). 6-2, 206. His older brother and junior hockey teammate, Michael, was selected 12th overall by the Devils in 2016. Ryan McLeod is also an excellent skater and playmaker.
24. Minnesota Wild: ISAC LUNDESTROM, C, Lulea (Swedish Hockey League). 6-0, 183. Sweden’s top-line center at the World Junior Championships, Lundestrom had six goals and nine assists in 42 games for Lulea as the pass-first prospect made the move to the middle from wing.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: MATTIAS SAMUELSSON, D, US-U18 (NTDP). 6-4, 218. A physical defenseman who has committed to Western Michigan and possesses strong bloodlines. His father, Kjell, played 813 games for the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins and Lightning.
26. Rangers(from Boston): AKIL THOMAS, C, Niagara (OHL). 5-11,177. Playmaking center whose dad played professionally in the minors. Couple years away, most likely.
27. Chicago Blackhawks(from Nashville): MARTIN KAUT, RW, Pardubice (Czech). 6-2, 176. Fourth-ranked European skater, according to CSB, after a strong season in the top pro league in Czech Republic. Was No. 11 at midterm.
28. Rangers(from Tampa Bay): TY DELLANDREA, C, Flint (OHL). 6-0, 184. Two-way center was the best player on a bad team. Jumped from No. 76 in the CSB midterm rankings for North American skaters to No. 25 at season’s end.
29. St. Louis Blues(from Winnipeg): ALEXANDER ALEXEYEV, D, Red Deer (WHL). 6-4, 196. Not a standout, but solid, with a big body. Two-way player who is very reliable in his own end.
30. Detroit Red Wings(from Vegas): K’ANDRE MILLER, D, US U18, (NTDP). 6-3, 198. Committed to the University of Wisconsin, he switched to defense three years ago. Physical player who tested very well at the NHL Skills Combine.
31. Washington Capitals: SAMPO RANTA, LW, Sioux City (USHL). 6-2, 199. Also committed to Wisconsin, he’s a big-bodied winger who goes to the dirty areas and knows how to finish. Raw, and will benefit from a couple years in college.