The most fascinating group of players in this draft class has to be the USNDTP.
Without a doubt, Oliver Wahlstrom will be the first name to be selected and then after that Joel Farabee. Once you get passed those two names, it’s anyone’s guess.
On the back-end, Bode Wilde was always seen as the top defenceman from the program but over the last few weeks, K’Andre Miller has seen his stock rise. It’s always a balance to weigh the potential of the prospects and who they are at this moment. But Miller offers a sky-eye ceiling that has seen his draft ranking climb to close out the season and one of the victims of that rise may be his teammate Wilde.
It isn’t a reflection of the type of game that Wilde has but more about pundits getting excited about what Miller could provide.
After that – players like Adam Samuelsson, Matthias Samuelsson and Ty Emberson will hear their names called in the second, third or later rounds. It’s an interesting group of defenceman that present value in where they are ranked. The program lacked a stud offensive defencemen but all five of the mentioned players project to having an NHL career in some capacity. Spencer Stastney in another defender who a team could take a flyer on in the later rounds.
Among the forward ranks, Wahlstrom and Farabee will hear their names called on Friday and then we’ll see a break.
It does get interesting with Jake Wise and Jonathan Gruden being a regular in top 60 rankings. Wise missed some time with a broken collarbone that limited his play but there is still that untapped potential. Gruden saw some time with Wahlstrom and Farabee before 2019 draft eligible Jack Hughes moved up to the U18 program. Although he may not an offensive player at the next level, he provides some versatility in his skillset that can allow him to move up and down the lineup as needed.
Some other forwards that likely hear their names called by the end of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft include Patrick Giles, Alex Turcotte, Gavin Hain, and Trevor Janicke.
Last season, the program lacked any high end players like previous years but they were well represented on the draft floor and have seen success in their draft plus one seasons. This year, the program has churned out high-end talent with some great complementary players that are really intriguing options on the second day of the draft.
When in doubt, teams should just look at the players from the program as there is a track record of success for them, no matter where they are taken in the draft. The order of how these players will be selected may still be up in the air but all of them are intriguing and almost certainly will all be taken off the board before the day is done.