The Top WHL Players Eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft

The 2018 NHL Draft is nearly 7 months away but it is never too early to take a look at who may be the top players taken when the 31 teams converge in Dallas, Texas next June. Today, we take a look at the top players available from the Western Hockey League.

TOP DEFENSEMEN

1. TY SMITH – SPOKANE
GAMES: 20
GOALS: 3
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 15
TOTAL POINTS: 21
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 31.34%

2. JETT WOO – MOOSE JAW
GAMES: 18
GOALS: 6
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 7
TOTAL POINTS: 17
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 20.99%

3. CALEN ADDISON – LETHBRIDGE
GAMES: 18
GOALS: 4
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 7
TOTAL POINTS: 18
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 31.58%

4. ALEXANDER ALEXEYEV – RED DEER
GAMES: 12
GOALS: 1
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 4
TOTAL POINTS: 11
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 15.71%

Ty Smith is the runaway pick as the top player to come out of the WHL in the 2018 NHL Draft and has been nestled in the top 10 in many of the pundit’s early draft rankings. He has been extremely consistent in the first quarter of the season. 18 of his 21 points have been of the primary variety, meaning it was his goal or his first assist that led to the goal. This means that he is driving play and has been in on almost 1/3 of Spokane’s goals.

The other three defensemen on this list are a little closer and could be interchangeable at this point in the season. Jett Woo has been the stronger player, but he has been out injured for the last few games and could fall down the draft board if he is out for an extended period of time. Alexander Alexeyev has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Deer Rebels this year and if he keeps up this strong play, he could move up from a late 2nd to early 3rd round pick to in the conversation as a late 1st rounder. Calen Addison has been moving the offense more than the other three guys, but the defensive side of his game hasn’t been as strong His Lethbridge Hurricanes team hasn’t been as dominant as they’d like to be and they’d probably like Addison to help keep the puck out of the net as much as they like him putting the puck in it.

TOP FORWARDS

FONSTAD_Cole-Green-e1508110690802-1024x640

1. COLE FONSTAD – C – PRINCE ALBERT
GAMES: 19
GOALS: 7
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 14
TOTAL POINTS: 26
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 38.81%

2. KYLE TOPPING – C – KELOWNA
GAMES: 20
GOALS: 8
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 3
TOTAL POINTS: 21
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 27.27%

3. RILEY SUTTER – RW – EVERETT
GAMES: 20
GOALS: 8
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 7
TOTAL POINTS: 15
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 25.86%

4. MILOS ROMAN – C – VANCOUVER
GAMES: 20
GOALS: 6
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 5
TOTAL POINTS: 20
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 25.97%

Cole Fonstad has already matched his point total from last season – 26 – and has done it in 50 fewer games, so it is safe to say that he is starting to come into his own as a playmaking center for the Prince Albert Raiders. The other three forwards, like the defensemen before them, are all so close that it is hard to rank them accurately this far into the season, but early returns see a strong draft year from Kyle Topping in Kelowna. He doesn’t have many primary points, so the knock on him going into June could be the fact that he is more often a passenger on his line, burying the chances he gets playing on a team with guys like Dillon Dube and Kole Lind. That fact could see his ranking drop as we head into the new year.

Drafting a Sutter is usually not a bad bet, so expect Riley to be picked somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds. The son of Ron had a 35 point jump from his rookie season to last year, and is heading towards another career year. Milos Roman, the Vancouver center from Slovakia, is rated highly on a lot of early lists and is currently scoring at a point-per-game pace, but he is going to need to raise his play to another level if he wants to come out of the June draft as the best forward from the ‘Dub picked. A healthy Tyler Benson will help him reach that goal.

TOP GOALTENDERS

Tendeck

1. DAVID TENDECK – VANCOUVER
GAMES: 10
WINS: 4
LOSSES: 4
GAA: 3.67
SV%: 0.891
SO: 0

2. TODD SCOTT – VANCOUVER
GAMES: 11
WINS: 4
LOSSES: 4
GAA: 3.97
SV%: 0.880
SO: 0

Slim pickings in the goaltender category in regards to the 2018 NHL Draft. The two-some in Vancouver lead the way with the best odds of being picked but at this point, it would be surprising if any team used a pick on them, and it is likely that they would either be picked as 19-year-olds or invited to a team’s training camp and earn a contract that way.

IN REVIEW:

  1. Ty Smith – Spokane
  2. Jett Woo – Moose Jaw
  3. Calen Addison – Lethbridge
  4. Alexander Alexeyev – Red Deer

 

  1. Cole Fonstad – Prince Albert
  2. Kyle Topping – Kelowna
  3. Riley Sutter – Everett
  4. Milos Roman – Vancouver

 

  1. David Tendeck – Vancouver
  2. Todd Scott – Vancouver

 

There are a few omissions which could upset a few people. Moose Jaw’s Luca Burzan has been on a lot of rankings of the WHL’s top draft-eligible forwards, but he hasn’t impressed so far in this young season. With only 2 goals and 9 points in 20 games (on a top team like the Warriors), it is a little disconcerting, and a few other forwards have played better at this point. Chase Wouters, Ryan Chyzowski and Jackson Leppard are all players who receive an honourable mention and could all feasibly hear their name called out by an NHL team in June.

COMING UP LATER THIS WEEK:
We take a look at some players who were passed on in the 2017 Draft who could very well be selected as a 19-year-old in this draft.

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