5th Overall: Los Angeles Kings
While the previous 4 entries should be quite happy with where they’re drafting, the Kings and the team that follows them are likely quite disappointed. Falling 3 spots in the draft due to the lottery (Colorado did as well, but since they acquired their pick in a lopsided trade they were kinda playing with house money) Los Angeles and Detroit were looking to cash out after disastrous seasons and fate just wasn’t on their side.
The Kings do get quite the consolation prize, however, scooping up the winger from Russia, Vasili Podkolzin, who is ranked as the 3rd best prospect in the draft by most. The reason I think Podkolzin will fall a bit is due to the fact he is under contract in the KHL for another 2 years and being a native Russian, you always run the risk of him not fully committing to a North American game, but if he does… watch out.
A forward who plays hard in all 3 zones, possesses a skill set that makes scouts salivate, high-end offensive abilities, high-end defensive abilities and a physical edge that will make him a force to play against. Podkolzin is ranked as the 3rd best prospect for a reason and Los Angeles needs a player with the talent that he possesses.
6th Overall: Detroit Red Wings
Time for a bit of an off the board pick. Detroit could badly use a high-end defenseman here, and while they’re probably praying that Byram will fall to them, assuming he doesn’t, I think Victor Soderstrom will be their man. The Wings have a glut of offensive talent under the age of 23 and it’s only going to get better with the likely addition of Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen next season (Not to mention an off-season headed by who I think is the best GM in the entire NHL Steve Yzerman).
The defensive side of things though isn’t quite as certain. They have early season wonder Dennis Cholowski who played 52 games for the Wings this season, making a major name for himself in the early stages of the season before simmering down a bit. They also have Jared McIssac and Gustav Lindstrom both 2nd round picks in 2018 and 2017 respectively. But, they lack a true blue-chip prospect and I think Victor Soderstrom could be that for them.
A two-way defender who has great offensive ability while also maintaining a firm grasp on the defensive side of things, Soderstrom I don’t think is the best player available but I do think he’s the type of player that Yzerman will covet and would make a good first pick for the newly named GM.