The NHL Entry Draft telecast begins at 4 p.m. You can follow along with all the action here in our NHL Draft 2018 liveblog.

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7:39 p.m. A few more quick picks to bring us up to speed. With the 26th pick, the Ottawa Senators select Jacob Bernard-Docker. At 27, the Chicago Blackhawks take defenceman Nicolas Beaudin, At 28, the New York Rangers take defenceman Nils Lundkvist. And at 29, the Maple Leafs, who traded down to make the pick, take blueliner Rasmus Sandin from the Soo Greyhounds.

The big takeaway from this year’s first round: teams are no longer cowed by undersized defencemen. They value speed and skill in a way the league never has before. It’s why Noah Dobson fell to 12th overall. Too big, I guess? Hockey is weird.

Also: that’s three Rasmuses in the first round. Want your kid to make the big show? Name him Rasmus.

Just two more picks to go.

7:21 p.m. – More Quinn Hughes. He wants to play for the Canucks yesterday.

Well that’s fun.

7:15 p.m. – Weak. It’s another draft pick swap. Someone trade for Erik Karlsson already.

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, who is very smart, turns one draft pick into two. Toronto gives up the 25th pick and gets the 29th overall pick and the 76th overall from the St. Louis Blues.

With the pick, the Blues select German winger Dominik Bokk, who has one of the best names in the draft. Granted, he’s no Jett Woo, but Bokk is a great last name. Lively. Fun to say. Onomatopoeic.

7:11 p.m. – Anaheim and Minnesota drafted 23rd and 24th, respectively, selecting Swedes Isac Lundestrom and Filip Johansson.

BUT WHO CARES because the Toronto Maple Leafs are next, and they’re trading the 25th pick. TO WHOM?!

7:00 p.m. – Corey Pronman, the Athletic’s prospect guy, had this to say about Quinn Hughes after the Canucks made their selection:

In Hughes, Vancouver gets, in my mind, the second most talented player in the draft when it comes to pure skill set. Now he’s ranked fifth on my board because he’s a tiny defenseman, and there are risks in his game and projection that come with that, but boy is he dynamic. He has the ability to be a top pair/PP1 impact player for the Canucks long term. Given how well he played at the Worlds this spring, he could arguably make the jump to the NHL next season, 2019-20 at the latest. He provides an immediate organizational boost at defense to an NHL club and farm system that desperately needs someone with his talent at the defense position. 

Next season, you say? If that’s the case, the Canucks will need to open up some room on the left side, where Alex Edler, Michael Del Zotto, Derrick Pouliot, and Ben Hutton all line up, not to mention prospect Olli Juolevi, who could make the team next year. Granted, if Hughes turns prop and shows better than these guys at training camp, which isn’t entirely unlikely, that’s a great problem to have.

6:53 p.m. – With pick no. 21, the San Jose Sharks have selected high-risk defenceman Ryan Merkley, who has a ton of skill but some defensive deficiencies and so-called “attitude problems” that scared teams away from him. He was on at least two teams’ “do not draft” lists, but if he turns out, he could be a huge steal for the Sharks.

But whatever about that. THERE’S A TRADE. Set to pick 22nd, the Ottawa Senators have traded the pick to the New York Rangers for picks no. 26 and 48.

Hmm. I thought that was gonna be more exciting.

In any case, the Rangers used the pick to select 6’4″ defenceman K’Andre Miller, who is my dude.

6:44 p.m. – Rounding out the top 20, the Los Angeles Kings have selected Finnish centre Rasmus Kupari. Pretty good year for the name Rasmus.

Here’s your top 20:

6:40 p.m. – Here’s some more love for Quinn Hughes, whose skating ability blew people away this year and garnered at least one truly batcrap insane comparison.

Meanwhile, USNTDP U17 coach John Wroblewski said this about Hughes: “His acceleration and escapability are second to none. He has the best 1-on-1 instincts I’ve ever seen. Through the neutral zone, he darts and slashes, rarely making a poor read on when to join [the attack]. In the offensive zone, he’s like a point guard. He breaks people down and makes them look silly.”

And then there’s this from former Canuck turned hockey executive Jeff Tambellini:

Bobby Orr, huh? That’s some kinda comparison.

6:32 p.m. – The Colorado Avalanche pick RW Martin Kaut at No. 16. The New Jersey Devils select defenceman Ty Smith at No. 17. The Columbus Blue Jackets take OHL centre Liam Foudy at 18.

Meanwhile, we still only have one trade today and, to borrow a line from Drake, I’m upset. MAKE A TRADE.

6:17 p.m. – What are the blogs saying about Quinn Hughes? Here’s what Canucks Army had to say about the diminutive defender earlier this month:

Big, hulking, crease-clearing defenders are going the way of the dinosaur for one simple reason: if a defenceman has to clear the crease, he’s already failed to do 95% of his job. That 95%- skating, rushing, passing, transitioning, breaking up plays, etc. – is where Quinn Hughes excels.

If Muggsy Bogues can have a 14-year career in the NBA, you bet Quinn Hughes can be an NHLer. And a damn good one, too. In every meaningful area of the game, he stands apart from every defenceman in this year’s draft not named Rasmus Dahlin. 

The blog, who listed their top 100 prospects leading up to the draft, had Hughes ranked fourth.

6:15 p.m. – The Florida Panthers have selected left winger Grigori Denisenko at 15th overall.

I don’t know much about Denisenko, but I know the Panthers organization well, and can only assume this will turn out to be the wrong thing to have done.

6:10 p.m. – As you wait for something interesting to happen, why not watch highlights of Quinn Hughes? Unlike this draft now that all the big names are gone, he’s very fun to watch.

Here’s something a scout said about Hughes recently: “The final 4-6 weeks of his season, he was the best player in college hockey and it wasn’t even close.”

That’s especially impressive when you consider he was also the youngest player in the NCAA.

6:09 p.m. – The Philadelphia Flyers have selected winger Joel Farabee at no. 14, but who cares about that anymore? Someone needs to make a trade. All the talked-about players are gone, and suddenly, the draft telecast has become very, very dry.

Now would be a good time for the Canucks to acquire a centre or something.

6:00 p.m. – The host team drafted 13th overall, and Dallas played to the fans in a big way, introducing Jamie Benn and Mike Modano to make the pick. Then they made a weird selection: Ty Dellandrea, a centre from the OHL’s Flint Firebirds.

It’s another reach!

Strange choice, but sure, why not?

5:54 p.m. – The New York Islanders boasted both the eleventh and twelfth picks, and it couldn’t have worked out better for them, as goalscorer Oliver Wahlstrom and big defenceman Noah Dobson, expected to be gone by the time they were on the clock, were both still there. So they took ’em consecutively.

What a windfall for the Isles, especially as they prepare for the possibility of losing John Tavares next month. Suddenly, they’ve got a pretty decent-looking core, even without him.

5:49 p.m. – Now that the first ten picks have been made, let’s take a breather and review.

5:43 p.m. – The Edmonton Oilers round out the top 10 by selecting defenceman Evan Bouchard, who many felt could go as early as fourth overall.

This is a big get for Edmonton, who have been desperate to improve their blueline for years. Heck, not that long ago, they traded the reigning Hart Trophy winner for a defenceman.

5:40 p.m. – Here’s a fun fact about Quinn Hughes, the newest Vancouver defensive prospect: his brother, Jack, a centre, will be the first overall pick next year. Can the Canucks once again build around a pair of brothers? They aren’t supposed to be very good next year, which will help.

5:37 p.m. – With the no. 9 pick, the New York Rangers have followed Montreal and Arizona in going off the board, selecting KHL winger Vitali Kravtsov.

Ranked 19th by TSN’s draft experts, this is a bit of a surprise. But I like it, because as a Vancouverite who remembers 1994, I don’t like the Rangers.

5:35 p.m. – Did you know Quinn Hughes is fast? Here is a convincing GIF.

Provided his small stature doesn’t render him a defensive liability — something that seems unlikely with so many other undersized defencemen making an impact in the NHL these days — he’s exactly what the Canucks need.

5:32 p.m. – The Chicago Blackhawks have selected a smallish defenceman of their own, taking Swede Adam Boqvist at eighth overall.

Boqvist is a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect. Some people felt he might be the best defenceman in the draft. Others felt he was the likeliest of all the top blueline prospects to bust. Only time will tell.

5:31 p.m. – Jim Benning is over the moon about getting Quinn Hughes.

“We love Quinn Hughes,” Benning told Elliotte Friedman on the draft floor after making the pick.

I’m so excited for our fans right now. I didn’t think he was going to be there but I’m so happy that he was. Because with the Boesers and Petterssons and Gaudettes and all of our skilled forwards, to add a guy who can do what (Hughes) does from the backend and carry the puck is very exciting.”

“I’m over the moon right now,” he added, “because I think he’s going to be an exciting player for a long time for us.”

5:25 p.m. – With the seventh overall pick, the Canucks have selected defenceman University of Michigan defenceman Quinn Hughes.

Widely-regarded as the best skater in the draft, Hughes provides the Canucks with something they desperately, desperately need: offence from the backend.

He’s also tiny. He looks about twelve years old. But don’t be fooled: Hughes is excellent, and NHL defenders need not be as big and beefy as they’ve been in the past.

5:20 p.m. – The Detroit Red Wings have selected Filip Zadina, widely-regarded as the third-best forward in this draft, at sixth overall. That means the Canucks can choose any of the highly-regarded defencemen available in this year’s draft. Every single one is still available.

Or they could trade down and still get their man. Or maybe they trip over their own pants and draft a goaltender or something. Who ever knows with these guys.

5:15 p.m. – Like I was saying: run by dopes. The Arizona Coyotes have gone even further off the board than Montreal in their pursuit of a centre, drafting Barrett Hayton of the Soo Greyhounds at fifth overall. He wasn’t even expected to go in the top ten. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had him going at 11.

Canucks fans are freaking out.

5:10 p.m. – The Ottawa Senators have selected feisty winger Brady Tkachuk, brother of Matthew and son of Keith, with the fourth overall selection. If the next two teams draft defencemen, the Canucks will find themselves in a position to take Pavel Zadina, believed by many pundits to be the third-best player in this draft.

This is yet another reason I never minded the Canucks selecting seventh. Many NHL teams, especially the bad ones drafting ahead of them, are run by dopes. A very good player is going to fall to Vancouver.

5:04 p.m. – With the third overall pick, the Montreal Canadiens have done what many expected/feared they would do, drafting for organizational need rather than taking the consensus best player available. It’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi, ranked the eight-best prospect by Canadiens blog Habs Eyes On the Prize.

They reached, much to the chagrin of some.

Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t. But it leaves a higher-rated prospect available to the teams behind them, and increases the options for the Canucks at seven, especially among that second crop of defencemen after Dahlin, which is still untouched.

4:55 p.m. – With the second overall pick, the Hurricanes have selected Andrei Svechnikov of the OHL’s Barrie Colts. That fills a major organizational need for Carolina, which is better players.

Now we wait on the Canadiens.

And make fun of them in the meantime:

4:49 p.m. – As expected, the Sabres have selected Rasmus Dahlin first overall. It’s great news for the Sabres, who are getting a bona fide no. 1 defenceman, and terrible news for Dahlin, who has to live in Buffalo.

4:45 p.m. – The draft begins, as always, with the ceremonial booing of the commissioner, and now the Buffalo Sabres are on the clock. Here we flippin’ go.

4:30 p.m. – The drafting part of the draft is about to begin. Let’s hope the first and second picks are done quickly, since there’s little intrigue there. Rasmus Dahlin is going to Buffalo. Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov is expected to go to Carolina at second overall.

The fun starts with Montreal at number three. It’s difficult to know what the Canadiens are doing at the best of times, which is why it’s downright impossible to know what they’re going to do with this pick. Some people have them reaching for Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Maybe they take a defenceman. Maybe Marc Bergevin trades the pick, one-for-one, for a worse pick, since that would be in keeping with how he makes trades these days.

(Much of the Draft Day speculation leading up to today has hinged on Bergevin’s Canadiens doing something dumb. It has been known to happen.)

Either way, whatever Bergevin and the Canadiens do will have an immediate impact on the Canucks, as it could cause the other three teams ahead of them to rejig their draft boards and, potentially, leave a player for the Canucks they didn’t expect to be there at seven.

4:15 p.m. – Big news from Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre. The Canucks are reportedly standing pat.

Provided this isn’t just some sort of fakeout from Jim Benning, this is an unsurprising development. Unless they’re offered something just bonkers in return, the Canucks need to keep the pick.

4:00 p.m. – It begins! Sort of.

The picks don’t start for a little while yet, but the action has already begun. The Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals have made the first trade of the day, sending defenceman Brooks Orpik and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a second round pick, the 47th overall selection.

Shedding Orpik contract and it’s $5.5M cap hit could free up the space necessary for the Capitals to re-sign impending free agent defenceman John Carlson. That’s ideal, because he’s a much better defenceman, and an integral part of the Capitals’ lethal powerplay.

As for the Avalanche, speculation is that Orpik will be bought out, but one wonders what this trade means for their goaltending situation. Is starter Semyon Varlamov about to get moved? Or will Grubauer simply be reprising his backup role in the Mile High City and biding his time? Varlamov is a UFA next summer, after all.

3:00 p.m. – With the seventh overall selection at Friday’s NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, the Vancouver Canucks find themselves in an enviable position.

Not the most enviable position, mind you. That distinction goes to the Buffalo Sabres, who won April’s draft lottery and, with it, the right to draft Swedish blueliner Rasmus Dahlin, unanimously believed to be the best player on the board, and a potentially generational player.

But while Dahlin stands head and shoulders above the rest of his draft class, so do nine or 10 other players. In other words, no matter what unfolds ahead of Vancouver’s turn at the podium, they will be getting a very good prospect.

The club’s most obvious need is a defenceman. Olli Juolevi remains a tantalizing prospect, and Troy Stecher is certainly an NHL-quality defender; but after that, the depth chart drops off considerably. Fortunately, this year’s draft is stacked with rearguards, with Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson, Quinn Hughes and Adam Boqvist all expected to be top 10 selections.

That said, anyone who watched the Canucks last season will tell you that they have needs everywhere. You can never have too many good forwards, for instance, and Vancouver is nowhere close to that conundrum anyway. If the best player available is a forward, it would behoove them to simply select him and focus on the blueline in later rounds.

Or maybe Vancouver trades the pick to move up, or down, or out of the first round entirely. Jim Benning has been working the phones, and according to several rumours, he’s not completely opposed to surrendering the seventh overall pick if he can find the right return. It sounds imprudent, especially considering drafting, not trading, has been Vancouver’s biggest strength during Benning’s tenure. But this Canucks management team is not known for its prudence, which may be why these rumours persist.

Whatever happens, Friday promises to be a busy day — so much so that we made you this liveblog, to keep track of all the action. Follow along with us here, as we react to all the happenings and shenanigans from the draft floor in Dallas.

hmooney@postmedia.com


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