NHL 2019 Draft Prospects

A Look At The 2019 Top-10 NHL Draft Prospects: Part One

The World Juniors have ended and in a bit of unusual fashion. Finland ended up upsetting Canada and USA for the Gold, Russia earned a Bronze and USA walked away with a Silver medal. Of the three teams that earned medals, all of them rostered a potential top-three pick in the upcoming 2019 NHL draft. The World Juniors is the perfect scenario for the large majority who do not follow these prospects through major juniors or international play to see what they are made of. It sure did not disappoint as the Gold game consisted of the top-two 2019 prospects, Kaappo Kakko and Jack Hughes. As we know, Kakko scored the game-winner and earned gold. Coming ahead of Hughes this time around, but will Hughes be ahead of Kakko come June in Vancouver?

For months now Hughes has been and still is regard as the #1 for the upcoming draft but after a rather weak and short World Juniors, some have second guessed Hughes number one ranking. Therefore let us take a look at the top-10 prospects and where they may fall come June 2019.

  1. Jack Hughes: Aside from playing only four games, Hughes did have four goals in those four games. He currently has 48 points with the US National Development Team (USNTDP) and has dominated the World Junior play in previous years as well collecting 54 points in 27 games for the USTNDP in 2017-2018. All stats and numbers aside, I believe Hughes is an unbelievable skater, has great puck control, sees the game very well and anticipates plays well but my biggest fault with him is his decision making with the puck in tight areas, as well as his size at the professional level. I know we have seen players like Clayton Keller and Johnny Gaudreau be successful in the NHL but Hughes is much like a Patrick Kane but smaller and a lot lighter. He is going to be a top talent in the NHL at some point but in my opinion we may be over shooting Hughes here. What I mean by that is, yes he will be a top-two pick, yes he will be a top point scorer in the NHL but I don’t think he will be a player who comes into the league right away. It would be best for Hughes to be drafted and spend sometime in major juniors, AHL and just take a year to develop a little more.
  2. Kaapo Kakko: Kakko has the size at 6’2, and showed a great World Juniors performance this past week. He collected 5 points in 7 games (2G, 3A). Right now he is playing with TPS Liiga where he has 20 points in 27 games. His best year came in 2017-18 when he 55 points with TPS U20 Liiga in 38 games. Kakko is very strong on his stick, he plays very well below the goal line and is able to make plays in tight areas. He is not as a great skater/playmaker as Hughes but his intangibles like work ethic, size, puck control and board battle ability gives him some separation from the pack. He reminds me a lot of almost a Kevin Hayes, Anders Lee type player. Not flashy with his hands, not an overall great skater but plays great along boards, can score, helps teams maintain and control possession and plays all areas of the ice very well. I would not be surprised to see Kakko potentially go number one depending who is the number one pick.
  3.  Dylan Cozens: This kid is having a great year with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, collecting 55 points in 39 games (23G, 32A). Aside from not having the physical attributes of an NHL player, Cozens does have the size at 6’3. He has been ranked anywhere from 2-5 on scouts reports but for me this type of player is a player that can come into a decent NHL team and help out. It would be best to have him play one more year at the WHL or AHL level after being drafted but Cozens won Rookie of the Year for reason. He is an explosive forward that can play either center or wing, from the report. Cozens would be the Flyers ideal pick, he plays a great 200-foot game, can kill penalties, play the power play, play below the goal line and is quick enough to keep up with the play. He is sometimes overly physical but he is in the right place always and always has his feet moving. I’d suspect this kid to be #3 in 2019 draft.
  4. Vasily Podkolzin: In a offensive driven league Podkolzin makes it in the top-five for sure. He is currently playing in one of Russia’s top-ranked junior leagues the MHL (SKA-1946), he played well in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this year and has played many seasons now for Russia’s international teams possessing a top-six role always. He is regarded to be a solid all around forward, who can set plays up, finish and play defensively. He has all the tools to be an NHL forward but we have seen some trouble with Russian players coming over to the NHL recently which is my only concern for this kid. Scouts have been high on this kid, he sees the play well, thinks the game well and can play the d-zone just as well as the offensive zone. Podkolzin is going to be potentially be a #3 or #4 pick depending what team ends up where. But I can see him being an Ottawa Senator or Los Angeles King next season.
  5. Trevor Zegras: There is not much talk around this kid due to playing in the same program with Jack Hughes, Zegras is falling way under the radar right now. He has been regarded as an “elite center”, right now he has 45 points in 31 games for the US National U18 team and 16 points in 10 games for the USHL’s USNTDP Juniors. Zegras despite his 159lb frame is going to be an expectational center at the NHL level. He is committed Boston University for the 2020 season, but Zegras is a play maker through and through. His passes are nearly always on target, he sees the play so well and is able to create plays along the walls and in open ice. He may not be regarded as a goal scorer but his ability to quickly change directions, get separation and find the scoring areas will make him value-able at the college level and eventually the NHL level. He is regarded as a top-10 pick but I think he will move up a bit come June.

On Tomorrow’s list…

  • Alex Turcotte
  • Matthew Boldy
  • Kirby Dach
  • Bowen Byram
  • Raphael Lavoie
NHL Draft 2018

2018 NHL Draft: Top-10 Teams Needs and Possible Picks

No.1: Buffalo Sabres, Needs- A winning season, top defenseman

Who will they get? Well, it is pretty obvious the no.1 draft prospect for the past several months now has been Rasmus Dhalin. There is literally a 100 percent chance the Sabres get Dahlin. Which means they add an elite level defenseman to their back end to supplement Rasmus Ristolanien.

No.2: Carolina Hurricanes, Needs- Scoring forward, top-six forward

Who will they get? This one is up for grabs between two players, as a lot of the hockey reporters and draft experts have stated since the releasing of this year’s picks. The two players who we can possibly see the Hurricanes grab are either, Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina. Svechnikov is a 6’2 right winger, who won the OHL Rookie of the Year this season playing for the Barrie Colts. While Zadina is also a 6-foot right winger playing out of the QMJHL for Halifax. Either or would be good fits for the Hurricanes, but I think we see Carolina getting Svechnikov due to his bigger frame, NHL style of play and scoring ability and someone they can slot on the wing with the Hurricanes top two lines.

No.3: Montreal Canadiens, Needs- Scoring, badly. 

The Canadiens had one of the worst seasons among NHL teams and a lot of it was due to forward scoring issues and some back-end injuries. They lacked the ability to score goals consistently and lacked forward depth. With the number three pick, the Canadiens will most definitely be going after a forward to the slot with Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galychenuk. With the assumption the Hurricanes go after Svechnikov, I think it would be tough to pass up on Filip Zadina. He can play the wing with Drouin and is ready to make an impact on the front end of most NHL teams, especially this Montreal team. While Brady Tkachuk could fall here, Zadina is a more established goal scorer and plays a more NHL style game compared to Tkachuk.

No. 4: Ottawa Senators, Needs-Scoring or a top-four defenseman.

Who will they get? This is a tough one the Senators will be losing at least one forward on their team this offseason and possibly Erik Karlsson if they cannot find a happy medium for him. The Senators were praying for the number one draft pick to allow Dahlin to play alongside his childhood favorite player Karlsson. Unfortunately like most things for the Senators this season it turned out they received the fourth pick and will probably be going after either Tkachuk or Noah Dobson. Tkachuk has a ton of potential to his game and provides a very gritty, tough style to his game. While he can score, as well as play both sides of the puck it really comes down to what the Senators think they need more. Dobson is a 6″3 defenseman, who if he can put on some weight will be great. He has a ton of potential and room to grow. I still think Tkachuk goes four here though.

No. 5: Arizona Coyotes, Needs- Top-six forward, scoring, defenseman. 

Who will they get? It would be interesting to see the Coyotes pick this year after getting Keller two year ago, a scoring, speedy, Patrick Kane esq forward. The Coyotes once again get a top-five pick and now have to be thinking about another scorer. They have some solid defenseman on their back end, as well a lot of potential up front. They could use either a forward or defenseman. If Oliver Ekman Larsson actually does leave they definitely could use a defenseman. Based on the judgment of some of the experts we can expect either Noah Dobson or Evan Bouchard to go here. Bouchard is a 6″2, 193-pound defenseman playing out of the OHL with London this year. He holds a HEAVY shot and logged major points and minutes which brought him up the draft list this year. Either or will go here. Dobson or Bouchard. Think Bouchard though.

No.6: Detroit Red Wings, Needs- DEFENSEMAN.

Who will they get? Now, if the Red Wings do not get a defenseman, they need to fire everyone in their front office. Because they literally have ZERO defensemen. Trevor Daley and Nikolas Kronwall are going to crumble any second now. Danny Dekeyser has not turned out to be great and they need a big-time defenseman BADLY. Which leaves us with four defensemen to choose from. Depending on Arizona, it could either be Dobson, Bouchard, Quintin Hughes or Adam Boqvist. Upside to Boqvist, he plays the same style as Dahlin more offensively and has the goal-scoring ability like a forward, while still being able to play a defensive game well. Downside his size, he is 5’11, 168 pounds. A must for Boqvist to add some size to his frame and you have a top defenseman you asked for. Hughes upside is a puck moving defenseman who can man the power play and reads the play really well. He can add a presence on the back end like Boqvist not as much offensively. This is a tough one because both are smaller in size and both have similar upsides as well. Here at six, we may see either Dobson or Hughes go.

No.7: Vancouver Canucks, Needs- Defenseman. 

Who will they get? The Canucks added Brock Boeser to their forward end last season in the draft and have turned out to be a great addition and superstar for years to come. The Canucks should look to increase their worth on the back end, they are still pieces away from being a solid NHL team so whoever comes in will be coming into play right away. The Canucks could be looking at drafting Boqvist or Hughes. As discussed above, both would not be a bad choice. I think we see the Canucks grab Hughes here and Boqvist falls a little bit, near the 9, 10 range.

No.8: Chicago Blackhawks, Needs- Forward depth, defenseman depth. 

Who will they get? This will be an interesting choice for the Blackhawks. As we saw their defense lack depth and was a major problem for them. But for some reason, the Blackhawks love drafting forwards and scoring forwards for that matter. Which is why we see them go after and grab Oliver Wahlstrom, a right winger from the USA-18 USHL team. Wahlstrom scored 47 goals in 60 games last season and everything surrounding this kid has been his goal-scoring ability. If the Blackhawks want goal-scoring, this is their guy.

No.9: New York Rangers, Needs-Top scoring forward, top-five defenseman. 

Who will they get? This will be a pivotal part of the Rangers rebuilding process as they picked up two top-end forwards in last years draft, Chytil and Andersson. While adding Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek on the backend during this year’s trade deadline. The Rangers would love to add another top-end forward as well as a difference-making defenseman with Ryan McDonagh gone. The Rangers could be looking at either Serron Noel the right winger out of Oshawa OHL team or Boqvist. Noel is a power forward, who brings his everything all game, he plays a very gritty style game and great two-way game some have compared this kid to Blake Wheeler. Another name in conversation to fall here is Barret Hayton a top end center from Sault Steel Marie from the OHL, who is a solid center but really makes the leap here due to a weak center draft. I see the Rangers either going after Boqvist or Noel here.

No.10: Edmonton Oilers, Needs- Defenseman, forward depth. 

Who will they get? Essentially the Oilers draft a forward he has the chance to play with Connor McDavid and as we have seen whoever is slotted next to McDavid usually produces so if they can find a forward to consistently play next McDavid and produce would be a win for the Oilers. But they lacked defensive production and defensive depth last season. Which is why the Oilers may go defenseman. They have had some woes with drafting forwards so this will be interesting for the Oilers come at the ten mark. I think the Oilers may end up drafting, Boqvist here if he falls or one of the two top centers in the draft in Hayton or Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Kotkaniemi has been an up and coming center in this years draft class all year. This will be a tough one as the Oilers will have to see how the teams in front of them draft. If Boqvist is there still they have to jump on him easily.