We are just a few days removed from the NHL All-Star break and that means we are another few days closer to the NHL draft. We are still four and a half months away from the 2019 draft but for me, it is never too early to start looking at the prospect pool.
There are a number of enticing players that will be available in this year’s draft. Two of them most notably being Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Between the two Hughes is the current clear number one pick, but Kakko is making his case for being the first name called in Vancouver come this June.
1 Colorado Avalanche (From Ottawa)- Jack Hughes -C- USNTDP (USHL) – Jack Hughes is far and away the best player in this draft. He has 56 points through 28 games with the U.S National team and is on pace to score more than he did last year. Hughes is a pass first center that can take the puck into the zone if he needs to. He is a great playmaker and should have no problems succeeding at the NHL level.
2 Los Angeles Kings- Kaapo Kakko -W- TPS Turku (SM-Liiga) – Kakko has been a riser in the early stage of the season. He impressed last season with the TPS U20 team scoring 55 points in 38 games. This season he is with TPS of SM-Liiga and has 23 points in 30 games so far this season. Kakko is a 6-foot-1 winger who plays a mature game at the young age of 17, which is shown by his play in the men’s Finnish Elite League.
3 Chicago Blackhawks- Kirby Dach -C- Saskatoon (WHL) – Dach is tearing up the WHL with 52 points in 45 games so far this season. Dach is a tremendous passer, arguably one of the best in the draft and is really good at getting his teammates involved in the attack. While he is more of a pass-first type of forward he can still put the puck in the back of the net when he needs to.
4 Detroit Red Wings- Vasily Podkolzin -W- Vityaz Podolsk HC (Rus Jr) Podkolzin has been a top of discussion since he came on to the scene with the Russian U16 team back in 2016. Podkolzin is effective both in open ice and on the boards. He is great on the forecheck and uses his speed to his advantage when trying to make a play. Podkolzin has a high ceiling of being a top-caliber point producer at the NHL level.
5 New Jersey Devils- Dylan Cozens -W- Lethbridge (WHL) – Cozens can play both center and wing and is the reigning WHL Rookie of the Year after leading all rookies in goals with 22 and finishing second in points with 53. In 48 games so far this season Cozens has 60 points for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Cozens is an all-around forward. He can not only play 5-on-5 but can also play on both the power play and penalty kill units. His combination of advanced skating and a plus shot makes him one of the best players in this 2019 class.
7 Edmonton Oilers- Philip Broberg -D- AIK (Allsvenskan) – Broberg is a 6-foot-3 left shot defenseman who’s best trait is his skating. He may not be filling up the stat sheet as most players do, he plays a very good defensive game. What scouts say he will need to improve most upon are his puck handling skills.
8 New York Rangers- Alex Turcotte -C- US-Under-18 (USA-NTDP) – Turcotte is a great offensive player, great instincts, and quick acceleration. He has a high hockey IQ and is versatile enough to be able to play both center and winger. He plays at a high speed and plays a strong 200-foot game. Turcotte is another player with first-line upside. Turcotte has committed to the University of Wisconsin.
9 Florida Panthers- Raphael Lavoie -C- Halifax (QMJHL) – Lavoie is another guy that can play both center and the wing and can get a helper or put the puck in the net. Lavoie has a great shot which was shown last season when he put up 30 goals in his 2nd season in the QMJHL. This season he is averaging a point per game. He is a tall big bodied guy that doesn’t mind the physical game.
10 Anaheim Ducks- Bowen Byram -D- Vancouver (WHL) – Byram is one of, if not the best defenseman in the class in the early stages. He is a 6-foot-1 left-handed shot that is good at controlling the game. Byram usually looks to either join the rush or create a breakout himself. He is good at protecting the puck and is a plus skater. Byram is a very physical defenseman that can be on a top pairing in the NHL.
11 Arizona Coyotes- Alexander Newhook -C- Victoria (BCHL) – Newhook is in his 2nd season with the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL. He is becoming a more complete goal scorer. Which has been shown by his 22 goals in 45 games last season and 25 goals so far in 43 games this season. He works well on the power play and is going to continue developing his game at Boston College next year.
12 Buffalo Sabres (From St. Louis) – Ryan Suzuki -C- Barrie (OHL) – Suzuki is a smooth east-west skater and can stop on a dime. He is a playmaker and plays at a very high pace. Good at creating opportunities and plays with high confidence. He contributes in the goal column but excels with getting helpers which is shown by his 61 assists in 107 career games with Barrie so far. Ryan is the younger brother of former 1st round pick Nick Suzuki.
13 Vancouver Canucks- Peyton Krebs -LW- Kootenay (WHL) – Peyton Krebs is by far one of the most exciting players to watch in this class. He plays with passion and determination each and every single night. And Despite Kootenay’s 10-32-7 record, Krebs is putting up number even better than last years. 54 points so far through 46 games and is one of the leading point-getters in the WHL.
14 Carolina Hurricanes- Trevor Zegras -C- USA U18 (USADP) – Zegras is another player that is part of the loaded USA team. He is dangerous with the puck and is another one of the drafts most accurate passers. Zegras works well on the powerplay and is capable of riffling a shot past opposing goaltenders. He will continue his development at Boston University next season.
15 Buffalo Sabres- Matthew Robertson -D- Edmonton (WHL) – Like most defenseman, Robertson doesn’t pile up the stat sheet but he does play his position well. He’s a two way defender and he’s an excellent skater and has a strong physical element to his game. Robertson projects as a top-four defenseman at the next level.
16 Colorado Avalanche- Victor Soderstrom -D- Brynas IF (SHL) – Soderstrom is a mobile two-way defender and on of the most accurate passers in the draft. He makes good decisions in all three zones and has a physical element to his game. He can also be of good use on the penalty kill.
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17 Dallas Stars- Cole Caufield -C/RW- USA U18 (USADP) – Caufield is a pure sniper, and can beat goalies in a multitude of ways. This kid is a competitor and can play both center and wing. He is drawing many Alex Debrincat comparisons based on size and style of play. He plans to attend the University of Wisconsin next season.
18 Minnesota Wild- Bobby Brink -RW- Sioux City (USHL) – Brink is one of the top players in the USHL this season. He is a deadly offensive player who is quick overall. He is a dangerous player around the net. One of the highest risers in the draft class thus far and has committed to play at the University of Denver.
19 Vegas Golden Knights- Mortiz Seider -D- Manheim (DEL) – Seider is a player who is slowly rising up draft boards. He is a tall two-way defenseman with a right-handed shot. He has great vision and is a smart player who knows how to use his size and strength. Seider plays a mature game and could see time in the NHL sooner rather than later.
20 Montreal Canadiens- Cam York -D- USNTDP (USHL) – York is a great skater that knows how to move the puck effectively. He can be the quarterback on the power play and he is constantly improving. York has committed to play college hockey at Boston College.
21 Washington Capitals- Jakob Pelletier -C/LW- Moncton (QMJHL) – Pelletier is a creative forward with pretty good speed. He has good vision and is a great playmaker. This season with Moncton he has 35 goals and 37 assists in 46 games. He has a high hockey IQ and is one of those players that makes guys around him better.
22 Boston Bruins- Alex Vlasic -D- USA U18 (USADP) – Vlasic is a reliable puck mover and has a rocket of a shot. He can play in a shutdown role and can also orchestrate an attack from within his own end. He has some untapped offensive potential than come out with the right opportunity. Vlasic has committed to play at Boston University.
23 Pittsburgh Penguins- Samuel Poulin -LW- Sherbrooke (QMJHL) – Poulin is not a flashy player, he doesn’t blow anyone away with his skill. His numbers with Sherbrooke are not one to ignore. 20 goals and 32 assists in 48 games so far this season. Poulin is a hard worker and projects as a power forward.
24 Columbus Blue Jackets- Arthur Kaliyev -W- Hamilton (OHL) – When watching Kaliyev on tape it is easy to see that he is a pure goal scorer. Last season he scored 31 goals in 68 games and is at 36 goals in 49 games so far this season. He is great at getting into open space to create a shot path for himself. Kaliyev is one of my biggest risers so far this season and will continue to rise especially with his assists totals already doubling from last year.
25 Nashville Predators- Albin Grewe -RW- Djurgardens (SHL) – Grewe plays a competitive two-way game. He holds a nice combination of skill, size, and grit. His on-ice vision is well above average and he is very creative with and without the puck. He is a great player on both the power play and even strength. At the moment I can see Grewe being a very productive player at the next level.
26 Buffalo Sabres (From San Jose)- Nolan Foote -LW- Kelowna (WHL) – Foote is averaging just under a point per game with Kelowna this season. 25 goals and 20 assists in 45 games so far. Foote is probably one of the safer picks in the draft. Foote is a great puck protector and while he has 1st line upside, he may be more suited for a middle six role.
27 Los Angeles Kings (From Toronto)- Brett Leason -C- Prince Albert (WHL) – Leason is one of my personal favorite prospects in the class. He is the top offensive weapon for the best junior team in Canada. 31 goals and 42 assists in 41 games so far this season. He is a true goal scorer and makes those around him better. I have yet to find a glaring weakness in his game. For a guy that has been passed over in two consecutive drafts, I truly think the third time’s a charm.
28 New York Islanders- Kaedan Korczak -D- Kelowna (WHL) – Korczak is the Rockets top defenseman and there are a number of strengths to his game. He has tremendous defensive awareness and is one of the more intelligent players in the draft. Korczak also has a physical element to his game. He is not much of an offensive threat but has the ability to contribute offensively which is shown by his 19 points in 49 games so far this year.
29 Winnipeg Jets- Anttoni Honka -D- JYP (SM-Liiga) – The younger brother of Stars defenseman Julius Honka is one of the top defensemen in the draft. While he may not go as high as his older brother he still has a decent amount to offer. He is a right shot defenseman and a smooth skater. Honka is good at running a power play. He will need to work on his defensive game but has the offensive upside.
30 Calgary Flames- Connor McMichael -C- London (OHL) – McMichael is a smart player and has a high hockey IQ. He is one of London’s many offensive weapons and he has 30 goals in 46 games to show for it. He is a two-way player and excels at putting himself in a position to succeed.
31 Tampa Bay Lightning– Thomas Harley -D- Mississauga (OHL) – Harley’s game revolves around defense. He stands 6-foot-3 and is a left-handed shot. Harley is rarely pressured into making mistakes and has good composure both in the offensive and defensive zones. He may not very as physical as scouts would like but his style of defense is effective enough to benefit him and his team.
Draft season is nearing, which is one of my favorite times of the year. This mock draft will be just the first of a handful to be put out along with other draft content. Many players will rise and fall on draft boards and rankings. In addition, it will be interesting to see how my first mock looks compared to my final mock. Start the countdown, only 140 Days left until the NHL draft.
Cover photo credit: Sporting News Chris Bugajsky covers the Dallas Stars for Full Press Coverage. Follow Chris on twitter @CBugajsky14.