With the conclusion on the draft lottery Tuesday night it brings us one step closer to the 2019 NHL entry draft on June 21st. The New Jersey Devils are the winners of the number one overall pick and will more than likely select Jack Hughes when the time comes to announce the selection.
This draft class has two top guys that appear to be locked in at #1 and #2. However, this class has no clear third guy and anyone ranked from 3-10 can be taken in any spot in that range and it wouldn’t really be a shock. For that reason predicting how the first round will play out will be a bit more difficult this year. But I’m going to give it a shot.
- New Jersey Devils- Jack Hughes, C, NTDP-
With the first overall pick, the Devils should take Jack Hughes without question. Hughes has been the top-ranked prospect in this class all season. His speed is something that just jumps out at you. He has great puck control and vision on the ice. Not to mention his high hockey IQ. Hughes has averaged over two points per game with the U.S developmental program and as of now is the favorite to go to New Jersey.
New York Rangers- Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS-
The Rangers got themselves a nice prize because they will take whoever the Devils don’t take. If NJ decides to take Kaapo Kakko then the Rangers will get Hughes. If Hughes goes #1 like he is projected to then the Rangers will get themselves a top playmaker and a potential franchise guy moving forward. Kakko has 22 goals and 16 assists in 45 games with TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League. Kaapo Kakko is NHL ready and should step into the Rangers top 6 next season if taken with the 2nd pick.
Chicago Blackhawks- Vasili Podkolzin, RW, St Petersburg-
The Chicago Blackhawks were the team that made the biggest jump in the lottery and will have their pick of the litter after Hughes and Kakko. The two selections that make the most sense for the Blackhawks right now are Bowen Byram and Vasili Podkolzin. If they go for need then the pick is Byram, but if they choose the best available then they go Podkolzin, who is a complete winger. He is a great passer and has good vision which leads him to set up his linemates. In addition, he also carries a good defensive side to his game which is always a plus.
Colorado Avalanche (From Ottawa)- Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver-
The Avalanche were the undoubted losers of the NHL draft. Having the best odds to get first overall pick only to slide down to the 4th pick. However, they can’t really complain because they are a playoff team that also has a top-4 pick. In the fourth spot, they could take any of the top available centers, however, they should choose to take Bowen Byram. Byram is the top defenseman in the class. He has all the components to be a top pairing guy in the future and for Colorado, a top four of Makar, Timmins, Girard, and Byram could be deadly for a long time.
Los Angeles Kings- Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon-
The Los Angeles Kings would have been a great fit for Kaapo Kakko but unfortunately, the Kings fell in the lottery from the second best odds to the fifth spot. Kirby Dach is the next guy who would be a good fit for the Kings. He has the size, speed, and skill to be a dominant center at the next level. Kirby Dach protects the puck well and knows how to drive the net. He is great at finding his teammates and has a decent shot with him that he just needs to trust more. Dach would be a nice consolation prize for the Kings who will be in rebuilding mode for a few years.
Detroit Red Wings- Dylan Cozens, C Lethbridge-
Dylan Cozens can be described as a 200-foot player which is something you can never have too many of. He is a pure goal scorer which was shown by his 34 goals this season in the WHL. Cozens also sees the ice better than most others. He is good at anticipating where his linemates will be which sets them up well in the attacking zone. He has a pretty solid defensive game that will only get better as he continues to mature and fill out in size.
- Buffalo Sabres- Trevor Zegras, C, NTDP- At the beginning of the season the Sabres looked to be a contender. As the season went on things took a turn for the worst and now they own the 7th overall selection in the draft. As for best fit, there is not really a glaring one but at this point in the draft, any of the other US developmental team members would be a good selection. Trevor Zegras has very good skating abilities. His high hockey IQ is an asset for him and he is best described as a playmaker. I could see Matthew Boldy also being a candidate here but the draft is still over 2 months away and all the talent in this area is about equal.
Edmonton Oilers- Matthew Boldy, LW, NTDP-
The Oilers need people who can score. McDavid and Draisaitl can’t do it all by themselves. Matthew Boldy would be a great pick up for the Oilers mainly because he is a pure sniper. He has scored 17 goals in 28 games and he has also grown as a playmaker this season with the US developmental team. Boldy stands tall at 6-foot-2 and has the ability to fight through checks and can get to the front of the net. He is the type of player that would fit well on a line with Draisaitl or McDavid.
Anaheim Ducks- Alex Turcotte, C, NTDP-
Alex Turcotte first and foremost is a great skater. A great passer and knows how to protect the puck. Something that sticks out about Turcotte is his ability to be relentless on the forecheck by skating hard and forcing turnovers in the offensive zone. Turcotte has the versatility to play any role assigned to him. The Ducks, sitting at the ninth pick, will get a great player regardless.
Vancouver Canucks- Peyton Krebs, LW, Kootenay-
Peyton Krebs is not getting the recognition he deserves. An argument could be made for him to be picked in the 5-7 range. Krebs is by far one of the better playmakers in this draft. Playing for the Kootenay Ice who was near the bottom of the WHL standings, Krebs still had an incredible year with 19 goals and 49 assists in 64 games. He is a great passer and is great at finding his open teammates and his skating ability is already a plus. He just needs to finish growing and he could have himself a bright NHL future.
Philadelphia Flyers- Victor Soderstrom, D, Bryans-
Soderstrom can play a great two-way game thanks to his plus skating ability. He’s got a hard wrist shot but his slap shot needs a bit of improvement. He has good puck control and has the ability to skate himself out of danger. He also is a good defensive player and has a quick stick which makes him very tough to beat one on one. Another impressive tidbit about Soderstrom is that he is already playing in the Swedish Elite league as an 18-year-old.
Minnesota Wild- Alex Newhook, C, Victoria-
Alex Newhook is the top prospect set to come out of the BCHL. He opted to go with Victoria as opposed to Halifax of the QMJHL to keep his eligibility to play college hockey in the United State. Newhook tore up the BCHL this season with 38 goals and 64 assists in 53 games. His speed is among the best in the class and he always seems to be making the smart play with the puck. Newhook is a dual threat in the offensive zone. He can skate around and dish the puck to the open man or snipe one himself past opposing goaltenders. Newhook has proven himself in the BCHL, now, the next step for him is the NCAA.
Florida Panthers- Philip Broberg, D, AIK-
The Panthers are in the midst of a rebuild they hope will end soon. Broberg is a defenseman that combines his size and skill well. Standing 6-foot-3 he is a strong skater and can carry the puck through the neutral zone with ease. He is the quarterback on the power play and has good vision and passing skills. His offensive numbers don’t exactly pop out but don’t let that distract you from his style of play. Overall Broberg is a quality two-way defenseman that will help any franchise on the blue line.
Arizona Coyotes- Cole Caufield, RW, NTDP-
Caufield is another guy that is a pure sniper. He scored 29 goals in 28 games this season with the US Developmental team. He can beat goalies in a variety of ways. Wrist shot? Check. Snapshot? Check. Slapshot? Check. Caufield is a good skater but his acceleration and agility are above most in the class. Caufield has pretty much everything, except height. He is a mere 5-foot-7. For that reason, he draws comparisons to Alex Debrincat. But Debrincat was a 40 goal scorer this season so I wouldn’t count Caufield out.
Montreal Canadiens- Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga-
Thomas Harley has been one of the classes biggest risers from the beginning of the season. He is a strong two-way defender with good size. Harley can control breakouts well and usually makes a good first pass. He is smart in the offensive zone and that has been showed by his 58 points this season. On the defensive side of the puck, he is a tremendous defensive defenseman. He uses his long reach to his advantage by closing up shooting lanes and forcing players to take bad shots. Harley is only 17 and projects to be an impact defenseman at the next level.
Chris Bugajsky covers the Dallas Stars and the NHL for Full Press Coverage. Follow Chris on twitter @CBugajsky14.