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NHL Mock Draft Part Four: Picks 16-20

Part Four of my mock National Hockey League entry draft will look at picks 16-20. For a quick refresher, click here for part 1, here for part 2, and here for part 3.

16th Overall Pick: Colorado Avalanche select Alex Newhook, Center, Victoria Grizzlies, BCHL

The 5’11, 190 lbs. center from St. John’s, Newfoundland, has been ranked inside the top 20 by every trustworthy source, and then some. His average rank is 15.2, meaning he is likely to go inside the first 15 picks on draft day.

He is one of the best skaters in this draft, easily in the top five in that respect, with blazing speed, an explosive first step, and fine edgework. He also has good balance. He has the puck handling abilities to make a move past a defender at top speed as well. He also holds his ground in board battles, and in front of the net. He pairs his great vision and passing skills to hit an open teammate with a pass for a scoring chance.

But, he isn’t just a playmaker. He has a great shot, and a one timer that will beat any goalie. He’s also good on the defensive end, reading plays quickly enough to break them up, and transition down the ice. He can kill penalties, at his current level, which shows you his capabilities on the defensive end of the ice.

However, he is playing in the British Columbia Hockey League. If you put any of the prior selections in the BCHL, they too could dominate the way Newhook did (38 goals, 64 assists for 102 points in 53 games). The best way to evaluate him is his play at the international level, when he played for Team Canada at the U18 World Junior Championships, where he scored five goals and five assists (10 points) in seven games. Those are solid numbers, and certainly promising, but the BCHL aspect still makes his accomplishments in league play inflated.

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That being said, next year he is moving up to the NCAA, where he has committed to Boston College. The NCAA is a lot tougher than the BCHL, and will truly test how good Newhook really is, and if he deserved to go higher… or not.

Future Role: If he shines in the NCAA, he has the potential to be a 2nd line center behind Alex Turcotte (if the Avs select him at four, like I had them doing) or Nathan MacKinnon (depends if he gets traded/moves to wing for Turcotte to play centre).

17th Overall Pick: Vegas Golden Knights select Bobby Brink, Right Wing, Sioux City Musketeers, USHL

Brink is an undersized winger (5’10, 163 lbs.), but that doesn’t matter much anymore in today’s game. He’s also one of the most intriguing, and unpredictable selections. Some experts have him as the 15th ranked player, while others have him as late as 37, with his average being 25.8.

Brink has good balance, to go with good agility and great acceleration. However, he does not have a very good top speed, which sets his skating back a bit. He doesn’t fare very well in board battles or net-front battles, and the culprit is his small stature. But, like Newhook is a top five skater in the draft, Brink is a top five shooter. His wrist shot is deadly. While his shooting is superb, it’s usually how he gets to those areas to release his shot that stands out.

He has good stickhandling ability to dangle his way past defenders, and vision to spot open areas to exploit. The vision he uses to exploit open areas in the offensive zone that I touched on earlier, he also uses when setting up teammates for scoring chances. He plays strong defensively as well. He sinks low in the zone to help the centers and defensemen. He has strong positioning, intercepting passes to his man at the point. Once he gets those turnovers, he is quick to turn up ice and attack offensively.

But, again like Newhook, he played against lesser competition. He only played five games with the USNTDP team (with Jack Hughes and co.), putting up three goals and three assists (six points). That isn’t bad at all, but he only played five games, remember? Instead of playing up with the rest of the top US prospects, he played in the United States Hockey League, ultimately one step below the USNTDP. There, he played 43 games, with 35 goals and 33 assists (68 points). He will look to really add to his name when he plays NCAA hockey with the University of Denver, where he is committed to play next season. That will be a true test for Brink, and one that a lot of people will keep their eyes on.

Future Role: Safer pick than Newhook, but Newhook arguably has a higher floor, meaning he will take a bit longer to develop. But predictions for his future reside on next seasons performance. If all goes right, he could pan out as a solid top six winger, playing in all situations.

18th Overall Pick: Dallas Stars select Ville Heinola, Left-Handed Defenseman, Lukko, Liiga

Heinola is currently 18 years old, but he spent his age 17 season playing against grown men in Liiga. The Honkajoki, Finland native has a below average frame at 5’11, 181 lbs.

Heinola isn’t a fast skater, with good acceleration, but what sets him apart is his edgework, that allows him to change direction quickly and effectively. His balance isn’t where it needs to be, as he is easily pushed around in front of the net and in corners, but over time, as he bulks up, he will get better there.

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Offensively, he possesses a high hockey IQ. He has great vision, which allows him to control and filter the pace of play, either at 5 on 5 or on the powerplay. He does get creative with some plays, but he does often find himself getting too creative, and forcing passes into traffic. But with his creativity, he holds solid stickhandling abilities, and can beat attacking wingers with a quick move at the point.

His great ability of pivoting and edgework allow him to walk across the blue line, and his vision and patience allows the play to unfold as he walks the line. Both his wrist shot and slapshot are solid, and low to the ice, allowing for deflections or rebounds. He has a tendency to sneak down from the point if he has space, or to just get to an open area for a pass, and get shots in tight to the goalie.

On defense, his high IQ stays with him, and again he reads the play well. He does a good job breaking up passes, and is a very effective pokechecker. He also tends to shy away from the physicality of the game, trying to stick with his pokechecking rather than lay a hit on someone, but as he bulks up, that could change.

Heinola was able to post two goals and 12 assists (14 points) in 34 games against men in Finland, which is very impressive at his age. He played in a few international tournaments as well for Finland, which included the U18 World Junior Championship, the U20 World Junior Championship and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup (U18). In the U18 WJC, he played five games with one goal and three assists (four points). In the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he put up two assists in four games. Then, finally, in the U20 WJC, he recorded a goal and an assist in five games.

While he looked sharp in Liiga, his offensive production on international stages left something to be desired. He has even been claimed as a boom or bust pick, with his sometimes risky offensive zone play, and inconsistent international play. However, I don’t see him as a boom or bust pick. His skill-set offensively is better than some defensemen picked higher, and his defensive game is solid. His IQ is incredibly advanced for his age, and while he may not be a burner of a skater, his pivots allow him to go from defense to offense, and vice versa, quickly, and allows him to keep up to speed with the game.

Future Role: Top four defenseman, with top powerplay minutes. If his physical game ever develops, and he bulks up, he could see some penalty killing minutes as well.

19th Overall Pick: Ottawa Senators select Spencer Knight, Goaltender, USNTDP

The 6’3, 198 lbs. native of Darien, Connecticut has built up a good enough profile to be the top ranked netminder in the draft, ahead of Russian phenom, Pyotr Kochetkov. He has been ranked as early as 19th and as late as 32nd, while his average ranking sits at 27.7.

He already has the size that NHL teams look for in a goaltender, with room still to grow. He is aggressive, taking away angles, and coming out to the top of his crease. One thing that many young goalies face when heading into the draft the most is their rebound control, but that isn’t the case for Knight. That is the biggest facet of his game that separates him from every other goalie in this class.

It’s difficult to score on him low, as he moves very well laterally, and with power. He has great vision, rarely losing sight of where the puck is, and reads where it could go next rather well. His glove hand is quick, and spectacular, while the smaller details of his game are extremely well developed at a technical scale. He does the little things right, essentially, all the time. He is good with the puck too, with the ability to start the breakout, similar to Jordan Binnington in this past NHL postseason.

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He seemingly bounces back after every goal against, very rarely letting it affect him. One negative to his game, as pointed out by Ben Kerr at LastWordOnHockey, is he tends to lose focus when he isn’t being pressured with shots, and that could lead to problems down the road if not fixed.

He is committed to play for Boston College of the NCAA, after putting up a 2.36 Goals against average and a .913 save percentage with the USNTDP, in 33 games. In the U18 WJC, he put up a 1.51 GAA and .936 SV% in six games.

Future Role: Goalies take the longest to pan out and are nearly impossible to project. However, I will leave you with this: he has been compared stylistically to Carey Price, and is well ahead of all the other netminders in this class. It is nearly safe to say he will be an NHL goalie. His ceiling is limitless, however, so he will be fun to watch in his college years.

20th Overall Pick: New York Rangers select Ryan Suzuki, Center, Barrie Colts, OHL

The 6’0, 172 lbs. Canadian born center Suzuki is the brother to Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki. Coming out of London, Ontario, Ryan has been ranked as early as 12th and as late as 26th, with his average ranking at 20.2.

He is a speedy skater, with great acceleration, allowing him to beat defenders with just his feet. He is able to speed up and slow down smoothly, which allows him to play with defenders heads, and beat them in a multitude of ways. However, he is easily knocked off the puck, and needs to get stronger to be better equipped for the NHL level.

He is an excellent passer, able to get pucks through traffic, and has the IQ to know when, and where, to send the puck to a teammate for a scoring chance. He is lethal on the powerplay with that skill alone. Add to it his stickhandling, and he creates room for himself to open up his options and rip up a defense. He has an accurate shot, but needs to gain more strength for better power behind those shots. He is great on the forecheck, and he could get even better with, you guessed it, more strength.

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He reads the play well defensively, but struggles in that area nonetheless. He’s good at breaking up passes, and he is almost always in the right position. He is quick to start the transition towards offense, and successful at it too. With all that said, he was able to produce 25 goals and 50 assists (75 points) in 65 games in the OHL. Internationally, he played for team Canada at the U18 WJC (one assist in five games) and at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup (one goal, seven assists in five games). His lackluster U18 WJC  performance is concerning, but isn’t a major red flag.

Future Role: Top six center, playing in all situations, so long as he gets considerably stronger. With strength, his defensive capabilities are magnified, and he can win more battles on the forecheck, and makes him more of a 1st liner than a 2nd liner.

All stats via Eliteprospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

Puck77

NHL Mock Draft Part Two: Selections 6-10

Part one is done, which looked at my prediction of the top-five National Hockey League entry draft selections, which means we are going through picks 6-10 for part two!

 

In this part I predict a trade, but other than that it is a straightforward prediction. For a quick refresher, Kappo Kakko went first, Jack Hughes went second, Cole Caufield at third, Alex Turcotte went fourth and Bowen Byram went fifth. 

 

Sixth Overall Pick: Detroit Red Wings trade back!

A trade kicks off part two, and it is a small one, but with a big impact. The Red Wings, I believe, are eyeing a prospect that should be available at 10th overall, owned by the Vancouver Canucks, and so they swap places, with Vancouver also eating Danny DeKeyser’s contract. Canucks fans have always complained about getting screwed over by the draft lottery, and so the team decides it’s time to move up, at the cost of DeKeyser’s hefty contract. Trade is Detroit’s 2019 sixth overall pick to Vancouver in exchange for the 10th overall pick, and Danny DeKeyser. So, here’s the pick:

 

Sixth Overall Pick: Vancouver Canucks select Trevor Zegras, Center/Both Wings, USNTDP

Zegras is like Alex Turcotte and Bowen Byram (who were selected in part one) in which he could arguably be the third overall pick. But with the Caufield selection at three, and Turcotte and Byram ultimately falling, Zegras is left available for the taking. (Why Detroit wouldn’t take him here will be explained when pick 10 rolls around).

For Vancouver, they have been dying to select a versatile, sure-fire future elite forward on draft day for a while. I know what you’re thinking, what about Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat? Pettersson was selected back in 2016, and needed a season before making the jump and, ultimately, becoming their best player. Boeser was everything but a sure-fire deal, being taken at 23rd overall in 2015. Horvat was drafted in 2013, at the tail end of the top 10 (ninth overall) and also wasn’t exactly a sure thing.

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So, it’s been a few years and the Canucks want more, and Zegras is probably the best forward (aside from Pettersson) that they have selected in the draft, and whether he ends up more vital to the team than Horvat and Boeser will be found out within a few years.

Zegras piled up 14 goals and 26 assists (40 points) in 27 games with the USNTDP juniors. The fact that he didn’t play up with Turcotte and Jack Hughes tells me he has about 1-2 years before making the jump to the NHL, but his playmaking ability is outstanding. He proved that when he played for the US National U-18 team for 60 games, where he put up 26 goals and 61 assists (87 points).

Next season, like with Caufield and Turcotte, he is committed to joining an NCAA club, and for him it’s Boston University. BU is well known in the hockey community thanks to Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy and Charlie Coyle, just to name a few, so I feel that this is a big step in the right direction for Zegras.

Next Year’s Role: NCAA minutes, likely won’t join the NHL club at any point next season, unless he dominates with BU.

 

Seventh Overall Pick: Buffalo Sabres select Dylan Cozens, Center/Right Wing, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL

This is an excellent selection for the Sabres. But then again, if any of the aforementioned players were available here, and the Sabres picked them, it would be excellent. That’s just how strong the top-10 prospects are in this class.

Playing in the WHL last season with Lethbridge, Cozens put up 34 goals and 50 assists (84 points) in 68 games, along with four goals and four assists (eight points) in seven playoff games. Cozens is leading the next wave of power forwards, that is currently led by Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Cozens is well balanced, with a good shot and good vision. But his defensive abilities, paired with his well-balanced scoring touch, prompted LastWordOnHockey’s Ben Kerr to believe he could be a first line center with a chance at winning the Selke Trophy. That’s big praise from a guy who does several scouting reports on all different players every year. Cozens could make the jump to the NHL off of a strong camp, but the chances are he needs another year or so to advance to the next level. 

Next Year’s Role: WHL time with Lethbridge, likely won’t join the club late in the season, but it is possible.

 

Eighth Overall Pick: Edmonton Oilers select Matthew Boldy, Left Wing, USNTDP


Why Matthew Boldy here? I know it’s a little off the board, and he is not the best player available. But that by no means says that he is not a good player. Boldy has good size (6’2”, 192 pounds), and he had a very good season with the USNTDP Juniors club. He racked up 17 goals and 26 assists (43 points) in 28 games, adding another 33 goals and 48 assists (81 points) in 64 games with the US National U-18 team. He might not be the best skater in the draft by any means, but as fellow Puck77 contributor Tony Ferrari points out, with some adjustment in his stride as well as a better first step and in general acceleration, he could wind up being one of the best players in the draft.

Now, when we head on over to Edmonton’s roster, we see they have a strong center core, both young and experienced (Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jujhar Khaira in the NHL, Ryan McLeod, Cooper Marody in their pool) as well as a solid bunch of right wingers with promise (Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi in NHL, Kailer Yamamoto, Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Mafin in pool), as well as defenseman (Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse in NHL, Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov, Ethan Bear in pool).

As for left wings, they have Milan Lucic and Tobias Rieder on the NHL club, and Tyler Benson in their pool. That is a very weak core, relative to their other positions (outside of goaltending), and while some players may go and new players will come in within the time that Boldy will be in the juniors/minors developing, they should still get a headstart in building up that very weak left wing.

Boldy is a safer pick than some guys who may have higher upside, but regardless, he fills a pretty large need the Oilers have. This is not that much of a reach either, it’s just that he was in the shadows of the earlier USNTDP picks and is, in my opinion, overlooked by the general fan. I believe this would be a great selection for Edmonton. He has committed to Boston College (NCAA) next season, where he will not be in anyone’s shadow.

Next Year’s Role: NCAA minutes, no chance he joins the Oilers late in season barring major injuries and/or he dominates in Boston College.

 

9th Overall Pick: Anaheim selects Kirby Dach, Center, Saskatoon Blades, WHL

Dach going to the Ducks is a match made in heaven. We all know the frustrating in-your-face, kind of dirty style of play that the Ducks utilize. While Dach isn’t necessarily dirty, he is a big guy, standing at 6’4, 198 pounds, and can very easily use that frame to fit the bill of a Duck.

The Ducks core is aging, and their prospect pool is very weak. They go best player available at this selection, and it really couldn’t be better for Anaheim. His size isn’t the only thing that is enticing.

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Dach had 25 goals and 48 assists (73 points) in 62 games played with Saskatoon, as well as five goals and three assists (eight points) in 10 postseason games played. He did not play any international games this past season with Canada, which is why he “dropped” to ninth (he ranges anywhere from third to 13th in this class) but he is still an intriguing prospect.

The knock on Dach is three things: 1) His acceleration is not good enough to translate to the NHL at this moment and he needs to really improve in that area to be a successful player at the next level. 2) He tends to keep his head down when skating with the puck, and despite his size, has gotten destroyed by hits on several occasions. 3) Finally, a lot of experts and fellow contributors on the site say that he does not have a very high ceiling (potential), but does have a very good skill set, or in other words, a high floor.

Next Year’s Role: Sticks with Saskatoon in the WHL all season, does not join NHL club at the end of Juniors.

 

10th Overall Pick: Detroit Red Wings (via Vancouver) selects Victor Soderstrom, Right-Handed Defenseman, Brynas IF, SHL

First off, right handed defenseman are a rare breed, and whenever you have a chance to grab one through the draft in the first round (especially at tenth overall), you take that guy.

In Detroit’s case, they had the sixth overall pick, but I would consider it a reach if they took Soderstrom there, because of all the talented forwards. You’re probably thinking, why would Detroit, a rebuilding team, trade back when they had talented forwards to choose from? Because they have young NHL centers in Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen, as well as young NHL wingers in Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi. Not to mention, forward prospects in Taro Hirose, Filip Zadina, and Joseph Veleno.

How about young NHL defenseman, that are right handed? Madison Bowey in the NHL, and Filip Hronek as a prospect. Most of their defensive prospects are left handed, including their top D prospects in Jared McIsaac and Dennis Cholowski. So Detroit does not necessarily need forwards, and they do need a right handed defenseman, who happens to be (arguably) the second best D-man in the draft class, while also off-loading a bad contract.

Soderstrom started the season with Brynas IF’s junior team in the U-20 division, where he played 14 games, with one goal and seven assists (eight points). When he made the jump to the SHL, which is Sweden’s version of the NHL, he produced just four goals and three assists (seven points) in 44 games, with a not-so-good -11 +/-. But, the fact that he was constantly relied on and kept at the highest level as an 18-year-old against men says something.

Playing for Sweden at the World Junior Championships, he recorded one assist in four games, which was also underwhelming production. But what makes him arguably the best defenseman available after Byram is taken, is his well-rounded skill set. He is a very good skater, and has an ability to get shots on net through traffic consistently. He is good transitionally, with the IQ to know when to join the rush and attack, and when to stick back.

Despite being 5’11, 182 pounds, he does a good job using his body to win battles in front of the net or in the corners. His floor, offensively, is really low at the moment, but he is playing against men and not kids in his age group, so that sets him back a step. But he has the skating and shooting ability to give him a base in which NHL coaches can build upon once he makes the jump.

As he bulks up, and gets stronger, the more battles he will win along the boards and in front of the net defensively, and playing against men actually boosts his ceiling for his defensive game. If he’s finding success this early with his size in the SHL (and he bulks up), he could be a very reliable defenseman in his own end.

Next Year’s Role: Likely stays in Sweden. I don’t see him coming to North America to play AHL hockey, or CHL hockey. It’s best he stays in Europe one more year against tough competition to build up on his defensive game.

 

All stats via Elite Prospects

Rankings inspired by other contributors on Puck77

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

NHL Draft Profile Alex Turcotte

Possibly the most complete player in the draft, Turcotte‘s two-way ability will allow him to translate to the NHL with ease. A dual-threat, do-it-all kind of player, he can provide the style of play that coaches love.

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Name: Alex Turcotte

Date of Birth: February 26, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Island Lake, IL, USA)

Hieght: 5’11”

Weight: 185lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: C

Rankings

Ranked #11 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown in the graph, Alex Turcotte may be the most complete player in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He excels in every area of the game, a rare 200-foot player with high-end offensive upside. Only being outproduced by Hughes in points -per-game, the two-way forward does an excellent job at both ends of the ice. He has one of the highest NHL eScores in the draft, likely fueled by his ability to drive the play offensively and make smart, efficient plays defensively leading to a positive goal differential. 

The American center looks as if he could be the safest pick in the draft. He combines playmaking and scoring along with a 200-foot game. He skates with an explosive stride and while his top end speed isn’t considered great, it is very good. His ability to drive past defenders wide and cut to the net is a product of his above average edge work and non-stop motor. His tenacious play style ensures that he will not be accused of floating around in any area of the ice. In the video below, Turcotte shows off his stick skills with an excellent deke before finding his teammate at the side of the net. The puck doesn’t go in on this chance but the rush and play by Turcotte was exceptional nonetheless. 

In his own zone, Turcotte excels as a defensive center. He positions himself well and never stops skating. His face-off ability was the best in a group of elite centres on the USNTDP. He consistently provides solid support for his defencemen. He comes low in the zone and battles along the boards better than most players his size. His penalty-killing ability is more advanced than most players at this stage in their development. Turcotte is adept at using his stick to disrupt the play and turn the puck over. He is controlled and doesn’t take undisciplined penalties with his active stick which is a good sign.

His ability to turn the puck over and transition up the ice towards the offensive zone is exceptional. He isn’t the neutral zone wizard that his teammate Jack Hughes, but he is a good transition player. His ability to make the short, smart pass is key to his transition play, often looking to pass to a winger on the boards and then expecting a return pass up the ice for a neutral zone give-and-go. Turcotte is efficient at exiting and entering the zone.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

Offensively, the relentless nature of Turcotte’s forecheck creates turnovers in the offensive zone and his strength on the puck allows his to dominate possession. He has the ability to control the puck while entering the zone at top speed and make moves with the puck under control to allow himself to get open or draw multiple defenders to him, opening up space for teammates. If open teammates present themselves, Turcotte has both the sense and skill to put the puck on the stick of a player in a prime scoring position. The two-way center can open his toolbox for any skill needed as he possesses an above average shot from almost any position. Whether it be a wrist shot or a snap shot one-toner, he has the ability to put the puck in the net.

Preseason

The center played in the shadow of Jack Hughes for most of his USNDTP career which hid Turcotte for much of the time. Last season (2017-18) after Hughes was called up to the U18 USNTDP team, Turcotte excelled with the greater responsibility. His game is adaptable to whatever situation arises and whichever teammates he’s been slotted into a line with. Whether it was as a playmaker or triggerman, Turcotte can do whatever is needed.

This season, playing behind Hughes again, he started the year recovering from a lower body injury. This led to a late start and some concern to start the year, often leading to Turcotte being dropped in some rankings around the prospect world.

Late start with the USNTDP

After dealing with the lower-body injury to start the year, Turcotte has excelled since his return. He out-paced all players on the USNTDP outside of Jack Hughes in terms of point production. His 1.68 P/GP was second among all players, trailing only Hughes who put up an impressive 2.24 P/GP. Despite playing in just 37 games he produced an outstanding 62 points, good for sixth among all USNTDP players despite playing about 60% of the games due to the injury.

Stepping into the second line center role upon his return, he allowed Trevor Zegras to return to a more natural fit on the left wing next to Hughes. Turcotte took over all the important face-offs and defensive zone draws as he could be relied upon in any situation. His coach John Wroblewski has this to say about the young man,

Jack Hughes is our most electrifying player but Alex is right there as our most valuable player because his game just transcends so much in so many different areas. 

The Illinois native was a leader on the USNTDP both on and off the ice. His mature play style showed others how to properly play the game. He led by example, proving that regardless of how offensive you are, playing a solid two-way game is most important feature a young player can have.

World U18 Championship

Turcotte, like many of this year’s top prospects, were on the loaded USA squad who had dominated the tournament until they ran into a hot goalie. Russian goalie, and 2020 draft eligible, Yaroslav Askarov absolutely stole the game in the semi-finals against the US team.

Video courtesy of Puck Progidy Youtube channel

Despite the disappointing team finish, they defeated Canada in the bronze medal game, Turcotte had a solid tournament. With nine points in seven games, Turcotte finished tied for seventh in tournament scoring. Scoring the opening goal in the bronze medal game, Turcotte was good in all three zones playing the same complete and mature game that’s gotten him to where he is.

What the Detractors Say

Turcotte may truly be the most complete player in this draft. The young American plays a pro-style game already, reliably playing in all three zones. If there is one weakness for Turcotte, it could only be his lack of physicality. He isn’t an overly physical player and won’t lay a massive hit but he doesn’t shy away from engaging in the corners or along the boards. He could serve to build up some strength as he is on the smaller side. With maturity, strength will come for a Turcotte.

His top end speed isn’t out of this world but his high hockey-IQ more than make up for this small deficiency. His stride itself is technically sound, so it’s just working on building strength in his lower body. Again, strength may be the one true weakness.

Alex Turcotte will be taken…

Likely anywhere from three to six. He may still be classified as a player in the second tier of this draft, but he is clearly near the top of that group. As a center, his value will be high and he would be an excellent fit on any team that has a puck in that range. He could go to any team in that range and slot in as their second line center behind a skilled veteran who can teach Turcotte what it takes to be an NHL center.

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If Turcotte gets chosen third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks or the Los Angeles Kings, Turcotte could follow a Stanley Cup Chmapion, all-time NHL great in Jonathon Toews and Anze Kopitar respectively. If he gets drafted by either the Colorado Avalanche or the Detroit Red Wings, he could help form one of the most talented one-two punches down the middle of any team. A combination of Nathan MacKinnon-Turcotte or Dylan Larkin-Turcotte would endure that any team they play against will have a difficult time matching up.

Turcotte is good enough to warrant the third overall pick. The complete 200-foot forward could have an impact on the NHL sooner rather than later. Likely to attend the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall and play a major role for the team. One year is most likely all Turcotte spends with the Badgers. It’s not out of the realm of questions that Turcotte could be top/player in this drafted outside of the big two. The near NHL ready, two-way machine is likely to go in the top half of the top five of the draft.

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com

 

Puck77

National Hockey League Mock Draft Part One: Picks 1-5

With the National Hockey League entry draft right around the corner, and several other Puck77 contributors coming together to put out monthly rankings, I decided to follow up my prospect deep dive from over a week ago.

 

I have studied the National Hockey League prospects more and more, I have looked deeper into team needs, and I did my own individual mock draft, using team needs and their current situations to determine picks. I’ve also read into the few rumors swirling around the draft, which I will touch on within the first three picks. I even included one trade, which I will get to here in part one.

 

First Overall Pick, New Jersey Devils select Kappo Kaako, RW, TPS, Liiga

Ah, yes. Already I have gone against what many of you readers likely would have guessed. But I have said Kakko was going to go first overall ever since I watched the New Jersey Devils win the draft lottery.

Two years ago, when the Devils had to choose between the consensus number one pick at the time, Nolan Patrick, or the guy closing the gap for the first pick, Nico Hischier, they went with Hischier.

Hischier played in the QMJHL in his draft year and dominated, while Nolan Patrick played in the WHL and had injury concerns, so it’s a much different scenario. Jack Hughes does not have injury concerns like Patrick did, but Kakko played in a much more competitive league, against men in Liiga, unlike Hischier.

Kakko broke a record previously held by Aleksander Barkov for goals with 22 for an under-18 player in Liiga history while playing in eight less games. He has not only found success against grown men in Liiga, but he has dominated against the highest skilled players in the world, winning not one, not two, but three international gold medals with Finland, putting up a combined 37 points in 63 games. Most recently, he won gold with Finland at the IIHF World Championships, recording six goals and one assist in 10 games.

Kakko has a track record of winning, and his success against men at the club level in Finland and the international levels with Finland, it’s a no-brainer he would go number one overall in any other draft class.

But Hughes is an unreal prospect and has been highly regarded for over a year now for the first overall selection. But I think Kakko will have a higher impact immediately at the NHL level, on a line featuring Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and himself. That is just daunting. Not to mention, he is four inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Hughes.

This is what Devils general manager Ray Shero had to say about the type of player they were going for in the upcoming draft, per SportsNet’s Rory Boylen. “You gotta be a self starter, competitive. You have to have grit. You have to be a team-first player.” While Hughes is a team-first player, Kakko has the size advantage by a drastic amount, and while that is not entirely important anymore, Shero did point it out, and that has to count for something.

 

Next Year’s Role: 1st/2nd line RW with power play time with the Devils

 

Second Overall Pick, New York Rangers select Jack Hughes, Center, USNTDP

Hughes at two is a steal, and Kakko at two would also be a steal. Think about it, if these two guys were in separate draft classes, chances are, they both go first overall. Hughes is the best skater in the draft, and also arguably has the highest upside as well, though there are a couple others that challenge him.

But what separates Hughes, and same goes with Kakko, is his NHL readiness. He is not going to make as big of an impact as Kakko within the first season or two, but he will certainly be in the NHL next season, barring an injury.

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He absolutely dominated with the USNTDP teams, totalling 160 points in 74 games. He had an unreal Under-18 World Junior Championship with team USA with 20 points in seven games. He played really well at the U-20 World Juniors, with four assists in as many games, but obviously not as dominant. Then, at the IIHF World Championships, Hughes only put up three assists in seven games.

The concern I have is, he is less dominant against tougher competition. He dominated in the USNTDP, which is his age group, he dominated at the U-18’s and was a point per game player at the U-20’s, which is basically still in his age group. But at the IIHF World’s he struggled, while Kakko rose to the occasion and led the underdog Finn’s to the Gold medal. That’s why I have him dropping to two.

 

Next Year’s Role: 2nd/3rd line with 2nd Unit PP time with Rangers

 

Third Overall Pick: Chicago Blackhawks select Cole Caufield, Center/Right Wing, USNTDP

When I was initially planning out this mock draft, this was not my pick for Chicago. But then the rumors happened, and it seemingly appears as though the Blackhawks will select the 5’7”, Wisconsin native Caufield.

While Caufield is not a bad selection, the rumors suggest a Jesperi Kotkaniemi-esque selection, where the player has an intriguing skillset and great upside, but ranked either at the end of the top 10, or just outside. That selection has turned out to be less of a reach, and more of a great selection, in hindsight.

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For the Blackhawks, they have a player by the name of Alex DeBrincat, who is also undersized, but very talented, and coming off a 41-goal campaign. Caufield brings that goal scoring touch, as he is the best pure sniper in the draft, scoring 29 goals, along with 12 assists (41 points) in 28 games. He added another 72 goals and 28 assists (100 points) in 64 games with US National U-18 team, which is absolutely insane. But he played with the USNTDP Juniors, rather than the USNTDP club with Hughes, and that tells me he still has a few years before being in the NHL.

He also played internationally, but for only the U-18 World Juniors, where he put up 14 goals and four assists (18 points) in seven games played. It’s very clear to see he is a goal scorer, as in total (counting international games) he scored 115 goals in just 99 games. He has committed to the University of Wisconsin for the following season, where he will look to add to his resumé of being the third overall selection.

If he can score at a goal per game pace in the NCAA, he will prove exactly why the Hawks took him so early. If he even comes close, it will be super impressive, because the NCAA is a tough league to score in at the pace he has, so next season will be very telling.

 

Next Year’s Role: NCAA time with Wisconsin, maybe joins NHL late in season, like Charlie McAvoy for Boston in 2016.

 

Fourth Overall Pick: Colorado Avalanche select Alex Turcotte, Center, USNTDP

Turcotte was my initial third overall pick, but again, rumors changed that. Turcotte is my favorite prospect, and I think he has the most upside in the entire draft.

Split between the USNTDP juniors and the USNTDP club, Turcotte combined for 96 points in 53 games, with 39 of the 96 points being goals. He added another four goals and five assists (nine points) in seven international games in the U-18 World Junior Championships.

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He is a well-balanced, 200-foot player, with the skill-set to put up big numbers at all levels of hockey. He immediately helps the Avalanche’s lack of scoring depth, but unfortunately he has already committed to the University of Wisconsin to join Caufield for next season. To me, he could absolutely step into the NHL on a third line role, but he will not be there, as noted.

 

Next Year’s Role: NCAA time with Wisconsin, high chance he joins the Avalanche late in the season.

 

Fifth Overall Pick: Los Angeles Kings select Bowen Byram, Defenseman, Vancouver Giants, WHL

Something that could potentially hurt the 6’0″, 194-pound, left-shot defenseman is the fact that he did not play any level of international hockey with Team Canada. But, he is still far and away the best defenseman in this draft.

He has great size, and is also incredible offensively. He put up 26 goals and 45 assists (71 points) in 67 games played. For a defenseman, that is great. He is a complete defenseman, excelling in the transitional game with his elite skating and puck-handling abilities.

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Anticipated to be the fourth overall pick (and maybe even third overall by some draft analysts), he falls to fifth thanks to the Blackhawks taking Caufield.

The Kings could absolutely use Byram, as they have Drew Doughty, Dion Phaneuf and Alec Martinez all 29 years of age and up, and top end defensive prospect Sean Durzi, who is right handed. The defensive prospect in general is bare, but seeing that Byram does fill a need, this pick is a no-brainer. It’s also entirely possible he makes the team out of camp, but he’d need a strong camp to get a good look, and beat out Durzi, who has a higher chance due to being older, as well as Derek Forbort and Paul LaDue, both seasoned veterans. Odds are certainly stacked against him, but the talent is there, and it would not surprise me that much.

 

Next Year’s Role: Potential bottom pair minutes with power play time in Los Angeles, but likely will stay with Vancouver in the WHL until that season ends, and then join the Kings late in the season if needed. Most likely will get time with the Ontario Reign of the AHL after the WHL season concludes.

 

All stats via eliteprospects

Rankings inspired by the Puck77 crew