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

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Who Would Be Available At #10?

The Vancouver Canucks have several different options in the 2019 NHL entry draft.

Here are a few realistic options for players that might be available when they select at 10th overall, ranked in order of how I prefer them.

Alex Turcotte

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Turcotte is an electrifying two-way forward, similar to a Brayden Point. Although he most likely will not be available at 10, he would be an amazing fit with Vancouver. With an overall 93 points in 48 games with the USNDTP, all while playing an energetic, well-rounded style, there is no denying Turcotte is a potential elite talent. He has elite level hands, is an elite skater, and scores goals like nobody’s business. Though somewhat smaller built at 5’11 185 pounds, he more than makes up for it with his skating and puck skills. He would fit very well in Vancouver, and give the Canucks the flexibility to play him either at center, where the Canucks have Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Adam Gaudette already, or potentially elevate Turcotte to the top line with Pettersson, or with Horvat.

Trevor Zegras

Zegras is another two-way forward, but with a different style than Turcotte. At a slight 6’0 and 168 pounds, Zegras’ playing style is sometimes compared to Pettersson. Collecting an overall 118 points in 82 games, while he may not reach the same ceiling as Pettersson, he still possesses elite hockey IQ and is a spectacular passer. He is considered an offense-first style player, but Zegras is no slouch defensively, and gets under opponents skin, with an aggressive style. Zegras, one of my favourite prospects available in the NHL draft, would be a fan favourite in Vancouver. Like Turcotte, he plays both wing and centre, which would allow a lot of flexibility. I can most likely see him playing left-wing on Horvat’s line, which would finally get Horvat some better line-mates, and allow both of them to flourish.

Cole Caufield

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Cole Caufield is a pure goal scorer. With a stunning overall 132 points, and 94 (!) goals in 87 games for the USNDTP, Caufield has the potential to score 50 in the NHL. Similar to the concerns surrounding Alex Debrincat, Caufield may scare teams off with his size, causing him to drop in the draft. But, Caufield arguably has more upside than every player available in this draft other than the top 2, and if he was 6 feet tall, he could’ve easily gone #2 or even #1 ahead of Hughes or Kakko. If Caufield’s game translates to the NHL, we could see another undersized forward light the NHL on fire. Some are concerned that Caufield may not put up numbers away from Hughes, but Vancouver has its own elite centres in Horvat and Pettersson to play with him. Caufield fills a positional need for the Canucks, as a winger, and has a sky-high potential with his deadly release and stellar hockey IQ.  Caufield could play with Pettersson and Brock Boeser. This would create one of the best top lines in the NHL.

Bowen Byram

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Undoubtedly the best defenseman available in this draft, and who unfortunately will also probably not be available at 10, Byram is arguably a sure-fire top 4 defenseman. Byram’s numbers in the WHL have been impressive. This season, he’s posted 26 goals and 45 assists in 67 games at the WHL level. It’s evident that Byram will be an elite puck mover. At 6’0, 194, Byram is a good size for a defenseman, and his skating remains elite. Byram is great at threading the needle with passes, and shots, and would likely step into the NHL instantly. Byram is an incredibly smart player and is very calm with the puck. He is not only incredible offensively, but excels in transition, and in the defensive zone. He’ll be able to munch minutes at the NHL level and provide an offensive spark from the back-end. Byram would pair very well with a veteran defenseman like Chris Tanev out of the gate, and eventually Jett Woo.

Matthew Boldy

The single best adjective to describe Boldy, who is bigger than many other prospects, at 6’2 and 192 pounds, is silky. With a total 119 points in 87 games, he uses his frame well and is an excellent passer and stick-handler. One of the best well-rounded players available in the draft, and a coaches dream, Boldy may not put up as scary offensive numbers, but he may be just as good overall. Boldy’s hockey IQ, stick-handling and passing are all elite level, and his shot is very deceptive. His skating isn’t amazing, but by all means, it is not a flaw. I see Boldy as a Max Pacioretty tier player, who won’t burn his opposition with speed or pure strength, but more so with his IQ and puck protection. Boldy would fit perfectly with Horvat, and would allow Boeser to stay on Pettersson’s line. I see Boldy as an all-around threat, who is good at everything he does.

Victor Söderström

Söderström is a player who won’t wow you, like some of the previous players on this list. Söderström is a different style player, a more calm, collected defenseman. In addition, he is a smooth skater, has great hockey IQ, and is a great passer. He seems to never make mistakes, which will have head coaches fall over heels for him. The Swedish defenseman isn’t particularly big, at 5’11 179 pounds, but always makes the right decisions. He might not surprise you, he may not make incredible rushes up the ice as Byram might, but Söderström has the potential to be an elite puck moving defenseman, with elite all-around talent. Söderström has elite decision-making, has a great shot, and he is incredibly smooth and smart with the puck. The Canucks could potentially pair him with Quinn Hughes and that would create a deadly defensive pairing. 

Peyton Krebs

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Peyton Krebs is a fantastic play-maker. He’s really fast, plays with heart, and is a true leader. Krebs might not be putting up insane numbers in the WHL, with 68 points in 64 games and he might be somewhat small at 5’11 181 pounds, but he is single-handedly carrying his team, the Kootenay Ice. I see Krebs as a sure-fire top 6 forward, with the potential to be a top line guy. Krebs is yet another character player, who’d be included in the Canucks leadership group in a few years (if drafted). He should be plugged into the Canucks top 6 the year after next, and he would fit well with Pettersson and Boeser.

Recap

The Vancouver Canucks have a ton of options for the upcoming NHL draft. While Judd Brackett and Jim Benning will choose their top prospect when the Canucks come onto the clock. But, these were some of my favourite players that could somewhat realistically be available when Benning walks onto the stage, barring a potential surprise trade.

stats from eliteprospects.com

player profiles from hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Niels Nielsen’s 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

The top 10 in the 2019 NHL draft, held in Vancouver, is one of the deepest top 10s in a while. There is a ton of elite talent available, from potential franchise talents in Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, to other potential elite players like Trevor Zegras, and Bowen Byram. This draft is front loaded with a lot of USHL talent, specifically the USNTDP. There are also several incredible European talents such as Vasili Podkolzin and Victor Soderstrom, and many others available later in the draft. Here is my personal top 10, from #10 to #1, for the upcoming NHL draft, based on how NHL ready they are, size, skill, and how much potential they have, with my personal take on their ceiling and floor. 

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#10 Vasili Podkolzin

Vasili would be far higher on this list if I was measuring potential only, but there are several risks to picking him up high in the draft. Podkolzin has decent size at 6’1 and 190 pounds, yet there are some concerns as to his strength, and whether he will come over from Russia. Podkolzin got a lot of his hype from the Hlinka Greztky tournament, and while his other stats are decent, they don’t show as much star power as he has shown in the past. Vasili Podkolzin seems to be a somewhat “boom or bust” pick, as there are some potential character issues too. However, his upside cannot be ignored. He brings a solid two-way game and plays with a decent amount of grit. Vasili brings a lot to the table, with a good shot, good offensive awareness, good passing and solid defensive skills. Overall he is a very skilled, all-around player, but one with some risks involved. Podkolzin is a risky pick, but if he pans out I could see him ending up as a 30 goal 65-75 point two-way winger.

Player Comparable: Pavel Datsyuk with slightly lesser hands/a smaller Alex Tuch

#9 Peyton Krebs

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Peyton Krebs is a high character two way forward, available in the 2019 NHL entry draft. Peyton plays on one of the worst teams in the WHL, the Kootenay Ice, and is still putting up very respectable numbers with 19 goals and 48 assists for 68 points in 64 games. Overall, his offensive upside isn’t as high as other talents in this draft, but he is a pretty surefire top 6 forward. Krebs’ best tools are his defensive play, hockey sense, and passing but he does not really have any flaws that stand out. He would be ideal for a team that is looking to contend somewhat soon and wants a very good all around, hardworking player with good hands, passing, and leadership qualities, while still having some offensive upside. Krebs is a very hard working forward, and if he pans out I would expect him to put up 15 goals and 50-60 points every year and be a consistent top 6 forward on any team.

Player comparable: Patrick Sharp

#8 Victor Soderstrom

Victor Soderstrom is an incredibly smooth skating two-way defensemen, who excels in every zone. He is incredibly smart, a great passer, a good defensive player, and is a very smooth skater. For the most part, he has been a regular defensemen in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), which is rare for a first-year draft eligible defenseman. Like Krebs, he does not seem to have any glaring flaws. Soderstrom is a right-handed D, which is highly coveted in high-level hockey and is an excellent two-way player. He is not very flashy, but is more of a reliable defensemen. He has the ability contribute offensively, even if that is in a secondary role. Victor will be almost certainly a reliable top 4 defenseman, who can QB a second power play unit and be deployed in almost every situation imaginable. Soderstrom is incredibly smooth, and silky, and I can see him putting up 8-10 goals and 30-40 points every year over an NHL career.

Player comparable: Jaccob Slavin/Mattias Ekholm

#7 Cole Caufield

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While diminutive in size at 5’6, Cole Caufield makes up for that with pure skill. Caufield is an electric skater, with devastating finishing ability. He can dangle, shoot pass, and control the puck with ease. Caufield is a pure wildcard in this upcoming draft because no one really knows whether teams will be scared off by his size or take a risk on pure talent alone, and take a potential franchise-altering player. Having just broken the USNDTP all time goal scoring record, he continues to produce with 27 goals and 39 points in 26 games in the USHL this year. Cole is also an incredibly cerebral player and seems to think the game a whole step ahead of everyone else. Playing on a loaded USNDTP team with Matthew Boldy, Alex Turcotte, Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras to name a few, many of these talents will be hearing their name called early in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Caufield might not pan out due to his size and there are some questions as to if his game will translate to the NHL, but if he does I could potentially see him as a 45 goal, 90 point top line speedster in the NHL.

Player comparable: Alex Debrincat

#6 Matthew Boldy

Matthew Boldy has many weapons at his disposal. He has size, elite passing ability, great hands, a laser of a shot and amazing hockey sense. In my opinion, one of the most NHL ready forwards in the draft, Boldy should be an NHL top 6 Forward as early as next year. Boldy, at 6’2 and 185 pounds is not only a spectacular offensive talent, but is very smooth and silky, and plays a mistake-free style of game. Boldy’s goals this year in the USHL are a highlight reel on their own. The best adjective to describe this forward is silky. Boldy does not make too many mistakes, and is very reliable in every way. One of my personal favourite players in this draft, I will be thrilled to watch Matthew Boldy develop and grow as a player throughout his inevitable long NHL career. I can see Boldy putting up 35 goals, and 75-80 points in his peak, while being very reliable defensively, making very few mistakes, and excelling at controlling the puck across the ice in transition.

Player comparable: a hybrid of Blake Wheeler/Max Pacioretty

#5 Bowen Byram

Bowen Byram, playing for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, has been an absolute monster this year. Racking up the goals and points as a defensemen, he has arguably been the best D-man in the WHL. Calm, cool and collected with the puck, Byram is a fantastic passer, has amazing hockey sense and is excellent at breaking out the puck with speed using his unbelievable skating.  In almost any other NHL draft Bowen Byram would easily be a top two or three talent. Bowen does make mistakes from time to time in his own end, but nothing that maturity and time spent in the NHL can’t fix. Overall, Bowen Byram should be an elite defensemen in the NHL for many years and will be able to quarterback a power play like the very best in the NHL. In the NHL I can see Byram potentially being a 15-20 goal, 50-60 point elite power play quarterback, much like his player comparable.

Player Comparable: Morgan Rielly

#4 Alex Turcotte

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Alex Turcotte is a great well-rounded hockey player. Turcotte has incredible hands, is great on the forecheck, great defensively, and is an elite passer and shooter. Size might be a bit of an issue, like many of the USNDTP forwards in this draft class, but his raw skills should be more than enough to make him a star in the NHL. Turcotte is an incredible player in all 3 zones and should be a top line player in the NHL for many years. Alex Turcotte is yet another player that should more than likely prove to the NHL that size does not matter. If Turcotte pans out, I can see him being a 70-80 point legitimate top line forward, who excels defensively as well as offensively.

NHL comparable: Brayden Point/Logan Couture

#3 Trevor Zegras

Trevor Zegras is one of my favourite players available in the NHL entry draft this year. He is absolutely lighting the USHL on fire and putting up somewhat Hughes-like numbers. He’s got some size, at 6’0 171 pounds, and uses it pretty well. His best assets are his skating, hands, and hockey IQ. Trevor is very much like Jack Hughes, but without rockets attached to his skates. Zegras should be able to play both PK, PP, and even strength with ease, and can play both left wing and center, providing flexibility to any team that wishes to select him. An incredibly smart player, Trevor reads the game very quickly and seems to be thinking ahead at all times. He has produced both on Jack Hughes’ line and off it, and his upside is absolutely through the roof. If Trevor Zegras ends up as good as I suspect he will be, I can see him being a perennial 80-90 point, 25 goal all-around threat. He can do everything well, and with ease, so translating his game to the NHL should be relatively easy for him.

Player comparable: Mathew Barzal/Elias Pettersson

#2 Jack Hughes

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Jack Hughes seemed to have number one locked up throughout this entire year, but while he has slid to #2 on many draft rankings, it is less his fault and more so Kaapo Kakko’s emergence as a 2nd legitimate franchise player available in this draft. Jack Hughes is one of the most electrifying prospects ever available in the NHL draft and would go first overall almost every other draft year. He doesn’t have any glaring flaws and seems to do everything well. Jack Hughes is practically unhittable, as a near McDavid level skater, and his hands and offensive awareness are equal or better than Connor McDavid’s. Strength might be a bit of a concern, but Jack Hughes is so fast, and so smart, that he typically does not end up in situations where he needs to out muscle players. This draft is absolutely stacked up front, and most of the entire top 10 is going later than they should, solely because of how much elite talent is available early in the draft this year. To make matters even better, whichever team lands Jack Hughes will also have a chance to draft his younger brother, defenseman Luke Hughes (2021 NHL Draft) who is arguably a way better skater than both him and his older brother Quinn. With 12 goals and 44 points in 22 games in the USHl this year, for exactly 2 points per game, Jack Hughes is nearly a pure play-maker, but he also has the tools to become more of a sniper. Expect him, and his offensive skills to be showing up on highlight reels for his entire NHL career. I can foresee Jack easily being a 30 goal, 90 or more point threat every single year, who electrifies buildings and brings fans to their feet the moment he touches the puck.

Player Comparable: a mix of Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid

#1 Kaapo Kakko

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Here it is. Ranked at #1, with one of the best names in hockey, is 6’2, 190-pound elite all-around player, Kaapo Kakko. While not as electric as players like Hughes, Kaapo Kakko brings an incredibly powerful game to the NHL. He can beat you with speed, he can dangle around you, he can be a power forward, he can be a defensive forward, and can do pretty much anything you require of him. Kaapo Kakko, in my opinion, has surpassed Jack Hughes for the number one overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, hosted in Vancouver. Depending on coach and team, he can play many different roles, and he can play them all in an elite way. Kakko has 38 points and 22 goals in 45 games, for .84 points per game in the Liiga, which is tier 1 Finland. He has broken a record for most points by a U18 player, passing elite NHL two way center Aleksander Barkov. Kaapo Kakko can play all 3 forward positions, making him incredibly valuable to NHL teams, and has plenty of size and skill to dominate the National Hockey League. In his prime, expect Kaapo Kakko to destroy teams on all ends of the ice, both defensively and offensively and put up 40 goals and 90-95 points consistently throughout his career.

Player Comparable: a mix of Mikko Rantanen and Auston Matthews

Final Thoughts

Overall, the 2019 NHL entry draft, held in Vancouver has the potential to be one of the strongest NHL drafts in a long time. From elite offensive talents, puck-moving defensemen, elite defensive forwards, all around forwards, and even some risky picks, this top 10 should be a lot of fun to watch play out live or on TV come late June. Honourable Mentions: Cam York, Dylan CozensAlex NewhookArthur KaliyevSpencer Knight.

Stats via @eliteprospects (www.eliteprospects.com)