Welcome back to my “Gems of the Draft” series.
Last time, we went over the Atlantic Division teams and took a look at one player from each team that could turn out to be a gem from the 2019 NHL Draft class. Here’s a little recap.
Boston Bruins – Matias Mantyviki (D)
Buffalo Sabres – Filip Cederqvist (LW)
Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe (LW)
Florida Panthers – Cole Schwindt (C)
Montreal Canadiens – Arsen Khisamutdinov (LW)
Ottawa Senators – Mads Sogaard (G)
Tampa Bay Lightning – Max Crozier (D)
Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikko Kokkonen (D)
This time, we’re going to take a look at the Metropolitan Division and see who could surprise among the Metro teams. They dominated the first round of the draft namely in the top three, with first overall pick Jack Hughes joining the New Jersey Devils and second overall pick Kaapo Kakko joining the New York Rangers. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of these under-the-radar players.
Carolina Hurricanes – Blake Murray (C, 6th Round, 183rd Overall)
The Hurricanes had a Cinderella season of sorts this past season. After entering the regular season with intentions of MAYBE qualifying for a first round appearance, they ended up advancing to the conference finals before getting swept at the hands of the Boston Bruins. With that being said, the Hurricanes still had an incredible successful season and still ended up with a solid first round pick, taking centre Ryan Suzuki at 28th overall. The Hurricanes had a very busy draft weekend, drafting 12 new prospects, and I think their gem in disguise is Blake Murray.
Murray had just finished off his second season with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, and after a strong debut season that saw him put up 44 points in 57 games, he followed up with an equally successful season where he ended up with 50 points in 66 games. He’s one of the younger players in the draft, turning 18 in early July, and he has good size at 6’2 and 187lbs. The way I see it, the Hurricanes are laughing by picking up an offensively talented centre with good size in the 6th round.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Tyler Angle (C, 7th Round, 212th Overall)
I wish I could go off on a tangent about the Blue Jackets having a busy draft weekend and selecting a plethora of fresh young talent, but the reality is they did the exact opposite. They drafted a whopping three players over the weekend, with two of them coming in the fourth round and one of them coming in the seventh. To make my decision, I went with the latter and chose Tyler Angle as my potential gem.
After missing the cutoff date for the 2018 draft by 15 days, the 2000 born Angle stormed back with a strong draft season, good enough for the Jackets to take a flier on him in the seventh round. He spent this season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and was a key part of their offense, putting up 44 points in 58 games. This was good enough for fifth on the team in scoring. Angle will likely spend another year or two in the juniors, but he could turn out to be something for the Jackets.
New Jersey Devils – Patrick Moynihan (C, 6th Round, 158th Overall)
Any Devils player from the 2019 draft class likely won’t receive too much media attention for the sole purpose that all eyes will be on Jack Hughes, who was drafted first overall by the Devils. New Jersey is now looking at a one-two punch down the middle of Hughes and Nico Hischier, which will without a doubt become a force in the Metro over the next few seasons. Granted, the lack of pressure could benefit some of the players drafted in the later rounds, and Patrick Moynihan is one of them.
The USNTDP produced lots of talent this year, with the Americans making up a large portion of the 2019 draft class. While Moynihan didn’t light up the USHL like some drafted higher, his totals were still impressive with a combined 68 points over 92 games with the program. The 5’10 centre is committed to Providence College of the NCAA for the forseeable future, so it will be interesting to monitor his development and see if he becomes something for the Devils.
New York Islanders – Reece Newkirk (C, 5th Round, 147th Overall)
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In a successful first season without John Tavares leading the charge, the Islanders advanced to the second round before being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes. Slotted to pick at 23rd overall, they went slightly off the board and selected Swedish forward Simon Holmstrom. Aside from that, the Isles had a quiet draft weekend with only five picks, and out of the crop I think their gem is going to be Reece Newkirk.
Newkirk spent this season with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and took a huge step in his draft season, going from 11 points in 58 games to 59 points in 68 games. He isn’t the biggest player on the ice, standing at 5’11 and 172lbs, but he’s a talented offensive player and was good enough to finish fourth on the team in scoring on the team. With the Islanders already having a plethora of offensive talent lined up in the form of Mat Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Anthony Beauvillier, Newkirk’s name could join this list in the future.
New York Rangers – Adam Edstrom (C, 6th Round, 161st Overall)
Like the Devils, the Rangers’ 2019 draft class likely won’t have to worry about too much time in the spotlight as most of the focus will be shifted to second overall pick Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers had a solid draft day that saw eight new prospects don the red white and blue, and somebody worth keeping an eye on is forward Adam Edstrom.
The first thing you’ll notice about Edstrom is that he’s an absolute truck on the ice, standing at 6’6 and 207lbs. He doesn’t shy away from physicality and he combines this with a knack for scoring goals, which is an impressive combination that can make coaches drool. He primarily played for Mora IK’s J20 team, putting up 16 points in 20 games, and also spent time with Mora IK of the SHL where he put up one point in 15 games. He’s under contract with Rogle BK of the SHL next season and will look to secure a full time role with the team.
Philadelphia Flyers – Egor Serdyuk (RW, 6th Round, 165th Overall)
The Philadelphia Flyers have arguably the best crop of young talent on the back end, with a pool consisting of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Philippe Myers. They added to this crop in the first round this year, selecting defenseman Cam York at 14th overall, meaning the Flyers could arguably have the best defensive core in the NHL over the next few years. They selected seven players on draft weekend, and I have their potential gem in the person of a forward this time in Egor Serdyuk.
Serdyuk spent his entire career playing in his native Russia, but made the move to North America last season and spent his draft season playing for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL where he put up 65 points in 63 games. When you get the chance to draft a player who scores at a pace above a point per game in a round as late as the sixth, you take it. The Flyers could really have something going here.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Nathan Legare (RW, 3rd Round, 74th Overall)
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After a disappointing end to the season in 2018-19 that saw them get swept in the first round by the New York Islanders, the Penguins saw themselves at 21st overall on the draft board and used it to select forward Samuel Poulin. Like the Islanders, they only selected five players on day two but could have found themselves a gem in the third round. He goes by the name of Nathan Legare.
Legare could be deemed as both a gem and a steal, given that he very well could have gone earlier in the draft. But regardless, the fact that the Penguins were able to pounce on a player of Legare’s type in the third round counts as a gem of a pick for me. In his second season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, he absolutely exploded offensively and put up a 45 goal, 87 point campaign over 68 games. He’s a gifted offensive forward and could end up being a steal for the Penguins so late in the draft.
Washington Capitals – Martin Hugo Has (D, 3rd Round, 91st Overall)
After a historic cup run in the 2017-18 season, the Washington Capitals fell victim to a first round elimination at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. They ended up with a pick at 25th overall and used it to select forward Connor McMichael, and then used their second round pick to select first-round talent Brett Leason. This left the Capitals with two more picks over the weekend, and for their potential gem I decided to go with Martin Hugo Has.
Has is a 6’4 right handed Czech defenseman who spent this season playing for Tappara U20 of Finland’s junior leagues. He impressed here, putting up 16 points over 37 games. The defensive combination of size and right-handedness automatically makes you more valuable as a player, and I’m sure the Capitals had this in mind when they selected him. He’s geared up to play for Tappara’s pro team for the SM-Liiga next season, and could turn into an impressive pick for the Capitals.
Thanks for reading. Tune in next time where we’ll dive into the Central division and check out all of their potential gems.
stats from eliteprospects.com