With the 2019 NHL Draft just one week away, let’s take a look at who each team may take with their 1st round pick. I always enjoy taking a look at team draft tendencies and who might be a good fit where.

Before we get started, here are a few disclaimers:
  • This is who I think each team WILL take, not who I think they SHOULD take. For example, in my latest draft rankings, I have Swedish defender Philip Broberg ranked as a late first-rounder, whereas in actuality, I think he will be taken closer to pick 10, perhaps even enter the top 10.
  • The 2019 is one of the hardest drafts to predict in recent memory. Outside of the top two, this is a really wide open draft. There are also limited high-end centers in this draft, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they go sooner than many think they will go. In recent years, teams like Arizona have taken a center (Barrett Hayton at 5 last year) much higher than most had him actually ranked. This may cause some players to fall unexpectedly and others to rise unexpectedly. Overall, outside of picks 1 and 2, scouts and teams are all over the place on their actual rankings.
  • Flyers fans, you may not like my projection. However, it is based upon Chuck Fletcher’s draft history, not who I actually think the Flyers should take.
With that being said, here are my projections for each team heading into the draft.
  1. New Jersey Devils- C Jack Hughes

Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes are considered to be close in their skill level. While Kakko may be the better NHL player next season, consensus is Hughes will be a better player long-term. Hughes is also a center, a more coveted position. Devils GM Ray Shero has a strong relationship with Hughes’ father (who has been around NHL circles in various positions in management for a while). It would be a big surprise if the Devils did not take Hughes.

  1. New York Rangers- W Kaapo Kakko

The Rangers will make the easiest pick in the draft. There are two top guys. Whoever doesn’t go #1 will be the Rangers’ selection. Simple as that. Kakko is an NHL ready power forward, and he will make an immediate impact next season.

  1. Chicago Blackhawks- C Alex Turcotte

This is when the draft gets interesting. The draft becomes wide open here at pick three. The Hawks could go a number of directions here at three. Defenseman Bowen Byram projects as a number one NHL defenseman, which are hard to come by. However, the Hawks have loaded up on defenders in their last two drafts. They could go with Byram here, but Turcotte is likely a better fit depth wise, plus acquiring centers at the NHL level is extremely difficult. Turcotte projects as a number one NHL center. He has few flaws in his game and excels in all situations. He would be a perfect fit for the Hawks and will likely be in their lineup in a year.

  1. Colorado Avalanche- C Kirby Dach

This pick might be a surprise to some. Bowen Byram is an excellent prospect and probably should be taken here at four. However, unless the Avalanche trade down, they are in need of a center more than a defender at this point. Many scouts are high on Dach, due to his size and hockey sense. Dach projects as a low-end number one center. He would fit nicely in the near future behind Nate MacKinnon.

  1. Los Angeles Kings- D Bowen Byram

The Kings will love that Byram is available here at number five. The Kings are in full rebuild mode and in need of defensive depth. Byram projects as a number one defender and may jump into an NHL lineup as soon as next season.

  1. Detroit Red Wings- C Dylan Cozens

The sexy pick here for the Wings is Trevor Zegras. However, in Steve Yzerman’s GM tenure, he has never once picked a player outside of the CHL. If he sticks with that history, Yzerman will take Dylan Cozens. Cozens is 6’4″ and extremely fast. The Wings need a center, and Cozens fits the bill here.

  1. Buffalo Sabres- C Trevor Zegras

The Sabres could go with a a scoring winger here, but after the Ryan O’Reilly trade debacle and the slow development of Casey Mittelstadt, the Sabres need more long-term skill and depth at the center position. Zegras is considered by many to be the top playmaker and passer in the draft. He would slot in nicely as a number two behind Jack Eichel.

  1. Edmonton Oilers- W Cole Caufield

There are a number of rumors surrounding this pick. Some believe the new Oilers GM Ken Holland is interested in Swedish defender Phil Broberg. However, if Ken Holland showed anything in last year’s draft, he is willing to leave position needs on the table to take the best player available. At this point, that player is Cole Caufield. Caufield is a goal scoring machine and would add excellent depth to an Oiler team in desperate need of a scoring winger.

  1. Anaheim Ducks- W Matt Boldy

Ducks GM Bob Murray loves big, strong power forwards. He may also go with a Swedish defender, but the Ducks are still fairly deep currently at that position. Boldy is the type of player Murray loves. He is a strong forward who projects more as a goal-scorer than a set-up man. He would compliment the Ducks’ current deep center prospect pool.

  1. Vancouver Canucks- C/W Peyton Krebs

The Canucks are in need of forward depth, and Krebs is an excellent prospect. Krebs just suffered a major injury in the offseason, and that may influence where he is taken in the draft. However, most scouts believe the injury will not affect Krebs in the long-term. Krebs has a high offensive ceiling and would provide excellent depth to a burgeoning forward core.

  1. Philadelphia Flyers- D Philip Broberg

The Flyers took two forwards in last year’s draft. They have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL but could definitely use some depth at defense. New Flyers’ GM Chuck Fletcher likes “safe” picks, and Broberg is considered by many to be so. He is a big, fast defender who has all the tools to be a top four defender. He fits the type of player Fletcher has targeted in the past.

  1. Minnesota Wild- C Alex Newhook

The Wild are a tough team to project when it comes to the draft. After making a surprise pick in the first round last year and the unpredictable nature of second year GM Paul Fenton on the trade market, it really is a toss up as to who the Wild might take. The Wild are in desperate need of skill and center depth. Alex Newhook is the best center available and has a high offensive ceiling.

  1. Florida Panthers- D Thomas Harley

The Panthers haven’t taken a defender in the first round since 2014. They have a ton of forward depth in their prospect pool but are desperately lacking in the defensive realm. For this reason, there is high probability Panthers GM Dale Tallon drafts for position here. Harley is a 6’3″ defender from the OHL. He projects as a top four defender and would be a great fit for the Panthers’ prospect pool.

  1. Arizona Coyotes- C Phil Tomasino

The Coyotes went off the board a bit with their first round pick last year and may do so again. Tomasino fits the type of player Coyotes GM John Chayka seems to be targeting these days. Tomasino is an excellent five-on-five offensive player. He is also in the OHL, a league that has been targeted specifically by the Coyotes in recent drafts above others.

  1. Montreal Canadiens- D Moritz Seider

The Canadiens have a plethora of center prospects and could use some depth defensively. They could go for a small skilled defender like Cam York, but are more likely to pick the 6’4″ Seider, as Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin values size at this position. Seider projects as a top four defender at the NHL level.

  1. Colorado Avalanche- D Cam York

York is a highly skilled offensive defender. After selecting a center at four, the Avs have the luxury of selecting a future top four defender.

  1. Vegas Golden Knights- D Victor Soderstrom

The Golden Knights need a replacement for the recently traded Erik Brannstrom. Soderstrom doesn’t have nearly the offensive upside of his Swedish counterpart. However, he still projects as a top four skilled two-way defender.

  1. Dallas Stars- W Vasili Podkolzin

The Stars will be shocked that Podkolzin fell this far. Some have him ranked in the top ten, but with Podkolzin being under contract for the next two seasons in Russia, there is a likelihood he falls. The Stars are not afraid to draft Russians (see Gurianov and Nichushkin for examples). He is unlikely to fall further than the Stars at 18.

  1. Ottawa Senators- W Raphael Lavoie

The Senators have a deep prospect pool and can pick based upon their idea of who is best available. Lavoie is a big offensive minded forward, and Sens GM Pierre Dorion seems to value size in prospects (see Logan Brown and Brady Tkachuk for example). Lavoie fits the bill here.

  1. New York Rangers- C Ryan Suzuki

The Rangers need center depth and will love that Suzuki falls to them here. Suzuki has excellent vision and is highly skilled. He fits an organizational need and is also potentially the best player available.

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins- W Arthur Kaliyev

Kaliyev is considered to be one of the best goal scorers in the draft, but some are concerned that is all he offers. The Penguins haven’t had a first-round pick in years and are in need of depth at all positions. Kaliyev projects as a future 30 goal scorer. Pens GM Jim Rutherford hasn’t been afraid to make a “risky” pick if he thinks a player’s overall upside is worth it (see the Darren Sprong pick for example). The Pens will be ecstatic that Kaliyev falls to them here.

  1. Los Angeles Kings- G Spencer Knight

In general, I think taking a goalie in the first-round is a bad idea. That being said, Knight is considered by many to be one of the top goalie prospects in recent memory. With Jonathan Quick on the decline, the Kings could use an heir apparent. Knight projects as a future number one goalie.

  1. New York Islanders- C Connor McMichael

The Islanders need depth at center, and though Bobby Brink is available here and is likely the best available at this position, it seems as though Connor McMichael may be the most likely pick here. McMichael is a two-way forward, in a similar mold to past Lou Lamoriello Devil’s pick John Quenneville. McMichael projects as a middle six forward and plays the type of game Lou Lamoriello loves.

  1. Nashville Predators- W Nils Hoglander

The Preds are in desperate need of skill, and Hoglander is a skilled winger. He adds offensive depth to the Preds’ prospect pool.

  1. Washington Capitals- W Patrik Puistola

The Caps have loaded up on defensive depth the last few seasons. They are in need of skilled forwards in their prospect pool. Puistola is one of the best skilled forwards available and has top six forward potential.

  1. Calgary Flames- W Brayden Tracey

Tracey had an excellent season in the WHL. He is a highly skilled forward that Flames GM Brad Treliving would have seen regularly in western Canada.

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning- W Nick Robertson

Robertson is a small skilled forward and fits the Tampa model for the type of players they target. Robertson projects as a top six winger at the NHL level.

  1. Carolina Hurricanes- C Bobby Brink

Brink climbed the draft board this season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go earlier in the draft. Brink is listed as only 5’8″, but he plays with a high level of compete. He has excellent hockey sense and would be a steal for the Hurricanes, who desperately need offensive depth.

  1. Anaheim Ducks- D Tobias Bjornfot

Ducks GM Bob Murray loves Swedish defenders, and Bjornfot is the best available. He plays a strong two-way game, similar to current bottom pairing Ducks defender Jacob Larsson.

  1. Buffalo Sabres- D Ville Heinola

After taking a forward earlier in the draft, the Sabres will look to take a defender with their second pick. Heinola projects as a two-way defender, and he already has experience playing against men in Finland. He adds to a growing deep pool of Sabres’ defensive prospects.

  1. Boston Bruins- W Samuel Poulin

The Bruins could go a number of directions here, but Poulin plays a style of game the Bruins love and would be an easy fit in their system. Poulin is a power forward who may be a top six winger if he develops properly.