Final Draft Rankings

With the NHL Draft just a few short weeks away and all major international tournaments coming to close, I have finalized my draft rankings for the 2019 NHL Draft. Below you will find general information on each prospect and what type of player I think they will become at the NHL level.  

Rankings

  1. C Jack Hughes 5’11″ 170, USNTDP 41-23-63-86-18

Hughes is an elite talent and most likely the best player available in this year’s draft. Though small in stature, Hughes uses his elite speed and vision to create space for himself and other teammates. Hughes is more of a play-maker than a goal-scorer. He may not have the same immediate impact as #2 prospect Kaapo Kakko. However, center is, first and foremost, a more coveted position (Kaako is a winger). Second, Hughes may not have the same immediate impact as Kaako does in the NHL, but he projects as having a potential higher ceiling. Hughes projects as a franchise center and is NHL ready. He will likely jump into the NHL right away next season.

  1. W Kaapo Kakko 6’2″ 190, FIN 45-22-16-38-10

Kakko was a revolution this season. He was ranked by many to be a top 10 pick before the beginning of the year, and he had solidified his number 2 ranking by Christmas. Kakko is a powerful goal-scorer. In fact, he broke Florida star Alex Barkov’s record for most goals by an under-18 player in Finland’s top league. Kakko also tore up the World Championships, scoring another 5 goals against a high level of competition. Kakko is also a relentless forechecker and is almost impossible to knock off the puck. Kakko’s only knock at times is his speed, but he makes up for his lack of top speed with elite hockey sense. He projects as a franchise winger. Look for Kakko to be in the NHL as soon as next season and make an immediate impact.

  1. C Alex Turcotte 5’11″ 194, USNTDP 30-23-30-53-18

Turcotte, overall this season, averaged over 2 points per game. This, in fact, was a higher rate than #1 prospect Jack Hughes. If it wasn’t for injury, Turcotte would have set numerous records this season. Turcotte has very few flaws in his game if any. He boasts excellent offensive ability and plays a well rounded game. He hates losing and plays with a tenacious flare and high compete level, a level that is considered one of the highest in the draft overall. Turcotte is likely a year away from NHL duty, but it wouldn’t be surprisingly to see him in the NHL late next season. Turcotte projects as a two-way #1 center at the NHL level.

  1. D Bowen Byram 6’1″ 192, WHL 67-26-45-71-80

It is rare that a defenseman scores over 20 goals in any league in this day and age, and yet Byram put up 26 in his draft eligible, one of the highest totals in recent memory. Byram is the only true #1 defenseman prospect in this draft. Byram is an elite skater and has tremendous upside. He also performs in high pressure situations, as shown by his ability to produce in the playoffs and in overtime games. Byram has the ability to drive play, something that is rare amongst defenseman. Byram projects as a true #1, first pairing defenseman at the NHL level.

  1. W Cole Caufield 5’7″ 157, USTDP 57-58-24-82-35

Caufield is a goal scoring machine. He already has an NHL shot and NHL release. Somehow he managed to score over 70 goals total this season. At the world under-18’s, he scored a whopping 14 goals in 7 games. Caufield reminds many scouts of Chicago Blackhawks breakout star Alex Debrincat. Both players are 5’7″, yet have a tremendous release. Caufield’s biggest knock is his size and at times his skating. He has low top-end speed, yet he always finds a way to create space for himself to get off a quick shot. Caufield projects as a first-line scoring winger at the NHL level. He will need at least one year of seasoning before jumping into the NHL.

  1. C Trevor Zegras 6’0″ 170, USTNDP 54-26-52-78-92

Zegras is one of the best, if not the best playmaker in this year’s draft. Even though he was the third line center on a stacked USTNDP team, he still managed to put up well over a point a game. Zegras has a unique ability to create space by holding onto the puck and using his elite hockey sense to find open teammates. He plays with a high compete level and does have an excellent shot, though his first instinct is to pass. Scouts are intrigued by what kind of player he could be with increased minutes. Zegras projects as a low-end #1 playmaking center at the NHL level.

  1. W Vasili Podkolzin 6’1″ 190, RUS 14-2-3-5-4

Podkolzin can be a bit of a polarizing prospect. He is one of the most exciting players to watch in the draft. He is a tenacious forechecker who isn’t afraid to crash the net. He also possesses excellent offensive skills. Podkolzin’s biggest knock was his inability to put up points in the leagues he was playing in. However, he also played for a number of different teams and lacked consistent linemates. Overall, Podzolkin has all the tools to be a successful top 6 winger power forward in the NHL. He will likely spend the next two seasons playing in Russia, as he is still under contract.

  1. C Dylan Cozens 6’3″ 185, WHL 68-34-50-84-30

Cozens is an excellent combination of size, speed, and skill. Cozens is a very well-rounded player. He uses his size and speed to create space for his teammates. He also possesses an excellent shot. Considered by many to be NHL-ready, Cozens biggest knock at times is his lack of strength. Cozens projects as a high-end #2 center, and considered by many to be a “safe” pick in this year’s draft.

  1. W Matthew Boldy 6’2″ 187, USNTDP 57-30-39-69-28

Similar to Cozens, Boldy possesses an excellent combination of size, speed, and skill. More of a goal-scorer than a playmaker, Boldy uses his strength down low to consistently create scoring chances. He also isn’t afraid to use his excellent shot to attempt to score from the slot and off the rush. Boldy’s big shot is his calling card. His biggest need for growth is in well-rounding his game and being more consistent overall. Boldy projects as a top 6 goal scoring winger at the NHL level and will likely be NHL ready in two years.

  1. C Kirby Dach 6’4″ 200, WHL62-25-48-73-40

Due to his size and ability, Dach is often compared to fellow WHL center Dylan Cozens. However, there are differences in their game. Dach is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He uses his frame and high-end puck skills to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Dach’s biggest knock is his game often lacks tenacity and a high level of compete. Dach projects as a high-end #2 center at the NHL level and is likely a year or two away from regular NHL duty.

  1. C Alex Newhook 5’11″ 190, BCHL 53-38-64-102-21

Newhook is a well-rounded offensive player and one of the most underrated players in the draft. Part of this is due to the league Newhook plays in. The BCHL is a tier II junior league in Canada, well below the WHL level on the West Coast. Yet, many NHL players and strong prospects have come from this league, and it’s a direct feeder to the NCAA. Newhook put up 102 points and scored at almost a 2 points per game pace. He also produced at every major international event for his age group this past season. Newhook projects as a high-end number 2 center at the NHL level. He is likely 2-3 years away from regular NHL duty.

  1. W Arthur Kaliyev 6’2″ 190, OHL 67-51-51-102-22

Similar to Caufield, Kaliyev is a goal scoring machine but in a much bigger frame. In two years in the OHL, Kaliyev has shown that he has high-end goal scoring ability. Kaliyev has an NHL ready shot and has an uncanny ability to find space to get off his quick release. Most concerns surrounding Kaliyev’s game revolve around his perceived lack of drive at times. However, not many players in the draft can score as he can. Kaliyev projects as a top-6 goal scoring winger. He has some work to do on his overall game, but he may be NHL ready.

  1. C Bobby Brink 5’10″ 165, USHL 43-35-32-67-22

There isn’t much not to like about Brink’s game. Brink had the highest point-per-game average of any player in the USHL. Brink has an overall excellent skillset. He has high-end hockey sense and offensive ability. He plays with a high level of tenacity and is involved in all areas of the ice. Apart from Brink’s size, it is hard to find many flaws in his game. Brink projects as a high-end #2 center at the NHL level. He is likely a year or two away from being NHL ready.

  1. C Peyton Krebs 5’11″ 180, WHL 64-19-49-68-63

Krebs has managed to put up good offensive numbers in two years on very bad teams in the WHL. Krebs is considered to be a well-rounded offensive player. He averaged over a point a game with little-to-no support last season. Krebs uses his speed and instincts to create opportunities for himself and teammates. He also plays with a high compete level. Krebs may project more as a winger than a center at the NHL level, but regardless he is likely a top 6 offensive player at the NHL level. He is likely a season or two away.

  1. D Victor Soderstrom 5’11″ 176, SWE 44-4-3-7-22

Soderstrom saw his stock climb as the season progressed and is now solidified in the top 20 prospects in the draft. Soderstrom is a two-way defender with excellent skating ability. He is a prototypical Swedish defender, and he excelled playing against men last season. Soderstrom projects as a two-way, 2nd pairing defender at the NHL level. He is likely 2-3 years away.

  1. W Raphael Lavoie 6’4″ 200, QMJHL 62-32-41-73-31

Lavoie has had the luxury of a long playoff run this season in the QMJHL and this has helped his stock rise. Lavoie scored at a torrid pace in the playoffs, and his team made it all the way to the Memorial Cup Final. Lavoie’s size immediately stands out, and he uses his frame well to create scoring chances down low. He could use some improvement in his skating and consistency. Lavoie projects as a middle-6 forward with offensive upside. He is likely a year or two away from being an NHL regular.

  1. D Thomas Harley 6’3″ 185, OHL 68-11-47-58-24

Harley is one of the better offensive defensemen in the draft. Harley put up excellent numbers in the OHL this season and scouts believe his offensive ability is just beginning. Boasting a large frame, Harley uses his size to help him create space. Harley also possesses an excellent first pass and has decent hockey sense as well. Harley projects as a high end second pairing defender at the NHL level. He is likely 2-3 years away from the NHL level.

  1. D Cam York 5’11″ 176, USNTDP 54-10-41-51-16

York is a stereotypical modern defenseman. Though small in stature, York possesses excellent skating and puck moving ability. At times, York struggles to handle larger competition in the defensive zone. However, his overall play contributes to strong possession by his team, and his offensive ability helps create scoring chances. York projects as a high end second pairing defender at the NHL level. He is likely 2-3 years away.

  1. C Phil Tomasino 6’0″ 181, OHL 67-34-38-72-32

Tomasino had one of the highest scoring rates at 5-on-5 of any draft eligible prospect. Tomasino also saw his game and offense improve as the season progressed. He plays an excellent overall game, and his shot stands out. Tomasino is at his best in open ice and uses his speed to creating scoring chances. Tomasino’s biggest knock is his lack of strength, but this will likely come with physical maturity.

  1. W Nick Robertson 5’9″ 170, OHL 54-27-28-55-24

Robertson is one of the most creative players in the draft. Robertson finds a way to set up his teammates using his edges and speed. He is willing to try plays other players can’t. He has excellent hockey sense, and he stood out at the Top Prospects Game this past year. Robertson’s biggest issue is likely his size, but he makes up for it with his skating ability and elusiveness. Robertson projects as a top-6 winger with offensive upside. He is likely 2 years away.

  1. D Ville Heinola 5’11″ 176, FIN 34-2-12-14-26

Finland has been cranking out strong prospects today, and Heinola is no exception. Heinola’s biggest asset is his hockey sense and his ability to make a strong first pass. Heinola has very few flaws in his game. He does need to get stronger, but that will come with time. He projects as a top 4 defender with offensive upside. He is likely 2-3 years away from NHL ready.

  1. C Ryan Suzuki 6’0″ 172, OHL 65-25-50-75-14

Suzuki was considered by many to be a top 10 talent before the beginning of the year. Even though he did put up solid offensive numbers, scouts were expecting significantly more from him. Suzuki projects as a number 2 playmaking center, similar to his brother Nick, a Montreal Canadiens’ prospect. Suzuki is likely 2-3 years away from NHL duty.

  1. D Moritz Seider 6’4″ 200, GER 29-2-4-6-8

Seider is a big German defender that is considered by many to be a project. Seider possesses excellent size and strength and played against men in Germany last season. He also didn’t look out of place at the World Championships. Seider has all the tools to be a top-4 two-way defender at the NHL level. However, he will likely need a good amount of development time (3-4 years).

  1. D Philip Broberg 6’3″ 203, SWE2 41-2-7-9-14

Some scouts have Broberg as high as a top 10 in this year’s draft. While he may have the skating and size to make him a decent prospect, Broberg’s overall game has struggled this season. He struggled to put up points in Sweden’s 2nd division, and he makes questionable decisions with the puck at times. With time, Broberg may turn into a strong 2nd pairing defender. He is likely 3-4 years away from the NHL.

  1. G Spencer Knight 6’3″ 198, USNTDP 28 2.50 .908

Knight is the best goalie available in this draft. Boasting a large frame, excellent instincts, and athleticism, Knight is considered by many to be a future #1 goalie in the NHL. Unfortunately, goalies are extremely hard to project, and Knight is no exception. While his tools are excellent, time will tell if he can turn into a #1 goalie at the NHL level. Many compare his demeanor to Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price, which is a good sign.

  1. W Jacob Pelletier 5’9″ 161, QMJHL 65-39-50-89-24

Pelletier is another small skilled forward in this year’s draft. Pelletier’s biggest asset is his hockey sense. Pelletier uses his speed and high-end skill to produce and set up scoring chances. He also has a deceptive shot. If taller, Pelletier would likely be ranked higher. Pelletier has top 6 winger potential and is likely 2-3 years away.

  1. W Samuel Poulin 6’1″ 207, QMJHL 67-29-47-76-46

Poulin is a strong, power forward type player who has seen his stock climb this season. Poulin’s skating has improved as the season has progressed, and he has shown an ability to put up points and produce offensively. Poulin uses his size and strength to his advantage. He projects as a low-end 2nd-line winger. He is likely 2-3 years away from NHL duty.

  1. W Nils Hoglander 5’9″ 185, SWE 50-7-714-22

While it would have been nice to see Hoglander increase his offensive numbers this season, he has shown to be an intriguing prospect. Hoglander is an elite skater and a tenacious forechecker. He is extremely creative offensively and isn’t afraid to try dangerous passes and plays. Hoglander is quick and agile and has already excelled against men in the Swedish Elite League. Hoglander projects as a middle-6 winger with offensive upside. He is likely 2-3 years away.

  1. C Connor McMichael 6’0″ 170, OHL 67-36-36-72-19

McMichael is a well-rounded center that plays for the NHL factory London Knights in the OHL. McMichael’s game isn’t flashy, but it is consistent. He always finds a way to put up points and make his team better. McMichael has above-average hockey sense and is an excellent skater. He will likely have a big jump in offensive production next season. He is likely 2-3 years away.

  1. C Ilya Nikolayev 6’0″ 190, RUS JR. 41-10-15-25-26.

Similar to his Russian counterpart Podkolzin, Nikolayev has struggled to put up points this season. Yet, he has all the tools to be a successful NHL player. Some scouts are concerned with his offensive upside, but he has time to grow. He is an excellent two-way player who is likely 3-4 years away from NHL duty.

  1. D Anttoni Honka 5’10” 176, FIN 16-1-3-4-6

Honka is a polarizing prospect, and he is unlikely to go in the first round. However, of defenseman outside of Byram in this draft, he may have the highest ceiling if he can reach it. Honka is a puck-moving defender with high-end speed. He isn’t afraid to rush the puck and attack the net. However, there are times he looks disinterested and lacks compete level. If Honka improves in these areas, he could easily be a high-end offensive defenseman. He is likely 3-5 years away from NHL duty.

The Others

  1. W E. Afanasyev 6’3″ 203 USHL
  2. D V. Kolyachonok 6’2″ 181 OHL
  3. C R. Mastrosimone 5’10″ 170 USHL
  4. W V. Firstov 6’0″ 181 USHL
  5. D R. Johnson 6’0″ 161 USHL
  6. D M. Robertson 6’4″ 200 WHL
  7. W P. Dorofeyev 6’0″ 163 KHL
  8. D T. Bjornfot 6’0″ 196 SWE Jr.
  9. D M. Kokkanen 5’11″ 190 FIN
  10. C/W N. Legare 6’0″ 200 QMJHL
  11. W B. Tracey 6’0″ 170 WHL
  12. C J. Rees 5’10″ 172 OHL
  13. D L. Thomson 6’0″ 187 WHL
  14. W N. Foote 6’3″ 187 WHL
  15. C B. Leason 6’5″ 200 WHL
  16. C N. Alexandrov 6’0″ 180 QMJHL
  17. C J. Beecher 6’3″ 203 USNTDP
  18. G M. Soogard 6’7″ 196 WHL
  19. D A. Knyazev 5’11″ 176 QMJHL
  20. D S. Bolduc 6’4″ 210 QMJHL
  21. W P. Puistila 6’1″ 175 FIN
  22. W M. Teply 6’3″ 187 CZE2
  23. D K. Korczak 6’3″ 192 WHL
  24. D D. Misyul 6’3″ 176 RUS
  25. W S. Holmstrom 6’1″ 193 SWE
  26. D A. Vlasic 6’6″ 192 USNTDP
  27. C S. Pinto 6’2″ 185 USHL
  28. C/W A. Grewe 6’0″ 176 SWE Jr.
  29. W M. Cajkovic 5’11″ 190 QMJHL
  30. D J. Struble 6’0″ 194 USHS
  31. C M. Guskov 6’1″ 172 OHL
  32. G P. Kochetkov RUS
  33. C A. Beckman 6’1″ 168 WHL
  34. W K. Slepets 5’10″ 146 RUS
  35. W S. Fagemo 5’11″ 194 SWE
  36. C H. Blaisdell 5’11″ 181 BCHL
  37. D M. Del Gaizo 5’9″ 170 HE
  38. C K. Henriksson 5’9″ 174 SWE Jr.
  39. W E. Philllips 5’9″ 146 USHL
  40. W D. Gutik 6’3″ 180 RUS
  41. D J. LaCombe 6’1″ 172 USHS
  42. D M. Vakojevic 6’2″ 203 OHL
  43. W R. Donovan 6’2″ 183 USHS
  44. W A. Huglen 5’11″ 176 USHL
  45. W M. Kallionkielli 6’1″ 176 USHL
  46. C V. Nussbuamer 6’0″ 168 QMJHL
  47. D R. Attard 6’3″ 207 USHL
  48. W A. Beaucage 6’1″ 193 QMJHL
  49. D J. Spence 5’10″ 164 QMJHL
  50. D Z. Jones 5’10″ 176 USHL
  51. W C. MacKay 5’11″ 185 OHL
  52. W E. Keppen 6’2″ 214 OHL
  53. C B. Murray 6’3″ 185 OHL
  54. G D. Wolf 6’0″ 161 WHL
  55. C A. Protas 6’5″ 190 WHL
  56. C P. Moynihan 5’11″ 183 USNDTP
  57. C/W A. Campbell 5’10″ 148 BCHL
  58. C J. Farinacci 6’0″ 185 USHS
  59. C J. Caulfield 6’3″ 203 USNTDP
  60. D L. Ahac 6’2″ 187 WHL
  61. W M. Maccelli 5’11″ 165 USHL
  62. C R. Newkirk 5’11″ 172 WHL
  63. G H. Jones 6’4″ 195 OHL
  64. C O. Zaitsev 6’1″ 185 WHL
  65. D J. Lee 6’2″ 197 WHL
  66. W D. Hamaliuk 6’1″ 200 WHL
  67. D M. Koster 5’9″ 172 USHS
  68. G T. Miner 6’1″ 181 WHL
  69. W J. Malone 6’1″ 191 USHS