NHL 2019 Mock Draft
- New Jersey: Jack Hughes – C – USNTDP
With the second easiest pick in the draft, the Devils will take the face of the 2019 draft class and the new face of their franchise; who they better hope can come on the horizon quickly if they want any chance of changing Taylor Hall’s mind about re-signing in New Jersey.
- NY Rangers: Kaapo Kakko – RW – TPS-Liiga
Now if I had to guess one team that would pass on Kakko and go off the board with the 2nd overall pick, my guess would definitely be Jeff Gorton’s Rangers. However, with that said this is the easiest selection of the draft, and I think that even the Rangers won’t be tempted to look outside the box here.
- Chicago: Alex Turcotte – C – USNTDP
This is where the draft begins to get interesting. Bowen Byram may very well be the best player available in the number 3 slot, but the Blackhawks have invested their last 3 first round picks into defencemen. This has allowed them to develop a pretty solid pipeline of prospects on the back end so it would make sense for them to target an offensive weapon like Turcotte to help bolster their forward group.
With that said, Stan Bowman definitely strikes me as a GM that will draft the best player available over a positional need, which might make this the most interesting selection in the draft.
- Colorado: Dylan Cozens – C – WHL
The Avalanche have a gaping black hole in their forward depth chart and need to find a suitable option for their 2nd line center that can help attribute some additional offense to a team that is currently being carried on the backs of two horses in Mackinnon and Rantanen. As fun as it would be to see Byram and Makar running the show on the blueline for Colorado for years to come, I don’t think they can pass up this opportunity to solidify a huge organizational need.
- Los Angeles: Bowen Byram – D – WHL
I get the sense that LA would really like to add an elite forward talent with a top 5 pick, but they do have Gabe Vilardi and Akil Thomas coming down the pipeline already so they could go in the direction of a defenseman. Being so early on in a rebuild it would be smart for them to start building from the back end out, and what better way to do that then selecting the far and away best defencemen in the draft.
- Detroit: Trevor Zegras – C- USNDTP
With the first pick of the Steve Yzerman era in Detroit, the Wings will continue to add to a young up and coming forward group by taking a versatile new age hockey player in Trevor Zegras. Zegras is known for having an extremely high hockey IQ but was sheltered a bit on a loaded USNTDP roster, leaving some scouts a bit unsure of what kind of player they’ll be drafting. I predict the Steve Yzerman camp is getting an absolute stud here.
Side Note: IF Vasili Podkolzin does end up being selected in the top 10, I’d predict he’ll be going to either the Red Wings or the Oilers. Not a lot of smoke behind either team taking him though.
- Buffalo: Cole Caufield – RW – USNTDP
The Sabres are going to jump all over selecting the player who just blew Auston Matthews’ USNTDP goal scoring record out of the water, and made 14 goals in 7 games look easy at the WJC-18 tournament. Put size to the side because what the Sabres really need is goals. The team ranked 23rd in GF this past season, and Caufield will help with that a lot sooner than any of us would think. This is an elite talent who would be a slam dunk top 3 pick if he was 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier.
- Edmonton: Kirby Dach – C/LW – WHL
The Oilers desperately need to add depth to their forward group in a hurry, and at pick number 8, there’s no doubt that Dach would be the best forward left on the board. I expect them to jump all over this chance to take a dominant scoring threat who possesses the kind of size and skill as Dach.
However, Ken Holland is known to like his USNTDP players, along with Swedish defenseman. So don’t be surprised if Matthew Boldy or Philip Broberg hear their names called here.
- Anaheim: Peyton Krebs – C – WHL
With the team’s first top 10 draft pick since 2014, they need to select a forward who can be the driving force behind the core that will have to replace the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the near future. The team has built a stable backend through the draft and now have an opportunity to add to a group of forward prospects that already includes Maxime Comtois, Max Jones, Sam Steel, and Troy Terry.
I would say this would be a spot I’d see Podkolzin going, but Bob Murray has only drafted one Russian player in his 10 years as the Ducks GM (Igor Bobkov, 76th overall in 2009)… so don’t expect that to change in the 2019 Entry Draft.
- Vancouver: Alex Newhook – C – BCHL
What I’m doing here is basically predicting that one team in the top ten is going to go ever so slightly off the board. My guess is that Newhook or defencemen Philip Broberg would be one of the players that jump up. It makes a lot of sense for Vancouver to pick a guy who has developed right in their backyard of Victoria, BC the past two years and could help them continue to add to their arsenal of high octane up and coming forwards.
- Philadelphia: Matthew Boldy – LW – USNTDP
Now I think Podkolzin would have made a lot of sense here and could have been a really nice complementary piece to the Flyers forward group. As he brings the scoring touch and tenacious playing style that could attribute to a Philadelphia style of hockey.
However, there is a lot of pressure from the ownership group to be competitive now, so I’d expect the fact that Podkolzin still has a 2-year contract in the KHL would deter Chuck Fletcher from going this direction.
If they keep the pick, I’d expect them to go with Boldy, but there is a good chance this pick gets moved on June 21st.
- Minnesota: Vasili Podkolzin – RW – VHL
Not many people are sure the direction of which the Wild are going after some interesting moves made by GM Paul Fenton over the course of the 2018/19 season. I for one, see them as a team that is transitioning younger, and a 2-year KHL contract shouldn’t stop them from taking the best player still available at this point of the draft, Vasili Podkozin.
- Florida: Philip Broberg – D – Allsvenskan
If Florida can sign Artemi Panarin this offseason as everyone expects, they will have an arsenal of forward depth that can score no matter who is on the ice. If they can sign Sergei Bobrovsky as well (which should also be expected at this point), it may put less pressure on the team to take the NHL’s next best goalie prospect in Spencer Knight, and actually shift the pressure into adding a quality young defenseman as soon as possible. After Byram, Broberg is the best there is in this draft class, and the Panthers should be head over heels on their way to the podium with Broberg still on the board.
- Arizona: Cam York – D – USNTDP
Arizona has accumulated a decent amount of young forwards under the watch of John Chayka and now get the chance to add your prototypical new-age defencemen to a group that already includes Oliver Ekman-Larson and Jacob Chychrun. York was the offensive weapon on the blueline for the USNTDP, and the Coyotes should be hoping those puck-moving skills can transfer directly onto the ice of the Gila River Arena.
- Montreal: Raphael Lavoie – C/RW – QMJHL
In my opinion, no other pick makes more sense than Raphael Lavoie going to the Canadiens. A French-Canadien scoring forward that took the QMJHL by storm this season and is ranked right in Montreal’s wheelhouse. The Canadien’s have done an excellent job shoring up quality defensive prospects, and adding Lavoie will allow them to add to a young forward group that is desperate for more high octane forwards to come in and kick them into high-gear. Seems to be an absolute match made in heaven.
- Colorado: Victor Soderstrom – D – SHL
The Avalanche are going to pass on Byram with the 4th overall pick and instead select one of the most dynamic centremen in the draft. The reason they can afford to pass on the most elite defenseman available is that they can still get a damn good defensive prospect at number 16. Soderstrom would be the perfect addition to what could soon be one of the most exciting up and upcoming defensive cores in the NHL.
- Vegas: Ville Heinola – D – Liiga
After trading away top defensive prospect Eric Brannstrom in a deal that brought in Mark Stone at the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, the Knights should be using this opportunity to restock the cupboards with another stud defensive prospect quickly. Heinola would be a great place to start. The 18-year-old has shown strong similarities to fellow countrymen Miro Heiskanen and could be a pillar on the Knights defensive core for years to come.
- Dallas: Arthur Kaliyev – RW – OHL
Everyone says not to look too deeply into point-production when assessing CHL players. But when you have a 17-year-old absolutely take the league by storm on route to finishing 4th in league goal-scoring; you know you have a potential superstar in the making. Not to mention that Kaliyev was at least 3 years younger than every player that finished higher than him in the OHL’s goal-scoring race. Dallas could be getting one of the best value picks in the draft. However, scouts have pegged him as being a risky option due to his apparent laziness and slight lack of hockey IQ.
- Ottawa: Connor McMichael – C – OHL
After losing Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, and Ryan Dzingel all in one season, The Senators are going to have to hit home runs in each of the next few drafts to add to their already deep prospect pool. Since they were able to add defensive super-prospect Eric Brannstrom at the trade-deadline, I predict they will select Alex Formenton’s London Knights teammate Connor McMichael. McMichael was able to produce in a limited role this year for the Knights and could see his stock sky-rocket next season when the path clears for him to be running the show in London.
- Winnipeg: Thomas Harley – D – OHL
After trading away Jacob Trouba for Neal Pionk and the return of their first-round pick, the Jets will be looking to get full value back for trading away proven top-pairing defencemen. My bet is that they will opt to go with the best draft-eligible defencemen in the OHL. His puck-moving abilities along with being a steady presence in his own zone all attribute to him being one of the safest selections in the draft at pick 20.
- Pittsburgh – Moritz Seider – D – DEL
The Penguins are one of the most efficient drafting teams in the NHL over the past decade. However, a weak defense core has been detrimental to the team’s efforts to find success in their competitive window. This problem has been further exacerbated by Letangs inability to stay healthy. The team could desperately use a smooth skating defencemen like Seider who’s well-rounded game extends all 200 feet of the ice.
For some strange reason, I could also see the Penguins surprising some people and selecting Spencer Knight with their first-round pick.
- Los Angeles: Ryan Suzuki – C – OHL
The Kings should be damn proud of their draft day on June 21st if they can come out of it with both Byram and Suzuki. After years of dealing away first round picks to stay competitive, the Kings are looking to have themselves a quick turnaround back to contenders if they can continue to build on an already robust pipeline of future prospects.
- NY Islanders: Philip Tomasino – C – OHL
Tomasino is a versatile forward that can bring a lot to an Islanders depth chart desperate for more top-six talent. Being one of the youngest players in the draft his ceiling is higher than most, and this might turn out to be a great selection in a few years. His ability to play center or wing has to make him a desirable option for the Islanders.
- Nashville: Samuel Poulin – LW – QMJHL
At the deadline, the Predators were trying desperately to add a big body who can score. Wayne Simmonds proved that he was not the answer to that problem, but Poulin could be. The 207 lb winger potted 29 goals in 67 games this year for Sherbrooke this season. For having a big frame, scouts have become impressed with his skating ability. His vision to make plays on the ice is what projects him to be more than just your typical power forward.
If the Predators don’t go with Poulin, Egor Afanasyev would make a lot of sense as well.
- Washington: Brett Leason – C/RW – WHL
The Capitals are in a win-now window, and with Leason, they may be getting the most NHL ready prospect available with a late 20’s pick. Leason has now been passed over in the last two drafts of his eligibility, but after erupting this past season with the Prince Albert Raiders, the 20-year-old could be poised for a first-round selection. Being two years older than the majority of his draft class, Leason’s ceiling may not be projected as high as some of the younger prospects. So don’t be surprised if he falls well into the 2nd round.
If the Capitals are looking for a riskier selection with higher upside, Pavel Dorofeyev out of the KHL may be who they look at.
- Calgary: Spencer Knight – G – USNTDP
If Knight somehow slips through Florida and Colorado all the way to Calgary with the 26th pick, the Flames should be ecstatic to be selecting what some scouts are already touting as the next best American goaltender in NHL history.
The Flames actually have a much better pipeline of goaltender prospects than people think. This is overlooked mostly because the Flames haven’t had any stability between the pipes since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013. Selecting Knight with their first-round pick gives the team a solid chance at regaining this stability in the future, and I don’t think they can pass that up.
- Tampa Bay: Bobby Brink – RW – USHL
The Lighting may have to move on from some pillars in their forward depth chart in order to resign their upcoming superstars and keep their core intact. If they want to sustain their dominance, they are going to have to continue to pump out offensive prospects to replace their older, more expensive players in the near future (i.e., Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat). Brink has high offensive potential and could fit in nicely alongside an offensive juggernaut in Tampa. I think he’s going to end up being a late firs-round gem.
- Carolina: Jakob Pelletier – LW – QMJHL
Pelletier was one of the best players in the QMJHL this past season being under 18 years old. The Hurricanes are shaping together a solid roster through the work of GM Don Waddel, and Pelletier could be a nice complimentary piece in a few years time. He’s a smaller player, but he’s proven that won’t stop him from putting points up on the board in bunches.
We also know that the Canes will not be taking a defenceman with their first-round pick thanks to past comments from owner Tom Dundon.
- Anaheim: Nils Hoglander – LW – SHL
If the Ducks end up keeping their 2nd pick in the first round pick (which I suspect they will), Nils Hoglander seems to be the logical choice. The shifty winger is known for his creativity and vision on the ice. He could be a solid addition to the plethora of top-quality prospects growing down in Anaheim.
- Boston: Alex Vlasic – D – USNTDP
The Bruins have now accumulated a wealth of smaller defencemen with elite puck-moving ability. You have to think that they would love to inject some size to that group. Vlasic brings them all that and then some. The towering 6’6 defencemen anchored down the USNDTP this past season, providing the team with massive hits, gritty play along the boards, and underrated passing and skating abilities. An excellent pick for the Bruins at 30.
- Buffalo: Matthew Robertson – D – WHL
To finish off the first round the Sabres will select the Oil Kings workhouse of a defencemen in Robertson. Adding Robertson will bring some stability and size to the Sabres defense that will allow puck-movers Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Brandon Montour to have free reign with offensive creativity on the blueline.
There is a crowded amount of quality defensive prospects ranked in this range, so there are several options the Sabres could go with. Dahlins Swedish counter-part Tobias Bjornfot could make a lot of sense here as well.
This is one of the most closely ranked drafts we have seen in a while. With only a razor-thin difference between prospects as early as in the 3-8 range, and it only gets closer as you work your way down the draft.
I usually find these more entertaining to try and select the players that I think would be the best ‘fit’ on each team, but the truth is that any smart team is going to choose the player that their scouts have identified as being the best available and not who might fill a current roster hole in 2-3 years time.
Either way, this is one of my favorite exercises leading up to draft day, and I hope it gave you a good recap of some of this year’s best prospects and what problems your team should be looking to identify at the draft floor on June 21st.
TEAM PICK Player POS
|COL (OTT)||4||Dylan Cozens||C|
|OTT (CBJ)||19||Connor McMichael||C|
|LA (TOR)||22||Ryan Suzuki||C|
|ANA (SJ-BUF))||29||Nils Hoglander||LW|
|BUF (STL)||31||Matthew Robertson||D|