NHL Draft 2019: 1st-Round Mock Predictions and Latest OrderMarch 20, 2019
The NHL season is heading toward its home stretch, and as teams battle for playoff position, those in contention have the hope of advancing deep in the playoffs and potentially making a run at the Stanley Cup.
That's where the bulk of the attention is right now for teams, players, coaches, general managers and the fans. However, right after the playoffs come to their conclusion in June, the NHL Draft will be at hand.
In this piece, we provide our mock draft, along with a more detailed look at three of the top picks.
Mock Draft, Round One
1. Colorado Avalanche (via Ottawa Senators): Jack Hughes, C, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
2. Los Angeles Kings: Kaapo Kakko, LW, TPS Turku (Liiga)
3. Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Cozens, C/W, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
4. New Jersey Devils: Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
5. Anaheim Ducks: Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
6. New York Rangers: Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie Colts (OHL)
7. Edmonton Oilers: Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA (MHL)
8. Buffalo Sabres (via St. Louis Blues): Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SHL)
9. Vancouver Canucks: Alex Turcotte, C, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
10. Chicago Blackhawks: Cole Caufield, RW, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
11. Minnesota Wild: Arthur Kaliyev, LW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
12. Florida Panthers: Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Allsvenskan)
13. Colorado Avalanche: Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (DEL)
14. Philadelphia Flyers: Raphael Lavoie, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
15. Montreal Canadiens: Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
16. Arizona Coyotes: Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
17. Dallas Stars: Matthew Boldy, LW, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
18. Buffalo Sabres: Trevor Zegras, C/W, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
19. Ottawa Senators: Alex Newhook, C, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
20. Vegas Golden Knights: Spencer Knight, G, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brett Leason, C, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
22. Nashville Predators: Cam York, D, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
23. Carolina Hurricanes: Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
24. New York Islanders: Connor McMichael, C, London Knights (OHL)
25. Los Angeles Kings (via Toronto Maple Leafs): Nolan Foote, LW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
26. Anaheim Ducks (via San Jose Sharks): Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
27. Boston Bruins: Alex Vlasic, D, U.S. National U18 Team (NTDP)
28. New York Rangers: Nils Hoglander, LW, Rogle (SHL)
29. Washington Capitals: Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
30. Calgary Flames: Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
31. Tampa Bay Lightning: Anttoni Honka, D, JYP, (Liiga)
Draft order courtesy of Tankathon.com.
Jack Hughes is clearly the best player in this draft, and he has the elements that should make him a superstar in the new NHL.
The 17-year-old is a brilliant skater, has a great shot, handles the puck the way Antonio Stradivari handled a violin and understands that a brilliant pass is as good as a perfect shot.
However, Hughes is 5'10" and 152 pounds, and he is tiny by all standards. That will not keep him from being drafted with the top pick, but it could make life difficult for him in the NHL, or at least challenging.
The teenager has an incredible hockey IQ and a gift for keeping the puck on his stick seemingly longer than anyone else.
Bill Placzek of Draftsite.com noted:
"He steers pucks through traffic, and his terrific vision and edging simply get opponents scrambling and unsure where the play is going to open into a solid look. He can come to a dead stop and watch a crowd converge on his space, and wire a puck to the open spot of net. He has a terrific shot when he uses it too. Some think he is always willing to attempt inside moves, refusing to get funneled to the periphery and his gambling style might be seen as too abrasive."
Left-winger Kaapo Kakko has the size teams covet at 6'1" and 187 pounds and the skills to become a big-time performer at the NHL level.
The 18-year-old has moves and can handle the puck with extreme skill. He also possesses an excellent snap shot and will go to the front of the net in a fearless manner.
"He is a strong North-South skater with excellent burst, agility and hockey vision," Placzek wrote. "He can project as a future NHL center for some clubs seeking a big pivot, but he is a perfect fit as a big fast scoring option who plays with a solid playmaking NHL center."
The 6'0", 165-pound Ryan Suzuki has a great understanding of how to get free in the offensive zone and unleash a powerful shot he can get off in an instant.
The center is a fast skater, but he sees the game unfold around him and knows how to set up his teammates with soft passes that can be turned into scoring opportunities. He also understands the nuances of playing in all three zones, which is rare for an 18-year-old.
"He doesn't look like a guy who is going to going to attempt to play too physical; he will beat you by suddenly bursting and disrupting with an interception, break-up or a no long pass to a teammate.
"He does tend to stay out of the dirty areas concentrating on using his feet, hands, and imagination at even strength the penalty-kill or the power play."