NHL Draft 2019: TV Schedule, Live Stream and Latest Mock-Draft PredictionsJune 18, 2019
The New Jersey Devils will select first in the NHL draft for the second time in three years Friday night in Vancouver.
Two years ago, the Devils took Nico Hischier with the No. 1 overall pick, and they are in line to take another forward with the 2019 top pick.
American center Jack Hughes is regarded as the top prospect in the draft class and the likely No. 1 pick.
However, there is a slim chance the Devils go after Finnish right winger Kaapo Kakko, who—if not selected first—will land with the New York Rangers at No. 2.
2019 NHL 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, C, USA U18
2. New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Finland)
3. Chicago Blackhawks: Alex Turcotte, C, USA U18
4. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa): Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL)
5. Los Angeles Kings: Trevor Zegras, C/RW, USA U18
6. Detroit Red Wings: Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
7. Buffalo Sabres: Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL)
8. Edmonton Oilers: Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Neva St. Petersburg (Russia)
9. Anaheim Ducks: Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (Sweden)
10. Vancouver Canucks: Peyton Krebs, LW, Kootenay (WHL)
11. Philadelphia Flyers: Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Sweden)
12. Minnesota Wild: Matthew Boldy, LW, USA U18
13. Florida Panthers: Cam York, D, USA U18
14. Arizona Coyotes: Cole Caulfield, RW, USA U18
15. Montreal Canadiens: Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL)
16. Colorado Avalanche: Spencer Knight, G, USA U18
17. Vegas Golden Knights: Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL)
18. Dallas Stars: Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (Germany)
19. Ottawa Senators (from Columbus): Raphael Lavoie, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
20. Winnipeg Jets: Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL)
21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Phillip Tomasino, C, Niagara (OHL)
22. Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto): Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (Finland)
23. New York Islanders: Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL)
24. Nashville Predators: Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Hamilton (OHL)
25. Washington Capitals: Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
26. Calgary Flames: Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton (WHL)
28. Carolina Hurricanes: Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls (USHL)
29. Anaheim Ducks (from Buffalo via San Jose): Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL)
30. Boston Bruins: Alex Vlasic, D, USA U18
31. Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis): Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden)
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Hughes is not a unanimous No. 1 overall prospect, as Kakko gives him a run for his money on talent.
Devils general manager Ray Shero told MSG the franchise had its final amateur scouting meetings before the start of the combine, where Hughes did not participate in the physical testing.
"We had our final draft amateur scouting meetings already," Shero said. "But we're here at the combine, which is a great time to get know a lot of the kids because we also have three second-rounders and two third-rounders."
Adding a top scorer in Hughes would be an immense boost to the franchise, who could pair both of its No. 1 picks from the last three years together at some point.
Unless there is a significant change in New Jersey's thought process before Friday, Hughes should be the first American taken No. 1 since Auston Matthews in 2016.
In fact, Hughes would be just the fifth American taken first since 2000. Matthews, Patrick Kane, Erik Johnson and Rick DiPietro are the others.
If Hughes lands first overall, as many expect him to, Kakko will quickly go off the board at No. 2 to the New York Rangers, who had a pair of first-round picks until Monday.
In one of the oddities of the draft, the Rangers traded the No. 20 pick back to Winnipeg in the deal for Jacob Trouba after initially acquiring the selection in the Kevin Hayes trade.
Once Hughes and Kakko are off the board, the next set of prospects to be chosen could be taken in a variety of orders.
That all depends on what the Chicago Blackhawks do with the No. 3 pick, as they could take Alex Turcotte, Bowen Byram, Trevor Zegras or Kirby Dach.
ESPN's John Buccigross believes the Blackhawks will select either Turcotte or Dach, with the Colorado Avalanche ready to take the player who does not go to Chicago.
If that is the case, Byram could land with the Los Angeles Kings at No. 5. No matter where he is selected, Byram appears to be in line to be the first defenseman off the board.
After Byram on most draft boards are another collection of forwards, which leads us to believe the top 10 picks will be mostly centers and wingers before a run on defensemen happens in the middle of the first round.
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