NHL Draft 2019: TV Schedule, Order and Mock Draft Predictions for Top ProspectsJune 21, 2019
If you're not familiar with Jack Hughes, then it's time to learn about the 18-year-old who could become the next big star in the NHL.
Hughes is an exceptional hockey player who will likely be selected by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL draft, which gets underway Friday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.
While it's possible the Devils could select Kaapo Kakko, another top prospect who has played in Finland, it's more likely Hughes will be the pick.
Playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 squad, the teenager tallied 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games while serving as the team's captain. He then went on to score 20 more points (nine goals, 11 assists) in seven games with the team at the 2019 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship.
The NHL draft's first round will take place Friday night at 8 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network). The remaining six rounds will occur Saturday from 1 p.m. ET (NHL Network).
Here's a look at how the first round of this year's draft could unfold, followed by a breakdown of some of the top prospects to watch for.
NHL 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. New Jersey Devils: C Jack Hughes, USA Hockey NTDP
2. New York Rangers: RW Kaapo Kakko, TPS Turku (SM-liiga)
3. Chicago Blackhawks: C Alex Turcotte, USA Hockey NTDP
4. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa): C Trevor Zegras, USA Hockey NTDP
5. Los Angeles Kings: D Bowen Byram, Vancouver (WHL)
6. Detroit Red Wings: C/W Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge (WHL)
7. Buffalo Sabres: RW Vasili Podkolzin, SKA Neva (VHL)
8. Edmonton Oilers: C Kirby Dach, Saskatoon (WHL)
9. Anaheim Ducks: RW Cole Caufield, USA Hockey NTDP
10. Vancouver Canucks: C Alex Newhook, Victoria (BCHL)
11. Philadelphia Flyers: LW Matthew Boldy, USA Hockey NTDP
12. Minnesota Wild: G Spencer Knight, USA Hockey NTDP
13. Florida Panthers: D Thomas Harley, Mississauga (OHL)
14. Arizona Coyotes: D Philip Broberg, AIK (Allsvenskan)
15. Montreal Canadiens: D Cam York, USA Hockey NTDP
16. Colorado Avalanche: D Moritz Seider, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
17. Vegas Golden Knights: C Peyton Krebs, Kootenay (WHL)
18. Dallas Stars: C Ryan Suzuki, Barrie (OHL)
19. Ottawa Senators (from Columbus): RW Raphael Lavoie, Halifax (QMJHL)
20. Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers): C Philip Tomasino, Niagara (OHL)
21. Pittsburgh Penguins: D Victor Soderstrom, Brynas IF (SHL)
22. Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto): LW Nils Hoglander, Rogle BK (SHL)
23. New York Islanders: D Ville Heinola, Lukko (SM-liiga)
24. Nashville Predators: RW Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton (OHL)
25. Washington Capitals: LW Pavel Dorofeyev, Stalnye (MHL)
26. Calgary Flames: LW Samuel Poulin, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: C John Beecher, USA Hockey NTDP
28. Carolina Hurricanes: RW Brett Leason, Prince Albert (WHL)
29. Anaheim Ducks (from Buffalo via San Jose): LW Robert Mastrosimone, Chicago (USHL)
30. Boston Bruins: C Connor McMichael, London (OHL)
31. Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis): D Alex Vlasic, USA Hockey NTDP
This year's class is loaded with prospects from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. And besides Hughes, quite a few others are expected to be selected in Friday's first round.
Centers Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras and wings Cole Caufield and Matthew Boldy are likely to be selected in the first half of Round 1, along with goalie Spencer Knight and defenseman Cam York.
While it's possible one or two of those players could slide down into the later part of the first round, it's still a remarkable group of players that will be going from the USA Hockey NTDP to the NHL.
"We have players from everywhere," USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said, according to USA Today's Kevin Allen. "These guys are all from different parts of the country. It shows that all over the place, people are giving kids great opportunities. The coaching at the youth level is getting better and better."
According to Allen, the USA Hockey NTDP Under-18 team had 17 players invited to the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine, and every member of the squad is expected to be drafted.
The USA Hockey NTDP has never had more than three players selected in the first round of an NHL draft, a total that should easily be surpassed this year.
The depth of the U.S. players in this year's class makes the overall group incredibly talented, with a number of international prospects also set to be drafted Friday night.
One prospect to keep an eye on is Bowen Byram, a Canadian who is likely to be the first defenseman taken this year. While it's possible he could go as high as No. 3 to the Chicago Blackhawks, their impressive defensive pipeline makes it more likely he will be selected a few picks lower, such as at No. 5 by the Los Angeles Kings.
Between the WHL regular season and playoffs, the 18-year-old totaled 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists) in 89 games for the Vancouver Giants this past year.
With Byram leading a talented class of defenseman, along with all the prolific scorers—especially from the USA Hockey NTDP—this year's group of draft prospects could make an impact in the NHL for many years to come.