The NHL draft started Friday night with the selections of a pair of potential superstars in prospects Jack Hughes by the New Jersey Devils and Kaapo Kakko by the neighboring New York Rangers.
It would not be a surprise to see those two players build an individual rivalry over the years that could be similar to the one between Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins selected those two with the No. 1 pick in 2004 and in 2005, respectively, and the players have been rivals ever since.
Hughes and Kakko started the draft process, and Massimo Rizzo and Jeremy Michel finished it. The surging Carolina Hurricanes selected Rizzo with the 216th selection, while the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues made Michel the 217th pick in the draft process.
While Rizzo and Michel will be long shots to make it to the NHL, don't write them off. High-scoring forward Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks was selected with the 205th pick overall in the seventh round in 2003, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators has become one of the best goalies in the league even though he was the 258th pick in 2004 and netminder Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers was the 205th pick in 2000.
Here's a link to the full draft from NHL.com, the grades for all teams and a specific look at the full draft of two teams.
2019 NHL Draft
Best Selection and Overall Draft Grade
Teams listed in alphabetical order.
Anaheim Ducks, Pick No. 9: Trevor Zegras, C, U.S. NTDP, Grade: B+
Zegras has an array of moves and has been compared to Hughes because of his playmaking vision and ability to hold on to the puck and create offensive opportunities for himself and his teammates. He needs to get stronger, and once that happens, he should have an opportunity to become a front-line center.
Arizona Coyotes, Pick No. 11: Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (Sweden), Grade: B
Soderstrom is well on his way to becoming a polished defenseman, but the issue for the Coyotes may be trying to figure out what he does best. He can skate, shoot, block shots and play one-on-one defense, but he does not stand out in any of these areas.
Boston Bruins, Pick No. 30: John Beecher, C, U.S. NTDP, Grade: C+
Beecher looks like a strong future pick because he has excellent size at 6'3" and 212 pounds, and he is a tremendous skater. Beecher played key minutes for the U.S. national development team, but he wasn't always asked to score. However, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney believes he has all the skills needed to prove himself as a solid NHL player.
Buffalo Sabres, Pick No. 7: Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL), Grade: A-
The Sabres have selected Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin and Cozens in recent years, and the talent level on this team is gradually rising. Cozens has brilliant skating speed and two-way ability, but he doesn't always make the right play with the puck.
Calgary Flames, Pick No. 26: Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL), Grade: B
Pelletier is a mighty mite at 5'9" and 165 pounds who has excellent hands, tremendous quickness and the courage to cut into the middle so he can make big plays. He could be an impact player much sooner than most observers think.
Carolina Hurricanes, Pick No. 28: Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL), Grade: A-
Suzuki is a smart and talented player who thinks the game well and could be an elite setup man. He will hold on to the puck too long at times, and he may need to get rid of it quicker.
Chicago Blackhawks, Pick No. 3: Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL), Grade: B
The Blackhawks passed on defenseman Bowen Byram, and that could prove to be a mistake. However, Dach has size, strength and skill, and he should learn a lot from Jonathan Toews.
Colorado Avalanche, Pick No. 4: Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL), Grade: A
Byram is already a talented blueliner, but as he gets some experience, he will have a chance to become a superstar. He is a courageous player who will attack while maintaining his defensive responsibilities. Fellow first-rounder Alex Newhook will give the Avs some much-needed depth.
Columbus Blue Jackets, Pick No. 104: Eric Hjorth, D, Linkoping Jr. (Sweden), Grade: D-
The Blue Jackets traded all but three of their draft picks away, and they didn't get out of the second round of the playoffs. They will have a difficult time maintaining their competitiveness in the years to come.
Dallas Stars, Pick No. 18: Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL), Grade: C-
Harley is not a star or a player who has a lot of flair, but he has improved quite a bit over the last year and has shown a tendency to work hard. He is clearly determined to become a very good player.
Detroit Red Wings, Pick No. 6: Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (Germany), Grade: B+
Seider has wonderful size and surprising skating ability, and that allows him to see the ice well and deliver some razor-sharp passes. Once he gets the needed playing time, he will get his chance to show what he can do at the next level.
Edmonton Oilers, Pick No. 8: Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Sweden), Grade: B-
Broberg is not a finished product at this point, but he has size, skating ability and excellent defensive positioning. Once he improves his puck-handling, he will be able to make a strong contribution. He is a hard worker who may get there sooner than expected.
Florida Panthers, Pick No. 13: Spencer Knight, G, U.S. NTDP, Grade: B
Knight certainly got his share of big-game experience playing for the U.S. national team, and he has shown the ability to make the big save. He is always well-positioned, has excellent athleticism and doesn't waste movement. Head coach Joel Quenneville will probably need Knight up with the big club sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Kings, Pick No. 5: Alex Turcotte, C, U.S. NTDP, Grade: A
The Kings clearly need speed and quickness, and they will get that and more form Turcotte. He is a talented offensive player who has the flair for the big goal, and he should be able to give the Kings some needed energy.
Minnesota Wild, Pick No. 12: Matthew Boldy, LW, U.S. NTDP, Grade: B
The Wild went after one of the more versatile players in the first round. Most young players with Boldy's talent are not advanced on defense, but he plays an excellent defensive game. He can handle the puck in tight areas, and he has advanced offensive skills.
Montreal Canadiens, Pick No. 15: Cole Caufield, RW, U.S. NTDP, Grade: B+
The Canadiens weren't bragging after this pick, but they may have gotten a big-time goal scorer who can help get them back to the playoffs. Caufield is small at 5'7" and 163 pounds, but he can get rid of the puck in an instant and is quite accurate with his vicious shot.
Nashville Predators, Pick No. 24: Philip Tomasino, C, Niagra (OHL), Grade: B
Tomasino has elite skating speed, and that makes him a great fit for the Predators. This team wants to push the pace, and Tomasino can move the puck into the offensive zone and create elite scoring chances.
New Jersey Devils, Pick No. 1: Jack Hughes, C, U.S. NTDP, Grade: A
Hughes will almost certainly become a superstar at the NHL level, and it's just a matter of how quickly he can make the jump. While he lacks size, he has incredible skating ability, and his instincts are superb. He is not quite at the Connor McDavid level, but he is probably the second-best No. 1 pick since McDavid was selected in 2015.
New York Islanders, Pick No. 23: Simon Holmstrom, RW, Sweden Jr., Grade: C+
Holmstrom has had some injury issues, but he has shown that he can be a big-time scorer when he is healthy. Good size, speed and a strong shot.
New York Rangers, Pick No. 2: Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Finland), Grade: A-
Once the Devils selected Hughes, it was obvious that the Rangers would select this stud. Kakko competed extremely well in playing with Finland's top professional players. He has the size, strength and scoring ability to become an immediate impact player.
Ottawa Senators, Pick No. 19: Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL), Grade: C
The Senators appear to have reached for Thomson, as he looks like he should be a solid factor in the defensive zone, but he has not done much to show he can be an offensive threat. Ordinary draft for the Sens.
Philadelphia Flyers, Pick No. 14: Cameron York, D, U.S. NTDP, Grade: B+
York looks like a sharp modern-day defenseman because he understands that teams want their blueliners to jump into the play and make key contributions on the offensive end. York is just average-sized at 5'11" and 172 pounds, and he needs to add strength to his frame. Second-round pick Bobby Brink demonstrated first-round potential, and he could be a dynamic goal scorer.
Pittsburgh Penguins, Pick No. 21: Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL), Grade: C
The Penguins are taking a chance on a player who lacks consistency. There are times when Poulin can take over the game, and there are other times he simply disappears. He needs to show more determination.
St. Louis Blues, Pick No. 62: Nikita Alexandrov, C, Charlottetown (QMJHL), Grade C
The Blues selected Alexandrov in the second round, and he will need time to develop. His skating stride is on the short and choppy side, but he cuts quickly and creates space in the offensive zone. He will have a legitimate opportunity to show off his scoring skills.
San Jose Sharks, Pick No. 48: Artemi Kniazev, D, Chicoutimi (QMJHL), Grade: C+
The Sharks selected Kniazev in the second round, but he has first-round skating ability and instincts. He needs more core strength because he can get knocked off the puck.
Tampa Bay Lightning, Pick No. 27: Nolan Foote, LW, Kelowna (WHL), Grade: C
Foote has excellent instincts and toughness. He scored 36 goals this year even though he played much of the year with a broken wrist. Foote looks like a solid offensive player, but he needs to upgrade his skating ability.
Toronto Maple Leafs, Pick No. 53: Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough (OHL), Grade: C+
Robertson has many of the intangible skills needed to be successful. Robertson has incredible drive and self-confidence, and he is a top offensive threat even though he could improve his skating.
Vancouver Canucks, Pick No. 10: Vasily Podkolzin, R, Neva St. Petersburg (Russia), Grade: A-
One of the top goal scorers in this draft, Podkolzin has an excellent shot, and he will also go into the dirty areas to get his shot and jump on rebounds.
Vegas Golden Knights, Pick No. 17: Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay (WHL), Grade: B+
Krebs is coming off a serious Achilles injury and will hope to be ready to show off his skills in training camp. Krebs has a chance to be a dynamic offensive player with his quick shot and excellent passing ability.
Washington Capitals, Pick No. 25: Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL), Grade: C-
The Caps had just four picks in this year's draft, and that's the reason for the low grade. McMichael has eye-catching speed and the kind of skill needed to become a consistent scorer. The 6'0", 182-pounder should be able to establish himself near the front of the net.
Winnipeg Jets, Pick No. 20: Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (Finland), Grade: C+
Heinola has excellent hockey sense and skills with the puck, but he needs to improve his skating. Once he can do that, the Jets will have a solid all-around player.
A Closer Look
Rd, Pick, Player, Position, League, Team
1, 9, Trevor Zegras, C, NTDP, USA U-18
1, 29, Brayden Tracey, LW, WHL, Moose Jaw
2, 39, Jackson LaCombe, D, HS, Shattuck-St. Mary's
4, 101, Henry Thrun, D, NTDP, USA U-18
5, 132, Trevor Janicke, C, USHL, Central Illinois
6, 163, William Francis, D, USHL, Cedar Rapids
6, 186, Mathew Hill, D, OHL, Barrie
The Ducks were lucky to get Zegras with the No. 9 pick, as he could have been selected at the No. 5 or 6 spot. They selected Tracey with their second first-round selection. He charged up the draft boards this year and won the WHL Rookie of the Year honors.
LaCombe comes from Shattuck-St. Mary's, perhaps the strongest NHL pipeline among high schools in the United States. LaCombe has the kind of frame at 6'2" and 187 pounds to cause big problems for opposing forwards, and he has the talent to go along with the size. Thrun is a solid defenseman with excellent puck-moving skills.
Janicke is a 5'10", 190-pound center who should be a crowd pleaser because of his aggressive, bullish style. Francis and Hill have a lot of work to do before they have a chance to get to the NHL, but both have flashed athletic talent.
Rd, Pick, Player, Position, League, Team
1, 14, Cameron York, D, NTDP, USA U-18
2, 34, Bobby Brink, RW, USHL, Sioux City
3, 72, Ronald Attard, D, USHL, Tri-City
4, 103, Mason Millman, D, OHL, Saginaw
6, 165, Egor Serdyuk, RW, QMJHL, Victoriaville
6, 169, Roddy Ross, G, WHL, Seattle
7, 196, Bryce Brodzinski, RW, HS, Blaine (MN)
Unlike the Ducks, the Flyers had just one first-round choice, and they were able to select the draft's second-best defenseman in York. While he is not a big man at 5'11" and 172 pounds, he excels as a puck mover and can ignite the offense. Brink slipped into the second round, and that should put a chip on his shoulder. He is a bona fide scorer who has a chance to become a fan favorite within a couple of seasons.
Ronald Attard is a hard-working blueliner who was one of the top players in the United States Hockey League. Millman has shown he will not panic when he has the puck in his own zone, and he can move it under pressure. Serdyuk could be insurance for the Brink selection because he is a talented scorer with fine skating ability.
Brodzinski was the high school player of the year in Minnesota, and he will develop his skills in college with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He could be ready to take on a key role in the NHL in two years.
Best selections and overall grades originally appeared in a June 22 article.