2019 NHL mock draft 4.0: Draft Weekend is finally here
The dust has settled on the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the minted champion in St. Louis, and now the NHL players have accepted their NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
It’s time to close the book on the 2018-19 NHL season and look forward to next year with the 2019 NHL Draft first on that new hockey calendar starting this weekend in Vancouver. The 31 NHL teams have all dropped into British Columbia at this point with the first round set for Friday night, and the entire weekend will be dedicated to selecting the best and brightest from the draft class.
It’s said to be a draft class stocked deeply with center prospects, and it’s obvious there will be a ton of US-born players selected based on the many members of the US National Team Development Program expected to be selected in Friday night’s first round. The Bruins will be selecting 30th in the first round based on their runner-up status this season, and they are expected to make that pick when it comes time for their turn on Friday.
Without further ado, here is NBCSportsBoston.com’s Final NHL Mock Draft 4.0 with it all set to go down this weekend in Vancouver:
1. New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes (center, Team USA National Team Development Program)
The 5-foot-10. 168-pound Hughes is the leading scorer in the history of the USNTDP and went for 112 points in 50 games for Team USA this past season. He can skate, score and make plays, and he comes from a hockey family that’s loaded with talented players ready to make their mark on the NHL. Of the players in this year’s draft class, Hughes is the one that wears the “generational talent” moniker thrown around even if that is used a little too often in this day and age. Given that they already have Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier, this is the kind of franchise center-type that could elevate the Devils back to a playoff team really, really quickly. There may be some debate in their war room about Kaapo Kakko as well, but Hughes will be the pick.
2. New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko (right wing, TPS Turku)
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Kakko is a goal-scoring power forward in the making who brings size, strength and skill into an 18-year-old package who scored an impressive 22 goals in the Finnish Elite League. Kakko joins Brad Park in being the highest draft pick (No. 2 overall) in Blueshirts franchise history, and he should be a pretty good one for a Rangers club that keeps accumulating young assets. Kakko continued to solidify his draft position with his performance at the IIHF World championships where he led a strong Finland crew and scored a dominant six goals in the first seven preliminary games. Kakko should jump into the NHL and make a splash for the Rangers right away as they look to fast-forward their rebuild for next season.
3. Chicago Blackhawks
Alex Turcotte (center, USA NTDP)
The 5-foot-11, 189-pound Turcotte had 26 goals and 61 points in 34 games for Team USA and played second fiddle to Jack Hughes this past season as the No. 2 center. What better way to train a player like Turcotte to be the No. 2 guy behind Jonathan Toews as he learns at the feet of one of the best two-way centers in the game? Turcotte is a solid two-way center with offensive upside, and that’s the kind of player that Blackhawks are always on the lookout for, particularly with Toews getting a little older these days. The clincher is that he grew up in Chicago idolizing Toews and fan-boying on the Blackhawks. So this is going to be a no-brainer for them.
4. Colorado Avalanche
Bowen Byram (defenseman, Vancouver Giants)
The WHL defenseman is big, strong and physical along with possessing the ability to move the puck, and he projects to be a No. 1 defenseman-in-the-making. With the Avalanche having been looking for a big, strong No. 1 defenseman to head their back end, Byram and 2018 first-round pick Cale Makar could be the top pairing defensive partners in the Mile High City for the decade to come. The 26 goals in 67 games really stands out for the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Byram, who will be the top defenseman selected in this summer’s draft class.
5. Los Angeles Kings
Kirby Dach (center, Saskatoon Blades)
The 6-foot-4 center posted 25 goals and 73 points in 64 games for the Blades this past season, and has both size and high-end offensive skill to go with good skating for a big man. He also draws comparisons to players like Ryan Getzlaf and Jumbo Joe Thornton with his ability to pass the puck and make plays, and that’s the type of player that any team could use. Certainly a player with Dach’s ability could make a nice addition to a Kings team that needs more depth and talent added everywhere along the roster, and could use a big center like him in the middle of everything. Dach’s strengths would play well in the Pacific Division where there are still plenty of big boy centers across the division.
6. Detroit Red Wings
Cole Caufield (right wing, US National U18 Development Program)
Caufield is the most explosive goal-scorer in the draft and plays bigger than you’d expect from a guy listed at 5-foot-7, 162-pounds. He’s definitely the Johnny Gaudreau/Alex DeBrincat type of this draft class, and those guys tend to go higher now than they used to. The undersized forward had an amazing 72 goals and 100 points last season for the US National program, and would give the Red Wings exactly the kind of dynamic scoring punch that they haven’t had enough of over the last couple of seasons.
7. Buffalo Sabres
Dylan Cozens (center, Lethbridge Hurricanes)
The 6-foot-3, 181-pound center has the size and versatility to be very effective at the NHL level, and has played both center and on the wing during his junior hockey career. Cozens utilizes his big body for puck possession and to play the physical game, and that would give the Sabres the kind of skill/grit combination that they could use more of among their forward group. The 34 goals and 84 points in 68 WHL games show the offensive upside as well and Cozens' two-way ability could turn him into a really good second- or third-line center behind Jack Eichel.
8. Edmonton Oilers
Vasili Podkolzin (right wing, SKA St Petersburg)
The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder won’t even be 18 years old at the draft, but is expected to be the first Russian player selected despite some talent evaluation disagreement about his game. Some see him as a future dominant right wing just coming into his own, and others see him as more of a hard-nosed, hard-working type who doesn’t have some of the natural offensive gifts of the other forwards taken at the top of the first round. Certainly the Oilers hope he’s more of the former than the latter, and they could be big beneficiaries of taking a big Russian risk if Podkolzin pans out. Or perhaps the ghost of Nail Yakupov will scare them away from making this selection? Podkolzin could go higher or lower based on the fact that he isn’t expected to opt out of his KHL contract early to come to North America.
9. Anaheim Ducks
Matthew Boldy (left wing, USA NTDP)
The 6-foot-2, 187-pound left winger can certainly score as attested by his 33 goals scored, and can make plays from the wing as evidenced by the 81 points he racked up in 64 games. It’s exactly the kind of thing that the Ducks could use as they didn’t have nearly enough offense last season and are getting a little long in the tooth up front among their forward group. The Millis, Massachusetts-born Boldy has also played all over the map for the US team from first to third line and has played in all situations, so he’s going to be a valuable performer for whatever team nabs him — whether it’s the Ducks or somebody else around the top-10 where he’s expected to go. Boldy is headed to Boston College, but not likely to stay there for very long.
10. Vancouver Canucks
Phillip Broberg (defenseman, AIK Sweden)
The Swedish D-man prospect has ideal size at 6-foot-3, 199-pounds and had two goals and nine points in 41 games with the Swedish Elite League last season. He’s also said to be among the best skaters in the entire draft class with the ability to play at a high level at both ends of the ice. With the Canucks already stockpiling elite talent up front with their forwards, it’s not going to be a surprise if Jim Benning dips into the defenseman pool this time around to create a more well-rounded Canucks group in the near future. The question with Broberg is how much offense will eventually be there.
11. Philadelphia Flyers
Trevor Zegras (center/wing, USA NTDP)
The 6-foot, 166-pound Zegras is a physical player and aggressive two-way center who could certainly fit into Philly’s plans to beef up down the middle with Nolan Patrick and Kevin Hayes. Zegras had 26 goals and 87 points for Team USA last season as a strong two-way player down the middle and fits the profile for a Flyers team that values strong play at both ends of the ice. He’s considered one of the best pure passers in the draft, but will take a few years to develop as a BU-commit.
12. Minnesota Wild
Alex Newhook (center, Victoria Grizzlies)
Newhook had over 100 points in 53 games for Victoria last season during a brilliant junior hockey season, and it’s hard to imagine him lasting much beyond the top-10 after tearing up the BCHL. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but the Wild could certainly use more players like Newhook who can put the points in bunches. The knock on him is that he’s not much of a defensive player, but that will change for a Wild organization that prides itself on two-way play. The BCHL’s leading scorer is headed to Boston College next season.
13. Florida Panthers
Moritz Seider (defenseman, Mannheim)
The 6-foot-4, 183-pound defenseman had two goals and six points in 29 games with the German Men’s League team, and would be the natural big-bodied back end choice for the Panthers looking to make a more well-rounded NHL roster. Seider was thought to be a late first-round pick, but his play for Germany at the world championships bumped up his value late in the year. The size and the potential are certainly there for this German prospect.
14. Arizona Coyotes
Arthur Kaliyev (center, Hamilton Bulldogs)
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Kaliyev rang up the OHL for 50-plus goals and 100-plus points last season, and is the kind of dynamic offensive player that the Coyotes could use after struggling to score goals last season. The size and offensive ability scream out impact player for a team like Arizona that could use another skilled young offensive forward to go along with Clayton Keller. The one knock on Kaliyev is that the on-ice effort isn’t always up to full speed and the motor doesn’t seem to always be going, but the shot, release and natural scoring ability will make him a surefire first-round pick.
15. Montreal Canadiens
Raphael Lavoie (center/right wing, Halifax Mooseheads)
Is there any doubt that the Montreal Canadiens aren’t going to let a guy named Raphael Lavoie get past them in the first round? Lavoie has 136 points over the last two seasons for the Mooseheads and is exactly the kind of offensive player that Montreal needs more of moving forward. The French-Canadian name certainly doesn’t hurt either, as does the 6-foot-4 frame that would give the Habs a Francophone power forward with goal-scoring ability in tight around the net. This seems like a natural match.
16. Colorado Avalanche
Egor Afanasyev (left wing, Muskegon Lumberjacks)
The 6-foot-3, 203-pound Afanasyev had 27 goals and 62 points in 58 games in the USHL last season and combines ideal left wing power forward size with an offense-first mentality. Certainly he could add more forward depth to a Colorado Avalanche group that’s looking for more talented forwards to go behind their top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. And there is most definitely an interest in teams getting bigger and stronger based on a massive Blues team that won the Cup last season.
17. Vegas Golden Knights
Thomas Harley (defenseman, Mississauga Steelheads)
The 6-foot-3, 188-pound Harley finished with 11 goals and 58 points in 68 games last season, and brings some real offensive knowhow to the table. He’s got size, projectable offensive ability and could be amongst a run of D-men taken in the middle of the first round. The only knock on Harley is that he needs to play to his size a little more and work on his play in the D-zone. While the Golden Knights have some good, young D-men, they should be adding to look to that group during the draft.
18. Dallas Stars
Bobby Brink (right wing, Sioux City Musketeers)
The prolific Brink finished with 35 goals in 43 games played last season, so he’s got the goods offensively to hang with a talented group like Dallas. The only question is whether the 5-foot-10, 163-pound has enough size and strength to hack it at the NHL level, but the good news is that Brink will have a few seasons to get up to NHL readiness while at the University of Denver. Certainly a lack of size isn’t all that big of a deal at the NHL level as it used to be, but there’s also some concern about his skating as well. That’s a question that needs to be answered.
19. Ottawa Senators (via Columbus Blue Jackets)
Cam York (defenseman, USA NTDP)
The 6-foot, 175-pound York had a blistering 14 goals and 65 points in 63 games with a ridiculous plus-56, and will join a Senators organization that could certainly use another young D-man to go along with Thomas Chabot. He was a PP quarterback for a talented USNTDP squad and could project to do that for the Senators as well. York is part of an impressive draft class for the USA National Team Development Program that continues to churn out blue chip prospects. A workhorse-type D-man that really utilizes his skating ability, York is headed to the college hockey ranks next.
20. New York Rangers
Ville Heinola (defenseman, Lukko)
The 5-foor-11, 181-pound defenseman was a star player for Team Finland at the World Junior tournament while running their power play and logging big time minutes. Then he played in the Finnish Elie League upon his return from the tournament. Heinola did have a knee injury mixed in there as well and there are questions about his size and overall skating ability, but he’s been quietly rising up the draft boards over the last few months based on a strong draft year. He could be exactly what the Rangers are looking for as they look to move on from Kevin Shattenkirk sooner rather than later at the NHL level.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins
Peyton Krebs (center/left wing, Kootenay Ice)
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder isn’t the biggest prospect in the world, but he makes up for it with his skating ability and a dangerous, lethal shot. Krebs had 19 goals and 68 points in 64 games last season, but was also an astounding minus-50 while very clearly struggling defensively on a poor team. It will be interesting to see if a so-so draft season ends up hurting him at all, but Krebs could be another interesting piece added to a talented group in Pittsburgh. He’s got a lot of intangibles like maturity and hockey smarts working in his favor as well. Krebs would have gone higher but late breaking news that he needed surgery on his Achilles tendon will drop him to later in the first round.
22. Los Angeles Kings (via Toronto Maple Leafs)
Victor Soderstrom (defenseman, Brynas IF, Sweden)
The four goals and seven points in 44 games don’t really tell the tale for the 5-foot-11, 179-pound D-man who’s got the skating and smarts always expected out of Swedish defensemen. Soderstrom would be a great get for a Kings team that’s eventually going to need a young successor for Drew Doughty. Perhaps Soderstrom can help inject the Kings with the kind of young, talented players needed to give Los Angeles a jolt of energy after a tough couple of seasons.
23. New York Islanders
Ryan Suzuki (center, Barrie Colts)
Suzuki had 25 goals and 75 points in 65 games last season, and the 6-foot, 178-pounder would be an interesting pick for an Islanders team still looking to add depth, talent and skill down the middle of their roster. The Isles obviously lost John Tavares prior to the start of this season, and they could begin developing his replacement with the multi-talented Suzuki. Suzuki’s older brother Nick was drafted by Vegas in the first round and traded to the Montreal Canadiens last season.
24. Nashville Predators
Phillip Tomasino (center, Niagara Ice Dogs)
The 6-foot, 178-pound Tomasino had 34 goals and 72 points in 67 games for the Ice Dogs last season, and brings to the table goal-scoring ability, work ethic and a willingness to play both ways. The numbers, the intangibles and the potential are all high with this player. That’s certainly the kind of player that the Predators would take a flier on in the latter portion of the first round with a desire to beef up the offensive skill up front.
25. Washington Capitals
Nils Hoglander (left wing, Rogle BK)
The 5-foot-9 Hoglander is a feisty, skilled winger who plays with pace and tenacity. While the size isn’t ideal for a left wing-type player, there is a growing number of these fast, skilled wingers who don’t shy away from the contact despite the lack of prototypical size. Hoglander makes sense for a Capitals team that can still use more high-end skill, speed and tenacity among their forward group after running out of gas in the first round this season while trying to defend their Stanley Cup championship.
26. Calgary Flames
Spencer Knight (goaltender, Team USA NTDP)
The first and likely only goaltender taken in the first round, the 6-foot-3, 193-pound Knight is a blue chip prospect between the pipes with the size and athleticism to be a future No. 1 netminder in the league. Given Calgary’s goaltending situation with Mike Smith and company right now, a stud, franchise goaltender for the future is something they could definitely use within their organization. He should have plenty of time to develop while playing in Boston College over the next couple of seasons.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning
Jakob Pelletier (left wing, Moncton Wildcats)
The Lightning seemingly have an unending supply of talented young offensive forwards, and that tradition continues with Pelletier after he lit up the QMJHL with 39 goals and 89 points last season. Pelletier’s game is based on skating and playmaking, and those are two things that are at a premium with an organization like the Lightning. Ironically the 5-foot-9, 161-pounder has a game that reminds scouts of Steve Yzerman, who just exited the Lightning organization to take things over with the Detroit Red Wings.
28. Carolina Hurricanes
Connor McMichael (center/left wing, London Knights)
The offensively gifted McMichael had 36 goals and 72 points in 67 games last season at the OHL level, and brings the ability to play wing or center. The 5-foot-11, 172-pound McMichael isn’t the biggest guy in the draft class, but he still manages to create his offense and would make a fine addition to the growing Rangers treasure chest of prospects. He also plays extremely hard and gets the most out of the size that he does have with a high hockey IQ, which has pushed him into the middle of the first round despite perhaps second-round size and strength.
29. Anaheim Ducks (via Sabres and Sharks)
John Beecher (center, Team USA NTDP)
Beecher had 15 goals and 43 points for the US NTDP last season while playing in the shadow of guys like Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte. That won’t discourage the Ducks from continuing to beef up their depth in the middle with the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder and replenishing some of the aging portions of their forward group with a couple first-round picks. That being said, it might be a few years down the road with Beecher expected to attend the University of Michigan in the near term.
30. Boston Bruins
Samuel Poulin (right wing, Sherbrooke Phoenix)
The 6-foot-2, 207-pound power forward plays the puck possession game and used his strength to rack up 76 points in 67 games in the QMJHL this season. Poulin has good NHL bloodlines as the son of former NHLer Patrick Poulin, and is a versatile offensive performer with soft hands, a heavy shot and the kind of one-timer that will produce goals at the NHL level. Poulin is not afraid to drop his shoulder and carry defenders to the net, and has worked hard on his skating over the last couple of seasons to become a high-end prospect in this year’s draft. Poulin could be the fit for Boston’s power forward needs over the last few seasons.
31. Buffalo Sabres (via St. Louis Blues)
Alex Vlasic (defenseman, USA NTDP)
The cousin to NHL defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is expected to be a first-round pick and brings many of the same skills, strengths and weaknesses to the table on the back end as his more established cousin. But he also brings his 6-foot-6 size to the table and would give the Sabres a big-bodied D-man on the back end to go along with their more skilled, puck-moving types. Vlasic would give them the kind of mammoth D-man they haven’t have since Tyler Myers left for Winnipeg a couple of seasons ago, and that’s an element they’re going to need in the Atlantic Division.