The 2019 NHL Draft goes tonight from Vancouver, and like any draft there is a lot of anticipation and excitement. Predicting the top 10 picks is always a challenge, but possibly even more so than usual this year as the debate for who will go number one likely hasn’t been this unclear since the 2010 draft debate between Taylor and Tyler.
But Predictions are fun, so let’s give it a shot.
Pick #1, New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes
Hughes is still the all around best player in the draft. He is a franchise player with loads of skill and some elite hockey sense. He’s not the biggest of players, but that narrative has proven to be a non-factor for so many young, skilled players in recent years. Kakko made it interesting as he challenged for the number one spot, but that spot is still Hughes’.
He’s also a Centre, as Kakko is a winger, and there is a premium on Centres. The Devils have the chance to have a 1-2 punch at Centre with Hughes and Hischier for the next decade!
Pick #2, New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko
The easiest pick in the draft will be the Rangers at number two. Kakko might be one of the best number 2 picks in recent memory, as he put on a show at both the World Juniors and the World Hockey Championship. He got 38 points in 45 games in the Finish Elite Hockey League while playing against players a lot older than him. He is a bigger and stronger body than Hughes, but being a winger does put him at a slight disadvantage against Hughes. Regardless, he could also become a franchise player, and the Rangers will be very happy to have him available at number two.
Pick #3, Chicago Blackhawks: Dylan Cozens
This is where the draft starts to become a lot more unpredictable. Cozens is a big 6″3 Centre who can play physical and drive a line. If the Blackhawks want to wait and send him back to Major Junior for a year, that isn’t and issue as Strome can play 2nd line centre and Anisimov stays as a 3rd line centre for another season. If the Blackhawks want their future to be built down the middle, having your top three Centres be Toews, Cozens and Strome are some solid pieces to build around.
Pick #4, Colorado Avalanche: Vasili Podkolzin
The Avalanche have an extremely high pick even though they were a playoff team, thanks to the Ottawa Senators from the Matt Duchene trade. The Avalanche have one of the best lines in hockey with solid defence and goaltending. Their issue is with scoring depth and physicality, which Podkolzin brings both of. He can get under the skin of opposing players and has the skill to play with talented players. Could be a fantastic 2nd line winger for this team for a very long time.
Pick #5, Los Angeles Kings: Bowen Byram
Byram is simply the most talented defenceman in this year’s draft. He is 6″1, so by no means is he a small player. He is a very offensive minded player who has great vision on the ice. He needs to work on his agility and shifty-ness on the ice, but the Kings development team will get right on that. With Muzzin already gone and Martinez rumoured to be on the trading block because of this rebuild, Byram would be a great player to join Doughty on the future of the Kings defence.
Pick #6, Detroit Red Wings: Kirby Dach
Dach is a player who has always been a pass first Centreman, who has the size to be a big #1 Centre in the NHL. He does need one, maybe two more years of development in his defensive game, and sometimes doesn’t show enough urgency to be effective every shift. Those things though take time to develop sometimes, and the Red Wings won’t be in a rush to put him in the NHL. Could one day create a dynamic 1-2 punch at centre alongside Larkin.
Pick #7, Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Boldy
Boldy is a very talented winger who lacks consistency in his game. If they can get him to competing for 60 minutes every single game, the Sabres have lots of young talented centre’s they could put Boldy with.
Pick #8, Edmonton Oilers: Cole Caufield
Just like the Sabre’s, the Oilers have loads of talented young centre’s, but struggle even more than the Sabre’s do with finding wingers to play alongside those centre’s. Caufield is a great skater who put up 82 points in 57 games this season with the US NTDP. The Oilers will need cheap talented wingers moving forward, and at least for his entry level deal, he has the ability to be just that.
Pick #9, Anaheim Ducks: Trevor Zegras
Zegras is committed to Boston University next season and will need time to develop, and the Ducks can give him that time as they don’t expect to be competitive for a couple of years. Getzlaf only has 2 more years on his contract and is already 34 years old, maybe Zegras is the man to take over once Getzlaf can’t play like a 1st line centre anymore.
Pick #10, Vancouver Canucks: Peyton Krebs
Yet again another centre, as the top 10 has the potential to be full of them. Krebs is a smart, creative player who never really played on great Major Junior hockey teams. If you put him with some more skilled forwards, which the Canucks are starting to get a lot of, we might see a whole different level of Krebs than we have seen in Major Junior.
Will this list be correct? Probably not, but they are fun to create. Enjoy the draft everyone!