The 2019 NHL Draft is just around the corner, and this means Scrimmage and Stats is bringing you some content on players coming out of this very exciting 2019 class. After spending the better part of 10 months watching over 100 young men play this beautiful game, we’ve compiled, after great debate, our top-31 list.
We’ve also looked at each player’s style of play and compared it to a current NHL players, based on how they play and what tools they use to achieve success. This is in no way a measure of their potential or ceiling, but a stylistic comparison based on who each prospect could remind you of.
This is our final Mock Draft of the season, and our selections underline who we believe the Best Player Available (BPA) per selection will be. Without further ado, here’s who we’ve got your team picking in the 1st round
1. New Jersey Devils: C – Jack Hughes 5’10/170 lbs
Well, after many months of back and forth between Hughes and Kakko, it is indeed Jack Hughes who comes out on top in our rankings this season.
We’ve heard about Jack Hughes for the better part of the last 18 months and the time is upon us for the middle Hughes brother. After a record-breaking season for the USNTDP, where he put up 112 points in 50 games, Hughes went on to dominate the U-18s this past April with 9 goals and 20 points in 7 games.
Measuring himself to past American-born players like Auston Matthews, Phil Kessel, and Jack Eichel, Hughes looks primed for the NHL as early as next season. He has the high-end speed to separate himself from his competition, and his acceleration is second to none at the top end of this draft.
His vision is especially noteworthy, as he can QB a powerplay from the right half-wall and distribute pucks in a similar way to Patrick Kane for Chicago. He does possess a deadly wrist shot and can also clap it quite efficiently. In short, Hughes looks like a bonafide top-line player in the making, whether at centre or at wing.
He was also called to play for Team USA’s senior team during the IIHF Hockey World Championships this past May, putting up 3 assists in 7 games. Not as impactful as someone like Kakko (we’ll get to him very soon), Hughes still showed great puck-control and patience to set up his NHL-calibre teammates for prime scoring chances.
In our estimation, Hughes will never be a prime time goal-scorer. However, he does project as an elite set-up man who will thrive at 5-on-5 and on the powerplay. His strong possession numbers and his incredible patience with the puck have drawn many comparisons to a young Patrick Kane. With great speed and top-end vision, he likely slots into New Jersey’s top-6 as early as next season.
NHL Comparable: Patrick Kane
2. New York Rangers: RW/C – Kaapo Kakko 6’1/ 180 lbs
Kaapo Kakko has also had himself a record-breaking season in the Finnish Liiga this year for TPS. Splitting time between RW and C this season, Kaapo was an absolute machine offensively. He even broke Alexander Barkov’s U-18 scoring record with 22 goals in 45 games!
Kakko plays a very mature game already and already possess a very mature frame at 6’2 and 190 lbs. He is not shy to play along the boards and deliver punishing hits. He also uses his mean streak to create space for his teammates in the slot. His shot is absolutely deadly, as, evidenced by his 22 goals as an 18-year old, and his release is extremely deceptive and powerful; especially on the rush. Kakko has very good speed as well and can separate himself from a defender quite well at full stride. Personifying the modern-day definition of an NHL power forward, Rangers fans should get really excited!
Where Kakko defers from from Hughes is that he is physically mature and NHL-ready now. As evidenced by his incredible World Championships for Finland (and the insane goal you see in the gif above) Kakko has the size, speed and strength to take off like a rocket, but also to withstand coverage and hooking in order to execute plays.
His 6 goals and 7 points 10 games were just a level below Patrik Laine’s performance at the same age (Laine had 12 points in 10 games), but Kakko displayed that he could have just as strong and immediate an impact as Laine had for the Winnipeg Jets right out of the gate; a valuable piece for the rebuilding Rangers.
NHL Comparable: Mikko Rantanen
3. Chicago Blackhawks: C – Alex Turcotte 5’11/185 lbs
We had Turcotte initially ranked at 4th overall in our previous mock draft. The reason for his rise has little to do with faults in Bowen Byram’s game, but more to do with Alex Turcotte’s subtle intricacies to his game.
He is a powerful stick handler with great vision. He is extremely hard to defend, as he can beat defenders 1-on-1 in almost any way, be it with speed, with a quick deke, a sharp pass or even a screened shot. In short, Turcotte is your prototype for a top-line C (unless your current #1C is Jonathan Toews).
He is able to use his quick hands and feet to create space on the rush, making defenders back up and allowing Turcotte more space to make a play (as evidence in the GIF below). What is most glaring about Turcotte is that he is able to do pretty much anything at top speed.
Turcotte’s main asset is his vision, followed closely by his speed. He uses both to enter the opposing zone quite efficiently and then distribute the puck for his teammates. However, don’t let his offensive abilities let you think he’s a defensive liability. He is a full, 200-foot player that can play down low and support his defensemen, while also using his stick to actively cut passing lanes.
As a high-end centre with high IQ , Turcotte’s game resembles that of Jack Eichel around the same age. A very mature game based on intelligent positioning and a strong work ethic. He is as skilled as Eichel was at the same age, but presents a full 200-ft game.
Turcotte will provide the Blackhawks with incredible strength up the middle (with Toews and Strome). He will immediately compliment the emerging young core perfectly, as the Blackhawks put the finishing touches on their rebuild.
NHL Comparable: Jack Eichel
4. Colorado Avalanche (Ottawa) : C/LW – Trevor Zegras – 6’/169 lbs
Trevor Zegras plays a very similar speed and skill game to that of Matt Barzal. He is incredibly quick and uses his speed and hands to create a high level of offensive zone entries, especially during a powerplay. Playing both C and LW this season, Zegras is easily able to switch between positions and can be placed pretty much anywhere in your top-6 without a problem.
Zegras does not possess the world’s strongest slap/wrist shot, but he makes up for that with excellent vision and a deceptively good passing. Able to quarterback a powerplay, Zegras is a magician when it comes to distributing pucks at a high speed. His defensive game is extremely mature for his age. He’s an ace in the face-off circle and possesses some of the best positional awareness in the draft. His strong 200-ft game has many scouts believing he’ll be a bonafide top-6 centre in the NHL.
Zegras presents the full package of skill, speed, defensive awareness and character. Anyone who watches Zegras play notices that he makes those around him better. His slick moves and quick feet make him an ideal pivot at the next level. He could, however, slot in at wing if necessary, especially on the powerplay, to open up passing lanes.
Although Zegras is not very physical, he does not shy away from board battles. He will have to hit the gym for a few years before becoming effective along the boards in the NHL. Zegras looks like the top-6 centre prospect the Avalanche have been looking for over the last 3 years.
NHL Comparable: Matthew Barzal
5. Los Angeles Kings: LD – Bowen Byram 6’/193 lbs
Bowen Byram is hands down the most complete defenseman in the entire draft and would jump start the rebuild in Los Angeles. The first word that comes to mind when thinking of Byram’s game is clutch. Scoring 6 OT goals, he broke the WHL record for most amount of OT goals in a single season, as a 17-year old defenseman(!!!).
On top of being money in clutch situations, Byram possesses elite hockey sense and always seems to be at the right place at the right time during odd-man rushes (especially in a 4th man rover). He is then able to release his great wrist or slap shot ( both just as precise, and just as devastating) which fooled many goalies in the WHL and resulted in 26 goals for Byram, a feat that hasn’t been seen since the Pre-Lockout Era.
As you can see below, Byram can get from end to end in a hurry with the use of two or three powerful strides. He has great speed and awesome lateral movements, which make it easy for him to defend on the rush, while also being able to quickly position himself for a breakout pass.
He is also able to slow down the play and take his opposition offguard, opting for a hard, cross-ice pass in the slot. His ability to read the play at a high speed allows him to dish out high-velocity passes , but he can also deceive goaltenders with a very well-placed wrist shot.
Byram’s physical, defensive game is also noteworthy, as he billed at 6’1 but plays like he’s 6’4. His strong lower body of gravity allows him to stand up his competition at the blueline and limit zone entries. He is an extremely mobile prospect, often using his speed to counter the most elusive opponents in order to start the counter-attack.
Needless to stay, Byram is a force at both ends of the ice. His selection would instantly jumpstart the rebuild in LA.
NHL Comparable: Drew Doughty
6. Detroit Red Wings: C – Dylan Cozens 6’3/ 180 lbs
A strong, two-way pivot, Cozens possess a game that is eerily similar to a Patrice Bergeron. He plays a very hard-nosed game, using his size and grit to extract pucks along the boards to feed his teammates in the slot or on the blueline. Cozens is also a very strong shooter, possessing an arsenal of shooting options, especially his one-timer. He can absolutely rip it from anywhere on the ice and quickly. He can also stickhandle his way out of a phone booth, making him an ideal player for tight-checking games, especially down-low.
He also loves to use his size in defensive situations, making him ideal for a full two-way game and a clutch player in a tight game. Cozens also uses his strong hockey IQ to send off passes in tight, especially along the boards, for players streaking into the slot. He is also very willing to go to the dirty areas or in front of the net to pot home a loose puck or rebound, making him extremely difficult to contain.
Cozens does have solid wheels, as he can get going with just a stride or two and can burn defensemen with his combo of size and hands. Cozens projects as a hard-nosed, top-6 C in the NHL and that is solid value.
One of the smartest players in the draft, Cozens uses his Hockey IQ to always position himself well on the ice. He then uses his size to get himself in the high-danger area for a scoring chance. That combination of size and Hockey IQ is what makes Cozens such a unique prospect in this draft, as power-forward type centres are very rare to find.
NHL Comparable: Patrice Bergeron
7. Buffalo Sabres: C – Kirby Dach – 6’4/197 lbs
Kirby Dach is most certainly one of the most intriguing prospects of this draft. Standing at 6’4 and weighing 197 lbs, the young centre is already built like an NHL centre and projects as a powerful, but skilled top-6 pivot. He has elite vision and passing skills, likely having the best cross-ice/saucer pass in the draft.
Dach can run an entire powerplay from the half-wall and can distribute the puck just like Ryan Getzlaf does for the Anaheim Ducks. He is able to use his size and his reach to protect the puck in order to attract defenders and make a pass to an opened teammate in the slot.
Although he would not be categorised as very fast, Dach has deceptive speed, as he is able to get to his top-speed after only two or three strides. This helps him separate himself from the opposition, while always being very good at creating turnovers. He also has some very good acceleration and lateral movement for such a big man, easily shifting his weight laterally to cut side to side on a zone entry and giving defensemen nightmares on the rush.
His overall defensive game needs work, as he requires more consistency in his positioning and gap control, but another year in the CHL could help rectify this aspect of his game. Dach will provide the Buffalo Sabres with a great option for 2nd line C, allowing them to move Casey Mittelstadt to the wing, creating an instantly dangerous 2nd line (behind Eichel and Skinner) going forward for Buffalo.
NHL Comparable: Ryan Getzlaf
8. Edmonton Oilers RW – Cole Caufield 5’7/ 162 lbs
Cole Caufield was put on this Earth to score goals. Caufield surpassed Phil Kessel’s US National Development team goal-scoring record (105 goals), a mark that has stood for more than a decade. He went on to finish the season with 72 goals in 60 games for the USNDPT, while also being named the MVP of the most recent U18 World Championships and has been touted as the best pure goalscorer of the draft. Caufield has a monster one-timer, which many believe is already NHL ready. He also possesses a quick and devastating wrist shot which can fool a goalie at point blank range.
Caufield can use his high hockey IQ and his solid positioning to overcome his lack of size (5’7, 163 lbs) and lack of top-end speed. He is very good at retrieving pucks and finding open space in the offensive zone. He is very good at escaping the opposition’s coverage and finding a sweet spot to ready himself for a one-timer.Although he is not a speedster, Caufield’s top-speed execution is almost mesmerizing on the ice.
He is also extremely tenacious, often throwing himself into harm’s way to retrieve a puck along the boards. Caufield uses his quick feet and strong lower body of gravity to extract the puck from along the boards. He knows exactly when it is best to pinch into a board battle but also knows when to open out for an outlet pass, as he has a knack for being at the right place at the right time to execute a zone break-out and offensive zone entry.
Caufield would be a perfect fit for the Sabres, as they are already set at the centre-line but lack an incredible amount of death (and scoring) along the wings, a position of need for them.
NHL Comparable: Alex DeBrincat
9. Anaheim Ducks: C/LW Peyton Krebs 5’11/ 180 lbs
Peyton Krebs is a heart and soul player that possesse a very similar style of play to Mark Scheifele. He is very tenacious, using his solid stickhandling and deceptive speed to seperate himself fromthe opposition, while driving towards the net to create a play. Krebs plays a very strong game for a player of average height, and possesses all the qualities of a future leader down the road.
Krebs doesnot have the sexiest stat line in the draft (68 points in 64 games for the Kootenay, now Winnipeg Ice). His lack of production was mostly due to playing on one of the worst teams in all of Major Junior. To say he had barely any support in Kootenay would be warranted, as he led his team in scoring by 16 points.
Krebs’ main asset is his playmaking, aespecially at full speed. He can make crisp pases at full stride and is able to execute no look passes quite easily. He also uses his Hockey IQ to know where his line mates are on the ice, in order to end no-look passes their way for scoring chances. His speed of execution and his crisp passing make him a force in the offensive zone.
Although he is not the biggest player in the draft at 5’11 and 180lbs, Krebs is a character player that leaves it all on the ice every single game. He likes to possess the puck as is extremely shifty along the boards when trying to protect it.
He is shifty and elusive for defenders due to his ability to change directions on a dime. Krebs often uses that elusiveness to his advantage in tight around the goal crease.
Many initially doubted that he has the potential to become a top-6 for a comptitive team. Thankfully, he calmed those detractors with a very solid U-18 showing ( with 6 goals and 10 points in 7 games). Krebs projects as a key top-6 centre that will complete a future Ducks centre line with Sam Steel moving forward for the Ducks.
NHL Comparable: Mark Scheifele
10. Vancouver Canucks: C/LW – Alex Newhook 5’11/ 195 lbs
Alex Newhook has shot up the ranks of many mock drafts over the last month after an impressive coming out party at the U-18 World Championships. He put up a staggering 102 points in 53 games for BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. which is slightly less productive than past alumni like Tyson Jost or Kyle Turris. However, Newhook established himself as a top draft pick during the World U-18 Championships this April for Canada, putting up 10 points in 7 games and even leading the team in scoring.
Newhook’s greatest asset is his speed of execution. He is able to do pretty much anything at top speed, whether it’s shooting, passing, checking, stickhandling or deking. He is also extremely fast and can beat defenders one on one with his sharp edge work and great acceleration. His speed catches the opposition offguard, and his ease at switching between lateral and straight skating.
Newhook’s defensive game and overall attention to detail make him a projectable as a centre at the NHL level, but he could easily be shifted to wing, should the Canucks require him to shift to win in order to balance the top-6.
Newhook’s overall adaptability to any situation or position make him an ideal fit at this point in the draft, as the Canucks get a player that could play special teams and dominate at 5 on 5.
NHL Comparable: Kyle Turris
11. Philadelphia Flyers: RD – Moritz Seider 6’4/198 lbs
This is a player that has rocketed up the ranks of many mock drafts and scouting lists with an absolutely eye-opening World Hockey Championship for the German National men’s team. He scored two goals in 6 games, but played a very mature game and was able to maintain pace against men.
The German rearguard played the entire season in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (German Hockey League) as a 17-year-old. Unlike fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl, Seider decided to stay and play his draft year in Germany rather than play in the CHL. He is a steady, two-way defenseman that is able to eat a lot of minutes and play agains the opposition’s best lines.
He can effectively shut down the opposition and quickly transition the puck into offensive zone time with a strong first pass or his good mobility. Seider is able to utilize his speed in order to easily create zone entries and to promote more zone exits from his end of the ice.
Seider’s greatest weapon is his high hockey IQ, as he is able to read a play properly almost every time. Well positioned and always ready to jump into the rush and create a play, the responsible rearguard projects as a complete top-4 D man on the right side, something the Philadelphia Flyers are in desperate need of. Although they are rather deep at left defense, Seider would bring them a piece that could be ready for the jump to the NHL as early as 2020-2021.
NHL Comparable: Anton Stralman
12. Minnesota Wild: LW – Matt Boldy 6’2/ 196 lbs
Matthew Boldy (6’2, 196 lbs) is a strong, goal-scoring power forward that loves to drive to the net. He uses his size and excellent vision to set-up his streaking teammates, especially on the rush. Comparaed to the Tkachuk brothers, Boldy loves to use his size and speed to create space around the net. Similarly to them, he possesses a deceptive shot that can fool even the best goaltenders. He may not be a pure goal-scorer , but Boldy has one of the strong offensive arsenals in the draft. He possesses one of the most powerful and accurate wrist shots of the draft.
Zone entries are one of Boldy’s specialties. He can straight up charge the offensive zone, sometimes dragging players in with him. Boldy is also very good on the rush, as his size and deceptive speed force many defensemen to back up. Boldy then uses that extra space to open the play and find his temmates with a crisp pass.
Boldy’s defensive game is rather effective, as he uses his size and speed to separate the opposition from the puck. He is especially good at making room for hismelf along the boards to immediately start the counter attack. Boldy is a puck hound that chases down the opposition and often forces turnovers with his increadible motor. Boldy’s NHL size, mature defensive game and incredible skill will help him force his way into Minnesotta’s top-6 one day.
NHL Comparable: Matthew Tkachuk
13. Florida Panthers: LD – Philip Broberg 6’3/193 lbs
Philip Broberg started off the season with a bang at the Ivan Hlinka-Gretzky tournament this past August. He has since become the most polarising prospect in this draft. Nonetheless, Philip Broberg is a scout’s wet dream. Standing at 6’ 3 and 193 lbs, Broberg has solid size for a young blueliner. He is also incredibly mobile for his size. He can cruise through the ice and often creating odd-man rushes due to his quick zone entries.
Broberg’s best asset is his skatin. After two or three strides, he can really take off and command the respect of opposition defenders. Consequently, Broberg’s zone entries are a thing of beauty. Once in the offensive zone, he uses his size and good edge work to cross into centre ice for a quality shot or pass to a streaking teammate. Broberg possesses a strong wrist shot and an accurate slapshot, which he likes to us on the powerplay.
Many are down on Broberg because he was not an offensive for in Sweden’s Division II Allsvenskan this season. In fact, Broberg was far more noticeable internationally. His play at both the U-18 Ivan Hlinka-Greztky tournament in August was his coming out party. He played for Sweden at the U-20 World Championships this winter as well and performed admirably. However, it was his U-18 World Championship performance which had everyone in awe.
Broberg’s defensive decision making hasbeen the cause of worry for some scouts, but he has greatly improved in this field. He now uses his reach and size far more to try and separate the opposition from the puck. He still over-commits at times while trying to force a turnover. However this is nothing that good coaching and some tape studying cannot fix.
Broberg would be a solid gamble to take at this point in the draft for Florida. With a solid array of offensive prospects, Florida needs a D-man with top-4 D and Broberg fits that need.
NHL Comparable: Mattias Ekholm
14. Arizona Coyotes: RW – Vasili Podkolzin 6’1/195 lbs
Podkolzin, a strong and imposing winger, plays a power-forward game centered skill and tenacity. He has soft hands and a strong shot, which make him incredibly difficult to defend, especially on the rush. His wrist shot is most certainly one of the most accurate in the draft. Identified as a sniper, he can pick his spots quite well, even from the narrowest of angles.
He also possesses great vision and high hockey-IQ. His defensive awareness is also very high for an elite-winger. His defensive acumen prompts many of his coaches to trust him with defensive missions. Podkolzin’s game is similar in practice to a young Jamie Benn. He plays a with a little less of an edge, but is consistanltly aware of his surroundings to initiatie plays.
In terms of pure ability, Podkolzin is a top-10 talent. Many teams could shy away from the Russian winger because of his two remaining years in the KHL.
As a team that already boasts a strong core of young players coming through the ranks, Arizona has to go for the best player available, and Podkolzin is very much that at 14th overall.
NHL Comparable: Jamie Benn
15. Montreal Canadiens : LD – Ville Heinola 6’/188 lbs
Ville Heinola had one of the better seasons on record for a 17-year old defensemen in the Finnish Liiga. Logging top-4 minutes for Lukko Rauma, he posted 2 goals and 14 points in 34 games. Standing at 5’11 and 176 lbs, Heinola is not the strongest or the biggest of the bunch. He makes up with his lack of raw power with very high Hokey IQ.
He often uses his positioning to constantly put himself between his man coverage and the play. Offensively, he quickly gets in the right position to receive a pass for a scoring chance or a zone exit. He is the kind of defenseman that is consistently in the right place at the right time.
Nonetheless, Heinola possesses a quality wrist shot, great vision and a passing game that is reminiscent of Andrei Markov. A true PP QB in the making, Heinola plays a very similar game to Henri Jokiharju of the Chicago Blackhawks and would be a solid bet to become a possible top-4 D down the line.
Heinola was easily the best defenseman for Finland at the U-18 World Championships this April. Although he did have some tougher defensive sequences, his defensive partners left him hanging more often than not. He is by no means a finished product. He needs to shore up his defensive gap control and pass-lane cutting if he wishes to excel at the next level. However, if he is able to improve his gap control and strength, he could become a player comparable to Andrei Markov for the Canadiens. I may have triggered half of Habs land, but Heinola is legit. Also, more Finns right?
Player Comparable: Andrei Markov
16. Colorado Avalanche: G – Spencer Knight 6’3/197 lbs
Spencer Knight was hailed as the best goalie to ever come out of the USA minor hockey as early as this March. Many perceive him as a dominant goalie in the making that could make the accomplishments of all goaltenders since Patrick Roy look like child’s play for the Avalanche.
Knight is without a doubt the best goalie available in this draft, but also in the last 5 years. Standing at 6’3 and 197 lbs, Knight is already the ideal size and weight of an NHL goaltender. I have rarely seen a goalie so agile, athletic and built at the age of 18. He looks like a carbon copy of Carey Price at the same age when he was playing for the Tri-City Americans. in 2005.
Knight is also an excellent stickhandler. He can not only play the puck from behind the net, but has also been seen making toe-drags to evade incoming forecheckers in order to then make a breakout pass. Similarly to Price, Knight is cool as a cucumber and possesses elite athleticism.
Knight plays a very smart game in net, using his lateral movements to push off from side-to-side and make the highlight reel glove save. He has long legs, which allow him to effectively cover the bottom of the net. However, he has a wicked fast glove hand, making him very hard to beat.
His mental toughness is rather good for a player of his age. He is very good at controlling rebounds and his percentage game is rather strong for an amateur-level goaltender ( .913 save %). We believe he could become a franchise goaltender, similarly to how Andrei Vasilevsky developped in Tampa Bay.
Player Comparable: Carey Price
17. Vegas Golden Knights: RD – Victor Soderstrom 5’11/187 lbs
Victor Soderstrom has had one heck of a year playing for the low scoring Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). At just 18 he was playing close to 16 minutes a game versus men in one of the top leagues in the world. Soderstrom’s intelligent and mature game allowed him to position himself quite effectively on the ice. His speed and hockey sense then take over. He is able to shoot up the cie, creating electric rushes down along the boards. Consequently, Soderstrom is seen as a zone entry machine, and improved greatly in this department as the season went on.
Soderstrom’s best quality is his puck-moving ability, as he able to get the puck up the ice in quite a hurry, with a strong first pass and good speed for zone entries. Although he may not be as offensively focused as former top Swedish defenders, Soderstrom makes up for that with a sound defensive game.
He is able to shut a play down quite well with his size and solid positioning in the defensive end. His ability to create turnovers and counter-attacks are very noticeable on the ice and quickly make him a fan favourite.
Soderstrom isn’t going to wow you with a dynamic toolbox, but he has all the tools to become a steady, high-end top-4 defenseman in the NHL. His style reminds many of Roman Josi at the same age in terms of skating ability and overall vision. I like that comparison because Soderstrom like to hold onto the puck and distribute it effectively. He is also not shy to jump into the play and drive the offense hismelf.
Player Comparable: Roman Josi
18. Dallas Stars: C/RW – Philip Tomasino 6’/179 lbs
Philip Tomasino could likely go higher than the 18th overall position. He has the kind of skill and dynamic ability that could see him vault up the ranks in a hurry. Why? Tomasino has to be one of the most hidden gems in all of amateur hockey. Playing behind a stacked team for the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, Tomasino was still able to put up 34 goals and 38 assists for 72 points in 67 games. That’s over a Point Per Game playing mostly third line minutes, albeit with elite players on the PP.
The last player to do so was picked 5th overall in last year’s draft by the Arizona Coyotes (Barret Hayton). He projects as a top-6 C, but could easily slot into the right wing should the team need to distribute the talent evenly in the lineup.
Tomasino has great speed and he uses it to create a high number of zone entries per game. Tomasino is able to hit top speed at an alarming rate, and he makes defenders look silly with his shiftiness. . He then uses his elite vision to find an open player in the slot who is coming in as a rover, or he can tap into his relentless drive for the net to take the puck to the danger area to create a scoring chance.
He also plays a very tenacious game. You often find him mixing it up and driving to the net. His offense looks like it could translate very well in the NHL by the effort and skill he uses.
With Tomasino, many scouts question whether he made his team better or if his elite team made him look better. After multiple viewings this year in the season and playoffs, it was a non-issue. Tomasino was a big part of Niagara’s season and playoff push as a clutch offensive player. No matter where he plays next season ( be in Niagara or the rumoured Oshawa), he will dominate.
Player Comparable: Max Domi
19. Ottawa Senators (Columbus): RW – Arthur Kaliyev – 6’2/190 lbs
Kaliyev similarly to Cole Caufield, is a goal scoring machine. Putting up 51 goals and 51 assists for 102 points in 67 games, many believe that Kaliyev has top-10 talent and could eventually become a game-breaker for the team who drafts him.
Kaliyev is known as a goal scorer, but his passing and vision are also excellent. He is able to find players with solid tape-to-tape passes at full speed, or make a quick play with a cross-ice saucer pass for a solid scoring chance.
His shot is lethal, especially on from the right circle (his offside). What is remarkable is how quickly he can get his shot up off the ice to the top corners. Goalies are often left wondering how he did that, as well as scouts! His one-timer is also very strong and accurate, which is why Hamilton quickly identified Kaliyev as the trigger man for their powerplay.
The issue with Kaliyev is everything but his offense. He has been called out for a lack of physical implication. His defensive game has been insignificant over the last two seasons. Many question his character and overall determination in high pressure situations. However, in Ottawa, he won’t be asked to be the guy. That title belongs to Tkachuk on the offense. Therefore, we believe the Senators will take the BPA and get the hell out of Vancouver ASAP.
Player Comparable: Phil Kessel
20.Winnipeg Jets: C – Ryan Suzuki 6’/181 lbs
Ryan Suzuki was an absolute horse for the rebuilding Barrie Colts this season (pun intended). Suzuki was the star player of this team with the departure of Andrei Svechnikov and it showed. Night in, night out, he was easily their best player.
He plays a very similar intelligent game to his brother Nick (MTL), but possesses the elite speed to go with his quick hands and excellent vision. Suzuki is a playmaking C that can also play the wing in a pinch. He doesn’t shy away from the physical game and is a powerplay general that loves to distribute the puck with high-end passes (often playing on the right board).
Suzuki had 75 points in 65 games, which may seem unimpressive at first. However, you have to remember that Barrie was absolutely empty in terms of talent. Suzuki was able to score at nearly 1.5 points per game early in the season. When their GM decided to blow it up, his scoring regressed as the playmaker had nobody to feed.
Similarly, to Krebs, Suzuki looked far better when surrounded with better players at the U-18 World Championships. He was often described as making those around him better and that is the kind of player you look for at this point in the draft.
In the end Suzuki has to be one of the better playmakers in this draft and a bonafide top6 C in the making. This would be incredible value for the Jets, who have been looking for a bonafide #2 C forever. Suzuki could take his time progressing in the OHL and in the AHL for the Moose, and eventually make a solid impact for the Jets in 2-3 years.
Player Comparable: Teuvo Teravainen
21. Pittsburgh Penguins : LD – Cam York 5’11/ 176 lbs
Many believed that Cam York was a product of his very productive USNDPT team, but this past April during the World U18s, Cam York silenced those people. York uses his speed and agility to the ice to create offense, while also using his great positional awareness and hockey-IQ to limit zone entries and odd-man rushes.
York uses his speed and his vision to make solid plays in the offensive zone, such as a cross-ice powerplay pass or a one-touch one-timer set-up play from the slot. Cam York can also put the puck in the net himself, making him a veritable force on the power play. He can unload a very hard and precise one-timer which is very often placed in the top corner, where mama hides the cookies!
York’s attention to detail and his strong defensive awareness make him a realistic top-4 D prospect and have many comparing him to a young Cam Fowler. I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps in this list come Draft Day, should a team truly value a defenseman over a forward.
Player Comparable: Cam Fowler
22. Los Angeles Kings (Toronto): C/RW – Raphaël Lavoie 6’4/196 lbs
When you think LA Kings, you think size, scoring and tenacity. Well Raphael Lavoie could fill all those criteria, one day. Lavoie is a big winger from just outside Montreal who is known for putting pucks in the net. Lavoie established himself as a first round pick last year this time when he put up 30 goals and 63 points in 68 games. He followed up that incredible progression with a good, albeit underwhelming performance of 32 goals and 73 points in 62 games this season.
Once projected as a surefire top-10 pick, Lavoie has seen his stock fall due to concerns that the oldest player in the draft, having missed the cutoff for the 2018 NHL Draft by just 2 weeks, had possibly begun to slow down in his progression curve. This is not uncommon for big men in junior, as we have seen this happen in the past with guys like Julien Gauthier of the Carolina Hurricanes (who outproduced Lavoie at the same age).
However, Lavoie then exploded during this year’s QMJHL playoffs and finished 2nd in playoff scoring with a staggering 20 goals and 32 points in 23 games. Nobody can say that Lavoie doesn’t have an elite shot capable of scoring from just about everywhere, as he can be one of the most dangerous forwards in the draft. He is also deceptively fast for his size, being able to hit his top speed in just two or three powerful strides. This allows coaches to trust him with defensive missions and key penalty killing assignments. Lavoie has used his size and speed to separate opposition players from the puck and then turn on the jets for a breakaway on more than one occasion.
On the flipside, Lavoie’s compete level and willingness to get physical, or lack thereof, make him a serious question mark for scouts. Is he another Anthony Mantha type player or will be he a Julien Gauthier style flop? Many scouts believe he is closer to Mantha and will thus look at him as a very valuable prospect moving forward. Despite some question marks, he is most certainly a player the Canadiens must study long and hard before making a choice in June.
Player Comparable: Anthony Mantha
23. New York Islanders: LD – Thomas Harley 6’3/188 lbs
Thomas Harley is one the youngest players in the draft (born in August 2001) and is likely the defensseman with the most raw offensive potential in the entire draft. He has realistic top-4 pairing upside, but his defensive lapses and decision making have many scouts question whether he can ever achieve his potential. Nonetheless, Harley’s combination of size, speed and vision make him an ideal choice for the Montreal Canadiens, as he looks to be a huge play driver and zone entry machine at the NHL level.
Harley possess strong vision and a good overall hockey IQ, which allows him to create great passing plays or position himself in a prime spot for a scoring chance. Netting 11 goals and 47 assists assist for 58 points in 68 games, Harley proved he was able to make plays and distribute many pucks, especially on the powerplay.
Standing at 6’3 and weighing close to 185 lbs, Harley has the build that every scout wants. He has great straight line speed for his size and his acceleration can catch defenders offguard, as his strides are wide and powerful.
He is effective in the defensive zone at limiting shots against and separating the opposition from the puck with his size and long reach. He needs to work on getting stronger and using his shot more often if he wishes to be effective at the next level.
When it comes to Harley though, there are issues in terms of his overall gap control and his sometimes lazy defensive coverage. There was notable improvement in his gap control over the season, and there is still subtiantial room to grow, but he has shown dedication in improving this aspect of his game.
Udner the tutelage of the Islanders organization, led by defensive minded Barry Trotz, Thomas Harley could flourish. This is a position of serious need for the Islanders, and having a potential replacement for Nick Leddy could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Islanders.
Player Comparable: Thomas Chabot
24. Nashville Predators: RW – Bobby Brink 5’8/168 lbs
Have you heard of Bobby Brink? He’s got to be the most underrated US-born player in the 1st round of this draft. Why? Because he didn’t play for the US National Development team with the likes of Hughes and Turcotte. He preferred to play in the United States Hockey League (USHL) for the Sioux City Musketeers. He was easily their best offensive weapon and made things happen all the time, season or playoffs.
Even without an elite cast of teammates, Brink dominated the USHL, putting up 35 goals and 33 assists for 68 points in 45 games. Bobby Brink scored a fun goal last night, walking through two defenders in the process. Brink, a 2019 draft eligible, leads the entire USHL in P/GP with 1.71.
Brink has some solid offensive tools, which start with his exceptional vision. Brink’s ability to find his teammates at full speed will be seen as extremely valuable on the powerplay in the modern NHL. This skill is especially evident for Brink when he plays on the powerplay, as he seems to find open linemates rather easily. Brink also has a very strong shot that he can release quickly and with significant velocity. His shot is very accurate, but Brink is also a very scrappy forward who will go to the net to score the garbage goal if needed.
He possesses many similar characteristics to Brendan Gallagher or TJ Oshie in the sense that he is a smaller player ( 5’8, 168 lbs) that plays like he’s 6’2. His relentless effort and constant jam to his game make him sure to be a fan favourite moving forward in Nashville.
Brink needs to work on his skating speed and his speed of execution if he wishes to overcome his size disadvantage at the next level. The Denver University commit will have lots of time to hit the gym and work on his skating, making this pick a rather high-value one at this point in the 1st round.
Player Comparable: T.J. Oshie
25. Washington Capitals: LW/RW – Pavel Dorofeyev 6’/184
Pavel Dorofeyev is probably not as known as some of those above him, but you should get acquainted real soon. The Russian winger was absolute dynamite this season in the KHL junior league (MHL), where he potted a staggering 17 goals and 14 assists in 31 games.
He was then promoted to play with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL, which is a rare accomplishment for an 18-year-old. Although he only put up 1 goal and 1 assist in 23 games, Dorofeyev proved that he could hang with men already, even when he was not at physical maturity ( 6’ft and 168 lbs with room to grow).
Dorofeyev plays the game similarly to a Filip Forsberg, in the sense that he uses his body very well to protect the puck and come out of board battles and 1-on-1s successfully. He is a great passer, often threading the needle in impossible situations and his wrist shot is deceptively accurate and hard
In terms of style of play, Dorofeyev reminds me very much of Alexander Radulov. He protects the puck beautifully along the boards and always comes out with the puck glued to his stick. The sturdy winger also has great hands and vision, without necessarily having electric speed. He uses his intelligence and strength to get the to dirty areas and he isn’t afraid to get messy. Ultimately, Dorofeyev projects a a top-6 winger that could complete any line he’s put on in a pinch. The question is simply: When?
Player Comparable: Alexander Radulov
26. Calgary Flames: LW – Nils Hoglander 5’9 185 lbs
Hoglander has been quite the story in the Swedish Hockey League this season. In 50 games with Rogle BK, Hoglander registered 7 goals and 7 asissts for 14 points. This is quite an impressive feat for a draft eligible player in the SHL.
Hoglander possesses great speed and is able to get to his top speed in a pinch. This makes him a prime candidate for breakaways and odd-man rushes, similar to Montreal’s Paul Byron.
He has exceptional hands, as evidence by the SHL goal of the year above. He is often seen creating a large amount of space of himself simply due to his speed and quick stick handling. His quick and soft hands allow him to maintain a very fast-paced and electric game.
Although he does not have the world’s most powerful shot, Hoglander is a smart shooter. He is very good at creating screen shots and finding the top of the net rather quickly. Not to be outdone by his scoring skills, Hoglander is just as good a passer. He is able to find streaking teammates with his good vision and hockey IQ. He is constantly aware of where everyone is on the ice and this makes me a danger at every presence.
Hoglander is a workhorse that has an already mature and responsible game. Scouts adore his warrior attitude and have compare his ”Never Say Die” style to Gallagher as well. Although Hoglander is far faster than Gallagher, he will very similarly leave his stamp upon every game.
Ultimately, if Hoglander doesn’t become a top-6 forward moving forward, he will surely become a 3rd line winger. He is one of those players who seems destined for the NHL by his sheer talent and will alone. His ability to forecheck and get into the dirtier areas of the ice are very translatable to the NHL. His skill and stick handling in tight will also allow him to thrive on smaller ice, an in the playoffs. Calgary would be acquiring a warrior with this pick that could contribute in the next 2 years.
Player Comparable: Paul Byron
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: LD – Lassi Thomson 6’/180 lbs
Lassi Thomson is a Finnish defensemen that chose to take his talents to Kelowna of the WHL. His gamble has seemingly paid off, as he has risen through the ranks this season. The speedy rearguard is a great and fluid skater. He can quite literally blow by opponents with 2-3 strides, which explains his high amount of defensive zone exits.
Thomson uses this speed on the rush to transition the puck quickly from one blue line to the other. A possesion heavy defenseman, Thomson is the prototype of the modern offensive defenseman. He is also very shifty on his skates, meaning he can change direction at any point, throwing off defenseman.
Thomson has one heck of a slap shot and an even deadlier one-timer, especially on the powerplay. Thomson is always a threat to score when in the offensive zone, as evidence by his 17 goals this season. He can line up a strong and heavy slap shot from the point that rises with ease.
However, Thomson is not just a one trick pony. He is also very good at eluding coverage to sneak in behind the opposition for a quick shot or tic-tac-toe play.
It is evident that his defensive game and defensive habits need to improve in order to make the NHL. He needs to be far more effective along the boards and deep in his own zone to become more effective. He plays a similar game to Sami Vatanen and could realistically top-out as a very offensive top-4 D for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Player Comparable: Sami Vatanen
28.Carolina Hurricanes: LW – Brayden Tracey 6’/177 lbs
Brayden Tracey has has been somewhat of a hidden gem playing in his rookie season for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. However, due to following other NHL prospects on Moose Jaw, we have seen him as a late 1st round pick for quite a while. His incredible speed, skill and work ethic make him a value pick for the Canes at this pick. In his first season in the WHL, Tracey put up an impressive 36 goals and 45 assists for 81 points in 65 games. He was a key offensive contributor for the Warriors and was often tasked with key defensive missions too.
His speed is absolutely nuts. Hecan hit top speed after just two or three strides and asbolutely fly up the ice. His puck possession skills are rather good, and he does not shy away from physical play. He is able to use his strong wrist shot and excellent vision to keep goaltenders guessing at all times. He becomes even more unpredictable for the opposition on the powerplay. where he uses his speed and stickhandling abilities to create space for his teammates.
Many will question Tracey’s offensive abilities without line mates Tristan Langan and Justin Almeida. Tracey quickly shot down his critics with a great performance for Canada at the U-18 World Championships this past April. Putting up 7 points in 7 games, Tracey was one of Canada’s most notable forwards. He gave defenders migraines with his speed and relentless effort along the boards.
His vision and passing play made his teammates around him better. That is the sign of an elite player. Tracey’s ability to to adapt to his competition makes him a surefire 1st round pick in our eyes. Look for Tracey to possibly go higher in this draft if a team believes he has even more offensive potential and growth. Tracey projects as a scoring winger in the NHL capable of playing a responsible two-way game.
Player Comparable: Jayden Schwartz
29. Anaheim Ducks (San Jose): C – Connor McMichael 5’11/174 lbs
Connor McMichael is an odd case of good player playing on a stacked team. McMichael was a stabilizing force at centre for the powerhouse London Knights this season. The 5’11 pivot put up 36 points and 36 assists for 72 points in 67 games. His progression this year has been extremely noteworthy, even while playing second fiddle to some elite talent up front. Many have asked if McMichael would have had an even bigger offensive impact had he played more prime offensive minutes, but that also speaks to his efficiency with the ice time given, in a similar way to that of Philip Tomasino.
McMichael is also seen as an extremely strong, two-way pivot that can shut down an opposition’s top-line by great 200-ft defense. McMichael plays a game that is eerily similar to that of Patrice Bergeron, in the sense that he can control the centre of the ice and distribute pucks for a quick counter-attack. Due to his lack of explosive skating however, McMichael’s potential projection is not as high as some other top-Cs in this draft because many believe he will wind up in a similar position as a Charlie Coyle, who is excellent but often outpaced by faster opponents.
Nonetheless, McMichael has the smarts and the positional awareness to become, at worst, an elite #3 centre in the NHL, but we believe he has untapped offensive potential and see him greatly improving his skating as he continues to mature.
Player Comparable: Charlie Coyle
30. Boston Bruins: LW — Samuel Poulin 6’2 207 lbs
Samuel Poulin is the modern-day Top-6 power forward int he making. He is constantly driving towards the net with the puck to create a scoring chance. Not to be mistaken with a borderline offensive player, Poulin has the skill to go with his size. He led the QMJHL’s Sherbrook Phoenix with 29 goals and 47 assists for 76 points in 67 games.
He was labeled as a sniper by the end of the season due to his strong and precise wrist shot. What makes it so dangerous is his ability to unleash it from anywhere on the ice at anytime. He also possesses a very accurate one-timer, which makes him a very strong option on the powerplay. He is able to get himself open and use his strong centre of gravity to shit his weight quickly into the shot for even more velocity.
At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, Poulin already has NHL size, but he’s so much more than a big body. Poulin is able to use his size and deceptive speed in order to make space for himself rather quickly. His best attribute however, is puck possession, as he is impossible to pull off the puck. He has the strength and size to ward off any incoming coverage. He can also use his speed to pull away from coverage and make a pass to an open man.
Poulin is also very intelligent on the ice, as he uses his great Hockey IQ to position himself well defensively. He then uses his size to drive his opposition towards the perimeter before neutralizing them along the boards.
Although Poulin does look like a great player, many question his skill level at the next level. Poulin looks to be trending towards becoming a solid top-6 winger. However, should he become an uber-effective 3rd liner with scoring prowess, this still becomes a value pick.
Player Comparable: Nino Niederreiter
31. Buffalo Sabres (St-Louis): LD – Tobias Bjornfot 6’/180 lbs
Tobias Bjornfot is a mobile, left-handed defenseman known for his two-way game and his excellent vision. His mobility and his size (6ft 205 lbs) make him a very attractive package for NHL scouts. He possesses excellent puck possession skills in the sense that he can control much of the flow of the game and slow things down when the intensity of a game rises too quickly.
Bjornfot uses his speed and size to separate himself from the opposition and make a solid exit pass to create scoring chances. He is also very willing to join the rush as the rover/4th man during offensive situations, but many would like to see him capitalize more on these offensive opportunities by shooting more often.
Bjornfot does possess a very good wrist shot from the point which has hard and accurate, but he can also send of softer, more precise shots for deflections. He will need to work on the power of his shot at the next level, but this could be rectified with practice and upper body strength conditioning.
Bjornfot has very high hockey IQ, especially in the defensive zone, which really makes him a solid two-way D. He is able to cut passing lanes and use his stick strategically in order to limit the opposition from getting into the danger areas. He is also great at anticipating passes and cutting them off; quickly gaining possession and beginning the counter-attack in a pinch (be it by skating it out of the zone instantly or making a great first pass). Bjornfot plays the game similarly to other Swedish defensemen like Jonas Brodin or Mattias Ekholm and projects as a solid top-4 D in the future; probably being about 3 years away from being a regular NHL player.
Player Comparable: Jonas Brodin
Mock Draft or Preview?
That’s all she wrote folks! We hope you learned more about who your team will be potentially targeting come June 22nd at the NHL Draft. This 1st round looks to filled with good talent and extremely skilled depth players. Ultimately, we believe it will be one of the deeper drafts in recent memory, however no as skilled as 2020.
We hoped you enjoy and we invite you to follow us on Twitter at our handle @Thehockeyexpert .