The 2019 NHL Draft is coming up on June 21, and plenty is still up in the air regarding which young star will go to which team.
The top two picks of the draft, in whichever order it may be, are decided with Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, respectively. After that, it becomes a mesh for the large part.
There are 15-20 bonafide players set to go in the top ranking of the draft. The order, however, is impossible to tell. The draft truly starts with the third pick, where Chicago could go with Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, Vasili Podkolzin, or a number of other options.
In this year’s draft, there is plenty of room for maneuverability on the draft board. Especially late in the first round, many players can jump or fall as the parity becomes extremely small.
So, without further adieu, here is the first edition of the High Wrap Hockey 2019 NHL Mock Draft.
1. New Jersey Devils – JACK HUGHES
Analysis: Hughes has been the go-to guy for the first overall pick this year for plenty of time. He exhibits elite skating and playmaking abilities, and he would provide a dynamic one-two punch down the middle with Nico Hischier for years to come. Kakko certainly had to make Ray Shero and his brass think, but Hughes is too much of a gamechanger at center to pass up.
2. New York Rangers – KAAPO KAKKO
Analysis: Kakko put on an absolute clinic as an 18-year-old at the World Championships in May. The big-bodied winger is ready to step right in to an NHL role. As an elite playmaker and finisher, Kakko can seemingly do it all. It is a fantastic consolation prize for New York.
3. Chicago Blackhawks – ALEX TURCOTTE
Analysis: The Blackhawks desperately need more depth down the middle, and a homegrown player in Turcotte can do just the trick. There is no single thing in Turcotte’s game that is bad — he is the perfect all-around center to mimic off of Jonathan Toews.
4. Colorado Avalanche (via OTT) – DYLAN COZENS
Analysis: The Avalanche were fortunate enough to both make the playoffs and have a high draft pick, courtesy of the Ottawa Senators. Cozens is a big, powerforward that can play in multiple scenarios. A rare player from the Yukon territory of Canada, Cozens has the exact build necessary to succeed in the Western Conference. He will provide an additional layer of depth for the Avalanche to compete in the Central Division for years to come.
5. Los Angeles Kings – BOWEN BYRAM
Analysis: The Kings are a primarily old team and dropping from the second best odds in the lottery to the fifth pick certainly had to of hurt. However, Byram would be an excellent pickup. He’s an elite puckmover from the blue line and found his game as a 17-year-old in the WHL. On an old Kings roster, getting younger on the backend has to be a priority.
6. Detroit Red Wings – VASILI PODKOLZIN
Analysis: New general manager Steve Yzerman has never strayed from picking Russians in the draft, so bringing Podkolzin into the fold should come as no surprise. Podkolzin is a nice player who is strong on the puck and can dish it well. Detroit has a lot of needs, and scoring is one in which Podkolzin can assist in.
7. Buffalo Sabres – TREVOR ZEGRAS
Analysis: Zegras is an elite playermaker and puckhandler in this draft. Buffalo is looking solid on the back-end with Rasmus Dahlin and Brandon Montour (and to a lesser extent Rasmus Ristolainen). Adding more firepower up top to help Jack Eichel could never hurt, especially in the absence of Ryan O’Reilly.
8. Edmonton Oilers – COLE CAUFIELD
Analysis: This is the most controversial player and pick of the draft. Caufield can go anywhere from third overall to the late teens — mainly because he sits at 5-foot-7. Still, he is an elite shooter even at his size and age. His shot next to Connor McDavid would be a sight to behold and certainly an experiment worth taking a risk on.
9. Anaheim Ducks – KIRBY DACH
Analysis: Dach is a well-rounded center, which the Ducks tend to favor. As of now, they look solid down the middle, but Ryan Kesler is out long-term and Ryan Getzlaf is not getting any older. The team could use an heir to the throne for Getzlaf’s minutes and Dach fills that need.
10. Vancouver Canucks – VICTOR SODERSTROM
Analysis: Looking for a partner for Quinn Hughes? Look no further than Soderstrom. Although scouts are mixed on where he should fall in the draft, he has undeniable amounts of skill and poise in his pockets. If the Canucks want to go high-risk, high-reward with their selection, then Soderstrom is the wave.
11. Philadelphia Flyers – MATTHEW BOLDY
Analysis: Boldy falling to Philadelphia in this slot would be a massive win for them, much like the Mathew Barzal situation in 2015 with the Islanders. Boldy shares a lot of the same characteristics at Zegras, albeit on the wing.
12. Minnesota Wild – PHILIP BROBERG
Analysis: Broberg is certainly a project, but the Minnesota Wild have time. As a fantastic skater who lacks a natural skill up front, Broberg can be developed into a regular NHLer with the correct training. The Wild have a history of that with the likes of Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and others.
13. Florida Panthers – PEYTON KREBS
Analysis: The hard working Krebs is the exact player in which Joel Quenneville would want. With the ability to play center and wing as well, he will be a well-rounded addition to an already deep core in Florida.
14. Arizona Coyotes – RYAN SUZUKI
Analysis: This Suzuki pick is a slight stretch, but that is the nature of the 2019 draft. Suzuki can help build the center core of Arizona with his strong playmaking ability. His size to make a difference, at 6-foot and just about 170 pounds, is an issue, but nothing that cannot be worked on with growth.
15. Montreal Canadiens – MORITZ SEIDER
Analysis: Seider had a fantastic World Championships run with Germany. He will not blow you away with anything — but he gets the job done. Reminds me a lot of Ryan Suter. It is the consistency that Montreal needs moving forward.
16. Colorado Avalanche – CAM YORK
Analysis: After going with a forward at No. 4, the Avalanche take another elite offensive defenseman here with York. Having him as a one-two punch on the blueline with Cale Makar is a sure-fire way to success for years to come.
17. Vegas Golden Knights – ALEX NEWHOOK
Analysis: Newhook could certainly go much higher than this projection. He has not faced major competition yet, but his sample sizes indicate a strong offensive center. He’ll be an interesting prospect for sure.
18. Dallas Stars – ARTHUR KALIYEV
Analysis: Kaliyev has a highly above-average shot and instinct for the game. He needs time to develop his overall game, but he projects as a nice replacement for Alex Radulov down the line.
19. Ottawa Senators (via CBJ) – RAPHAEL LAVOIE
Analysis: The Senators finally get on the board and pick Lavoie, a player who brings to the table an all-around solid effort and consistency.
20. New York Rangers (via WPG) – MATTHEW ROBERTSON
Analysis: A stretch pick for this range, although a good player. Robertson is the type of player who will likely never put up big numbers at the NHL level, but he will be someone who can hop on the ice late in games and hold the fort down. It would be a nice complement to K’Andre Miller.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins – NICHOLAS ROBERTSON
Analysis: The Penguins love players who can drive play and offensive possession, and Robertson brings just that.
22. Los Angeles Kings (via TOR) – THOMAS HARLEY
Analysis: In my eyes, Harley is the second-most polarizing player in the entire draft. After a Byram pick, the Kings are allowed the opportunity to reach here on a high-risk, high-reward selection. If he pans out, Harley will undoubtedly be a top-four guy, but his inconsistency puts shade onto that.
23. New York Islanders – ALEX VLASIC
Analysis: The Islanders do not have any glaring needs besides scoring, which cannot be fixed immediately at this stage in the draft in most cases. Thus, they are allotted the chance to go with Vlasic, a big defenseman with an eye for the game. Although not as filled with superstar potential, he reminds me a lot of Giannis Antetokounmpo — a big man with range.
24. Nashville Predators – PHILIP TOMASINO
Analysis: Tomansino brings enough scoring prowess to help Nashville greatly down the line. Not a superstar, but can fit nicely and bring power to the middle-six which is what they need.
25. Washington Capitals – BOBBY BRINK
Analysis: The Capitals take a risk here with Brink, but with the right development, he can be a star. He definitely needs seasoning, but the tools and vision are there to succeed as a top-six NHL guy.
26. Calgary Flames – CONNOR McMICHAEL
Analysis: A small player with skill and a number of other range of tools. The Flames could go a number of directions here, however.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning – NILS HOGLANDER
Analysis: Tampa Bay has a knack for small, skilled players, but we will see if that holds up under the new regime. Hoglander possesses all the skill in the world to succeed alongside Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point in a few years.
28. Carolina Hurricanes – SPENCER KNIGHT
Analysis: The Hurricanes are stacked on the back end and look decent up front — so why not take a risk and go with Knight in the first round? He will need time to pan out, but he would be a nice addition down the road internally if Petr Mrazek cannot keep it up and Alex Nedeljkovic does not pan out.
29. Buffalo Sabres (via SJS) – PATRIK PUISTOLA
Analysis: Another player with a good range of tools. Can never have enough of those.
30. St. Louis Blues – SAMUEL POULIN
Analysis: He reminds me a lot of David Perron, ironically, who is a player which Doug Armstrong loves. A bit above his draft range, but it seems like a worthy risk.
31. Boston Bruins – VILLE HEINOLA
Analysis: Heinola is a consistent defender and would help offset some of the slow, bruising defenders the Bruins tend to employ.