The third pick is where the intrigue kicks in this year.
Once Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are off the board in Vancouver at the NHL draft, the real fun begins when the Blackhawks step to the podium. Their selection will impact the rest of the top 10 and, in a year when a slew of different players could go in that range, don’t try to predict.
Except that’s our job, isn’t it? Everyone loves a mock draft, so here’s a run at the first round of the 2019 class. Numerous teams have traded their first-rounders, so you’ll see multiple picks for franchises such as Colorado, Buffalo and Anaheim.
While the reality will be different, we haven’t made any trades in our mock draft, so the positions are straight-up chalk, with some guesswork at the end because the playoffs were ongoing when this issue closed.
Team needs and drafting tendencies were considered in this rendering, though, particularly at the top, there was a heavy nod to “best player available.” If all those factors converged on one prospect, all the better.
That being said, we also couldn’t help thinking ahead to how some of these players would fare on a line with particular NHL superstars in the future. Call it wishful thinking.
The June 21-22 festivities in Vancouver are coming up soon, so let’s get down to it, shall we? Pick 28-31 are in flux pending outcome of Rounds 3 and 4.
1. New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, C – He does everything quickly and with precision. Hughes and Nico Hischier as a 1-2 punch down the middle? Nice.
2. New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko, RW – A gem to plunk into the middle of the Rangers’ refresh. Kakko has the size, smarts and creativity to be a force.
3. Chicago Blackhawks: Dylan Cozens, C – Chicago has the first tough decision, but you can’t say no to a big center with wheels and a ton of upside.
4. Colorado Avalanche: Bowen Byram, D – It’s impossible to ignore how good Byram was in the WHL playoffs, so the Avs get a future friend for Cale Makar.
5. Los Angeles Kings: Vasili Podkolzin, RW – The Kings get an explosive and talented banger who will fit into their heavy culture but add to team speed.
6. Detroit Red Wings: Kirby Dach, C – As the Red Wings continue to stockpile talent, Dach brings a legit No. 1 center portfolio (and size) to the table.
7. Buffalo Sabres: Trevor Zegras, C – Don’t sleep on Zegras because of the other talents on his team. Buffalo gets a high-end playmaker bound for BU.
8. Edmonton Oilers: Cole Caufield, RW – C’mon, Ken Holland: give Connor McDavid the Alex DeBrincat 2.0 that he needs. Caufield can straight light it up.
9. Anaheim Ducks: Alex Turcotte, C – The Ducks love the NTDP, so they’ll take a chance on the oft-injured Turcotte, who has wheels and a two-way game.
10. Vancouver Canucks: Matthew Boldy, LW – The NTDP run continues with the Canucks adding to their arsenal. Boldy is an excellent scorer with a big-time shot.
11. Philadelphia Flyers: Peyton Krebs, C – The Flyers get a hardworking kid with a ton of skill, coming off a great showing at the world under-18s with Canada.
12. Minnesota Wild: Alex Newhook, C – Minnesota needs more skill, and Newhook, the quick Boston College commit, has a ton of it to spare.
13. Florida Panthers: Victor Soderstrom, D – In Soderstrom, the Cats get a very smart, well-rounded blueliner who can complement their high-end forwards.
14. Arizona Coyotes: Philip Broberg, D – It’s not easy to find a blueliner with the size and skating ability of Broberg. The Coyotes get some nice upside here.
15. Montreal Canadiens: Thomas Harley, D – The Habs have a nice pipeline going so, with no obvious holes, they can go best-available on the toolsy two-way D-man.
16. Colorado Avalanche: Raphael Lavoie, RW – After taking a D-man with their first pick, the Avs go with size, speed and skill in Lavoie, who ruled the playoffs.
17. Vegas Golden Knights: Ville Heinola, D – The Golden Knights have been great drafters so far and Heinola is the kind of quiet gem that could really pay off.
18. Dallas Stars: Moritz Seider, D – Yes, the Stars have young Miro Heiskanen, but Seider has size and a lot of upside. He’d be a great addition.
19. Ottawa Senators: Arthur Kaliyev, RW – The Sens have a great pipeline, but Kaliyev brings them a pure sniper who could really boost the offense soon.
20. New York Rangers: Ryan Suzuki, C – With a well-rounded system, New York can go best player available here. Suzuki brings skill and hockey sense.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Cam York, D – Pittsburgh needs everything at this point and York is an excellent offensive defenseman bound for NCAA Michigan.
22. Los Angeles Kings: Samuel Poulin, LW – The Kings don’t have a ton of size in their system and Poulin can really make things happen in front of the net.
23. New York Islanders: Jakob Pelletier, LW – Competitive, talented and willing to play in all three zones, Pelletier sounds like a Lamoriello/Trotz kinda kid.
24. Nashville Predators: Bobby Brink, RW – The Preds need more high-end skill, and Brink, the Denver commit, has loads. Same USHL team as Eeli Tolvanen, too.
25. Washington Capitals: Brett Leason, RW – Washington has been great thanks to a brand of heavy, skilled hockey, and the big Leason can certainly join in.
26. Calgary Flames: Spencer Knight, G – The Flames could use another goalie option in the system, and Knight, the Boston College commit, is the best.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan Johnson, D – The rich get richer as Tampa adds Johnson, the sublime puck-mover bound for the University of Minnesota.
28. Anaheim Ducks: Nils Hoglander, LW – The Ducks love Sweden almost as much as they love the NTDP. Hoglander is always creating something on the ice.
29. Carolina Hurricanes: Connor McMichael, C – With a balanced pipeline, the Canes can simply go with a great producer who will take on a bigger role next season.
31. Buffalo Sabres: Vladislav Kolyachonok, D – A character kid who plays a great all-around game, Kolyachonok could be a fan favorite in Buffalo some day.
31. Boston Bruins: Egor Afanasyev, RW – The Bruins can take a bit of a chance here on Afanasyev. He’s raw but has all the elements of a top power forward.