1. Jack Hughes
C, 17, 5-10, 168 – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Has been destroying the competition to the tune of nearly two points per game despite a couple of minor injuries along the way. Some of his best games have been against older NCAA opponents.
SCOUT SAYS: “Has elite awareness and an acute sense of danger in terms of opponents around him, so he’s able to escape and buy himself time. His skating and hockey IQ separates him from everyone else, plus he has the will to attack. He’s going to be a serious player for sure.”
2. Kaapo Kakko
RW, 18, 6-2, 190 – TPS (Fin.)
Had a great world juniors and has continued his ascent back in Finland, climbing the scoring charts and showing his versatility up front. He’s at least turning up the heat on Hughes for No. 1 overall.
SCOUT SAYS: “Outstanding. He’s NHL-ready for me. Top speed needs a little bit of improvement, but he has a long summer to take care of that. He has everything you want. Defends well, strong down low, has creativity and a finishing touch, and he’s strong for his age.”
3. Dylan Cozens
C, 18, 6-3, 185 – Lethbridge (WHL)
A top-15 scorer in the ‘Dub,’ Cozens is intriguing thanks to his frame and his skating. He made a memorable first impression when he put up a point per game for Canada’s gold-medal team at the under-18 Hlinka Gretzky tournament.
SCOUT SAYS: “It’s his size, he’s a great skater and he has skill. It’s quite a commodity when you have all three in one player, to go along with good hockey sense…The fact he can play on the wing gives him versatility.”
4. Kirby Dach
C, 18, 6-4, 198 – Saskatoon (WHL)
Most exciting for Blades fans this season is that Dach has helped the team to its first playoff berth since 2013. Played 19 games as a 15-year-old due to team injuries, so he has more experience than most junior kids. Another Hlinka Gretzky standout.
SCOUT SAYS: “Kinda the same as Cozens. Dylan is a little stronger, but I could see Kirby getting there. Very good skater, terrific skill, and he can make plays at high speeds. Good on the power play and good on the penalty kill.”
5. Vasili Podkolzin
RW, 17, 6-1, 190 – St. Petersburg (Rus.2)
It’s rare for Russian WJC coach Valeri Bragin to trust a 17-year-old, but he put Podkolzin out in all situations and for meaty minutes on the bronze-medal squad. Podkolzin was electrifying in Vancouver and has played in the KHL, junior and Russia’s version of the AHL this year.
SCOUT SAYS: “Plays so hard. Has ability, smarts and loves playing in traffic. He’s a bulldog. Hustles on the backcheck, hustles to the bench. Everything he does speaks to his on-ice character.”
6. Bowen Byram
D, 17, 6-1, 192 – Vancouver (WHL)
You want offense from the blueline? Byram set a franchise record this year with a five-point game and has consistently been one of the WHL’s top-scoring defensemen. The kid loves to contribute and he isn’t afraid to take the puck in deep.
SCOUT SAYS: “Very intelligent player. Really likes to get involved off the rush. Good decision-making with the puck. He’s strong, and he runs the power play. His skating is good in a straight line, but his agility could use improvement.”
7. Trevor Zegras
C, 17, 6-0, 168 – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
On most other editions of the NTDP, Zegras would be the star attraction, but this year he yields the spotlight to Hughes. Nonetheless, the Boston University commit has been the team’s leading scorer, and he can play both center and wing.
SCOUT SAYS: “Explosive and offensively gifted. He’s the motor on whatever line he plays on, even when he has lined up with Hughes. He’s got vision and creativity, and he’s ultra-skilled. He’ll transition to pro hockey seamlessly.”
8. Philip Broberg
D, 17, 6-3, 203 – AIK (Swe.2)
An early breakthrough at the Hlinka Gretzky tourney put him on the map, and the youngster cracked Sweden’s world junior squad before getting bitten by the flu bug that ravaged the team. It’s hard to find players with the physical gifts that Broberg possesses.
SCOUT SAYS: “The size and the skating is such an advantage right from the get-go. He has hockey sense, and he’s got good hands. His skating allows him to join the offensive rush and also get back in time on defense.”
9. Matthew Boldy
LW, 17, 6-2, 187 – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
His signature performance came early at the All-American Prospects Game, but Boldy has been pretty good throughout his draft year. The Boston College commit is the latest in a long line of snipers to come through the NTDP.
SCOUT SAYS: “Elite scorer with a great shot, and he knows how to get into scoring lanes. Has elite hands in tight and unbelievable hand-eye coordination. One of the better scorers I’ve ever seen with The Program. He’s just tapping into his body.”
10. Alex Newhook
C, 18, 5-11, 190 – Victoria (BCHL)
Snubbed for Canada’s Hlinka Gretzky team, the explosive and fearless Newhook channelled that into an MVP award in the BCHL, leading the league in scoring and winning bronze with Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge. The Newfoundlander is a Boston College commit.
SCOUT SAYS: “He’s very good. He’s not the biggest, but he’s physically developed at 190 pounds. Really smart, great hands, good foot speed, good decision-making, and he plays in traffic.”