2019 Mock Draft: The First Fifteen

The Saskatoon blades host the Calgary Hitmen at the Sask Tel Centre Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, December 07, 2016

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is just five months away! Each team has had their midterm scouting meetings and have discussed their strategies heading into the second half of the season. I’ve been working hard to rank players this season and get a good read on them, and now I can show people my work! This mock draft is just the start of things here in the second half of the season.

In this mock draft, we’ll be going by how the league standings are as of right now. I’m not going to base this off of playoff teams just yet since it’s still pretty early. The mock drafts that I do in March and June will be more like the actual draft order. Let the arguing about my draft commence!

First Round

  1. Los Angeles – Jack Hughes (USA NTDP)

                Los Angeles drafted Gabriel Vilardi in 2017, which looked like a fantastic pick at the time. Vilardi’s back injury is a major concern and it looks like he’ll never be the same player again. It’ll be tough to bounce back from. Rasmus Kupari could be an NHL player next year. Kupari and Hughes could be two bright spots for a slow, aging Los Angeles team. The Kings are in desperate need of a youth movement and drafting Hughes would be a huge step in the right direction.

2. Detroit – Kaapo Kakko (TPS, Liiga)

                Detroit’s first round in 2018 couldn’t have gone much better. They drafted Filip Zadina and Joseph Veleno, two players that are looking like future stars in the NHL. Kakko is an elite prospect that will be a dynamic NHL player in year one. He’d accelerate Detroit’s rebuild and possibly push the Red Wings back into the playoffs in 2020.

3. Chicago – Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge, WHL)

Chicago has decent depth on the wing but not a whole lot of center depth in their prospect pool.

Drafting a big center like Cozens will be great for the Blackhawks, a team that needs a solid second line center. Cozens has top line upside but is likely going to be a very good 2C capable of 50-60 points at the NHL level. He’s a big forward that skates very well and can dominate in the offensive zone.

4. Colorado – Vasili Podkolzin (Ska. St. Petersburg, MHL)

                Podkolzin is an outstanding Russian-born player that looks like one of the best puck handlers in this draft. He’s quick, elusive, and an elite talent in the offensive zone. Colorado will be very happy that the pick that they acquired for Duchene ended up being a top five pick, especially since Podkolzin will be on the board.

5. New Jersey – Kirby Dach (Saskatoon, WHL)

                A lot of people think that Dach is a top three pick, so the Devils will be very happy that he falls to them at fifth overall. Dach is an elite player that can make plays happen from anywhere on the ice. He’s a big center that protects the puck well and has a lot of strength. The biggest concern for me is Dach’s skating. He doesn’t have top-notch speed like the other four players selected before him.

6. Philadelphia – Alex Turcotte (USA NTDP)

                He’s fast, a good stickhandler, a good passer, and a good shooter. What more could Philadelphia want? He doesn’t fit the “gritty, in your face” style of play that the Flyers are known for, but he is a talented player. Philadelphia needs talent right now because their team is struggling.

7. Florida – Bowen Byram (Vancouver, WHL)

                Byram is the first defenseman selected in this draft. He’s a fantastic puck handler and is great in every zone. He has top pairing potential and it’s very likely that he ends up an NHL player after one more season in juniors. Byram has improved a lot this season and so the Panthers will be very happy with this selection. They need another elite defenseman.

8. St. Louis – Philip Broberg (AIK, Allsvenskan)

                St. Louis has a good group of forwards (for now), so their priority in this draft is defense. Broberg may not be as good with the puck as Byram is, but he’s better defensively. It’s fairly likely that Broberg becomes a top four defenseman. He skates well and is a very solid defender. The only concern is that he’s not all that dangerous in the offensive zone. The Blues will keep their 2019 pick in the hopes that the team rebounds a bit in 2020, giving the Sabres a worse pick.

9. Arizona – Matthew Boldy (USA NTDP)

                Poor Arizona. They were looking like a possible playoff team this season and then a bunch of injuries derailed those hopes. The Coyotes are once again looking at a top ten pick and will get a good player in Boldy. He doesn’t have first line upside but is a goal scorer that is capable of 20-30 goals per season. That’s very valuable to Arizona, who needs an extra goal scorer.

10. Edmonton – Trevor Zegras (USA NTDP)

                Edmonton needs a 2C since their depth is nonexistent. Zegras can be that guy for them. Aside from a few lapses in effort, Zegras plays a complete game and is very dangerous when given a bit of space in the offensive zone. He’ll need a year of NCAA hockey to fine-tune some defensive issues, but his offensive game is close to NHL ready.

11. New York Rangers – Victor Soderstrom (Brynas, SHL)

                The Rangers always like moving a few picks off the board to take a European player with potential. Soderstrom has second pairing potential and is a very good skater. He doesn’t have top pairing potential but it’s very likely that he’s an NHL player within a year or two. I’d consider Soderstrom to be a safe pick, which is why the Rangers should take him.

12. Anaheim – Peyton Krebs (Kootenay, WHL)

                The Ducks manage to steal Krebs away from the Hurricanes, unfortunately. Krebs is a talented player who is having a down year on a Kootenay team that is once again failing to live up to their expectations. He’s a playmaker with a weak shot that concerns some scouts, but I don’t see it as much of an issue. He’ll have a few years to improve his shot and defensive play. I love his speed.

13. Carolina – Ryan Suzuki (Barrie, OHL)

                Carolina already has a few goal scorers on their team but are in need of someone to set up those goal scorers. Ryan Suzuki can be that player for the Hurricanes. Suzuki has elite hockey sense and speed to match it. His shot is improving and could be an asset in the future. Suzuki has second line potential and could be a very nice right winger for the Hurricanes. He could work very well on a line with Martin Necas in a couple of years.

14. Minnesota – Raphael Lavoie (Halifax, QMJHL)

                The Wild have an aging forward core and need a good center prospect in their system. Lavoie is a big center that skates well and is a right shot, something that’s incredibly valuable to teams in this day and age. He has a good shot and can make a lot of plays happen, making him a very valuable pick for the Wild. They’re desperate for some change and Lavoie will provide that.

15. Vancouver – Cam York (USA NTDP)

                York is a fantastic defenseman that also set a USHL record with an eight (!!) point game earlier this month. He skates very well and can be a good second pairing defenseman. Vancouver’s defense is just so-so at this point in time so adding York will be huge. He’s a cerebral player that should only need a year or two in college before making the transition to the NHL.

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