Welcome to our fantasy picks for the top 10 prospects to be chosen at the 2019 NHL draft in Vancouver. Hope you enjoy!
New Jersey Devils 1st overall selection:
Jack Hughes 5’11” 170lbs C, USDP – USHL
Player type: Gifted offensive center
When it comes to pure skill, Hughes has the most of it in his draft class. A small, speedy center who shows glimpses of Patrick Kane and Matthew Barzal, this type of talent will not go past the New Jersey Devils as he will be snagged right away. His hockey I.Q. is great as he could plug-and-play with Taylor Hall right away and take the load off of Nico Hischier from first line center duties. The kid has all of the tools in his offensive skillset although it’d be nice if he could build some size (5’11”, 170 lbs.). His ability to create space for himself on the ice makes up for his small stature.
New York Rangers 2nd overall selection:
Kaapo Kakko 6’2″ 194lbs RW, TPS – Liiga
Player type: Gifted offensive winger
Kakko is another elite offensive talent just like Hughes but he plays the game much differently than him. Kakko relies on his strength, instincts and puck control to create offense for himself and his teammates. He is not afraid to get his nose dirty as he wins many puck battles against top defenseman which is great for any puck-possession team. The Rangers would love him to start the 19-20 season with them as he has size (6’2″, 194 lbs.) and the ability to make his teammates better. He’ll be in Calder Trophy discussions by the end of the upcoming season.
Chicago Blackhawks 3rd overall selection:
Bowen Byram 6’1″ 193lbs LD, Vancouver – WHL
Player type: Offensive defenseman
The Blackhawks desperately need to improve their defense as Seabrook and Keith are getting too old plus they don’t have any valuable replacements in the future besides Adam Boqvist, who is still developing. Drafting Byram is a necessary step to improve their defense for the future as I don’t think he’ll step into the NHL right away. The good news is that his offensive playing style will thrive with the Blackhawks as he would have numerous weapons up-front (Kane, Toews, Debrincat) to use when quarterbacking a powerplay. He has shortcomings defensively but he has a chance to improve them with another year with the Vancouver Giants.
Colorado Avalanche 4th overall selection (via OTT):
Alex Turcotte 5’11” 189lbs C, USDP – USHL
Player Type: Two-way center
Besides the big trio of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen, the Avs don’t have a lot of depth up-front. Turcotte will solve their depth problem as a #2 center long-term. Turcotte is a grown-up and is very coachable. He has the offensive skills as well as a commitment to play defense which is a lot like how Jonathon Toews is. He is probably a year away to debut in the NHL but is definitely a solid pick.
Los Angeles Kings 5th overall selection:
Dylan Cozens 6’3″ 181lbs C, Lethbridge – WHL
Player Type: Offensive center
One trait the Kings love in a player is size. Cozens (6’3″,181 lbs) comes off as a big, strong, talented center with deceptive speed. The Kings are an old team and need replacements for Kopitar, Brown and Doughty in a few short years. Cozens is a great start in replacing that core in the long-term and will be looked as a project rather than a plug-and-play type. Cozens does have speed which is a trait the Kings lack. That is why I think he’ll be chosen over similar but slightly slower prospects like Matthew Boldy and Kirby Dach.
Detroit Red Wings 6th overall selection:
Trevor Zegras 6’0″ 168lbs C/LW, USDP – USHL
Player Type: Pure playmaker
Zegras can do incredible things with the puck. As far as making plays goes, he probably offers the most showmanship out of anyone in the top 10 of this year’s draft class. He doesn’t just create chances, he creates grade A gimme’s for teammates. He loves to control the puck before setting up a play which will bode well for the Red Wings puck-possession style. He probably could be a #3 or #4 pick if it weren’t for his size but the Red Wings have patience when it comes to giving prospects time to develop and build size so this a fitting pick if he makes it this far up the draft.
Buffalo Sabres 7th overall selection:
Vasili Podkolzin 6’1″ 190lbs RW, SKA – VHL
Player type: Pure sniper
Podkolzin is probably the biggest wild card of the top 10 because there are reports of him going as low as 12th to as high as 3rd overall. I think if he makes it up this far in the draft without being chosen, the Sabres will take him. The Sabres already have two rising centers still developing (Eichel, Mittelstadt) and two young defensive stalwarts (Dahlen, Ristolainen). They don’t have many young wingers so they can afford to take a chance on Podkolzin. He has an excellent shot and is hard to play against. He doesn’t have the creativity of other prospects on this list but if paired with a good playmaker, he’ll be a great shotgun to them on the wing.
Edmonton Oilers 8th overall selection:
Cole Caufield 5’7″ 162lbs RW, USDP – USHL
Player type: Pure sniper
The Oilers should really get a defenseman but the next set of defenseman down the list (Harley, Broberg, Soderstrom) may not be worth going after at the #8 pick. When it comes down to it, the Oilers need speed along the wing to keep up with their franchise players (McDavid, Drasaitl). Caufield is next best option as far as that goes. He is undersized but he is a mini-horse that doesn’t stop. In an era where size doesn’t matter as much as it used to, he can fit in as a shotgun along McDavid in a year or two once he develops and builds more size. Dach and Krebs are better players overall but the Oilers do not need anymore centers. They’re already stacked in that position and need to draft strategic assets more than just taking the highest ranked player.
Anaheim Ducks 9th overall selection:
Kirby Dach 6’4″199lbs C, Saskatoon – WHL
Player type: Jumbo playmaker
Dach is a great player and he certainly can go higher in the draft but there is always that Cam Fowler scenario where everybody thought he was going to go as high as 3rd but ended up going all the way down to 12th. The Ducks are in for a rebuild as Perry and Getzlaf are well past their prime and I believe Dach will be a great fit to take over Getzlaf’s first line center role once he’s gone. Dach is very similar to Getzlaf as they are both big, pass first players with plenty of skill. Dach has strength and you need that to fit into the Ducks gritty brand of hockey. I think he’s a year or two away from making the Ducks out of camp but he’ll develop nicely before then as he works on his speed and shot.
Vancouver Canucks 10th overall selection:
Peyton Krebs 5’11” 180lbs C, Kootenay – WHL
Player type: Two-way center
The Canucks have been eyeing up Krebs for awhile and I believe they will get their wish and draft him at the #10 spot. They also like winger Matthew Boldy as well because the Canucks need to improve their strength on the wing position but Krebs is a complete player who is very coachable. He is an average sized two-way forward who already has a wealth of experience thriving under the face of adversity. Playing on a basement dwelling Kootenay Ice team hasn’t stopped him from putting up at least a point-per-game in the WHL. He did get a nasty achilles heel injury which has sidelined him for some time and that might hurt his rank in the draft. He’ll recover and should crack the Canucks roster in a year or two if he continues to improve.