Top 11 Mock Draft 2019

The upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver is absolutely loaded with talent, and is the entry point to what is shaping up to be an exciting summer.  This draft’s first round embodies exactly what the NHL strives for: Parity. The disparity between positions in most rankings is miniscule, meaning no pick is necessarily a bad pick, and “best player available” is shrouded with controversy and disagreement.

Through watching video myself, and referencing rankings and mocks already out there, I came up with my own version of the top 11 (because I wanted to include Philadelphia for Dan).  Most of the picks won’t be very surprising, especially the first two. Philadelphia’s 11th overall pick is on the market, and I wouldn’t be overly shocked if Los Angeles tries to sell off their 5th overall pick. Barring any trades actually occurring involving these picks at or prior to the draft, this is how I believe it will play out:

Pick Number One: New Jersey Devils

Jack Hughes – USDP

No surprises here.  Kakko might have given Hughes a run for his money late, but the Devils stick to their guns and take the consensus number one overall pick.  Their second lottery win in three years, the Devils will attempt to solidify their future down the middle. Between Hughes and Hischier, New Jersey shouldn’t have any issues with their centers on the first and second line in the near future.

Draft Year Totals:
GP 92 | 55 G | 132 A | 187 P (2.03 P/G)

Pick Number Two: New York Rangers

Kaapo Kakko – TPS (Liiga)

The second of no surprises, the New York Rangers are guaranteed an excellent player either way.  Unlike Hughes, Kakko could very well be NHL ready. He won three gold medals with Finland this year.  Although I touched on the parity in this draft, the Rangers would be making a monumental mistake to pass on Kakko.  It should also be noted with the following stats, most were against the men’s leagues.

Draft Year Totals:

GP 98 | 40 G | 35 A | 75 P (0.77 P/G)

Pick Number Three: Chicago Blackhawks

Alex Turcotte – USDP

For Chicago, things start to get difficult in terms of making a decision.  There’s probably a good three or four players who could go comfortably at number three, and Turcotte takes the cake for Chicago.  He’s considered to be the second best center in the draft. Although it’s difficult to pass on a certain high end defenseman (see next pick), Chicago takes Turcotte for a few reasons.  

First and foremost, Turcotte is a local boy.  Born at Island Lake, Illinois, he grew up a Blackhawks fan and always dreamed of playing for them. Then you add into the fact that he’s often considered to be the second best center available in the draft and you have a pretty easy pick for the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Blackhawk fans should be relatively pleased with whoever Chicago picks, after Chicago won the lottery and moved from 12th to 3rd.

Draft Year Totals:

GP 60 | 43 G | 62 A | 105 P (1.75 P/G)

Pick Number Four:  Colorado Avalanche
Bowen Byram – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Bowen Byram is going 4th in this mock simply because he didn’t go third.  Byram is considered to be the best defenseman in this draft by a landslide.  Byram is ranked 3rd in TSN’s Mock Draft 4.0, 4th in Pronman’s first round mock draft, and is ranked 2nd of NA Skaters by NHL Central Scouting.  

Byram going 4th to Colorado is a phenomenal acquisition to their system.  At least on paper, as long as both prospects take their developmental path as projected, Makar and Byram on a top pair is going to be a dominant duo for years to come.  Colorado’s offense is mostly set for the time being, and their defense just got a whole lot more formidable with the acquisition of Bowen Byram.

Draft Year Totals:

GP 67 | 26 G | 45 A | 71 P (1.05 P/G)

Pick Number Five: Los Angeles Kings
Kirby Dach  – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

The LA Kings are in a bit of flux.  Although they finished at the bottom of the league last year, there seems to be a consensus from the team’s management that a rebuild is not currently in the picture.  They believe last year’s poor performance to simply be bad circumstances, and that this team is still a legitimate contender for the 2019/2020 season.

With that in mind, Dach makes the most sense for LA at this point.  Dach has been getting mixed reviews in prospect rankings. Pronman has Dach at number 10 on his ratings board.  Central Scouting NA ranks Dach third (ahead of Turcotte). TSN’s Mock Draft 4.0 has Dach going 4th to Colorado.

If Dach is still on the board at five, the pick makes sense for LA because of his size.  Dach could be considered to be physically ready to jump into the NHL. It also makes a considerable amount of sense for the Kings to grab a center at this position, given that Carter and Kopitar are both north of 30.  

Draft Year Totals:

GP 62 | 25 G | 48 A | 73 P (1.17 P/G)

Pick Number Six: Detroit Red Wings
Cole Caufield – USDP

This pick, partially as a Detroit fan, gave me fits.  There’s a lot of names left on the board that could easily go to Detroit.  Trevor Zegras, Vasili Podkolzin, and Dylan Cozens were the trio of picks I could also see going here.  Cozens could be considered the “safe” pick, as he doesn’t have the upside of some of these other players but seems more likely to hit the spot that he’s projected to hit.  Podkolzin was originally considered to be the third overall pick, and in Zadina-like fashion he’ll be readily available at sixth overall for Detroit to grab. Zegras has an amazing playmaking ability and could also be in contention.

The reason that Detroit grabs Caufield over the other three is Steve Yzerman.  Yzerman has a track record of drafting skill above all things. Caufield set USNDTP records, and his skill set has been compared to that of Alex Ovechkin, whom Caufield shares an IIHF record with, goals scored.  

Caufield is the wildcard in this draft.  He could go anywhere from 3rd to outside of the top 10.  There’s concern over his size despite Alex DeBrincat’s success with Chicago.  There’s concerns that his numbers might be severely inflated due to Jack Hughes.  Detroit makes this pick with the hopes that one day, people say Jack Hughes’ numbers were inflated due to Cole Caufield.  

Draft Year Totals:

99 GP | 115 G | 44 A | 159 P (1.61 P/G)

Pick Number Seven: Buffalo Sabres

Dylan Cozens – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

There’s no better answer for Buffalo losing Ryan O’Reily than Dylan Cozens.  Cozens is a safe pick, and Detroit passing on him takes him right to Buffalo.  The only other consideration Buffalo should have for this pick should be Trevor Zegras, but ultimately Cozens is going to be the safer pick for Buffalo given their current state.  With Dahlin stabilizing the blueline, and Skinner signed to a huge extension to play with Jack Eichel, Cozens becomes an additional second line option for the Sabres.

Draft Year Totals:

75 GP | 38 G | 55 A | 93 P (1.24 P/G)

Pick Number Eight: Edmonton Oilers

Matthew Boldy – USDP

The highest ranked winger not named Kakko, the pick is tough for Edmonton’s General Manager Ken Holland.  Zegras still being on the board at 8 speaks to the depth of this draft’s top end, but grabbing another center isn’t the best option moving forward for Edmonton.  Boldy is a terrific power forward to be, something that Edmonton could use should they decide to move on from Milan Lucic. Boldy can be the net front guy for players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draistail, and will help solidify Edmonton’s depth chart on the left wing.  

Draft Year Totals:

99 GP | 53 G | 83 A | 136 P (1.37 P/G)

Pick Number Nine: Anaheim Ducks

Trevor Zegras – USDP

The Ducks select Zegras simply because he’s fallen to them, and he’s the best player available at this position.  The Ducks have just started their journey on what will likely be a lengthy rebuild process. There’s really no position currently that the Ducks don’t need to build on for their depth chart, aside from possibly goaltending.  

Draft Year Totals:

92 GP | 40 G | 96 A | 136 P (1.48 P/G)

Pick Number Ten: Vancouver Canucks

Philip Broberg – Skelleftea AIK

There’s concerns over Broberg’s ability to translate his game to the men’s league, but those aren’t concerns for Vancouver at this spot.  Although Vancouver has Quintin Hughes currently in the system and looking to take the next step, Broberg becomes a talented insurance policy.  Broberg could take the number 2 D position down the road for Vancouver, and his rankings have been wild enough to give Vancouver peace of mind in selecting him.

Draft Year Totals:

83 GP | 12 G | 28 A | 40 P (0.48 P/G)

Pick Number Eleven: Philadelphia Flyers

Vasili Podkolzin – SKA St. Petersburg (MHL)

This is a best player available pick.  Although there have been some doubts about Podkolzin, and hesitance given his contract status overseas, the Flyers have the ability to be patient with this pick, should they not just trade the pick altogether.  Selecting Podkolzin could give the Flyers a major trading chip to help them in their “win-now” mentality. Podkolzin never played for very long with any specific team in his draft year, and that’s what ultimately diminished his draft standings.  If he can stay in one spot, he may suddenly remind the NHL why he was originally projected at number 3. If the Flyers can draft Podkolzin at 11, it’s a steal. It should be noted, for his stats, that Podkolzin wasn’t able to play more than 14 games in any one location.

Draft Year Totals:

63 GP | 20 G | 20 A | 40 P (0.63 P/G)

– Jesse L


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