2019 NHL Mock Draft

How could the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft play out?

Brayton Wilson
June 17, 2019 - 10:34 am

The 2019 NHL Draft is set to get underway this Friday with the first round starting at 7 p.m. EDT from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Unlike last year's NHL Draft, the luck of the draw was not on the side of the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres ended up dropping two spots in the draft order from fifth to seventh overall after losing out to the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils for the top-three picks.

This year's draft features a pair of franchise forwards at the top of the pecking order with Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko set to make waves in the National Hockey League next season.

Behind those two, there are a good number of high-level prospects that will be available between pick No. 3 and the 12th overall pick. That's where the Blackhawks come in, and that's where the draft is likely to start getting interesting.

Once you get to the middle of the pack, the crop of players starts to even itself out. A number of players will find themselves sliding up and down draft boards for teams, but their ranking compared to their peers may be minuscule.

The Sabres also have the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to close out the first round, which was acquired in the Ryan O'Reilly trade last summer.

Without further ado, here is my first round mock for the 2019 NHL Draft:

 

1.) New Jersey Devils

SELECTION: Jack Hughes - Center - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 170-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: May 14, 2001

As the 2018-19 season went on, there was continuous momentum for Kakko to take over the honor as the top-rated prospect and the expected No. 1 overall pick. However, it is still expected that Hughes will go off the board with the first pick to the Devils. Hughes is a dynamic offensive playmaker with the potential to become a franchise center in the NHL. He shattered the all-time scoring record this season with the U.S. Development Program with 228 points (74+154) in two seasons. Despite his size, Hughes has proven to be able to hold his own against players much more physically mature than he is. His showings in international competition, especially at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship, showed that he can handle the spotlight and be an offensive leader on the ice. He will likely fit in right away with the Devils once the 2019-2020 season commences.

 

2.) New York Rangers

SELECTION: Kaapo Kakko - Right Wing - TPS Turku (Liiga)

Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 190-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Finland
Birthday: February 13, 2001

Kakko may be the most physically ready for the NHL right now, and would probably be the first overall pick in the NHL Draft this year if he was a center. Nonetheless, he is still a stellar player who is also likely to become a franchise player in the National Hockey League. Kakko put up a very impressive season in the Finnish Liiga this season with 22 goals and 38 points in 45 games with TPS Turku. His 22 goals set a new record for goals in a season scored by a player under the age of 18. At the IIHF World Junior Championship, he was a national hero for his goal late in the championship game against the United States to earn Finland a gold medal. Kakko was also an instrumental piece to Finland's gold medal winning team at the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, where he went on to score six goals and seven points in 10 games. He is a very stable player on his feet who wants to have the puck on his stick to make a play. He's strong and tenacious on the puck, and has an incredible ability to make plays in just about any circumstance. The Rangers land a dynamite forward with the second pick.

 

3.) Chicago Blackhawks

SELECTION: Alex Turcotte - Center - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 185-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: February 26, 2001

Chicago could go with a bevy of options from center to wing, and can even add to their defense for a third consecutive year. However, they go with the local product in Alex Turcotte, who is widely regarded as the best two-way center in this year's draft. Turcotte is a smooth-skating center who's got such a calm demeanor in both ends of the ice. He competes very well in the middle of the ice, and is not afraid to get into the dirty areas along the boards or in front of the net. Turcotte can distribute the puck well using his good vision, while also being able to score at will. He can be utilized as a top-line power play center, and also a top-line penalty killer. Turcotte's numbers were limited due to an early season injury, but he still projects to be a very solid and reliable second line center in the NHL who can easily slide into a top-line role if necessary.

 

4.) Colorado Avalanche (from the Ottawa Senators)

SELECTION: Bowen Byram - Defense - Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 195-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: June 13, 2001

This year's top defenseman may not be a franchise defenseman like Rasmus Dahlin was last year when he went first overall to the Buffalo Sabres, but Bowen Byram is a guy that can play a top-pair role or become a solidified second-pair defenseman in the NHL. He's very composed with the puck on his stick and can observe the ice well in both ends of the ice. He makes the right plays at the right time, skates well, and can be a piece to both special teams units. Byram ended up scoring 26 goals and 71 points in 67 games with the Vancouver Giants last season, earning him the honor as the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospect Award. He will be a workhorse in the NHL, and would be another great for the Avalanche on the blue line.

 

5.) Los Angeles Kings

SELECTION: Kirby Dach - Center - Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 198-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: January 21, 2001

Kirby Dach is a big-bodied center with a ton of potential to be a top-six power forward in the NHL. The first thing that stands out about Dach is his size at 6' 4" and 198-pounds. That combined with his speed allows him the capability of driving play and being a force to be reckoned with the puck on his stick. He has the offensive capability to also be a very creative playmaker and put up some points at the next level. He's got slick hands in tight, and has the vision to see the right plays to make at the right time. This past season in Saskatoon, Dach scored 25 goals and registered 73 points in 62 games, and started to take that next step into developing his overall game. If he can find some consistency in his game next season, he may break out even more with the Blades, or maybe even earn himself a start in the NHL.

 

6.) Detroit Red Wings

SELECTION: Trevor Zegras - Center - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 183-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: March 20. 2001

Trevor Zegras is the third center from the U.S. National Development Program to go in the top-10 of the NHL Draft, and he may be one of the best passers in this year's draft class. He sees the ice well, which allows him to make such exceptional plays with the puck. While he can dish out the puck, he is also very aggressive in the offensive zone with his blazing speed and good puck handling abilities. His quick hands allow him to get the puck off his stick in an instant. Zegras is a spirited player, and is not afraid to rub his nose in places where it shouldn't be. Not only can he be a force offensively, but he's also pretty sound defensively. There is a chance that Zegras may be one of the most electrifying players to emerge from this draft class.

 

*****7.) Buffalo Sabres*****

SELECTION: Cole Caufield - Right Wing - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 163-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: United States
Birthday: January 2, 2001

Cole Caufield may be the most perennial goal scorer in this year's draft class, and would add some much needed scoring to the Sabres' lineup. While he may be on the smaller side of the spectrum at just 5' 7" and 163-pounds, Caufield can certainly handle his own on the ice. With the U.S. National Program, he broke Phil Kessel's record for the most career goals scored in program history, including 72 this past season. Outside of his shot and scoring capabilities, Caufield is a smooth skater and plays well on the fly and in transition. Although his defensive game will need some work, his ability to put the puck in the net will put him towards the top of the draft class. If he can score and produce at high rates with Jack Hughes at the U.S. National Program, what makes you think he can't do the same on the right wing with Jack Eichel?

 

8.) Edmonton Oilers

SELECTION: Dylan Cozens - Center - Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 183-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: February 9, 2001

Dylan Cozens is a very solid two-way center who has the confidence to go places in the NHL. At the NHL Combine, he believed that his skating alone was what would have him ready to play in the NHL from Day 1. He is explosive on his feet, and is quick after loose pucks and quick to get the puck up the ice and on the rush. This season was a productive year for Cozens with 34 goals and and 50 assists in 68 games to lead Lethbridge in scoring, even though he is not the flashiest of players on the ice. While he can fill out into his body a bit more, his big frame allows him to protect the puck well and hold his own in scrums around the ice. Overall, Cozens is probably another year away from making any sort of impact in the NHL.

 

9.) Anaheim Ducks

SELECTION: Matthew Boldy - Left Wing - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 192-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: April 5, 2001

Matthew Boldy is a very nice complimentary player on the left wing, and has the potential to become even more than just that at the next level. He's got good size at 6' 2" and 192-pounds, and is a player with natural offensive instincts. He can distribute the puck around the ice well, as well as control the puck in the offensive zone and be a dangerous threat with a decent shot. Defensively, Boldy can lock things down in his own end and play a reliable game. Boldy may not be the swiftest of skaters, but he can still get around and keep up with the pace of play. If he can clean up the skating aspect of his game, that will make him a much smoother player on the ice. Boldy will be a nice offensive addition down the road after a year or two of college hockey at Boston College.

 

10.) Vancouver Canucks

SELECTION: Alex Newhook - Center - Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)

Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 190-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: January 28, 2001

Alex Newhook is an explosive player who will push the pace of play every shift he takes to the ice. He's aggressive on and off the puck, and is able to up the pressure on the opposition in both ends of the nice. Offensively, Newhook has a decent shot that comes off the stick so smooth. He also wants to have the puck on his stick and dictate play at his own pace. Defensively, he's strong on his stick and positions himself well in his own end. With the Grizzlies last year, Newhook led the team with 38 goals and 102 points in 53 games, while also leading the team with 24 points in 15 playoff games. He had an impressive showing with Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championship with five goals and 10 points in seven games. While he may not be the biggest guy on the ice, Newhook has the potential to blossom into a nice second-line center in this league.

 

11.) Philadelphia Flyers

SELECTION: Victor Söderström - Defense - Brynäs IF (SHL)

Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 183-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Sweden
Birthday: February 26, 2001

Söderström is a very solid two-way, right shot defenseman that has a ton of upside to his game. Plays a very smooth game in both ends of the ice, skates well, and is very collective with the puck on his stick.

 

12.) Minnesota Wild

SELECTION: Peyton Krebs - Center - Kootenay Ice (WHL)

Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 181-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: January 26, 2001

Krebs is a good two-way center who's stock may drop due to a partially torn Achilles, but that should not take away from his skillset on the ice. A good aggressive strong skater, good hockey sense, and can be a dangerous threat with the puck on his stick.

 

13.) Florida Panthers

SELECTION: Cam York - Defense - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 172-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: January 5, 2001

York is the best defenseman to come out of the U.S. Development Program this season and put up a ton of points with the crop of talent around him. He's a solid puck mover, moves around the ice extremely well, has good vision, and is very reliable in his own end.

 

14.) Arizona Coyotes

SELECTION: Philip Broberg - Defense - AIK (Allsvenskan)

Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 203-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Sweden
Birthday: June 25, 2001

Broberg's stock has dropped since the start of the 2018-19 season, but still has a good amount of upside to his future. His offensive skillset is to rave about, especially with his skating, but he has to shore up his defensive game moving forward as he gets ready to play his first full season in the Swedish Hockey League next year.

 

15.) Montreal Canadiens

SELECTION: Moritz Seider - Defense - Adler Mannheim (DEL)

Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 207-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Germany
Birthday: April 6, 2001

Seider was a high-riser throughout the 2018-19 season playing in Germany, and ended up with some high accolades internationally and in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga after his draft year. He's a very fluid skater, good with his stick, not afraid to back down from a battle in his own end, and can also jump into the offense when needed.

 

16.) Colorado Avalanche

SELECTION: Vasili Podkolzin - RW - SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 196-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Russia
Birthday: June 24, 2001

Podkolzin may be the third best prospect available in this year's draft class, but the "Russian Factor" will drop his stock dramatically, probably more than it should. He's a very complete player with his speed, skill and playmaking abilities, but he is under contract to play in the KHL for the next two years. Wherever he falls in this year's draft, a team is going to get a player who could develop into a top winger in the NHL.

 

17.) Vegas Golden Knights

SELECTION: Arthur Kaliyev - Right Wing - Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 190-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: June 26, 2001

Kaliyev is maybe the most polarizing prospect this year with his incredible offensive statistics in two years with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL. He's got a great shot, moves the puck well and tends to find himself in the right places at the right time with his hockey sense. However, his work ethic comes into question more often than not and his defensive play is lacking. If a certain team can get him turned in the right direction, Kaliyev may become a top-notch player in the NHL down the road.

 

18.) Dallas Stars

SELECTION: Thomas Harley - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 192-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada/United States
Birthday: August 19, 2001

Harley is another name that became a high-riser as the season went on. He's a good puck-moving defenseman who can move around the ice very well, and is good in pressure situations with and without the puck. Harley is a dual citizen, who has decided to represent Canada in international competition.

 

19.) Ottawa Senators (from the Columbus Blue Jackets)

SELECTION: Raphaël Lavoie - Center - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 198-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: September 25, 2000

Lavoie was maybe the best draft eligible player in the QMJHL this season with the Mooseheads. He an exceptionally skilled player with 73 points (32+41) in 62 regular season games, while depositing 32 points (20+12) in 23 postseason games. He can score, distribute the puck, and play some solid hockey in his own end, but the downside is his work ethic and consistently showing up on the ice every night.

 

20.) Winnipeg Jets

SELECTION: Philip Tomasino - Center - Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)

Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 181-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: July 28, 2001

Tomasino was a guy who climbed the ranks quite a bit this season with his draft stock. He's a guy who can turn on the burners and get into open space in an instant, and has some smooth hands with a great shot. He uses every inch of the ice to his advantage, and is never afraid to take the puck to the net to create chances.

 

21.) Pittsburgh Penguins

SELECTION: Ryan Suzuki - Center - Barrie Colts (OHL)

Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 181-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: May 28, 2001

Suzuki is a very smart player with a ton of skills to make him a viable NHL prospect moving forward. He moves around the ice well, can make plays using his vision, but he does not tend to be very physical, nor does he use the middle of the ice to his advantage. He needs to be more than just a perimeter player in order to take that next step in his development.

 

22.) Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto Maple Leafs)

SELECTION: Bobby Brink - Right Wing - Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)

Height: 5' 8'
Weight: 165-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: United States
Birthday: July 8, 2001

Brink may not be the biggest of players on the ice, but his offensive skillset offsets that in a big way. He's incredibly gifted with the puck on his stick, he's very patient with the puck, and can make some incredible plays in-tight. He's become an electrifying player playing in the USHL this past season, and may be one of the more interesting names taken in this year's draft.

 

23.) New York Islanders

SELECTION: Nils Höglander - Left Wing - Rögle BK (SHL)

Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 185-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Sweden
Birthday: December 20, 2000

Höglander plays with good speed and tempo to his game, and is quite skilled with the puck on his stick. He will need to build up some strength moving forward, but his playmaking abilities and elusive style makes him a highly-touted prospect.

 

24.) Nashville Predators

SELECTION: Ville Heinola - Defense - Lukko (Liiga)

Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 181-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Finland
Birthday: March 2, 2001

Heinola has a very smooth game overall for being a smaller defenseman, but he can skate, move the puck, and play a steady two-way game. Played for Finland at the World Juniors before an injury cut his tournament short. Had a good first season in the Finnish Liiga, and will likely take a couple more years to fully grow his game.

 

25.) Washington Capitals

SELECTION: Samuel Poulin - Left Wing - Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 207-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: February 25, 2001

Poulin is a real competitor who never takes a shift off. He has the size to protect the puck well and be a physical presence, while also having the speed to play a heavy game up front. In addition, Poulin has some exceptional skill that can make him a dynamic playmaker. He has a shot to develop into a really nice two-way player in the NHL.

 

26.) Calgary Flames

SELECTION: Spencer Knight - Goalie - U.S. National Team Development Program

Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 198-pounds
Catches: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: April 19, 2001

Knight is regarded as one of the best goalie prospects to enter the NHL Draft in quite some time. He moves very well in the crease, is composed in his structure, and is extremely calm when the going gets tough. Yes, taking a goalie in the first round has been frowned upon a number of times, but Knight seems to be the real deal.

 

27.) Tampa Bay Lightning

SELECTION: Egor Afanasyev - Left Wing - Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 201-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Russia
Birthday: January 23, 2001

Afanasyev had a great second season in the USHL, and really took his game to the next level as he gets ready to join the Windsor Spitfires for the 2019-2020 season. He has a very good frame for his age, uses his stick well, and he can really shoot the puck. However, his play does not stand out too much, and he needs to take the next step in his skating. Playing in the OHL next year should help him grow his game a little bit more.

 

28.) Carolina Hurricanes

SELECTION: Nicholas Robertson - Left Wing - Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 161-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Birthday: September 11, 2001

May not be the biggest or strongest of players, but he's never one to back down from competition. He's got good offensive instinct, good puck pursuit and a good shot to boot. While he does possess some decent speed, he could be a much improved skater to make him that much better. Will need some more time to develop his game even further, but the potential is there.

 

29.) Anaheim Ducks (from Buffalo Sabres via San Jose Sharks)

SELECTION: Tobias Björnfot - Defense - Djurgårdens IF J20 (SuperElit)

Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 203-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Sweden
Birthday: April 6, 2001

Another guy who jumped many people's rankings throughout the season, Björnfot displayed his complete style of play on the blue line all season long. He's a very solid defender in his own end, while also being able to be a contributor on the offensive side of the puck and on the power play. There's the chance Björnfot makes the full-time jump to the SHL next season, where his game can start to take the next step.

 

30.) Boston Bruins

SELECTION: Brett Leason - Right Wing - Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 201-pounds
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: April 30, 1999

Leason is an over-ager who really took a step in the right direction with his game after getting passed over in the last two drafts. He plays a heavy power forward game with size, a heavy stick, and good offensive instinct to get to the net. He's got a decent shot, is very reliable in both ends of the ice, but doesn't have blazing speed. However, given his age and his experience, he has a chance to go to the AHL next year and continue to take strides in his game.

 

*****31.) Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis Blues)*****

SELECTION: Connor McMichael - Center - London Knights (OHL)

Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 174-pounds
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Birthday: January 15, 2001

Connor McMichael is a forward with blazing speed and some good hands while playing the puck. While he could add some muscle to his frame, McMichael is able to protect the puck well when heading to the net, and then let go of a quick shot towards the top of the net. McMichael is also very good at finishing off plays in close while showing some great patience. He sees the ice quite well, and can be a solid two-way player moving forward. The 18-year-old scored 36 goals and added 36 assists in 67 games with the London Knights last year, and added five points (2+3) in 11 playoff games. McMichael has the potential to be a solid depth piece/top-nine forward in the future if he happens to land in Buffalo.

 

We'll have coverage of the NHL Draft on Friday starting at 7 p.m. on WGR with Brayton Wilson and Joe DiBiase.

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