Center Jack Hughes of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program's Under-18 Team and right wing Kaapo Kakko of Finland's TPS maintained their No. 1 ranking among North American and international skaters, respectively, as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau today released its final rankings for the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Ducks currently hold two picks in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft - including the ninth overall selection - and own three of the top 39 picks. (The additional first-round selection comes from San Jose or St. Louis).
2019 Final Rankings - North American Skaters | 2019 Final Rankings - European Skaters
2019 Final Rankings - North American Goalies | 2019 Final Rankings - European Goalies
Hughes (Orlando, Fla.) averaged over two points per game in 2018-19 while leading the USA Hockey NTDP Under-18 Team with 25-67--92 in 43 GP this season; his 202 career points (65-143--208) in 103 GP is the most all-time in USA Hockey NTDP history. Hughes aims to become the eighth U.S.-born player drafted first overall and the first since Auston Matthews in 2016. His brother, Quinn Hughes, was drafted seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2018.
Kakko (Turku, Finland) scored 22 goals to lead TPS and rank tied for sixth in the Finnish Elite League this season (22-16--38 in 45 GP). At the 2019 World Junior Championship he scored Finland's gold medal-winning goal after also winning gold with Finland at the 2018 Under‑18 World Championship. Kakko aims to become the first Finnish-born player to be drafted first overall.
"The conversation for the number one overall pick has included both Kakko and Hughes since the World Juniors," said Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr. "Kaapo Kakko had a strong performance on the world stage and has continued his impressive power forward play in the Finland Liiga, setting a new goal scoring record for draft eligible prospects. Jack Hughes set all kinds of scoring records with the U.S. NTDP Under-18 this season. He is an exceptional talent with wizardry scoring and playmaking ability which highlight his quick wit and speed."
Joining Hughes among the top-five ranked skaters from North America are: No. 2 Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C.), a defenseman for the Vancouver Giants (WHL); No. 3 Kirby Dach (St. Albert, Alta.), a center for the Saskatoon Blades (WHL); No. 4 Alex Turcotte (Elk Grove, Ill.) a center for the USA Hockey Under-18 Team (NTDP); and No. 5 Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Yukon), a center for the Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL).
Right wing Vasily Podkolzin (Moscow, Russia) of NEVA St. Petersburg (RUSSIA‑2) and defenseman Victor Soderstrom (Gavle, Sweden) of BRYNAS (SWEDEN) rank second and third, respectively atop the International Skater rankings.
In the crease, Spencer Knight (Stamford, Conn.) of the USA Hockey Under-18 Team (NTDP) ranks as the top North American goaltender, while Pyotr Kochetkov (Penza, Russia) of Ryazan (RUSSIA-2) tops international netminders.
The final rankings feature the top 217 skaters and 31 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 135 skaters and 12 goaltenders internationally.
In its 44th year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides evaluation and scouting of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs seven full-time and 14 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing internationally, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff at European Scouting Services based in Finland.
Combined, NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Services will see more than 3,000 games this season.
The 2019 NHL Draft will be held June 21-22 at Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks, marking the third time the city of Vancouver will host the event (also 1990 and 2006).
Anaheim's Success in the Draft
The Ducks are the NHL's most successful team drafting players into the NHL since 2010, having done so without a top-five overall selection (Anaheim has not selected in the top five since 2005, qualifying for the playoffs in 11 of 14 seasons since then). Anaheim has selected 58 players since 2010, with a league-leading 51.7% (30 players, tied with Boston) making it to the NHL (the league average is 38.0%). Those 30 players have combined to play 4,810 NHL games, led by Cam Fowler (620) and Hampus Lindholm (447). Additionally, eight of those 30 players (26.7% percent) have played 250-or-more NHL games, which also leads the league.
Among players drafted after the first round since 2010, the Ducks co-lead the league with 41.7% of drafted players reaching the NHL (tied with Boston). That group of players includes both of the top-two goaltenders (ranked by games played) who have been drafted since 2010. John Gibson (236 games) was drafted by the Ducks in the second round in 2011, and Frederik Andersen (317 games) was selected in the third round in 2012. The Ducks acquired two draft picks (Sam Steel and Max Comtois) for Andersen in 2016.
During the 2018-19 NHL season, the Ducks led the NHL in games played by drafted defensemen (418). Anaheim also ranked second in most rookies (16), games played by rookies (325) and games played by defensemen aged 27-or-younger (449).