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NHL Draft

2019 Draft: Top 10 right wings

Kakko highlights list that includes likely first-round picks Podkolzin, Caufield

by Mike. G. Morreale @MikeMorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

In the days leading to the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position. Today: The top right wings available.

Kaapo Kakko has clearly established himself as a likely NHL-ready prospect after a record-breaking season for TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. 

He's a projected top-2 selection in the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The first round is June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

 

[RELATED: Full NHL Draft coverage]

 

The 18-year-old scored 22 goals, a record for a first-time draft-eligible player in Liiga, one more than Aleksander Barkov had for Tappara in 53 games in 2012-13. His 38 points in 45 games are third on the single-season list of players 18-and-under, behind Barkov (48, 2012-13) and Mikael Granlund (40 points, 2009-10).

Kakko scored the game-winning goal with 1:26 remaining in the third period of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship final to give Finland a 3-2 win against the United States, finishing the tournament with five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games. He wrapped up the season with seven points (six goals, one assist) in 10 games to help Finland win the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

"He's quite a talent," said former NHL player and Finland National Junior Team assistant coach Tuomo Ruutu. "He's already great, but he has a lot of potential, especially on the smaller ice surface because he has such good hands and quick feet in small little areas. The smaller ice will actually help him."

Here are NHL.com's top 10 right wings available for the 2019 draft:

 

1. Kaapo Kakko, TPS (FIN)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (International skaters)

Kakko (6-2, 194) led TPS with four goals and tied for the lead with five points while averaging 20:53 of ice time as the youngest player on TPS in five playoff games. The left-hander offered a combination of playmaking and scoring ability and is very good around the net and in his own end. Kakko, who can play wing or center but is more comfortable on his off-wing, has been compared to Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen.

Video: Kaapo Kakko lands at No. 2 on Draft Prospects list

 

2. Vasily Podkolzin, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 (International skaters)

The 6-1, 196-pound left-handed shot had 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in five games for Russia at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August and eight points (three goals, five assists) in six games for the Under-19 team in the World Junior A Challenge in December. Podkolzin, who played three games for SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL late in the season, played a limited role for Russia and had three assists in seven games to help his team win the bronze medal at the 2019 WJC. He is under contract in the KHL for the next two seasons.

 

3. Cole Caufield, USA U-18 (NTDP)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 8 (North American skaters)

Caufield (5-7, 163), who will attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall, set a record for goals (72) this season and career goals (126) in 123 games over two seasons at the NTDP. He tied Alex Ovechkin (2002) for most goals (14) at the World U-18 Championship to help the United States win a bronze medal. He usually played right wing on a line with either Jack Hughes or Trevor Zegras and led the NTDP with 282 shots on goal and scored 100 points in 64 games this season. An elite goal-scorer with an ability to get open, Caufield scored seven goals in six games for the NTDP when Hughes was playing at the 2019 World Junior Championship.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP forward Cole Caufield

 

4. Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 7 (North American skaters)

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound left-handed shot was fourth in the OHL with 51 goals, second with 20 power-play goals, and sixth with 102 points in 67 games. Kaliyev, who was born in Uzbekistan, but moved to Staten Island, New York, when he was 2 years old, was voted as having the best shot and hardest shot in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. He had three points (two goals, one assist) in the 2019 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta, on Jan. 24. 

 

5. Bobby Brink, Sioux City (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 19 (North American skaters)

Brink (5-8, 165), who will attend the University of Denver next season, was named the 2019 USHL Forward of the Year. He finished fourth in the USHL with 68 points, second with 35 goals and first with nine game-winning goals in 43 games for Sioux City. He scored three hat tricks and had 30 points in a 17-game point streak (17 goals, 13 assists) from Oct. 27-Feb. 19. With great vision, smarts and puck skills, native of Minnetonka, Minnesota, had six points (three goals, three assists) in five games for the United States at the World U-18 Championship.

 

6. Brett Leason, Prince Albert (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 25 (North American skaters)

The 20-year-old forward, who has a quick, heavy shot that's effective in tight or from distance, is expected to be selected early after being passed over in two previous drafts. Leason (6-4, 210) ranked eighth in WHL scoring with 89 points (36 goals, 53 assists) and had 10 game-winning goals in 55 regular-season games for the Raiders this season. He led Prince Albert with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) and nine power-play points (three goals, six assists) in 22 WHL playoff games and had five points (three goals, two assists) in a top-9 role for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Tweet from @CHLHockey: Fourth unanswered Team Orr goal and third in 1:12 is the dagger 🚨@con91mcmichael of @GoLondonKnights shows he is in fact a ���skilled forward with good vision, instincts, smart and patient with the puck yet quick to be able to take advantage of opportunity.���#SWTP 🎥 pic.twitter.com/MWTMTGtsWZ

 

7. Albin Grewe, Djurgarden Jr. (SWE)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 13 (International skaters)

Grewe (5-11, 190) is a tough, aggressive, and physically engaging wing with a good skill set who can be an agitator at times. He had 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists), a plus-12 rating and 102 penalty minutes in 25 games for Djurgarden's junior team in SuperElit and no points and 16 penalty minutes in 15 games playing among men in the SHL. He competes hard along the boards and in front of the net and is a workhorse-type player. Grewe scored twice, had 10 penalty minutes and 21 shots on goal for gold medal-winning Sweden at the World U-18 Championship. 

 

8. Samuel Poulin, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 22 (North American skaters)

Poulin moved up five spots in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters after scoring 14 goals and 39 points in the final 30 regular-season games for Sherbrooke. The 6-1, 212-pound left-handed shooter is the son of former NHL forward Patrick Poulin. Poulin, who handles face-off responsibilities well when called upon, represented Canada at the World U-18 Championship and had two points (one goal, one assist) and finished fourth in the tournament in face-off winning percentage (63 percent).

 

9. Kirill Slepets, Yaroslavl 2 (RUS-2)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 17 (International skaters)

Slepets (5-10, 165) had 18 points (12 goals, six assists) in 17 games in Russia's minor league and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 17 playoff games to help lead Yaroslavl to the MHL championship. He had one goal in 10 games for Yaroslavl in the KHL, where he will play next season. He's a late bloomer with good offensive instincts, excellent acceleration, speed and is good at handling the puck. Slepets impressed with seven points (five goals, two assists) in seven games to help Russia win a bronze medal at the 2019 World Junior Championship.

 

10. Graeme Clarke, Ottawa (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 45 (North American skaters)

The 5-11, 175-pound right-handed shot could fill a top-9 role on an NHL roster at some point. He was impressive in clutch situations this season with excellent skills and hockey IQ. Clarke was named most valuable player for Team Bobby Orr at the 2019 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game after scoring a goal and an assist and helped Canada to a gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with two goals and an assist in five games. He had 34 points (23 goals, 11 assists) in 55 regular-season games for the 67's, and 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 18 OHL playoff games.

 

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