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Hughes unanimous No. 1 in look at first round of 2019 Draft

U.S. center consensus top pick by NHL.com experts

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Guillaume Lepage agree that center Jack Hughes from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team will be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

They are also unanimous in their opinion that forward Kaapo Kakko of TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, would go No. 2, followed by forward Vasili Podkolzin of SKA St. Petersburg's team in Russia's junior league.

After that, however, their opinions differ greatly.

The 2019 draft will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22.

 

[RELATED: Hughes, Kakko top Central Scouting midterm rankings for 2019 NHL Draft]

 

The order used for this mock draft was based on standings at the break for the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. The final order will be set after the Stanley Cup Final.

The Colorado Avalanche are the only team now that has two picks in the first round. In addition to their selection, they have the Ottawa Senators' first pick, which they acquired Nov. 15, 2017 in the three-team trade with the Nashville Predators that sent forward Matt Duchene to Ottawa.

The New York Rangers (from the Tampa Bay Lightning), the Buffalo Sabres (from the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues), and the Senators (from the Sharks) have conditional first-round picks that could change hands based on how teams finish the season.

 

1. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa Senators)

Kimelman -- Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (NTDP): Hughes has a dynamic set of skills and size (5-foot-10, 168 pounds) reminiscent of an 18-year-old Patrick Kane. 

Morreale -- Hughes: He's an elite skater who can think the game at top speed with a knack for finding open space on the ice. Hughes is the most electrifying player in this draft class, with great hands, feet and an insatiable appetite to succeed. He'll be a franchise-defining player.

Lepage -- Hughes: Though Hughes is not the biggest skater in this year's draft class he certainly is the most talented. He has dominated at every level he's played at for several years and everything indicates it will be no different in the NHL.

 

2. New Jersey Devils

Kimelman -- Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (FIN): The forward (6-2, 194) brings an elite skill set and high hockey IQ. He already has experience playing against men for two seasons in Liiga. Scoring the winning goal in the gold-medal game at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship shows how well he handles the spotlight.

Morreale -- Kakko: The left-shot forward has an excellent understanding of the game, can win 1-on-1 battles, is strong along the boards and relishes pressure situations.

Lepage -- Kakko: The Finland-born forward offers a perfect blend of power, speed and talent.

 

3. Los Angeles Kings

Kimelman -- Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg 2 (RUS-JR): The Kings need an infusion of young talent up front, and Podkolzin (6-1, 190) has the hands, speed and scoring touch missing from a team that had the fewest goals in the NHL at the break for the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.

Morreale -- Podkolzin: Podkolzin has the attitude, skills and speed to become a solid NHL player with proper development. He plays a mature game, has a high hockey IQ, good speed and can protect the puck well. 

Lepage -- Podkolzin: Ever since his impressive performance for Russia at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August, this fast-skating forward steadily has been gaining attention. And let's be honest, the Kings surely could use a little speed and agility.

 

4. Philadelphia Flyers

Kimelman -- Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL): Cozens is a strong skater for his size (6-3, 181), which allows him to play at a high pace. He's also proven to be a consistent net-front presence in the offensive zone.

Morreale -- Alex Turcotte, C, U.S. U-18 (NTDP): Turcotte (5-11, 189) has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 11 games since returning to the lineup Dec. 15 after missing 22 games because of a lower-body injury. He makes plays at top speed, has good hands and can move the puck effectively.

Lepage -- Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon: Here's a big power forward (6-3, 199) who would fit right in with the Flyers. In addition to his size, Dach can make plays at full speed and has a good scoring touch around the net.

 

5. Chicago Blackhawks

Kimelman -- Trevor Zegras, C, USA U-18 (NTDP): Zegras (6-0, 166) gets overshadowed by Hughes, his NTDP teammate, but scouts have been impressed by his vision and patience with the puck, with one saying Zegras' game reminded him of Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Morreale -- Cozens, C: Cozens will provide the Blackhawks with more depth down the middle. His strength and outstanding skating make him tough to contain in all areas of the ice, and he ranks among the top 15 in scoring in the Western Hockey League.

Lepage -- Turcotte, C: The forward was sidelined for several months early in the season because of an injury but has come back with a vengeance. If he can stay close to the pace he's scored at since returning, he could climb even higher in the eyes of scouts.

 

6. Detroit Red Wings

Kimelman -- Philip Broberg, D, AIK (SWE-2): The Red Wings were ready to take a defenseman high at the 2018 draft, but there were better forwards available. They won't have that issue this year. Broberg (6-3, 199) is an elite skater and puck-mover gaining valuable experience playing against men in Sweden's second division.

Morreale -- Dach, C: A right-handed center with Dach's size, strength, playmaking ability and maturity doesn't come around very often. He leads Saskatoon with 51 points (18 goals, 33 assists) in 44 games, and is a legitimate offensive threat each time he has the puck.

Lepage -- Cozens, C: Thanks to his excellent vision on the ice and strong skating ability, Cozens can generate scoring chances in machine-like fashion. The Red Wings could have a formidable pair up front with him and forward Filip Zadina, the No. 6 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft.

 

7. Florida Panthers

Kimelman -- Dach, C: Dach has the size, skating ability and vision to make a quick transition to the NHL. Adding Dach behind Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck would give the Panthers enviable depth through the middle. 

Morreale -- Spencer Knight, G, U.S. U-18 (NTDP): The Panthers need good young goalies in their system and Knight is considered the best prospect at his position in some time. A Boston College recruit, Knight (6-3, 197) rarely is out of position, has great instincts, is efficient in his movements and consistently square to the shooter. 

Lepage -- Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL): Byram is the type of mobile defenseman (6-0, 194) with clear offensive ability that every NHL team wants. He also holds his own in the defensive zone.

 

8. Edmonton Oilers

Kimelman -- Matthew Boldy, LW, USA U-18 (NTDP): The Oilers need to find speedy, skilled forwards to play alongside centers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and Boldy (6-1, 187) fits that bill.  

Morreale -- Byram, D: A high-end, two-way defenseman who excels in all situations and can log big minutes, Byram could be the first defenseman off the draft board.

Lepage -- Boldy: He did not need long to establish himself as one of the cornerstones of the NTDP U-18 offense. And while he's best known for his scoring ability, Boldy is able to do just about anything on the ice.

 

9. St. Louis Blues

Kimelman -- Byram, D: A smart, strong left-shot defenseman who uses his stick and skating ability to cut off plays in the neutral zone and defensive zone, and his offensive game is coming along.

Morreale -- Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay (WHL): He likes to use his speed and quickness to his advantage and is tough to contain 1-on-1. Krebs (5-11, 180) is an elite two-way player who can serve as an offensive threat or shutdown player.

Lepage -- Krebs: Krebs isn't as physically imposing as other players in his draft class, but he is just as talented. He's dynamic and always in motion, making him a constant offensive threat.

 

10. New York Rangers

Kimelman -- Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Hamilton (OHL): Finding a dynamic right wing like Kaliyev (6-1, 190) is key for the Rangers after they selected left-shot centers Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Morreale -- Zegras, C: Zegras can find seams in the defense, knows when to shoot, has got deception to his game and is fearless. NTDP U-18 coach John Wroblewski considers Zegras, a left-shot forward, a lethal option on the power play.

Lepage -- Broberg, D: Despite his impressive size, Broberg has skating ability that is the envy of his peers. A confident puck-mover, he knows how to find his teammates.

 

11. Arizona Coyotes

Kimelman -- Krebs, C: Gifted and creative in the offensive zone, Krebs managed to stand out among his peers at the CHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 23 with a goal and an assist.

Morreale -- Boldy, LW: Boldy is an excellent skater with quick hands and mobility to create offense on the rush. He's very creative with an excellent release and accurate shot.

Lepage -- Zegras, C: Zegras is the No. 2 center with the NTDP but he's far from a second-rate prospect. His skating is spectacular.

 

12. Anaheim Ducks

Kimelman -- Raphael Lavoie, C, Halifax (QMJHL): Lavoie is a skilled power forward with the size (6-3, 191) and skill to skate around a defender or go through him to create a scoring chance. The Ducks have assembled a solid group of forward prospects, including Max Comtois, Isac Lundestrom, Sam Steel and Max Jones, and Lavoie would make it even more impressive.

Morreale -- Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL): The left-handed shot has been playing big minutes in all situations. Harley (6-3, 188) finds shooting and passing lanes and will generate offense no matter where he's playing.

Lepage -- Kaliyev, RW: Kaliyev, who has scored 33 times in 46 games, might be the best goal-scorer in this season's draft class.

 

13. Vancouver Canucks

Kimelman -- Turcotte, C: He's recovered from the injuries that slowed him at the beginning of the season and scouts have liked what they've seen with his top-end offensive skills and skating.

Morreale -- Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL): One of the top playmaking centers available in the draft, Suzuki (6-0, 178) possesses great hockey sense, is effective at making plays at top speed and can make good decisions under pressure.  

Lepage -- Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SWE): The Sweden-born right-shot defenseman (5-11, 179) appears to have made a smooth transition from junior hockey to the Swedish Elite League, which bodes well for his eventual move to the NHL. Soderstrom also displays promising offensive potential.

 

14. Colorado Avalanche

Kimelman -- Knight, G: The Avalanche are thin organizationally in goaltending, and Knight is one of the best prospects at the position in a number of years. Selecting a goalie this high in draft comes with risks, but Knight has the technique, smarts and athleticism that make this a risk worth taking.

Morreale -- Soderstrom, D: Soderstrom is one of the most improved prospects in Sweden. He's a solid two-way defenseman with excellent vision and understanding of the game.

Lepage -- Cameron York, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): The left-shot defenseman (5-11, 171) may not be as reliable defensively as some of his peers, but the risk is worth it in his case. When York is attacking with speed, he is a major threat.

 

15. Dallas Stars

Kimelman -- York, D: York is built for the current NHL, with excellent offensive skills and speed to skate the puck anywhere on the ice. He's committed to the University of Michigan, where he'll continue to improve his defensive game.

Morreale -- Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (FIN): Heinola (5-11, 178) is expected to return to the lineup next month after sustaining an injury against Canada during the quarterfinals of the WJC. When healthy he's used in all situations, has good hockey sense and patience to make plays with confidence.

Lepage -- Suzuki, C: Just like his brother Nick Suzuki, a first-round pick (No. 13) by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Draft and now a Montreal Canadiens prospect, Ryan's on-ice vision is what sets him apart. He finds passing lanes most players don't see.

 

16. Carolina Hurricanes

Kimelman -- Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL): The left-shot forward (5-10, 195) leads the BCHL with 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists) in 42 games while showcasing great skating, hands and vision. Patience will be key as Newhook continues his development at Boston College next season, but the payoff could be big.

Morreale -- Lavoie, C: Lavoie plays a responsible two-way game, and is versatile and effective playing on the wing or at center. He's strong below the circles and makes smart decisions with the puck.

Lepage -- Lavoie, C: Lavoie pretty much has everything a player needs to be successful at the next level. He is a strong skater, has good hands and an excellent shot to go along with his substantial size.

 

17. Buffalo Sabres

Kimelman -- Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL): Pelletier's excellent skating and edge work comes from a powerful lower body that allows him to hold onto the puck to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates. He's also shown the willingness to get to the front of the net to score despite being undersized (5-9, 161).

Morreale -- York, D: York is mobile, elusive and a quarterback on the power play. He has great vision and can transition quickly with a good pass or by skating it out of his end.

Lepage -- Newhook, C: Newhook stands out because of his slick hands. He led BCHL rookies in scoring last season with 66 points in 45 games, and he's doing even better this season.

 

18. Minnesota Wild

Kimelman -- Suzuki, C: With their top two centers, Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu, each at least 34 years old, finding productive young players at the position is key for the Wild to sustain success. Scouts are high on Suzuki's creativity, passing ability, hands and on-ice vision.

Morreale -- Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (GER): A two-way defenseman with a sound positional game that is at his best in the defensive zone. Seider (6-3, 183) uses his size and strength to his advantage and plays with confidence. 

Lepage -- Ilya Nikolaev, C, Yaroslavl 2 (RUS-JR): The Russia-born forward (6-0, 190) was good at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August but could disappear during games. When the left-shot center got going, though, he was spectacular. If he can show consistency, he could prove to be a hidden gem for the Wild.

 

19. Pittsburgh Penguins

Kimelman -- Cole Caufield, RW, USA U-18 (NTDP): An offensive machine with 33 goals in 36 games. Scouts like his strong skating, an effective shot he's able to get off in a variety of ways, and smarts to find the rights spots to produce despite his small stature (5-7, 155).

Morreale -- Broberg, D: The offensive-minded left-shot defenseman gained important experience as the seventh defenseman for Sweden at the WJC. Broberg has a good work ethic, is active and has good vision and understanding of the game.

Lepage -- Heinola, D: The left-shot defenseman was part of a very strong group that helped Finland win the gold medal at the WJC. His intelligence and his understanding of the game allow him to stand out.

 

20. Boston Bruins 

Kimelman -- Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton (WHL): The left-shot defenseman (6-3, 201) is smart, highly skilled in his end and defends well with his stick. A very smooth skater with an evolving offensive game.  

Morreale -- Kaliyev, RW: Kaliyev has an NHL-caliber shot and high hockey IQ. He won't burn a defender wide but is powerful below the dots in the offensive zone and knows how to get open to create chances.

Lepage -- Harley, D: He may have some defensive flaws, but with his size, reach and strong skating, Harley is brimming with potential.

 

21. Columbus Blue Jackets

Kimelman -- Seider, D: A big, strong, skilled right-shot defenseman is something many teams would like to have. Seider also is getting good experience playing against men in Germany's top professional league.

Morreale -- Caufield, RW: The right-shot forward has an accurate, quick release and is confident and elusive around the net.  

Lepage -- Pelletier, LW: He is the kind of player every team needs. Pelletier is ready to do anything to win and has that rare quality of being able to rise to the occasion and come through in crucial moments.

 

22. Washington Capitals

Kimelman -- Nikolaev, C: Strong hockey sense allows Nikolaev to read plays well and make smart decisions. Scouts also like that he's a responsible two-way player. He won't turn 18 until June 26, making him one of the younger prospects in this season's draft class.   

Morreale -- Newhook, C: Newhook plays at a high pace, is strong on pucks and can make quick decisions and plays.

Lepage -- Seider, D: Seider hasn't yet demonstrated his offensive abilities playing against men in the top professional league in Germany, but they should shine through soon enough now that he has been given increased responsibilities.

 

23. Montreal Canadiens

Kimelman -- Brett Leason, C, Prince Albert (WHL): After getting passed over in the draft the previous two years, teams won't let Leason slip by this time around. His vastly improved skating has allowed the right-shot forward (6-4, 200) to showcase his offensive ability, and he impressed with five points (three goals, two assists) in five games for Canada at the WJC.

Morreale -- Matthew Robertson, D: Robertson is an effortless skater with great patience and decision-making that allows him to find ways to contribute offensively.

Lepage -- Matthew Robertson, D: After selecting seven centers among their 11 picks at the 2018 draft, the Canadiens will look to address a need on the left side of their defense. Robertson's size and mobility make him very attractive.

 

24. Vegas Golden Knights

Kimelman -- Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City (USHL): The right-shot forward (5-8, 159) has dealt with injuries this season but his 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 19 games jumps off the page. Scouts love his speed and quick-release shot, and he's able to get to the net to score.

Morreale -- Pelletier, LW: Pelletier has high-end puck skills and vision to create plays in the offensive end. He also can protect the puck, win battles along the boards and drive to the net with assertiveness. 

Lepage -- Knight, G: The Golden Knights have to start thinking about life after 34-year-old goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. A goalie can be a big risk in the first round, but Vegas is flush with solid prospects at other positions. Now could be the right time to invest in goalies.

 

25. Toronto Maple Leafs

Kimelman -- Soderstrom, D: The Maple Leafs have selected Sweden-born defensemen in the first round of the draft in 2017 (Timothy Liljegren, No. 17) and 2018 (Rasmus Sandin, No. 29), and Soderstrom has just as much upside as both of those players. He skates well, makes a good first pass and is solid in his zone.

Morreale -- Leason, C: Leason is fourth in the Western Hockey League with 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 40 games. He's a power forward who can protect the puck and has good skill, vision and hockey sense.  

Lepage -- Nils Hoglander, LW, Rogle (SWE): The forward (5-9, 185) always has the pedal to the metal and sometimes displays playmaking skills that suggest a bright future.

 

26. New York Islanders

Kimelman -- Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL): The latest top-end player to come out of the Kelowna defensemen factory, which over the years has produced Shea Weber of the Canadiens, Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks and Tyson Barrie of the Avalanche, among others. The right-handed shot (6-0, 188) is an outstanding skater capable of carrying the puck out of his end and leading the breakout, or making smart passes out of the defensive zone.

Morreale -- Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL): McMichael (5-11, 172) is a skilled left-shot center with good vision, instincts and puck skills, and the Islanders could use a few more high-end centers in their prospect pool. He is second on London with 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) in 44 games.

Lepage -- McMichael: McMichael has figured out to how excel in his role with London. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he's learned how to be a big offensive contributor.

 

27. Nashville Predators

Kimelman -- Alex Vlasic, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): The hulking left-shot defenseman stands 6-6 and has a frame that can carry more than his 193 pounds. His wingspan and skating make it difficult for opposing forwards to get around him.

Morreale -- Vladislav Kolyachonok, D, Flint (OHL): Kolyachonok (6-0, 176), born in Minsk, Belarus, played one game for London this season, his first in North America, before joining Flint, and he's second among OHL rookie defensemen with 24 points (three goals, 21 assists) in 35 games. The left-shot defenseman is a good two-way player, strong on his skates and poised and patient with the puck.

Lepage -- Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djurgarden Jr. (SWE-JR): Bjornfot (6-0, 202) has 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 27 games, but it's the left-shot defenseman's defensive play that makes him a standout.

 

28. Winnipeg Jets

Kimelman -- Bjornfot, D: A two-way defenseman considered a good skater and reliable in his zone. The Jets are stocked with good young forwards, so now could be a good time to start building up their base of defenseman prospects.

Morreale -- Vlasic, D: With proper development, Vlasic has the potential to be a franchise-type defenseman. He's got a long reach, good footwork and plenty of untapped offensive potential.

Lepage -- Caufield, RW: Caufield is among the smallest players in this season's draft class, but his production should make some NHL team very happy it took a chance on him.

 

29. San Jose Sharks

Kimelman -- Egor Afanasyev, LW, Muskegon (USHL): The power forward (6-3, 201) has had a strong start to his first season in North America, leading Muskegon in goals (18) and points (40).

Morreale -- Vladislav Firstov, LW, Waterloo (USHL): A smart player with quick hands, deceptive speed and good vision, Firstov (6-1, 181) is effective moving the puck and locating teammates with good passes. 

Lepage -- Vlasic, D: Just like his cousin, Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Alex is not the most noticeable defenseman on the ice but could become a very reliable one at the next level.

 

30. Calgary Flames

Kimelman -- Heinola, D: He made an impression by earning a spot on Finland's talented defense corps for the WJC. Because of the Flames' talented group of defensemen, the smooth skater will be given all the time he needs to develop his game before coming to Calgary.

Morreale -- Anttoni Honka, D, JYP (FIN): The right-handed shot is the younger brother of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka. In his second season in Liiga, Honka (5-10, 179) has shown quick feet, good decisions and creativity on offense when he opts to join the rush.

Lepage -- Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough (OHL): Robertson is undersized (5-9, 162), but he stakes his place in the game with his dynamism and incomparable vision. He may have some growth left in him, if you go by the size of his brother, Stars forward prospect Jason Robertson (6-2, 195).

 

31. Tampa Bay Lightning

Kimelman -- Nolan Foote, LW, Kelowna (WHL): The power forward (6-3, 190) has improved his skating and his shot to become a top-flight prospect. And the Lightning are familiar with the family after selecting his older brother, defenseman Callan Foote, at No. 14 in the 2017 draft.

Morreale -- Thomson, D: Thomson is dynamic with high-end skill and skating ability. He possesses a great release from the point and is effective on the power play. Thomson has improved his attention to detail in the defensive zone. 

Lepage -- Foote: Picking at the end of the first round, the Lightning would not pass up an opportunity to grab a power forward like Foote. 

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