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NHL Draft

Mock draft: Hughes No. 1 to Devils, Kakko second pick to Rangers

NHL.com experts debate first round; Byram consensus top defenseman to be selected

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Guillaume Lepage see the intrigue at the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver starting with the Chicago Blackhawks at the No. 3 pick. 

The first round is Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS); Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

The writers are in agreement that the New Jersey Devils will select center Jack Hughes from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team with the No. 1 pick, and the New York Rangers will choose right wing Kaapo Kakko from TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, at No. 2.

The third pick, however, remains the unknown.

The Blackhawks are one of several teams that bear watching during the first round. Four teams have two first-round picks, including the Colorado Avalanche, who have the No. 4 selection, acquired from the Ottawa Senators as part of the three-team trade for forward Matt Duchene on Nov. 5, 2017, and the No. 16 pick.

 

[RELATED: Complete 2019 NHL Draft coverage]

 

The Los Angeles Kings have picks No. 5 and No. 22, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Jake Muzzin. The Buffalo Sabres will pick No. 7 and No. 31, a choice acquired from the St. Louis Blues for forward Ryan O'Reilly. And the Anaheim Ducks have Nos. 9 and 29, which they acquired in a trade with the Sabres for defenseman Brandon Montour; the Sabres had gotten the pick from the San Jose Sharks as part of the trade for forward Evander Kane.

The first 15 picks were set by the NHL Draft Lottery, which was won by the Devils. Picks 16-27 were determined after the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the eliminated teams slotted in inverse order of regular-season points. The 28th and 29th picks went to the teams that lost in the conference finals, in inverse order of regular-season points. The Boston Bruins got No. 30 for losing in the Stanley Cup Final. The Cup-champion Blues were slotted at No. 31.

 

1. New Jersey Devils

Kimelman -- Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (NTDP): The most talented player in the draft should be the first one selected. The 18-year-old (5-foot-10, 171 pounds) has a package of skating, passing, vision and hockey sense that's reminiscent of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.

Morreale -- Hughes: Hughes has the chance to be a franchise-defining player.

Lepage -- Hughes: No team would dare pass on the opportunity to select a player with so much potential.

Video: Jack Hughes ranks No. 1 on Draft Prospects list

 

2. New York Rangers

Kimelman -- Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (FIN): Kakko had a standout performance for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Championship with six goals in 10 games, and his size (6-2, 194) makes it easy to see him excelling in the NHL next season. 

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

Lepage -- Kakko: He shined against NHL players at the World Championship, another sign that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL next season.

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

 

3. Chicago Blackhawks

Kimelman -- Alex Turcotte, C, USA U-18 (NTDP): Turcotte grew up in the Chicago suburbs where he idolized Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, and now plays a similar style. Injuries early and late in the season made it tough for scouts to get a read on him, but when they watched him they saw a top-end scoring touch and a relentlessness at both ends of the ice that will make him even better as he adds size (5-11, 186) and strength next season at the University of Wisconsin.

Morreale -- Turcotte: He plays a disciplined two-way game, makes plays at top speed, has good hands, grit, and can move the puck effectively.

Video: Alex Turcotte lands at No. 4 on Draft Prospects list

Lepage -- Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL): The Blackhawks have great defensemen prospects and now have a chance to add an explosive young forward. The 18-year-old (6-3, 183) was 10th in the Western Hockey League with 84 points (34 goals, 50 assists) in 58 games and is one of the fastest and most threatening forwards in the 2019 draft class.

 

4. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa Senators)

Kimelman -- Cozens: An outstanding skater for his size, he could fill the Avalanche's hole at second-line center as soon as next season.

Morreale -- Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL): He covers ice well with his smarts and vision and brings a little bit of a nasty streak to his game. The right-hand shot has good size (6-4, 198), strength, playmaking ability, and a maturity to his game, and is a legitimate offensive threat each time he has the puck.

Lepage -- Turcotte: He had a tough season in terms of health, but averaged 1.68 points per game, second on the NTDP to Hughes (2.24).

Video: Dylan Cozens takes No. 5 on Draft Prospects list

 

5. Los Angeles Kings

Kimelman -- Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL): Byram's offensive skill makes him the best defenseman available in the draft. He scored 26 goals with an outstanding shot and vision. The Kings have added top forward prospects, among them Jaret-Anderson Dolan, Akil Thomas and Rasmus Kupari, and Byram (6-1, 195) would give them an elite playmaker on the back end to get them the puck.

Morreale -- Byram: A threat in all three zones, Byram can make plays under pressure in the defensive zone and the neutral zone. 

Lepage -- Byram: He was the MVP of the WHL playoffs and helped Vancouver reach Game 7 of the league final, showing his ability to handle pressure situations.

Video: Bowen Byram is named No. 3 on Draft Prospects list

 

6. Detroit Red Wings

Kimelman -- Trevor Zegras, C, USA U-18 (NTDP): NTDP coach John Wroblewski said Zegras might have been the best passer on the U-18 team this season. At 6-foot, 173 pounds, he needs to get stronger, but his offensive talent and ability to excel in the middle or on the wing makes him a desirable prospect.

Morreale -- Vasily Podkolzin, RW, Neva St. Petersburg (RUS-2): Podkolzin (6-1, 196) plays with a lot of intensity and a great set of skills that earned him three games with SKA St. Petersburg team in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he is signed for the next two seasons. He has the attitude and speed to become a solid NHL player with proper development. He plays a mature game, has a high hockey IQ, good breakaway speed and puck protection skills.

Lepage -- Podkolzin: Despite an underwhelming finish to his season with Russia at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games, he has undeniable talent.

Video: Vasili Podkolzin ranks No. 6 on Draft Prospects list

 

7. Buffalo Sabres

Kimelman -- Cole Caufield, RW, USA U-18 (NTDP): Forget the size (5-7, 163). Caufield, who set an NTDP record with 72 goals this season, is the best goal-scorer in the draft, with a great release he can get off from anywhere in the offensive zone. He also has underrated vision, passing ability and skating that's reminiscent of Pittsburgh Penguins forward and NTDP alum Phil Kessel.

Morreale -- Caufield: He's skilled without the puck and in finding open space on the ice to set himself up and provide easy outlets for teammates.

Lepage -- Dach: The big power forward would strengthen the Sabres down the middle. 

 

8. Edmonton Oilers

Kimelman -- Matthew Boldy, LW, USA U-18 (NTDP): Boldy is still growing into a body that went from 5-10 when he arrived at the NTDP two seasons ago to 6-2, 196 pounds as he heads to Boston College in the fall. As the Oilers look to add young talent around star centers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Boldy's skill and hands, especially in tight and from below the dots, could make him an outstanding complement.

Morreale -- Zegras: He finds seams in the defense, knows when to shoot, has got deception to his game and is fearless. 

Lepage -- Caufield: Caufield's offensive abilities make it very easy to look past his size. 

Video: NHL Now chats with 2019 NHL Draft prospect Matt Boldy

 

9. Anaheim Ducks

Kimelman -- Phillip Broberg, D, AIK (SWE-2): The Ducks have used two of their 18 picks in the past three drafts to select defensemen, so the chance to add a player with Broberg's skill set should be too good to pass on. One scout said Broberg skates so well it looks like he's flying on the ice. At 6-3, 200 pounds, he needs to fill out physically, but his upside is as a No. 1 defenseman who can play big minutes and excel in all situations.

Morreale -- Cozens: The big center will provide the Ducks with additional depth down the middle.

Lepage -- Zegras: He's one of the most complete centers available in the draft because of his speed and his smarts.

 

10. Vancouver Canucks

Kimelman -- Podkolzin: His offensive skill, leadership and 200-foot game will make him worth the two-season wait.

Morreale -- Boldy: An excellent skater with quick hands and mobility that allows him to create offense on the rush. 

Lepage -- Broberg: It's hard to find a big defenseman who is as comfortable on his skates as Broberg.

 

11. Philadelphia Flyers

Kimelman -- Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (GER): At 18, Seider won the rookie of year award while helping Mannheim to the German league championship and then scored two goals in five games and looked right at home playing with and against NHL players for Germany at the World Championship. He needs to develop physically (6-3, 208), but his skating and offensive skill makes him a prospect with huge upside.

Morreale -- Broberg: An offensive-minded left-handed shot who moves very well for his size, has good vision, controls the game in all zones, and has a great shot.

Lepage -- Boldy: Boldy is the perfect match for the Flyers' style of play, with an appealing frame and a relentless forechecking approach.

 

12. Minnesota Wild

Kimelman -- Dach: The Wild need to replenish their depth through the middle and Dach would be a great place to start. 

Morreale -- Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay (WHL): Krebs (5-11, 183) uses his speed and quickness to his advantage and is an elite two-way player who can serve as an offensive catalyst or shutdown defensive center. Recovery from June 7 surgery for a partially torn Achilles tendon likely will keep him off the ice until training camp at the earliest but shouldn't have any long-lasting affects.

Lepage -- Krebs: The Wild's top two centers, Eric Staal (34) and Mikko Koivu (36), are older and Krebs could slide into one of those roles during the next few seasons.

 

13. Florida Panthers

Kimelman -- Spencer Knight, G, USA U-18 (USHL): The best goaltender in the draft matches well with a team in desperate need of adding a young goaltender. Knight (6-3, 193) is solid fundamentally and a tremendous athlete, which he displayed by finishing in the top 15 in eight categories during the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Morreale -- Knight: The Panthers need to upgrade the goalie prospects in their system and Knight is considered one the best at the position in years. 

Lepage -- Knight: The Panthers have immediate and long-term needs in goal, and Knight might fill the latter role, if not the first, as well.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP goalie Spencer Knight

 

14. Arizona Coyotes

Kimelman -- Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL): The Coyotes are looking to upgrade their offense, and Newhook (5-10, 192) led the British Columbia Hockey League with 102 points (38 goals, 64 assists), and had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in seven games for Canada at the World U-18 Championship. His skating, speed and puck-handling make him a threat any time he has the puck in the offensive zone, and he'll have time to further hone his game at Boston College next season.

Morreale -- Newhook: His speed and elusiveness make him a dynamic offensive player.

Lepage -- Newhook: Newhook's play at the World U-18 Championship proved how much talent he has. The Coyotes will jump on this opportunity.

 

15. Montreal Canadiens

Kimelman -- Cameron York, D, USA U-18 (USHL): York's hockey sense, poise with the puck and offensive ability helped him stand out on a talented NTDP team. His teammates say York (5-11, 172) has defensive ability that is vastly underrated, and scouts like how the bigger the game, the better he plays.

Morreale -- York: The left-handed shot is mobile, elusive and has great vision.

Lepage -- York: York was the quarterback of the dominant NTDP team and has demonstrated good offensive potential.

 

16. Colorado Avalanche

Kimelman -- Krebs: Krebs showed skill (68 points in 64 games) and leadership by keeping his teammates focused after the franchise announced it was moving to Winnipeg.

Morreale -- Raphael Lavoie, C, Halifax (QMJHL): Lavoie (6-4, 199) plays a responsible two-way game and is versatile and effective playing wing or center. He's strong below the circles and makes smart decisions with the puck. With Dach already in the fold, the Avalanche get another promising center into their pipeline.

Lepage -- Arthur Kaliyev, LW, Hamilton (OHL): Kaliyev (6-2, 194) had an impressive season offensively; he was the only draft-eligible player in the Canadian Hockey League with at least 50 goals and 50 assists. Although some aspects of his game need work, including his stamina, especially late in shifts, Kaliyev could help the Avalanche solidify their offensive depth during the next few seasons.

 

17. Vegas Golden Knights

Kimelman -- Kaliyev: After Caufield, Kaliyev might be the best goal scorer in the 2019 Draft. 

Morreale -- Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL): The left-handed shot played big minutes in all situations this season. Harley (6-3, 193) is adept at finding open shooting and passing lanes and will generate offense naturally no matter where he's playing.

Lepage -- Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL): Suzuki (6-1, 180) didn't have a season that met expectations some had for him, but Barrie's rebuilding efforts played a role too. He's a very skilled player, has a high hockey IQ and has shown a willingness to skate the puck through the middle of the ice to make plays.

 

18. Dallas Stars

Kimelman -- Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SWE): The right-shot defenseman has a calmness and maturity to his game that has impressed scouts. He skates the puck well and has an emerging offensive game, and his hockey IQ helps him be in the right position defensively to break up plays. The Stars have good young defenseman already in the NHL in Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg, but they need to add more; they've taken one defensemen each of the past three drafts, Heiskanen and sixth-round picks Jakob Stenqvist (2016, No. 176) and Dawson Barteaux (2018, No. 168).

Morreale -- Kaliyev: He has an NHL-caliber shot and high hockey IQ. A powerful skater below the dots and the offensive zone and knows how to get open to create chances.

Lepage -- Lavoie: The rejuvenation of the Stars defense is working wonders so now it's time for some new blood up front.

Video: Cosentino highlights top defensemen in 2019 NHL Draft

 

19. Ottawa Senators (from Columbus Blue Jackets)

Kimelman -- Suzuki: Suzuki is one of the best pure playmakers in the draft. 

Morreale -- Suzuki: He has good straightaway speed to break away from defenders and can make quick decisions at top speed. 

Lepage -- Harley: A reliable player who would fit in nicely with young defensemen Erik Brannstrom and Thomas Chabot.

 

20. Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers)

Kimelman -- Harley: His size, skill and mobility, would add great depth to the system, especially following the trade of Jacob Trouba and the potential departure of unrestricted free agent Tyler Myers.

Morreale -- Soderstrom: A solid two-way defenseman with excellent vision, creativity and an understanding of his role in both ends of the ice.

Lepage -- Soderstrom: Trouba's departure could hurt in the short term, but in Soderstrom they would get a reliable defenseman that could make up for it down the road.

 

21. Pittsburgh Penguins

Kimelman -- Lavoie: His mix of size and scoring touch makes him an appealing prospect.

Morreale -- Seider: A two-way defenseman with a sound positional game is at his best in the defensive zone. 

Lepage -- Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City (USHL): The forward averaged 1.58 points per game in the USHL, most among any player with at least 25 games. Brink (5-8, 165) needs to work on his skating but has what he needs to compensate for that offensively. He'll play next season at the University of Denver.

 

22. Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto Maple Leafs)

Kimelman -- Brink: The Kings need skilled offensive players and Brink showed this season he's got a ton of high-end ability. His playmaking and high hockey IQ could put him on the fast track to the NHL.

Morreale -- Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (FIN): Heinola (6-foot, 178), one of the most improved players in Finland, is an excellent skater with hockey sense. He has a lot of patience and plays with confidence. He had 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) and a plus-7 rating in 34 games in Liiga.

Lepage -- Seider: Seider took on more responsibility during the season, impressive for a player his age at the pro level.

 

23. New York Islanders

Kimelman -- Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara (OHL): Tomasino plays the game at a high pace and can make quick decisions to set up teammates for Grade-A scoring chances. At 6-foot, 183 pounds, he needs to get bigger and stronger, but it's his skating and speed that will get him to the NHL.

Morreale -- Tomasino: A dynamic finisher who can create time and space, works very hard and is tough to contain.

Lepage -- Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL): The Islanders have not been afraid of drafting players from the QMJHL and they could be tempted by the league's most productive prospect this season. Pelletier (5-9, 165) had 89 points (39 goals, 50 assists), second among under-18 players in the league.

 

24. Nashville Predators

Kimelman -- Egor Afanasyev, LW, Muskegon (USHL): Afanasyev (6-3, 204) is a burgeoning power forward with a hard, heavy shot he's able to get off from anywhere in the offensive zone. He could add strength and skill to a Nashville power play that was last in the League during the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs. He'll play next season with Windsor in the OHL.

Morreale -- Brink: Brink is hard to hit, elusive down low and makes players around him better.

Lepage -- Tomasino: One of the youngest draft-eligible forwards, he won't turn 18 until July 28. His 200-foot game and consistent performance makes him very appealing.

 

25. Washington Capitals

Kimelman -- Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough (OHL): The Capitals have done well adding young defensemen the past few seasons and now can turn their focus to forward. Robertson's size (5-9, 162) wasn't an issue for him in the OHL, where was second on Peterborough in goals (27) and points (55). He also was born Sept. 11, 2001, making him one of the youngest draft-eligible players. Scouts like his vision, hockey IQ, and passing ability, and he's also got a big shot for a player his size.

Morreale -- Afanasyev: Afanasyev can play a power-forward game and protect the puck well and has small-area skills that make him effective in the offensive zone.

Lepage -- Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL): The Capitals love big (6-1, 212), fast, offensive-minded forwards, and Poulin fits that profile perfectly. He had 76 points (29 goals, 47 assists) in 67 games, and was lauded for his professionalism and leadership off the ice. He's the son of former NHL forward Patrick Poulin.

 

26. Calgary Flames

Kimelman -- Brett Leason, RW, Prince Albert (WHL): Leason's vastly improved skating has made the difference for the 20-year-old this season, and allowed his full offensive skill set to be on display. Passed over the previous two years in the draft, Leason (6-4, 210) now has a chance to add more size and skill to a young forward group in Calgary.

Morreale -- Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL): In his first full season with London, McMichael (6-foot, 182) had 72 points (36 goals, 36 assists) and 10 power-play goals in 67 games. The left-handed shot is one of the smartest players in the draft. He has a solid two-way game with a skill set that's still developing. 

Lepage -- Heinola: Heinola is a very intelligent player who can bring a little offense, but his skating needs to improve. The Flames have time to let him develop.

Video: Cosentino on top 2019 NHL Draft prospects


 
27. Tampa Bay Lightning

Kimelman -- Heinola: Prospect depth at the position is needed, and Heinola's play showed him to be a player that could become a big part of the Lightning's top-four on defense in the next few seasons.

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

Lepage -- Nils Hoglander, LW, Rogle (SWE): The Lightning never have hesitated to give small prospects opportunities and Hoglander (5-9, 188) could be the next one. And if you're going to take a flyer, you might as well do it with a player with top-end work ethic. He had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 50 games in the Swedish Hockey League.

 

28. Carolina Hurricanes

Kimelman -- Pelletier: Fearless and skilled are two of the best adjectives to describe Pelletier's game. What he lacks in size he more than makes up for in determination and drive.

Morreale -- Hoglander: Hoglander is all about speed, skating and puck possession.

Lepage -- Leason: There still are a lot of question marks around Leason, but the Hurricanes may take the risk. 

 

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

Kimelman -- Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL): Thomson (6-foot, 186) had a seamless transition to the WHL this season from Finland, playing big minutes in key situations. Scouts like his game-breaking ability and powerful shot from the point. Adding Broberg and Thomson is a nice way for the Ducks to build talented depth for the future.

Morreale -- Leason: Leason is a power-forward type with good skill, vision, hockey sense, and puck protection. 

Lepage -- Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djurgarden Jr. (SWE-JR): After selecting a forward with their first pick, the Ducks could opt for a defenseman here. Not only is Bjornfot (6-foot, 193) responsible in the defensive zone, he showed some offensive flashes that are encouraging for the future, with 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 39 games.

 

30. Boston Bruins

Kimelman -- Poulin: A power forward with a high work ethic, scouts liked how Poulin got better as the season went on.

Morreale -- Thomson: A dynamic right-hand shot with high-end skill and skating ability.

Lepage -- Robert Mastrosimone, C, Chicago (USHL): The 5-10, 159-pound forward is an agitator who also can contribute on offense, much like Boston forward Brad Marchand. He will play for Boston University next season, putting him near Bruins management.

 

31. Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis Blues) 

Kimelman -- McMichael: He became the go-to player for London this season and responded in a big way. His vision and hockey sense should help him produce in the NHL.

Morreale -- Bjornfot: He's a solid all-around defenseman with few weaknesses. He skates well, plays a strong game and is tough to play against. 

Lepage -- McMichael: The forward did not start the season with a substantial role but managed to carve out a big season. With Dach and McMichael, the Sabres would add quality depth at center.

 

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