*Draft order as of June 13, and does not reflect unofficial trades or reports
Given the heavy American influence in the New Jersey organization, this is as automatic of a pick as there is. Not sure Jack Hughes is on Patrick Kane's level, but I do believe he has a higher upside than Nico Hischier. Steps in and plays top-six minutes right away.
A slam dunk second-overall pick for the New York Rangers. Kaapo Kakko will join exciting prospects Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov in the Rangers' rebuild.
If I were the Chicago Blackhawks I would take Bowen Byram, but the Hawks have a group of very good D prospects: Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin and Henri Jokiharju are all 1st Round picks. So I think they will take the skilled center, who is a hometown kid here at No. 3.
Joe Sakic showed, with the impressive haul on the Matt Duchene trade, tremendous patience. Yes, the Avs now have right-shot D Cale Makar to go along with Tyson Barrie. But I see the Avs recognizing that Byram is simply too good to pass here. In my opinion, he is the best offensive defenceman to come out of the WHL since Scott Niedermayer. He also might be able to play in the NHL right away.
The Kings saw a lot of Kirby Dach when he was the best player on the ice in Games 2 and 3 versus the powerhouse Prince Albert Raiders in the Round 2 of the WHL Playoffs. Longtime Kings Western Canadian scout Brent McEwen is based right in Saskatoon. Dach has a high ceiling, drawing comparisons to Ryan Getzlaf.
The U.S. National Team Development Program is based in Plymouth, which is about 30 minutes from Detroit. The Red Wings need help everywhere. Trevor Zegras plays with some bite and can play both centre or wing.
Buffalo won the lottery last year and got stud left-shot defenceman Rasmus Dahlin. You could see Dylan Cozens and Zegras flipping here. But despite the fact that some draft pundits have Cozens sliding, I think he goes in the top seven. A 6-foot-3, right-shot C/W, he has an enticing skill package.
An elite skating left-shot D, Philip Broberg got on the radar screen with an impressive performance at last summer's Hlinka Gretzky Cup and book-ended his draft year leading Sweden to gold at the World U-18 Championship this spring. Best available player left for the Oilers here, despite the fact you can make the argument that Edmonton should be looking at a forward.
The late bloomer has gone through two drafts. But a skilled 6-foot-4 right-winger could still be there after being seen as a late first rounder for much of the season. Leason is an Alex Chiasson-type player to me.