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NHL's 2019 Draft goes much deeper than just Hughes, Kakko

Options will be aplenty for Wild when it selects 12th overall

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

While there seems to be a consensus at the top of the 2019 NHL Draft, there promises to be plenty of intrigue after the first couple of picks come off the board.

All three teams picking in the first three of the draft won the lottery in April, with the New Jersey Devils sliding up to No. 1, the New York Rangers moving to No. 2 and the Chicago Blackhawks jumping the Wild and moving to No. 3.

The Colorado Avalanche, which entered the night with the best odds at receiving the top overall pick (via the Ottawa Senators' selection) dropped all the way to No. 4, the worst-case scenario for the Avs.

Up top, forwards Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko have received a bulk of the attention. 

Hughes, a dynamic American-born sniper, has been at or near the top of this draft class for a couple of years now. He did nothing to quell that momentum last season, scoring 112 points in 50 games for the U.S. National U-18 Team, a group he captained. 

Tweet from @NHLdotcom: Jack Hughes, the expected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, joins hosts @NHLAdamK and @mikemorrealeNHL for the latest NHL Draft Class presented by adidas

He also represented the U.S. at the World Junior U-18 Championship, the World Junior Championship and played with a team filled with NHLers at the World Championship last month in Slovakia.

Hughes has exceptional skill in the offensive end and elite speed. He's the consensus top-ranked player in the draft by almost every scouting service out there.

Despite that, Kakko has managed to make things interesting over the past 90 days.

Tweet from @NHLdotcom: Kaapo Kakko said critical moments in a game should be viewed as an opportunity to prove yourself in the clutch, particularly as the projected top European prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft.

A 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger from Finland, Kakko already looks the part -- at least physically -- of an NHLer. He scored 22 goals in 45 games with Liiga in the top league in Finland, and like Hughes, represented Finland at nearly every international event over the past year, including the World Championship, where he scored six goals in 10 games and helped the Finns to a second consecutive gold medal.

There is plenty of talent available on the board after Hughes and Kakko are picked, but where that talent lands is up for debate.

Centerman Alex Turcotte, another American-born centerman, seems to be the consensus third pick for the Blackhawks.

Kirby Dach, Trevor Zegras and Dylan Cozens are three more centermen expected to be picked not long after the top two come off the board. 

Defensemen Bowen Byram is the consensus top blueliner in the draft and could be a top-5 pick. If Byram doesn't go to Chicago, Colorado at No. 4 or the Los Angeles Kings at No. 5 are potential landing spots. 

Another defenseman, Philip Broberg, could come off the board not long after. 

One of the biggest wild cards in the top half of the first round is right wing Cole Caufield, a prodigious goal-scoring talent that will skate for the University of Wisconsin this fall. Caufield has earned comparisons to Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat for his offensive prowess, but also for his 5-foot-7 frame. 

Tweet from @NHLdotcom: Cole Caufield of USA Hockey's Under-18 National Team Development Program could turn out to be one the best goal scorers of the 2019 NHL Draft, writes @mikemorrealeNHL

Caufield is among a handful of prospects who could be taken off the board in the top-5 or even fall to the range of the Wild picking 12th overall.

Left wing Matthew Boldy and right wing Arthur Kaliyev, as well as Russian Vasili Podkolzin all, have the offensive pedigree to potentially be on the Wild's radar at pick 12. 

Spencer Knight has established himself as the clear cut No. 1 goaltender available in the draft and may be the lone netminder selected in Round 1. 

Knight, who will head to Boston College in the fall, has prototypical size and athleticism and could go off the board anywhere between the top-10 to the middle-20s.

Among draft-eligible Minnesotans, forward Bobby Brink is likely to hear his name called first. A former Minnetonka Skipper who played for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL last season, Brink is likely to return to the USHL before heading off to the University of Denver in 2020. 

Tweet from @Musketeerhockey: The best forward in the USHL has been in Sioux City all season long. We knew it the whole time and now we have the proof!Bobby Brink has been named the USHL Forward of the Year!📰:

Brink had a monster first full season with the Musketeers, posting 35 goals and 33 assists in 43 games. He missed 19 games because of his participation in the World Junior A Challenge, where he sustained a broken ankle, but returned and seemingly never missed a beat. 

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