Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today our 2019 NHL Mock Draft – Lottery Edition.
We are less than a week away from the 2019 NHL Draft, and with that in mind, we are ready to release the annual LWOH NHL Mock Draft. We will go through the first two rounds of the draft, in four parts, breaking up the non-playoff teams and playoff teams.
For those who haven’t read the LWOH mock before here are the rules.
1) No trades except for those that have already been made by NHL teams.
2) A two-round Mock draft will be done in four parts. The first part comes out today. More parts will be added in time.
3) Clicking the Player’s name will bring you to a full scouting report.
So with that out of the way, I present the LWOH 2019 NHL Mock Draft.
2019 NHL Mock Draft Part 1 – The Lottery Picks
1.) New Jersey Devils – Jack Hughes, Centre, US NTDP, USHL
There has been plenty of debate over who should be the first overall pick this year. Ray Shero and the Devils opt for American centre Jack Hughes in our NHL mock draft. His dynamic skating and offensive ability give New Jersey a franchise player down the middle. Hughes will be a dynamic one-two punch with 2017 first-overall pick Nico Hischier. Hischier has been everything the Devils hoped for when they drafted him two years ago. Now with a chance to get an even better centre prospect, its something the Devils can’t pass up.
Hughes marries his elite skating with the soft and quick hands to handle the puck and make quick moves while skating at that top speed. With the way the NHL continues to emphasize speed and skill, Hughes is the perfect player to take advantage of those conditions. Hughes is an outstanding playmaker. He has great vision and anticipates the movements of teammates. His hockey IQ is extremely high. Hughes can make a tape-to-tape pass through tight areas. His skating ability allows him to speed up the play or slow it down, creating time and space for his linemates. Hughes also has an accurate shot and quick release. Hughes quick hands allow him to change the angle of his release and fool goaltenders.
This is the easiest pick in our NHL Mock Draft. There are two prospects who are a step above all others. With the Devils taking Hughes, the Rangers are pleased to take the Finnish forward, Kaapo Kakko. Kakko was a standout at the IIHF World Championships, helping Finland to a gold medal while proving that he is ready to be an impact player even when facing NHL opponents. Kakko is a very good skater. He has very quick feet giving him a great first step and strong acceleration. He also has great top-end speed and is tough to contain off the rush. The best part of his skating though is his strength and balance.
Kakko is a highly skilled winger who can create in a variety of ways. He has the soft hands to stickhandle in a phone booth and can protect the puck and extend plays. His wrist shot is extremely powerful and features a very quick release. He also has an effective one-timer. Kakko uses his soft hands to finish plays in tight. All of this makes him a pure sniper. However, he can also be an effective playmaker. When an opportunity presents itself, he can set up a teammate for a scoring chance. Kakko is a smart player who sees the play developing and makes the smart play. He has very good vision and can find an open teammate in front of the net. His soft hands and quick feet allow him to change angles and beat a defender to create a passing lane.
The Blackhawks have rebuilt their defence through recent drafts. While Henri Jokiharju was the first to make a true NHL impact this past season, playing 38 games, there are a number of other top-end prospects in the Hawks system, including Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Chad Krys, and Ian Mitchell. In Turcotte, the Hawks add a high-end centre prospect to their group. Turcotte comes from outstanding bloodlines. His father, Alfie Turcotte, was drafted in the first round of the 1983 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He played 112 career NHL games. His grandfather, Real Turcotte, played in the NCAA for Michigan State. Turcotte’s uncle, Jeff Turcotte, played in the OHL and ECHL. His cousin, Tara Turcotte, is also playing in the NCAA.
Turcotte is an excellent skater. Once he gets a step on a defender, he can take the puck to the net. When there is an opportunity, he can make a tough pass through tight spaces. Turcotte also has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release. His snapshot and slap shot are also very good. Alex Turcotte is relentless in his play, forechecking hard and causing turnovers in the offensive zone. He is a real thorn in the side of opponents. He also has plenty of skill, with his ability to control the puck and make plays while skating at top speed a real asset to his game.
Right now the team has a number of talented young defenders such as Samuel Girard, Cale Makar, and Conor Timmins. They also need scoring depth behind their first line, which is one of the best in hockey. However, the Avalanche have multiple first round picks and this gives them the ability to take the best player available at fourth overall in our NHL mock draft.
Bowen Byram is the clear best defence prospect in this draft and has the ability to be a game changer. Byram is a strong puck-mover, willing to make plays through the neutral zone and to push forward to create offence as well. He is not afraid to lead the rush or join it as a trailer. Byram has a very good shot from the blueline and the vision and passing skills to quarterback the power play. He understands how to get his shot on the net through traffic, using his lateral agility to open up shooting lanes. He is able to score in a variety of ways and can sneak down from the point to use his wrist shot or snapshot.
The Kings are in the midst of a rebuild. Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter are not getting any younger. The team’s top centre prospect, Gabriel Vilardi, has faced a number of injury setbacks and played just four AHL games last season. The Kings opt to take Dach, a potential franchise centre who could eventually replace Kopitar on the team’s top line.
At 6-foot-4 Dach has the size to be a powerful centre. Dach takes the puck to the net and is more likely to go through a defender than to try and make a deke to get around him. He is very tough to contain on the cycle, as he protects the puck well and this allows him to extend plays down low and wait for a teammate to get open or for an opposing defender to get out of position. Dach has very good vision and passing skills. He finds open teammates and sets them up for scoring chances in tight.
New Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman makes his first draft pick running the team where he became a legend as a player. The Wings need to build up their defence, but with Byram off the board, there just isn’t a defender worth taking at sixth overall. Yzerman goes forward taking Cozens, the 2018 WHL rookie of the year. At 6-foot-3 he has excellent size and is also a very good skater. This allows him to play a 200-foot game. Cozens agility and edgework are outstanding. He is able to make quick cuts and change directions quickly.
Cozens is a pure goal scorer. He has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release as well as the soft hands to finish in close. Cozens also has a good snapshot and slap shot. He is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice, establishing his position at the top of the slot, where he can fire in one-timers or provide the “high-screen” that many teams are using to great effect in recent years. With the puck on his stick, he is not afraid to take it to the front of the net. Dylan Cozens also sees the ice very well. He controls the puck in the cycle game before dishing to an open teammate. His hockey IQ is excellent.
The Sabres have a ton of young talent in their system and at this point its a matter of allowing that young talent to develop. Teams can only integrate so many young players at one time, also needing roster spaces for veteran players to provide leadership for the group. The Sabres also have two first round picks this year. This allows the team to draft Podkolzin with their first pick. Podkolzin might be the third most talented player in this draft, but there are concerns about his contract in Russia and how long it will be before he is in the NHL. The Sabres can afford to wait two or three years for him to come over.
Podkolzin has good stickhandling skills which make him tough to defend in one-on-one situations. He can beat defenders out of the corner, or off the rush. Podkolzin also has very good passing skills with the vision to find open teammates and the skill to open up passing lanes. He creates turnovers and offence through a strong forecheck, quickly putting pressure on defenders. Podkolzin is powerful and wins his battles on the boards and creates problems in front of the opponent’s net. The true standout area of Podkolzin’s game is his ability to be a sniper. A natural goal scorer, Podkolzin has a strong wrist shot with a lightning quick release.
The Oilers need to improve and improve quickly. With Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down the middle, the team has one of the best groups of centres in the NHL. The issue is that they have absolutely nothing to surround them with on the wing. With that in mind, we see them taking Matthew Boldy in our NHL mock draft. Boldy could be the perfect winger to compliment McDavid. He’s already proven to have chemistry with Jack Hughes, a centre whose game is built around his lightning-quick skating ability. His ability to play with Hughes could translate into playing with the game’s best player in McDavid.
Matthew Boldy is a pure sniper. He has an excellent wrist shot and release. It is close to being NHL calibre already. He also has a very good snapshot, slap shot and one-timer. Boldy has very good hands. He can make moves in tight to beat a goaltender. Excellent hand-eye coordination also allows him to tip in pucks and bang in rebounds. He even has a good backhand. Boldy is a smart player. He finds soft spots in the opposing defence when he does not have the puck, finding the space that allows teammates to set him up to get his shots off.
At the NHL level, the Ducks forward group has gotten old, quickly. Ryan Kesler may miss the entire season after off-season hip surgery. Corey Perry is heavily rumoured to be traded or bought out. Ryan Getzlaf is still playing at a high level but is not getting any younger. What many don’t realize though is that the Ducks have a number of young players knocking on the door. They also have an excellent group of relatively young NHL defenders. As such, they can turn things around quickly. In our NHL mock draft, they opt for the best player available with their first-round pick, adding a player who is able to excel both at centre and on the wing.
Zegras marries very good skating ability with the ability to handle the puck and make plays at top speed. He has very good vision and passing skills, helping him to be a primary playmaker on his line. He also has a high hockey IQ and good vision. Zegras anticipates the movements of his teammates and opponents, allowing him to find the open man and create quality scoring chances. He can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas as well as make a saucer pass to a teammate. Zegras is especially effective on the power play, where he can run the play from the half-boards.
With Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, and likely 2019 Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson leading the way, the Vancouver rebuild is well underway. Their system is well-stocked at every position and the Canucks are poised to make a big leap forward in the next several years. Alex Newhook is highly-skilled forward who played in the BCHL. He is headed to the NCAA next year. As talented as he is, he might need time before reaching the NHL, moving up slowly and adjusting to facing tougher competition. The Canucks can afford to give him that time, as they embed other young players in the team.
Newhook combines his sublime skating with the hands to make plays at top speed. He also has the smarts to seemingly always make a smart play with the puck. He has the ability to beat defenders with his finesse, and the power game to play in the dirty areas of the ice. Newhook sees the ice well and can find teammates to create a scoring chance. He has the passing skills through tight areas on both his forehand and backhand. Newhook is a playmaker both working the cycle game and off the rush. A multi-faceted offensive threat, Newhook also has a great shot and a quick release. His one-timer is a real weapon in the faceoff circles.
The Flyers have a ton of young talent on defence. They also have one of the best young goaltending prospects in the league in Carter Hart. While they also have a number of talented forwards, the one thing that can’t be taught and teams can’t get enough of is goal-scoring. There are questions about Cole Caufield’s size and there are questions about his skating but there cannot be any questions about his ability to put the puck in the net. He set an IIHF Under-18 record with 14 goals in the seven-game tournament. Playing with the US NTDP, he put up 72 goals in 64 games this season also breaking the goalscoring record for the program.
Caufield has an excellent arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are both deadly accurate and have good power. They also have very quick releases which fool goaltenders. Caufield also has a very good one-timer. He has a knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting his shot off. Caufield can even score on his backhand. He is not afraid to battle in the dirty areas of the ice and goes hard to the net. When he is there, he can score on rebounds and deflections due to his soft hands and excellent coordination.
Wild general manager Paul Fenton made his name in the Nashville Predators organization. The Predators have always worked under the philosophy that one can never have enough good defencemen. Our NHL Mock Draft predicts that he will follow that philosophy, taking Swedish defender Philip Broberg. At six-foot-three, Broberg has ideal size for a defender. He also has elite skating ability. The strong-skating allows Broberg to play an effective two-way game.
Broberg handles the puck well. He can take the puck out of danger and move it up the ice. He also has the ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone and create offence on the rush. Broberg also has good vision and passing skills. He starts the transition game by head-manning the puck and can play the point on the power play. Broberg moves well laterally and uses his ability to walk the line and change angles to create passing lanes. He is a creative player who can thread the needle with a tape-to-tape pass to set up a teammate. Broberg’s slap shot is hard but could use some improvement on accuracy and on his ability to get it through shooting lanes.
The Panthers have built up a strong group of young forwards led by Aleksander Barkov. Their top prospect, Henrik Borgstrom, played 50 games this year. While he didn’t light the world on fire, playing third line ice time, he should take the next step very soon. The team’s top-six has plenty of depth. Meanwhile, they could improve their blue line and have a real need for a young puck-mover. American defender Cam York fits this need to a tee, while also being one of the best players on the board.
York’s biggest asset is his hockey sense. He usually makes smart decisions both with and without the puck. York joins the rush and pinches at the right times. He also makes the right breakout pass and can skate the puck out of danger when necessary. This allows him to create offence while still maintaining his defensive responsibilities. York has excellent vision and the passing skills to quarterback the power play. He can put the puck through tight spaces and can set up teammates on both his forehand and backhand. He sees and anticipates the movements his teammates will make.
General manager John Chayka has shown that he values young centres. As centre is one of the hardest positions to fill in the NHL, drafting a number of top centre prospects is a good strategy. Even if a team ends up with too many centres, they can easily be converted into wingers or traded to fill other team needs. With recently injured centre Peyton Krebs falling down the board in our NHL Mock Draft, Chayka pounces to get a prospect who might have been a top 10 pick before he tore his Achilles.
Krebs is best known for his playmaking ability. He can thread the puck through extremely tight spaces, as well as make strong saucer passes. He is also good at passing the puck on his backhand. His strong hockey sense allows him to read the play and anticipate the movements of teammates and opponents. Krebs has excellent vision and finds the open man. His stickhandling is very good. When you couple this with his skating, he can create passing lanes with quick movements. If defenders back off to respect his speed, Krebs can take advantage of the added room by letting go a powerful and accurate wrist shot, with a quick release.
In last year’s draft, the Habs pounced on Jesperi Kotkaniemi, taking a prospect who had a big rise late in the season. They do the same this year, taking German defenceman Moritz Seider, a prospect who was a second or third rounder at best before the season began and has now risen into being a consensus top-20 prospect. His performance at the IIHF World Championship, playing a big role on the German team and facing NHL opponents solidified this rise up the boards and proved that he has the talent needed to be a top pick.
Seider pairs excellent size at 6-foot-4 with strong skating ability. Seider has an excellent skating stride. This gives him good speed in both directions, especially given his size. Seider moves the puck up the ice with good stickhandling and quick skating, as well as the ability to make a strong first pass. He transitions the puck out of his zone and is able to carry it effectively through the neutral zone. He is even willing to lead the rush at times. The stickhandling and poise with the puck on his stick are also useful on the power play. Defensively, Moritz Seider plays a physical game, looking to throw a big hit if an opposing forward challenges him down his side of the ice.