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 Second Round – Picks 47-62
The Avalanche continue to build their offensive depth with their second-round pick. Holmstrom has excellent hands. He can control the puck while moving at top speed. He combines his hands with his excellent agility to create space to set up teammates. Holmstrom changes angles and creates openings to pass the puck. He has outstanding vision and can pass the puck through tight spaces, both on the backhand or the forehand. He is an intelligent player who reads the play well and anticipates where his teammates are going. Holmstrom controls the puck down low on the cycle, giving teammates time to get open for a scoring chance. Holmstrom can also play the role of goal-scorer. His soft, quick hands translate in tight to the net. His ability to change the angle on his shot is also useful. Holmstrom has a good wrist shot with a quick release.
Previous NHL Mock Draft Pick: Arthur Kaliyev
The Golden Knights added a pure scorer in the first round. In the second round, they add a two-way centre prospect. Beecher is able to play a power game. The majority of his goals are scored in tight to the net. He has the quick hands to pounce on rebounds, get deflections, and bang in one-timers. He also has the soft hands to deke a goaltender in tight. Beecher’s size and power allow him to get the puck to the net as well as to battle for position in close to the goal when he doesn’t have it. Beecher can also play the role of playmaker. He extends plays on the cycle, controlling the puck down low and giving his linemates time to get open. He shows the quick hands and the agility to make creative moves to shake a defender and open up a passing lane.
The Rangers continue their rebuild by taking the best player available. Legare is a natural sniper. He has an outstanding array of shots. His wrist shot is close to NHL ready. It is strong as well as accurate. It also features a very quick release. Legare finds a way to get open inside the faceoff dots and converts teammate’s passes. Legare is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice and has the quick hands to finish in close. He is willing to play a physical game. Legare also forechecks effectively, forcing turnovers and creating offensive opportunities. Legare can also play the role of playmaker. He controls the puck well down low, protecting it in the cycle game and creating opportunities for teammates.
50.) Montreal Canadiens (from Vegas via Columbus) – Patrik Puistola, Left Wing, Tappara, SM Liiga
After adding a pair of defenders, the Habs look to add a sniping winger to their prospect pool. Puistola’s skating improved this year. He has good, but not great top-end speed as well as a good first step and strong acceleration. His quick feet are also evident in his agility and edgework. Puistola can make quick cuts and changes in direction, making him difficult to contain one-on-one. If he gets a step on a defender, he cuts to the front of the net. Puistola needs to improve his core strength. This would improve the power in his stride and his strength on the puck.
Puistola has excellent offensive skills and instincts. A pure sniper, he has an excellent wrist shot with a lightning quick release. He also has a very good snapshot and one-timer. Puistola combines his skating with quick hands and the ability to make plays at top speed. He can beat a defender with a quick move to open up a passing or shooting lane. Without the puck, Puistola needs to get stronger to battle in front of the net. He prefers to find open space in the slot to take a pass and fire it on the net. With the puck, he is willing to drive the net and has the soft hands to finish in tight. While his goalscoring ability overshadows his playmaking skill, Puistola can be a set-up man as well.
After trading their first-round pick for Kevin Hayes, the Jets make their first pick of the draft at 51st overall. The strength of the Jets prospect group is the team’s forwards right now. They look to the Kelowna Rockets, the defence factory of the WHL, in order to add more depth to their roster. Korczak has decent stickhandling and combined with his skating avoids forecheckers and moves the puck up the ice. He makes a strong first pass as well, starting the transition game. Poised with the puck, he makes solid passes in the offensive zone. However, Korczak plays a very safe and simple game. He is not one to make a lot of fancy moves to create passing lanes or set up teammates for scoring chances. Instead, he finds the open man and keeps the puck moving.
Korczak’s calling card is his defensive game. His strong skating ability leads to outstanding gap control. He is very difficult to beat one-on-one, whether that be on the rush or containing his man on the cycle. Korczak plays physical, separating his man from the puck with a big hit, battling for loose pucks, and clearing the front of the net. He is also very good positionally and uses his frame and long stick to block shots and cut down passing lanes. He must continue to get stronger to play this style at the NHL level.
Previous Mock Draft Pick: Cam York
After getting Cam York in the first round, the Panthers continue to improve their defensive depth in the second round. Johansson combines strong skating with very good stickhandling. He can control the puck through the neutral zone, rushing it up the ice. Johansson makes smart reads and generates clean zone entries at the offensive blue line. He avoids defenders and can create space. He is also poised with the puck at the blue line, quarterbacking the power play and giving his teammates time to get open. Johansson has good vision and makes smart breakout passes. He is also able to move laterally to open up passing lanes and can set up teammates in the offensive zone. Johansson has power in his slap shot but needs to work on his accuracy.
The Leafs moved their first-round pick in the Jake Muzzin trade. With their first pick, they address an organizational need. While Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Nazem Kadri are outstanding at the NHL level; the Leafs prospect pool is thin at centre. Nikolayev can be frustrating in his inconsistency. His offensive hockey IQ is questioned as he doesn’t always make smart plays. At his best, he moves the puck with quick passes. He finds open teammates and sets up scoring chances. He also protects the puck allowing teammates time to get open. Nikolayev is more of a playmaker than a shooter. His wrist shot is accurate but lacks power and he could improve his release. He played the point at the Under-18s, where he had a chance to show off his slap shot. It was decent, but not overpowering.
He is willing to play a physical game. Nikolayev is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice needed to make plays and generate chances. Nikolayev is also a smart defensive player. He is extremely well positioned, always between his man and the front of the net. He forces the puck to the outside and cuts down passing lanes. Nikolayev has been a key penalty killer on his international squads.
54.) Detroit Red Wings (from NYI via Vegas) – Jordan Spence, Right Defence, Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL
After taking Kokkonen earlier in the round, Detroit continues to add defensive depth with their third pick in the draft. Spence’s offensive game is based on his puck moving ability. He has the puck control to skate the puck out of danger and past forecheckers. Once he sees an open man, he passes the puck up the ice. Spence is more likely to look for a short, safe, breakout pass than the long bomb. He also has poise and controls the play well at the opposing blue line. He uses his agility to open up passing and shooting lanes. Spence sees the ice well and can make quick passes to teammates, setting them up for scoring chances. Spence is not much of a shooter. His slap shot lacks power. He looks to sneak down from the blue line and get off a wrist shot from the top of the circles.
After adding two smooth skating Americans, the Devils look overseas. Grewe has the versatility to play a two-way game at all three forward positions. He plays a power forward style. Grewe loves to throw his weight around. He gets in quickly on the forecheck and creates havoc. Once he gets the puck, Grewe controls it well below the hash marks. He cycles the puck, using his body and stickhandling to protect it. He moves the puck to a linemate and gets open for the give and go. Grewe extends possession, waiting for teammates to get open. He has the vision to find them as well as the ability to pass the puck through tight areas and create a scoring chance. He isn’t the most creative player though. Grewe doesn’t look to deke past players, preferring to keep the puck moving through passes.
Previous NHL Mock Draft Pick: Bobby Brink
With strong defencemen already in their prospect pool, the Capitals look for more offensive firepower in the system. Fagemo loves to shoot the puck and will do so at any opportunity. He has an accurate, powerful wrist shot and quick release. He has a knack for finding open space to take a pass from a teammate and fire the puck on the net. Fagemo also has a very good one-timer. He is a good stick handler. Fagemo combines a number of quick moves with his speed and agility in order to get past defenders or simply to make a small move and create space to get his shot off. When his feet are moving he is good at controlling the puck down low on the cycle. He is willing to go to the net, driving there with the puck and looking to get open and make a play without it.
Previous NHL Mock Draft Pick: Connor McMichael
The Islanders continue to build up their centre depth with their second pick. Alexandrov’s stride is short and choppy. Despite this, he is able to generate good but not great speed. His acceleration is even better, as he reaches top speed in just a few strides. Alexandrov’s game is a mix of skill and power. He is strong enough to get the puck to the front of the net. This is where he creates the majority of his offence. Alexandrov drives the net as well as having soft hands to finish in tight. He can make a quick move to get by a defender or to open up a passing lane. Alexandrov’s ability to control the puck in the cycle game allows him to extend plays and wait for teammates to get open in front of the net.
With their fourth pick in the top sixty, the Rangers go back to the OHL and add a right-handed defender. Constantinou pairs strong skating with very good stickhandling ability. He handles the puck well and is able to make plays while moving at top speed. He retrieves the puck quickly and starts the transition game. Constantinou has the ability to beat forecheckers and skate the puck out of dangerous areas as well as lead the rush through the neutral zone. Constantinou loves to do so and is a big risk taker from the back end. Most of the time these risks work out for him, but he can make a big giveaway from time to time. Constantinou also has a very good wrist shot and a good release. He likes to sneak down from the point and take that shot from the top of the circles.
The Hurricanes make their fourth pick of the draft, and after adding three forwards, now opt to grab a defender. Carolina has a great group of young blueliners already, so can afford to take Thrun who will need some time in college and then the AHL. Thrun could become an effective puck-moving defenceman with the ability to play top-four minutes if he develops properly. He will need to continue to work on his defensive game, with his play away from the puck needing some work. He also needs to continue to add muscle to his frame. With his plan to attend Harvard, Thrun will get the opportunity to hit the weight room and improve in that area.
With their fourth pick of the round, the Red Wings can afford to take a goaltender, even if he is a three or four-year project. At 6-foot-3, Kochetkov has great size. He makes the most of it by coming well out of his net to cut down angles and challenge shooters. He can even become too aggressive at times, getting caught out of his net and making it difficult for him to get side-to-side in the crease. Kochetkov is athletic and can get himself back into position to make a desperation save. This is the rarity though. For the most part, Kochetkov plays a controlled game with strong technique. He has quick legs and takes away the bottom of the net. He also gets in and out of his butterfly extremely quickly. Kochetkov’s quick reflexes are also an asset for the upper part of the net.
The Devils return to the USHL for the third time in their four picks. Helleson uses his strong skating ability to play a good defensive game. He forces attackers to the outside and protects the middle of the ice. While he is not a big hitter, he uses his big body effectively to put attackers in bad positions. He is willing to battle opponents on the boards or in front of the net. Helleson uses his stick effectively. He poke-checks opponents, stealing the puck and transitioning it quickly up the ice. He also does a very good job of cutting down passing lanes. Helleson reads the play well. This helps him to anticipate where the next pass is going and get in the way. Helleson may never become a huge scorer, but projects as a steady two-way defender going forward.
The new Stanley Cup Champions make their first pick of the draft as their first rounder was used to acquire Ryan O’Reilly. With a strong prospect group, the Blues go for the best player available. They can afford to take a chance on a boom or bust prospect. Cajkovic, the first overall pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, did not put up impressive numbers in the QMJHL with just 46 points. However, he was on a weak team and still led the squad in scoring by 12 points. Overall only five other players on the team scored over 30 points.
There have been flashes of brilliance this year, though they have not come as consistently as hoped. It is clear that Cajkovic has dynamic offensive skills. The question is how much of his reduced production is lack of consistency and how much is the fact that he had very little in the way of offensive support. He is an excellent stick handler, who can use his moves to beat defenders one-on-one. His creativity creates space and opens up passing and shooting lanes. Cajkovic finds open teammates with a quick pass and has the vision to see scoring opportunities as they develop. His skating allows him to get in quickly on the forecheck and create turnovers. He also has the ability to score goals both in tight to the net and with an excellent wrist shot.