2019 NHL Draft: Top 62 Prospects

FINALLY, I have a new piece out.  FINALLY, I have my top 62 prospects list done.  FINALLY tomorrow I’ll put out a mock draft (normally I do five a year, this year, unfortunately, it’ll only be one).  I’ve been extremely busy this year working on other things.  That made my draft work even harder to get done to my perfectionist level than in years past because I was playing catch up.  I started working on this list around Memorial Cup time and figured I’d still put out two or three.  But again, I was playing catch up and literally JUST got this finished early this morning (it’s out at 8 AM MST, I’m writing this part at 12:10 AM MST).  And I’ll be honest because I was playing catch up this whole time and was up against it, I’m not sure it’s my best or even good work.  It’s still going to be much better than some shit out there though!

 

I don’t like this draft too much.  The top end is pretty good.  The very top of the draft probably compares well to a draft like 2008 where you have sure-fire All-Star players, but not generational talents.  Then around 16 (give or take) it really falls off into a group of talented kids with big warts, and then takes another dive around 25.  In time, I doubt we see much quality coming out of rounds 2-4.

 

As I always say around this point, I’m not a scout.  These rankings are much more like Bob McKenzie’s in that I’m not getting to see these kids as much as I need to declare myself a scout.  What I do is look through every quality and trusted write up I can find on these kids, every piece of video I can find, and then form my own opinion from there.  So I rely heavily on guys like Mark Edwards and Hockey Prospect (specifically the Black Book, if you’re a draft fan it is a MUST get, amazing every year), Future Considerations, even though I don’t normally agree with how he ranks his players I read and have big-time respect for the work Corey Pronman does, same goes for Steve Kournianous (who also does a good podcast that’s a great listen), specifically with the OHL kids a couple of great guys to follow are Brock Otten and my buddy Sean Patrick Ryan do great work and have great insight.  I couldn’t do my own rankings without these guys doing far better work than what I do.  But I will say I don’t simply take the averages of where these guys rank players and call it a day.  I have my own insights on what I’m looking for, so I take their reports more so than their rankings or opinions, couple it with what I’ve been able to see and create a list of my own (and as you’ll see, I definitely do MY OWN rankings).

 

What do I look for?  A lot.  First and foremost skating is most vital.  Skill is obviously extremely important.  IQ is huge though you won’t see me use “hockey sense” very much as I believe in IQ in general over “hockey sense” (theory being that sometimes players are so talented they might not have to think the game coming up, but if they have a high IQ that it will come).  I MUCH prefer playmakers to snipers.  Playmakers are often more intelligent players, and playmakers can play with other playmakers while it’s extremely rare that snipers work well with each other.  I’m not near the “sizest” that I once was, but still am likely more of a size guy than most seem to be.  One thing I will now value a bit more moving forward is players being NHL ready.  Reason being with ELC’s only being three years, a team shouldn’t be wasting the majority of the contract on developing a player, so I won’t be as hot as I’ve been in years past (last year, Serron Noel) on a player who is much more of a project.  When I dig into the numbers, I want to know who the damage was done against, who were they playing with, and what the situation was (ES?  PP?  SH?).  Something I’m not as high on as most is “dynamic”.  I get why scouts love it, and I don’t disregard it, but you don’t get style points in hockey.  If you can toe drag a junior defenceman, it really doesn’t mean much because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that in the pros.

 

Is that enough for you?  Well that is just what I like in my players.  After all that, I then look for five big things: Current production, ceiling/upside, downside, how the players game will translate, and acquireability (I’m making this a word).  I guess the most simple way to put it for “acquireability” is I put a higher value on assets or player types which are tougher to acquire mostly due to how difficult it is to make a trade in today’s landscape and how crippling UFA can be.  I don’t disregard wingers nearly as bad as I used to (2015, put Mitch Marner 7th in my rankings…OOPS…) but centres and defencemen are more difficult and more valuable pieces to land, so they get preferential treatment in my rankings.

 

I’m going to take a minute to brag a bit.  My comparisons are much more spot on than anyone else.  FUCK ME are there a lot of awful comparisons out there.  Craig Custance just did a piece for the Athletic on who the kids in this draft compare to and they were beyond eye rolling.  And in fairness to Craig, I don’t believe he was the one making them but he got them from someone who SHOULD be in the know.  I take my time thinking of them and try to get them as accurate as can be.  With so many people, it seems as though they take one aspect of a players game and say it reminds them of a player.  I need a lot more than one aspect.  And it doesn’t mean I’ll get them all spot on obviously, but I’ll put my comp’s up against anyones.  Other people BADLY need to clean that up.

 

Finally, I do tiering.  More people do it now thankfully, and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t quite frankly.  Do some scouts truly believe there is a definitive gap between every prospect?  There are so many cases where kids are so indistinguishable as prospects, that a team is bound to go with the biggest need within a tiering.  You don’t pick need over the best player available (BPA).  But you also can’t ignore team building, especially in a league where it is increasingly more difficult to make trades.  So you shouldn’t disregard which tier I have players in.  That is more vital in my mind then whichever number a guy is overall.

 

Got all that?  Let’s proceed.

 

Tier one

1. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 26  A: 45  P: 71

DOB: 06/13/01

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

I’m ACTUALLY going to do this apparently…Ok, so I don’t like doing things for shock value, click bait, any of that shit.  Hate it.  If someone is reading this right now and thinking that’s what I’m doing here, A) I don’t blame you, and B) just hear me out and know I’m not looking to sell you on it but just laying out why I believe this.  I’ll also say/admit, I don’t know if I’d have the balls to say this if I were a GM.  I think I would, but I’m not, I’m just an unpaid blogger with an opinion.  Byram isn’t going to be better than Hughes or Kakko next season (Byram should go back to Vancouver).  He might not be for his entire ELC.  But I do believe that in time, Byram will be the top guy to come out of this draft.  I personally see him having all the tools to be a legitimate number one defenceman, which is the most difficult piece for an NHL team to find.  The other thing in this is that Kakko is a winger, and I’m not sure Hughes can successfully play the middle in the show.  I find myself having bigger questions of Hughes playing the middle than I do of Byram becoming a number one D-man.  And if I really believe that, then I have to put him 1st on my list.  I could look like a complete jack ass for doing it, and I’ll be the first to admit it.  And I know some will probably draw a parallel between this and Chiarelli moving Hall for Larsson.  I get it.  But this is what I believe.  The kid has elite IQ, skating, vision, puck moving, escapability, gap control, engages physically, great stick, he apparently was one of the best interviews at the draft, the kid has it all.  You could be extremely nitpicky and say his shot isn’t the best.  A) teams are moving away from having that “bomb” from the point on the PP, and B) that is something which is easy to develop (not to mention he has a decent shot that’s very accurate already, it’s no muffin).  Then, of course, you have the fact that the kid was the leading scorer in the WHL playoffs.  This seasons Vancouver Giants squad weren’t loaded, and they went to game 7 of the league final, thanks to Byram.  It’s also not as if I view Byram as being a world above Hughes or Kakko.  I have all three VERY close to each other.  Think of the Blackhawks run and ask yourself “who would you rather have, Kane or Keith?”  You could debate that one all day.  For me, that would be extremely close, but in the end, I’d have to say Keith.  And in this case, I’m saying Byram and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  Worse things have happened.

 

2. Jack Hughes

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 24  G: 12  A: 36  P: 48

DOB: 05/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

Me putting Hughes 2nd has nothing to do with disliking Hughes and everything to do with being THAT high on Byram.  But I will go back to the concerns of him being able to play the middle.  There aren’t many centres sub 5’11 in the league, and those who are can usually play an elite 200-foot game (Aho, Point).  Not to suggest he can’t, but he’s far from a certainty to do so.  Don’t get any of this twisted though, I fully believe he’s going to be a star and one of the most exciting players in the league.

 

3. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 16  P: 38

DOB: 02/13/01

Comparison: Marian Hossa

Hughes is a shit ton of flash.  HIGHLY skilled kid.  It won’t stun me though if Kakko is the more valuable player.  Kakko shows a lot of signs of being a complete winger which is why most might feel I make the Hossa comparison, but the comparison is mainly in regards to their offensive games.  He is an equally great playmaker and sniper who has a rare combination of elite skill and tenacity.  And like Hossa, Kakko is near impossible to knock off the puck.  The only knock on Kakko is his skating, but we’re not talking about it being bad at all, he’s just not an elite skater.

 

Tier Two

4. Alex Turcotte

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G: 12  A: 22  P: 34

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Logan Couture

I have him in his own tier.  You thought having Byram first in my rankings was dumb?  I was SO close to having Turcotte in that same group.  The only thing that held me back from that was that I’m not sure if Turcotte can be a legitimate 1st line centre.  I feel extremely confident he can be an elite 2nd line centre, but I’m just unsure of what the offensive ceiling is going to be.  Man, I love this kids game though.  I have very little doubt he is going to be a centre who is capable of playing in any situation of the game.  A coaches dream.

 

Tier Three

5. Kirby Dach

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

So I have a lot of insight on Dach that maybe others don’t have.  I’ve read things like people questioning his passion for the game.  I’ve been told by really quality sources (who have bashed Dach at times) that’s a joke.  The kid is a “nerd” for the game.  Knowing that I then get into the numbers, upside, comparisons, etc and there are a lot.  1) I get the concern of only 73 points in 62 games, but it really was just one long drought mid-season rather than inconsistency all season.  Not something to be proud of at all, but much more likely that something else was going on.  Another way to look at it is he had 70 points in 49 games, which is a 96 point pace.  He was great early, great in the 2nd half, and pretty damn good in the playoffs too.  If it was more spread out, then I’d be more concerned.  2) Let’s not pretend the Blades have a lot of help for him.  It’s definitely not the same situation as Peyton Krebs had for help, but it’s not great either.  3) He’s probably still more raw than most realize.  He’s 198lbs but when you look at him, he’s a very skinny kid.  He’ll be able to put on another 20lbs still without hurting his speed, and the added strength as he gets older could increase his skating ability which is already well above average for a player this size.  4) If you look at the numbers Getzlaf put up in his draft year, or look at the numbers Draisaitl put up in his 17 year old season (he was a late draft), Dach beats them both.  Another big centre his numbers are right in line with (even though it’s a different league) is Mark Scheifele.  I get the concerns, but I feel as though a lot of people are looking at him wrong.  Detractors who I’ve read want to make the case that his numbers aren’t matching where some are ranking him.  For me, I see him as a guaranteed 3rd line centre, likely 2nd line centre, and then the upside is enormous.  People always question why bigger players like Dach still get so much love and in a lot of cases overrated in the draft.  Well, it’s because the draft is chess, not checkers.  There are going to be guys in the late 1st, 2nd round, 3rd round, etc. who are close to what a Zegras, Caufield, Newhook, or Tomasino are.  Those kids are all great, but you can find them.  If Dach comes close to his ceiling, it’s a damn near impossible to find a talent like this.  How many 6’4 RH shooting first line centres are there in the NHL?  Two?  Three?  They’re extremely rare and unique.  Has Getzlaf ever been available?  Not that I ever recall.  Has Scheifele?  No, and it’s highly unlikely Scheifele ever will be.  Ok, I think I’m finally done and I know I changed no minds on this, but for me, this is why Dach is in my top five.

 

6. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

Consider the organization he has been playing with.  Teams could key on Krebs every night, he had no help at all, and he was over a PPG player.  And he’s a playmaker.  My rule with playmakers is that they have an easier time playing pro hockey.  The higher level of hockey they play, the more they find players who can think the game on their level.  Across the board, he does everything well.  Speed, IQ, vision, 200-foot game, very willing to get his nose dirty and play physical, he’s very complete.  And then on top of that, all the intangibles check out.  He’s 100% captain material.  I see Krebs as one of the safest picks of the draft, even after the Achilles injury he’s sustained.  I do wonder if he’s a winger or a centre in the pros, but he has such a complete game that it’s difficult to bet against him playing the middle.  For me, he’s a lock to play in the league as a top-nine guy, with first line upside.

 

7. Trevor Zegras 

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 14  A: 26  P: 40

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

I love this comparison because it’s as Barzal as you can get, right down to the combine interview and reading about how some loved him, some hated him.  He’s cocky, he’s flashy, he’s incredibly talented and needs to reign it in a bit…remind you of anyone?  Like the case is with Krebs, I wonder if Zegras will play the middle or be better utilized on the wing.  But with Zegras it’s not because of his wheels, but an opportunity to play with more risk.  Then again you could argue that playing the middle gives him more opportunity to create.  I understand the concerns with his game, he’s really flashy.  He’s a lot like Rob Schremp at the same age.  The difference though is Zegras can skate, where Schremp couldn’t.  Also, if Schremp came along today he’d be given much more opportunity than he was from 2005-2011.

 

8. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

I have to say, I absolutely LOVE his game.  He’s multi-dimensional.  His shot is elite, he doesn’t use his teammates as often as he could or should but when he does he displays outstanding vision, he plays in your face, he plays physical, he has gamesmanship which is very difficult to find, I love talents who are difficult to find and he qualifies as this.  The skating is solid despite what some have said.  It’s not pretty, but he produces good high-end speed and the foot speed isn’t an issue.  If I’m a GM, I’m not too worried about him honouring the remaining two years of his contract as most of these kids will need a year or two to develop anyway!  But in saying all of this, the bust rate of Russian forwards in the 1st round has me unwilling to put him any higher than my 4th tiering and 9th overall.  It looks as though Andrei Svechnikov will buck that trend, but even if he does he will still be only the 2nd Russian forward taken in the top 25 since 04 to pan out (1 for 9 previous to the 2018 draft).  Those numbers are too damning to ignore.

 

9. Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

By now I’m certain you assume I have a strong bias for the WHL kids with Byram 1st, Dach 5th, Krebs 6th, and now Cozens making it four in my top nine.  Truth be told, I’m so much more concerned about getting the list how I would pick it if I were the GM of a team that it’s only hit me after the fact that it looks like I favour the dub kids.  Trust me, zero to do with a bias, everything to do with liking what the four kids bring to the table.  Ok, Cozens.  I’m seeing people down on him.  He’s a winger folks, quit judging him on how he performed as a centre this season because he’s not going to be a centre.  He has three things that are elite which are his size, speed and shot.  That’s a winger, and combine that with a willingness to play a physical game, I see Cozens being a stud on the wing.  But again, if you’re drafting him, don’t do it as a centre.  He doesn’t seem to have the elite IQ, vision or 200-foot game to play centre in pro hockey.  Maybe that’ll come in time, but if you just look at how his game translates to playing the wing, I’m not sure how you still aren’t going to be sky high on him?

 

Tier Four

10. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 38  A: 64  P: 102

DOB: 01/28/01

Comparison: William Karlsson

I like him a lot.  As I said earlier with Hughes, not a lot of sub 5’11 centres in the NHL and the ones that are all are terrific 200-foot players.  Crosby, Aho, Point, even a kid like Pageau.  Newhook I believe can stick in the middle though.  He shows a willingness to play that complete 200-foot game that everyone looks for out of their centres.  And while he’s only 5’10.5, he is already closing in on 200lbs which puts him around the same size as Sid.  Everything checks out with Newhook from a talent standpoint, the big concern obviously is he didn’t get to prove it at the highest of level’s this season.  I believe seeing him at the U-18’s put a lot of scouts minds at ease.

 

11. Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

If you watch clips of Boldy, I’m not sure you see a guy like JVR.  But what I see is Boldy developing into that kind of player in the pros.  It’s almost an identical skill set.  Both are great down low, great hands, obviously the size, puck protection, Boldy isn’t an overly physical player, but he also isn’t afraid to play in traffic.  That’s JVR.  Boldy looks to be a very safe pick as he doesn’t have a big flaw, but I don’t know how high his ceiling is.  If his skating improves a little, the sky is the limit.  If it doesn’t, he’s still going to be a hell of a top-six winger.

 

12. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 3  P: 7

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

I wonder we look back on this draft in a decade and all ask “how the hell did Soderstrom not go top 10?!”  I got him here obviously, 14th on McKenzie’s list, 13th in the Black Book, 11th for FC, 14th for EP, everyone seems to see him as a very safe bet, yet when you look at the tools he possesses this kid has a lot of offensive ability.  If that ever comes out in him, it’s not a reach to say that this kid can be a number one defenceman.  The problem is he didn’t really show it this season, and so pretty much everyone is left really liking him, but not loving him.

 

Tier Five

13. Cam York

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Mark Streit

Another D-man who was expected to have much higher numbers than he did.  Is that a product of playing with a loaded USNTDP team, or is he failing to live up to expectations?  I’m saying it’s much more the former.  I have trouble writing about York because the prototypical puck moving D-man is difficult to write about.  Good skater, high IQ, moves the puck extremely well, not very physical but is willing to go to the dirty areas on the ice.  Assuming the offence will be there, he should be a very solid top-four D-man, but the stats suggest that’s not a certainty.

 

14. Ville Heinola

Team: Lukko  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 12  P: 14

DOB: 03/02/01

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

Reminds me A LOT of Leafs 2018 1st rounder Rasmus Sandin.  He also lacked the high-end speed and flash that so many can get a little too wrapped up in.  The fact of the matter with both is that their IQ and puck moving are elite.  I personally love this type of defencemen.  I really regret not having Sandin higher than I did last year as they’re so composed under pressure and really quarterback the offence five on five.

 

15. Philip Tomasino

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 34  A: 38  P: 72

DOB: 07/28/01

Comparison: Jeff Skinner

Another kid who has the centre/winger question mark, so I play it safe and consider him a winger.  So I speak often of my buddy SPR and what he has to say on shit (especially when it comes to the OHL).  LOVES Tomasino.  I don’t recall him being as high on a guy as he is on Tomasino, and that includes the love in we shared with Robert Thomas two years ago.  The thing I love about Tomasino more than anything is 72 points, 58 of them at ES.  Couple that with hardly any PP time and a slow start while playing on the Ice Dogs third line (just 8 points in his first 16 games), those numbers could have been off the charts.  The biggest concern moving forward with Tomasino is a willingness to go to the tough area’s on the ice and get his nose dirty.  Everything checks out talent wise though.  Speed, skill, vision, hands, motor, across the board he’s very good.  I’ve become a big fan of his, the only real knock I have on him is just that I see him as an easy type to find.  You take the comparison to Jeff Skinner for example, and he’s far from a guy I’d dislike to have on my team, but there are a lot of guys just like Skinner around the league and are found later in the first round and later in the draft in general.

 

16. Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 29  A: 12  P: 41

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

I get the love in with the goal totals (115 total this season), but this kid has a lot of concerns some seem to be overlooking, and 5’7, 163lbs aren’t big ones for me at all.  He doesn’t skate well for his size, his play away from the puck isn’t good, but the biggest one of all that everyone seems to be sleeping on is this guy doesn’t create.  And if you can’t create in lower levels, I really question if you can even stick in the show.  Look at the best snipers of the last 20 years (which, I’m certain it goes back much further, but let’s keep it simple).  Guys like Ovechkin, Stamkos, Heatley, Kessel, Cammalleri who I compare him to, Draisaitl had 50 this season, DeBrincat whom so many want to compare him with, none of them had anywhere close to this kind of disparity in their goal and assist totals.  115 goals is SEXY!  And 44 assists is…WHAT?!?!  Couple that with the kids centring him this season.  Hughes, Turcotte, or Zegras.  All of them have the skill to be first line NHL centres.  How do you not pile up assists playing with that kind of talent?  I know they’re playmakers, but it doesn’t mean that any of them are incapable of getting open.  All Caufield does is shoot, and he has a HELL of a shot, not to mention terrific hands, but that game isn’t going to work in the pros.  You need to be able to move it to create space for yourself.  But before the homers for him go ape shit, it’s not as if I got Caufield “off my board”!  5th tier, 16th overall, pretty high ranking for a kid with skating and playmaking concerns!  But he’s got much further to go than most are acknowledging at the moment.  Most have him top 10, some even top 5.  That’s just extreme to me.  But to each their own.  If you’ve read my rankings before, this shouldn’t be a shocker.  Two years ago I was down on Owen Tippett and Eeli Tolvanen much more than most.  A great shot can be developed, great vision can’t be.  Let’s not confuse “has him lower in his rankings than others” with “hates him” though.  I don’t.  I just have concerns and view him as more of a gamble than some do.  Trust me, I’m well aware that if he makes it, he’s going to be a BLAST to watch!

 

Tier Six

17. Moritz Seider

Team: Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 2  A: 4  P: 6

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Brett Pesce

If you’re looking for the flashiest player in the draft…you shouldn’t look anywhere near Seider.  But if you want a safe, steady, top four defenceman then he’s your man!  There is offensive upside in Seider, but he has yet to really show that part of his game.  But he is a great skater, high IQ, moves the puck extremely well, good gap control, good stick, good on puck retrievals, doesn’t give up the blueline, everything defensively checks out.  And like I said, there is offensive upside with Seider.

 

18. Philip Broberg 

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

Tough to rank for me.  On one hand, the size and skating combination makes him a 1st round pick.  But that is kind of where it ends.  So as I always say with a “toolsy” kid, I’d want to know how the IQ is.  He’s an incredible skater.  That alone makes him a pretty safe pick.  But he really doesn’t have much else in his arsenal, so while he’s a safe pick, I tend to believe he is much more likely to just hit his downside (number five guy) than his ceiling.  He is the type of kid I’d need to interview in an attempt to figure out how much he is going to work on his game.  If he came off as a highly intelligent kid who acknowledged what his shortcomings were and a desire to fix them, then I love him.  But that would also come out a bit in his game and it hasn’t to this point.  It should be noted that he did do an interview at the combine with Bob Stauffer and he came off as a pretty intelligent kid, but there is a big difference between intelligent and having the IQ needed to be an elite defenceman.

 

19. Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 25  P: 29

DOB: 05/25/01

Comparison: Braydon Coburn

Look, I know his warts.  He’s got plenty.  But I also know that he is perhaps the best skater in this draft and when a kid is THIS good of skater, he’s well worth taking a shot on because at worst he’s useful, and it gives him a very high ceiling.  From everything I’ve read too, he’s a terrific kid, one of the best interviews at the combine.  I look at the other kids in this area and I’m finding myself saying “he needs three years, he needs four years” etc.  I believe if you give Kolyachonok that much time, then you could end up with one hell of a player.

 

20. Spencer Knight

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 193  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G.A.A.: 2.21  Sv%: .903

DOB: 04/19/01

Comparison: Carey Price

I hate using Price as the comp, but it’s the only one for him as their games and demeanour are so damn similar.  A goaltender at 20 is pretty rare on my list.  It’s a combination of a weak draft year in terms of depth, and also that Knight is damn good.  He moves effortlessly in net and is extremely technically sound.

 

21. Samuel Poulin

Team: Sherbrooke  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 29  A: 47  P: 76

DOB: 02/25/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

Something that I see that others aren’t talking about with Poulin is he plays a pro game.  I love his intangibles.  He wore the “C” in Sherbrooke this season, he works his ass off, his playoff numbers (14 points in 10 games) indicate he steps up his game when he needs to.  But intangibles mean nothing if they aren’t preceded by ability.  His skating isn’t GREAT, but it’s good.  His skill isn’t GREAT, but it’s good.  You add it all up, and you have a very safe pick.  For me, I really wonder if given the chance to play with a high-end centre down the line that he’s capable of putting up serious numbers.  It isn’t as if he’s surrounded by overwhelming skill in Sherbrooke.

 

22. Simon Holmström

Team: HV71  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 21  G: 7  A: 13  P: 20

DOB: 05/24/01

Comparison: Joonas Donskoi

I have him higher than most, but only because most are scared off at the fact he missed most of the season with a hip injury.  That doesn’t bother me near as much though.  One of the best motors in the draft who has a very solid skill set across the board (skating, skill, IQ, size), I’m very willing to roll the dice on this kid in the early 20’s if not sooner.

 

23. Bobby Brink

Team: Sioux City  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G: 35  A: 32  P: 67

DOB: 07/08/01

Comparison: Alex DeBrincat

Everyone wants to compare Caufield to DeBrincat because…it’s what people who don’t know what they’re talking about do.  While I rip on myself for not being a scout, the amount of research I do at least qualifies me to discuss things and have a valid opinion on guys.  Caufield isn’t DeBrincat, but Brink is.  He is small, and not a good skater, but this is a great kid who might will himself into a top-six role in the NHL.  His IQ, skill, compete are all extremely high.  But he is flat out a bad skater with maybe average top end speed.  I’m not down on him as a fan, but if I’m a GM I couldn’t justify taking him any higher than this.

 

Tier Seven

24. Thomas Harley

Team: Mississauga  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 11  A: 47  P: 58

DOB: 08/19/01

Comparison: Tom Gilbert

This is tough.  I completely understand anyone who has him in the 10-20 range.  IQ, skating, great puck mover, and size.  Terrific D-man, right?  Well, he’s terrible right now in his own zone.  And it’s not just a case of a kid needing to be coached up defensively, there are a lot of nights he’s not even engaged in his own zone.  Add to that, he apparently wasn’t a good interview at the combine.  So for me, I’m scared.  There is a lot of talent, but it sounds questionable whether the kid has the passion he’ll need to get to the pros.

 

25. Ryan Johnson

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 6  A: 18  P: 24

DOB: 07/24/01

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

Difficult to think of a guy who is 6’0, 170lbs, smooth skating and a great puck mover as a defensive defenceman, but that’s Johnson.  That was also Spurgeon up until the last few seasons, and Johnson also has the tools to make an impact at the offensive end of the ice.

 

26. Jamieson Rees

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 10  A: 22  P: 32

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Sam Bennett

So I got Rees higher than most do.  Here is the thing: A) weak draft bumps him up.  B) Jeff Marek uses this all the time and I believe he got it from Steve Spott, but the line is “I’d rather tame a tiger than paint tiger stripes on a kitten”.  Yep.  Rees isn’t big, and he isn’t super speedy for his size.  But he plays IN. YOUR. FACE.  When you’re seeing comparisons to players like Marchand, Gallagher and Konecny…those are extremely difficult types of players to find.  And I make no bones about it, I put a much higher value on things which are difficult to find, and a guy who plays on the edge is extremely difficult to find.  I completely understand the injury concerns, but chances are a guy will tone it down as he gets older and wiser.  Some may question the stats, but some have also questioned the organization and coaching in Sarnia.  In both the Hlinka/Gretzky last August and the U-18’s however, Rees was terrific (4 points in 5 games in the Hlinka/Gretzky, 8 points in 7 games at the U-18’s).

 

27. Nils Hoglander

Team: Rogle  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 7  A: 7  P: 14

DOB: 12/20/00

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

A terrific motor, and a kid with a lot of skill.  I believe it was in the Black Book I seen him compared to Bobby Brink and when I read up on the two kids…yeah, it’s spot on!  Hoglander is a little further down my list mainly due to the late birthdate but for me, if you had Brink and Hoglander side by side or Hoglander ahead of Brink I absolutely would understand.

 

Tier Eight

28. Connor McMichael

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 36  A: 36  P: 72

DOB: 01/15/01

Comparison: Jared McCann

McMichael put up good numbers this season, has good hands, good skater, high IQ, decent size, etc.  But the motor is just turned off far too much.  If the switch ever gets turned on though, someone is going to have a hell of a player on their hands.  I know people like his two-way game, but in what I’ve seen I see him being much better on the wing at the pro level.  But I say that only having watched a few London games, the U-18 games, and highlight packs of the kid.

 

29. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 25  A: 50  P: 75

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Craig Janney

If we are just talking skill, Suzuki has boatloads.  Terrific vision, great with the puck, it’s not difficult to see why this kid went first overall in his OHL draft year.  But he is strictly a perimeter player at this point and obviously, that’s a major red flag.  Maybe the most shallow draft since 2012 gets him up to 25 on my list (consider how much I value centres and pure playmakers), but I definitely won’t be putting him any higher.  Still, the talent is there to be a top-six forward in the NHL if he can ever get a little braver.

 

30. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Comparison: Alex Chiasson

Much like Suzuki which is why most have them ranked side by side like this. I don’t really love the idea of comparing him to another francophone (feels extremely lazy), but if you dig into it they’re extremely similar skill sets.  Neither is a great skater, but both have tremendous size and ability to protect the puck, both have heavy shots, and while Chiasson is more of a shooter now in his years at BU he consistently had higher assist totals.  So while I’m not certain I LOVE the comparison of Lavoie to Chiasson at this moment, I feel as though what we saw out of Chiasson this season could be what Savoie becomes if he is to have a successful NHL career.

 

31. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 51  A: 51  P: 102

DOB: 06/26/01

Comparison: Dany Heatley

So good, but so lazy, and I have massive concerns that this kid isn’t going to ever put in the work to make the NHL.  Look at those numbers though, you can’t blame anyone who ranks him top 20.  He’s not an OA, didn’t live off playing with another star, and didn’t do it in a joke of a league.

 

32. Pavel Dorofeyev

Team: Magnitogorsk  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 19  G: 17  A: 14  P: 31

DOB: 10/26/00

Comparison: Tevuo Teravainen

Yet another kid in this tiering who has terrific skill, definitely an ability to be a top six winger in the NHL, but a very questionable motor knocks him down to where in my books he’s a borderline 1st round pick.

 

33. Daniil Misyul

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 4  A: 6  P: 10

DOB: 10/20/00

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

Might be too high, but this kid can REALLY skate and works his ass off.  I compare him to Nurse even though I still believe Nurse is growing, but if someone who wasn’t a homer for Nurse were describing him, it would be pretty exact as to how you’d describe Misyul.  The combination of speed, size and compete makes him nearly a lock in my books to at least play in the league.  If he’s given the proper amount of time to develop, who knows how good he can be.

 

34. Matthew Robertson

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 03/09/01

Comparison: Alex Edler

There is also a lot to work with here.  Robertson doesn’t have the best puck skills and he doesn’t move the puck overly well.  But he is really mobile, as you can read he has good size, is great in his own zone, and is a very coachable kid.  To me, he’s a bit of a project because of the tools he possesses.  If I’m drafting him I’m giving him four years before looking to get him in the lineup.  You can’t teach elite puck skills or elite puck moving, but he doesn’t need to do that.  If he can simply get them to a level where they’re solid, he’s going to be a top four guy.

 

35. Lassi Thomson

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 186  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 17  A: 24  P: 41

DOB: 09/24/00

Comparison: Anton Stralman

There is nothing flashy about Thomson at all, but across the board this kid just does everything well.  These type of defenceman sometimes will surprise you because the position is so much more about high IQ, skating, and moving the puck then it is about flash.

 

Tier Nine

36. Mads Søgaard

Team: Medicine Hat  League: WHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’7.5  Wt: 199  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G.A.A.: 2.64  Sv%: .921

DOB: 12/13/00

Comparison: Ben Bishop

Massive tendy put up massive numbers and gave the Oil Kings fits in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

 

37. Albin Grewe

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 13  A: 21  P: 34

DOB: 03/22/01

Comparison: Ryan Hartman

I love this kid.  And I know people hate a lot of the dumb shit he does, but at 18, I feel very confident that a kid can grow out of that.  To me, it shows he has passion and is willing to do whatever he can to help his team win.  And it’s not as though he’s unskilled or can’t skate.  Good skater, good skill.  Again, rather tame a tiger than paint tiger stripes on a kitten.  Once he learns to settle down a bit, someone could have a hell of a player.

 

38. Jakob Pelletier

Team: Moncton  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: LW

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 39  A: 50  P: 89

DOB: 03/07/01

Comparison: Connor Brown

Terrific numbers this season as you can see.  Skating deficiencies are the big concern with Pelletier, but if he can overcome that then he’s going to play.

 

39. Nick Robertson

Team: Peterborough  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 162  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 27  A: 28  P: 55

DOB: 09/11/01

Comparison: Tyler Ennis

Very similar story with Pelletier and Robertson.  Really small, not a good skater, but the skill level is ridiculous.  Have to add, maybe the most unfortunate birthdate a person can have.

 

Tier Ten

40. Shane Pinto

Team: Lincoln  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 195  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 56  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

DOB: 11/12/00

Comparison: Carl Soderberg

 

41. John Beecher

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 14  P: 20

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: Matt Cullen

 

42. Brett Leason

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 36  A: 53  P: 89

DOB: 04/30/99

Comparison: Ryan Strome

 

43. Drew Helleson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

DOB: 03/26/01

Comparison: David Savard

 

44. Tobias Bjornfot

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 39  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Esa Lindell

 

45. Layton Ahac

Team: Prince George  League: BCHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 28  P: 32

DOB: 02/22/01

Comparison: Brian Dumoulin

 

46. Alex Vlasic

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 2  A: 13  P: 15

DOB: 06/05/01

Comparison: Joel Edmundson

 

Tier Eleven

47. Alexander Daryin

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 159  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 20  A: 15  P: 35

DOB: 08/16/00

Comparison: Kevin Fiala

 

48. Aaron Huglen

Team: Fargo  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 10  P: 14

DOB: 03/06/01

Comparison: Connor Sheary

 

49. Alexander Campbell

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 151  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 21  A: 46  P: 67

DOB: 02/27/01

Comparison: Anthony Beauvillier

 

50. Leevi Aaltonen

Team: Kalpa  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 24  P: 36

DOB: 01/24/01

Comparison: Bryan Rust

 

51. Rhett Pitlick

Team: Chaska  League: USHS

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 28  A: 33  P: 61

DOB: 02/07/01

Comparison: Drake Caggiula

 

52. Reece Newkirk

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 23  A: 36  P: 59

DOB: 02/20/01

Comparison: Andrew Shaw

Wasn’t commenting on any of these final 22 kids but I do want to say something about this one.  A kid who I without a doubt love more than most, probably all.  Reason being is it’s damn near impossible to find guys who are willing to be miserable “see you next Tuesday’s” to play against.  Teams need guys like Newkirk.  Some of the offensive damage he did was thanks to playing with Cody Glass, some of it was thanks to seeing softer minutes on his own line (again, thanks to Glass).  But 44 ES/PK points is still pretty solid.  Displayed a really high IQ when I’ve watched him.  Fully admit, 62 is likely going way overboard for ranking him, but I love kids like this and would bet big on him playing in the show some day.

 

53. Ethan Phillips

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 150  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 16  A: 27  P: 43

DOB: 05/07/01

Comparison: Arturri Lehkonen

 

Tier Twelve

54. Albert Johansson

Team: Färjestad  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 40  G: 5  A: 24  P: 29

DOB: 01/04/01

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

 

55. Jackson LaCombe

Team: Shattuck St. Mary’s  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 22  A: 67  P: 89

DOB: 01/09/01

Comparison: Vince Dunn

 

56. Jayden Struble

Team: St. Sebastian’s  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 205  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 10  A: 30  P: 40

DOB: 08/09/01

Comparison: Nikita Zaitsev

 

57. Mattias Norlinder

Team: MODO  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 30  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

DOB: 04/12/00

Comparison: Ryan Murray

 

58. Patrik Puistola

Team: Tappara  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 175  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 01/11/01

Comparison: Brandon Pirri

 

59. Nikola Pasic

Team: Linköping League: SWE-J20

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 33  G: 18  A: 18  P: 36

DOB: 10/16/00

Comparison: Pontus Aberg

 

Tier Thirteen

60. Hunter Jones

Team: Peterborough  League: OHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4.5  Wt: 202  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 57  G.A.A.: 3.31  Sv%: .902

DOB: 09/21/00

Comparison: Mike Smith

 

61. Anttoni Honka

Team: JYP  League: Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 175  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G: 1  A: 3  P: 4

DOB: 10/05/00

Comparison: Anthony DeAngelo

 

62. Maxim Cajkovic

Team: Saint John  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 22  A: 24  P: 46

DOB: 01/03/01

Comparison: Jakub Vrana

Another kid I have to say something on.  Was top 20 for most (if not top 10) entering the season, got off to a HORRIFIC start, but did finish the season strong on an awful Sea Dogs team.  I really wonder if he wasn’t home sick and/or they did a terrible job handling him?  This kid has 1st round talent, and he might end up being the steal of the draft.

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