2019 NHL Draft Rankings (December Edition)

December 6, 2018

 Jack Hughes

 

The 2019 draft in Vancouver has the potential to be a strong one. Headlined by future franchise altering talents in Hughes and Kakko, the 1st round is looking strong. A lot though can still change, especially with the World Juniors in Vancouver and Victoria later this month and historically it has. In the 2017 World Juniors tournament, Hischier started his climb from the middle of the 1st all the way to getting picked 1st overall. After the Tournament, the rankings will be updated for January. For right now, these are the 30 best players from my perspective.

Jack Hughes (#1) is an amazing talent and it would be a shock if he is not picked #1 in this draft. While Kakko is incredible himself, Hughes is on another level. Hughes combines unreal skating with fantastic hands and superb hockey iq. A comparable would be a mix of Mat Barzal and Patrick Kane. Barzal’s skating and Kane’s stick handling are otherworldly and I would say that Hughes has those attributes. He even had the best 16 year old season ever statistically at the USDP last season, surpassing the likes of Matthews, Eichel, and Kessel. Hughes should be superstar for years to come.

Kaapo Kakko (#2) was off to an incredible start in the Liiga, making people question the gap between him and Hughes. He’s made some terrific plays and been a fantastic talent showcasing why he’s the best contender for Hughes at going first. Kakko would really have to destroy expectations over the next month with the World Juniors and with his season in the Liiga to steal it from Hughes and it seems unlikely for any other prospects in the draft but if somebody is going to do it, it will be Kaapo Kakko.

 

In the summer, I saw three main battles. Hughes vs. Kakko was obviously the first but the battle between the three WHL forwards in the top 10 was one that I was most fascinated by. The WHL has not had much success producing players in the 1st round and especially top 10 of the draft recently with 2018 being an especially weak year for WHL talent. While plenty of quality WHL players have been drafted in the past 5 years, it has not been of the magnitude as the OHL. Last year, the first player drafted from the WHL was defenceman Ty Smith at 17th overall to the New Jersey Devils. This year, we can expect the first WHL player to be drafted much sooner than the last.

 

I have four players ranked in the top 10 that are playing in the WHL this season and three of those forwards are a part of the battle. Kirby Dach (#3), Dylan Cozens (#4), and Peyton Krebs (#8) were all not that far off of a point per game last season and represented Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky tournament during the summer. Since then, Kirby Dach has taken a massive step and has looked great for the Saskatoon Blades with 41 points in 29 games. The 6’4” centreman also leads his team in scoring by 10 points and has earned himself a spot in the top 3 and a lead in the battle of the WHLers because of that.

 

Team Canada featuring Dach, Cozens, Byram, and Krebs celebrating an overtime win at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup

 

Team Canada featuring Dach, Cozens, Byram, and Krebs celebrating an overtime win at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup

 

Starting the season ranked by many as the 4th and 5th best prospects, Alex Turcotte (#5) and Alex Newhook (#6) have taken a dip in the rankings for multiple reasons. Turcotte has been limited to a couple of games due to injuries. Only playing a few games has hurt his stock a bit and due to impressive performances by players such as Dach and Cozens, many scouts have the two ahead of him now. Newhook has also fallen as well but because of different reasons. After putting close to 1.5 points per game with Victoria of the BCHL, many expected him to take a big leap. Jost, a recent top 10 pick had produced 2 points per game with Penticton in his draft season and due to Newhook having a better draft -1 season, 2 points per game was considered the minimum by some scouts. He has not reached that total and is at 1.6 points per game instead, producing at a somewhat underwhelming rate. Many scouts have dropped the two because of that with some scouts having them much lower than others. I have them higher than a couple others scouts may have them at as I believe that the two still have talent deserving to be picked high. While they have dealt with some struggles I still liked their games enough last season to have them in the top 10. Turcotte’s tenacity, two-way game, and skill along with Newhook’s dynamic skill and other aspects such as passing and creativity give me reasons to be more patient. Both have shown the potential to become #1 centres and the value that 1C’s hold is well documented. The draft is still far away and if struggles continues then obviously they can be moved down.


Not often does a player like Brett Leason (HM) come around. Leason was eligible for the draft in 2017; he wasn’t picked. Eligible once again in 2018; he wasn’t picked. Taking a gigantic step from previous years, 2019 might finally be the year that Leason gets drafted. Currently with 60 points in 27 games, Leason’s progress made this season over the two previous seasons is outstanding. With 51 points in 134 games during the previous two seasons it will interesting to see if he can keep this pace up. If he does, he might even find himself being drafted in the first round. He is currently ranked as an honourable mention as I want to see more of him before ranking him. It is likely that he gets to play for Canada at World Juniors. If so it will be a great opportunity for him to raise his stock.

 

December Rankings

1. Jack Hughes - C, USDP (5’10”, 168 lbs)
2. Kaapo Kakko - C/RW, Liiga (6’1”, 181 lbs)
3. Kirby Dach - C, WHL (6’4”, 198 lbs)
4. Dylan Cozens - C/RW, WHL (6’3”, 185 lbs)
5. Alex Turcotte - C, USDP (5’11”, 189 lbs)
6. Alex Newhook - C, BCHL (5’11”, 183 lbs)
7. Bowen Byram - LHD, WHL (6’1”, 192 lbs)

8. Peyton Krebs - LW, WHL (5’11”, 181 lbs)
9. Ryan Suzuki - C, OHL (6’0“, 172 lbs)
10. Trevor Zegras- C, USDP (6’0”, 168 lbs)
11. Cam York - LHD, USDP (5’11”, 172 lbs)
12. Victor Soderstrom - RHD, SHL/SuperElit (5’11“, 176 lbs)
13. Philip Broberg - LHD, Allsvenskan (6’3”, 198 lbs)
14. Matthew Boldy - LW, USDP (6’2”, 187 lbs)

15. Raphael Lavoie C/RW, QMJHL (6’4”, 198 lbs)

16. Anttoni Honka - RHD, Liiga/Mestis (5’10”, 170 lbs)

17. Matthew Robertson - LHD, WHL (6’4”, 201 lbs)

18. Arthur Kaliyev - LW, OHL (6’2”, 190 lbs)

19. Nolan Foote - LW, WHL (6’3”, 187 lbs)

20. Mikko Kokkonen - LHD, Liiga (5’11”, 190 lbs)

21. Spencer Knight - G, USDP (6’3”, 198 lbs)

22. Vasili Podkolzin - RW, MHL (6’1”, 190 lbs)

23. Bobby Brink - RW, USHL (5’10”, 165 lbs)

24. Jakob Pelletier - LW, QMJHL (5’9”, 161 lbs)

25. Thomas Harley - LHD, OHL (6’3”, 183 lbs)

26. Cole Caufield - C/RW, USDP (5’7”, 157 lbs)

27. Lassi Thomson - RHD, WHL (6’0”, 187 lbs)

28. Alex Vlasic - LHD, USDP (6’6”, 192 lbs)

29. Moritz Seider - RHD, DEL (6’4”, 183 lbs)

30. Mads Sogaard - G, WHL (6’7”, 190 lbs)

HM: Brett Leason - C, WHL (6’4”, 205 lbs)

 

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