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2019 NHL Draft Rankings: No. 31 to 1

The final installment of my three-part rankings.

Saskatoon Blades v Calgary Hitmen Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

The past two days I have delivered a ranking of who I believe are the top prospects for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft from 93 to player number 32. Before I list out the final 31 players down to the first overall pick, I’ll post my disclaimer of these rankings one last time:

  • This is by no means a mock draft. I find those often to be exercises in silliness as I am not inside the minds of team executives. This is a ranking of who I think will have the 93 best chances at a successful NHL career.
  • I’ve been crafting this list all season long. There will certainly be disputes in how you and I view players, but almost all of these entries have been given after several viewings of each player.
  • While there is no definitive numerical system to my ranking, I’ve based my choices off the following criteria: age, league, offensive production, team context, NHLeScores, and observation of strengths and weaknesses among other things.

Players No. 31 through 1 - 2019 NHL Draft

No. Player Team League Year Pos. Notes
No. Player Team League Year Pos. Notes
31 Anttoni Honka JYP Liiga 2000 D Honka is creative with the puck and creative with his footwork. He can cut off plays well in the neutral zone and help set things up from all over the offensive zone. His skating and defensive positioning could use improvement.
30 Connor McMichael London Knights OHL 2001 C McMichael does many things well - like Cozens - but at a tier or two below. His skating isn't perfect, but he provides a good combination of a net-front presence and someone who can drive hard to the net from the outside.
29 Mikko Kokkonen Jukurit Liiga 2001 D Kokkonen is an excellent puck-handler that played heavy minutes for his Liiga team as a teenager. He takes away the opponent's stick well when defending but may have a lower cieling than his peers.
28 Samuel Poulin Sherbrooke Phoenix QMJHL 2001 LW I'm a big fan of Poulin as an option for Nashville. He's an excellent, creative playmaker who fights hard for pucks. His offensive skill isn't elite but it can be flashy. He's an okay skater.
27 Jakob Pelletier Moncton Wildcats QMJHL 2001 LW Pelletier has a good shot and often created chances from areas below the dots (unusual for a smaller player). He's older and his skating and general offensive firepower are average to slightly above-average. I'm curious how much of his game willl translate well to the next level.
26 Pavel Dorofeyev Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk MHL 2000 W Dorofeyev is an older player who likes to play with patience - pulling up when entering the zone and looking for his next move was often his route. He has an excellent shot, but is only an okay skater with inconsistent play at times.
25 Nicholas Robertson Peterborough Petes OHL 2001 F Robertson is a high-skill player with an elite shot and good passing sense. Sometimes he shoots from too lower-danger areas, and he isn't a defensive specialist by any means.
24 Thomas Harley Mississauga Steelheads OHL 2001 D Harley is an excellent possession player and a good skater for someone his size. He looks like a forward at times with solid puck-control skills. His size gives him room for error on defense, but it isn't too impressive, yet.
23 Bobby Brink Sioux City Musketeers USHL 2001 RW Brink reminds me a bit of Rem Pitlick as a smaller forward who dominated the USHL. A great shot and elite playmaking are on the table for him, but his skating is okay at best.
22 Patrik Puistola Tappara U20 Jr. A SM-liiga 2001 LW Puistola is another player who has risen quickly this season. He is the definition of a skilled player in tight situatons. Despite having above-average hands, he almost prefers to work down low for his goals, but he is due for a highlight reel one from time to time. His skating is okay, and his shot is good.
21 Ville Heinola Lukko Liiga 2001 D Heinola is a really smart player that prefers a North-South game to an East-West one. He's got a good shot and has shown good edge work with the puck on his stick. His zone exits and entries can be flawless. Skating and size are mild concerns moving forward.
20 Nils Hoglander Rogle BK SHL 2000 LW Hoglander's rise this season was capped by an insane, lacrosse-style goal that wowed observers. If Zegras and Boldy are creative than Hoglander is on another level. I've seen comparisons to Kevin Fiala (most notable from Uffe Bodin), but I think Hoglander is a better passer. His skating is average.
19 Raphael Lavoie Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL 2000 F Lavoie shined in the QMJHL playoffs scoring a goal per game and demonstrating his size, good skating, and top-end puck handling. He's an older player that could have scored more on a good team and lack of patience with the puck (especially with such a good frame to provide protection) are frustrations with his game.
18 Philip Tomasino Niagara IceDogs OHL 2001 C Tomasino could be one of the biggest sleepers in this draft. Quick skating, excellent hands, a good shot, and a sound two-way game. Tomasino plays fast at all times. He isn't big by most definitions, but he finishes plays unlike most. He will need some maturation, but this potential pick for Nashville could be an excellent complement down the middle.
17 Philip Broberg AIK Allsvenskan 2001 D Broberg could be a dynamite offensive player, but he could also just be a good, two-way defender. His size and his elite skating abilities are a rare combo and you can see rushes where he makes it to the net with barely any effort. Maturation of his puck skills are probably necessary as turnovers, at times, have been an issue.
16 Mortiz Seider Adler Mannheim DEL 2001 D There has been a steady flow of fans who have fallen in love with Seider as the season went on and for good reason. His defensive play isn't talked about enough with good footwork and a long reach. He is a sound passer and can set-up plays well but won't light things up often like Broberg. I think he might be the safest bet (outside of Byram) to be a consistent NHL player on the back end.
15 Arthur Kaliyev Hamilton Bulldogs OHL 2001 LW It's hard to discout 50 goals and 50 assists, but some are doing it. Those marks as a 17-year-old is impressive enough in the OHL - add in the volume that he shoots the puck with and you've got a scary offensive player. His production comes in the zone, not on the rush, and he will be a useful power play addition to any team.
14 Ryan Suzuki Barrie Colts OHL 2001 C The biggest difference between Suzuki and his older brother (Nick) is skating - Ryan has the edge in that department. He's a good puck handler with impressive patience in the offensive zone, and he has an okay shot but impressive offensive instincts.
13 Victor Soderstrom Brynas IF SHL 2001 D Soderstrom can be an offensive force who played well as a kind in the SHL. He's a good skater with a wide stance, has a good shot, and can be creative with one-touch passes through small lanes. He defends fairly well, but his skating isn't explosive.
12 Alex Newhook Victoria Grizzlies BCHL 2001 C I'm not as high on Newhook as others despite the fact that he has been an unmatched force in recent BCHL history. His game reminds me a lot of Hughes' but a tier below. I would like to see more of his play-driving at higher levels of play, though.
11 Cole Caufield U.S. NTDP USHL 2001 F If passing is where Zegras shines, it's shooting for Caufield. 72 goals in one year don't come by accident; this kid's wrist shot is one of the best I, and many, have ever seen. There's always the question of how much players like Caufield benefitted from playing with the likes of Jack Hughes, but his awareness sets him apart. Outside of his shot, the top thing I noticed is an instinct to sneak into open space with excellent timing. Skating may be a concern at the next level.
10 Trevor Zegras U.S. NTDP USHL 2001 F Passing is the name of the game for Zegras, and he may be the best, and certainly the most creative, at it in this draft class. He's isn't big and he isn't an overly-speedy player, but he is creative with his edge work and has a good wrist shot to compliment his elite passing abilities.
9 Peyton Krebs Winnipeg Ice WHL 2001 F Krebs is another top-notch passer in this Draft. I think his rankings are partially hindered by playing on such an awful team. Naturally, he's a playmaker (reminiscent, maybe, of Ryan Johansen), but he has an excellent shoot that compliments his above-average skating and stunning passing instincts.
8 Matthew Boldy U.S. NTDP USHL 2001 LW Boldy is somewhat of a late-bloomer who has improved his skating and shot this year to become a top prospect. He plays a good game in tight situations and seems to prefer dazzling with the puck below the faceoff circles. His passing has come along too but skating and consistency could still be concerns.
7 Dylan Cozens Lethbridge Hurricanes WHL 2001 C I see Cozens as more of a "conservative" pick in this top-10, but that probably isn't fair to him. It seems clear his game will translate well to the NHL. He's a fast skater, has good stickhandling abilities, a tall frame, and a good shot. Unlike your stereotypical big center, Cozens loves to shoot. And, he will play in all situations.
6 Kirby Dach Saskatoon Blades WHL 2001 C Some are down on Dach due to consistency issues, but I think he's a brilliant player. He's a tall player (6'4") and has well above-average hands for someone with that long of a stick. That stickhandling comes in handy as Dach can score off the rush entering the zone or out-wait defenders with quick hands and good puck protection. He isn't the best skater, but he may be one of the smartest players in the draft and can excel in all situations.
5 Alex Turcotte U.S. NTDP USHL 2001 C Turcotte has long been touted as a top option in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, but he had a troubling season dealing with several medical issues. All around, he's a sound player offensively: well-formed skating stride, good vision, excellent hands. His size, a theme among these U.S. forwards is his biggest downside, but his game should translate extremely well to the NHL despite this.
4 Bowen Byram Vancouver Giants WHL 2001 D Byram could essentially play as another forward, and that's a good asset in a changing sport. His wrist shot is something to behold even from long distance. He's a solid passer, reads open space well in the offensive zone, and loves to jump below the hash marks with the puck. He's a sound skater and that helps with gap control, but he has the puck so often that it doesn't matter much.
3 Vasili Podkolzin SKA-Neva St. Petersburg VHL 2001 RW When you talk about "North-South" players, Podkolzin is exactly what comes to mind. Nearly every time you watch him, it may look like the ice is tilted towards the net he's attacking. He's a top-three talent in this draft and just finds away to break through defenses and maintain puck control. The points didn't come easy for Podkolzin all the time this year, but it's clear he is an elite offensive threat. The biggest knock against him is his skating: he generates good speed despite a very choppy stride.
2 Kaapo Kakko TPS Liiga 2001 RW Kakko has had an incredible rise this season which was only aided by a dominant performance at the World Championships. His skill levels are on par with Hughes, and I think there is a serious discussion to be had about who will have a better career. He is creativity and carries the puck with great awareness, has excellent puck-protection skills, and he can power or deke his way through most defenses. His skating is okay, but he isn't afraid to play physically when needed.
1 Jack Hughes U.S. NTDP USHL 2001 C Where to start? By now, everyone should know what the Devils (presumably) are getting in Jack Hughes. He has lightning speed, excellent stickhandling abilities, a dangerous shot, remarkable vision and good control of his edges. His best asset is how well he can make plays while maintaining his high-end speed. He isn't the biggest and wasn't dominant while trying to beat defenders wide in international showings, but he has the potential to be an elite No. 1 center in the NHL.

I will tweet out the entire list today for your convenience and pin it to the top of my Twitter profile. In the meantime, you can view the previous two installments below:

2019 NHL Draft Rankings: No. 93 to 63

2019 NHL Draft Rankings: No. 62 to 32