For years I used to do a lengthy mock draft with my expectations. For years, I would watch as the first 2-3 picks would be spot on and then the wild west opened up and all of my “genius” selections went straight down the drain. So instead, I am going to try something new this year, I am going to instead pick 9 ‘anticipated’ first round players and place them into three categories: Immediate Impact, Long Term Impact and Dark Horses. The immediate impact are the players that I think should be starting in the NHL within the first few months of this fall. Long Term Impact include players who should be good but will take a few years until you see them. Finally the Dark horses will be picks that could fall late in the first round but should provide good value to their teams on players who I think are underrated right now. These are among the nine most total impactful players in this year’s draft.
Jack Hughes (C)
The clear cut 1 overall pick will be a welcome addition to New Jersey Devils who had a 11.5% chance of landing this coveted spot and have had two #1 overall picks in three years. He shined with the US National Development team, he is a smart skater, he has quick hands and he’s overall demeanor reminds me of a Patrick Kane type player.
Kaapo Kakko (RW)
As if the Finnish and Swedish players have not absolutely owned the last two drafts, Kaapo looks to be the clear cut 2nd pick this year going to the New York Rangers. When you look at the last few years, the 2nd overall pick usually came immediately in the first year and had a good impact: Andrei Svechnikov (37 pts); Nolan Patrick (30pts); Patrik Laine (64pts) and Jack Eichel (56 pts). Kaapo’s mind works as quick as his legs with good decision making and puck protection, he might be the top scorer among rookies this year.
Bowen Byram (D)
He is likely the top defenseman in this draft and he showed this past year that he has the ability to be a puck moving, power play leading defensemen. He has two areas that will need some development, the first is his decision making where he gets exploited at times, the other is size which is in development as he needs to bulk up a bit for his position, all of this said, I see him being up in the pros before November of this year.
Long Term Impact
Kirby Dach (C)
Kirby has something that not everyone in this draft has going for himself – size. At 6’4 and close to 200 pounds he is larger than most of his counterparts. He also has a great hockey IQ; however, there are certainly a few areas of development that could serve him well before he goes up to the pros. First, he is has a good shot but he is a pass first player and he will need to learn how to be a more effective scorer at a higher level; second, for a center his faceoffs are an area of weakness and third would be his development at higher levels of play.
Sam Cosentino sits down with four prospects from the WHL – Peyton Krebs, Bowen Byram, Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens – to talk about their friendship, rivalries and the #NHLDraft.— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 19, 2019
Presented by Esso Canada.https://t.co/sClvPSR1ra
Cam York (D)
Cam might be the best scoring defender in the draft. Teams need to make sure they know what they are looking for when drafting Cam because as of now, his main focus is on scoring and less on positionally sound play. He has speed, a good shot and very deft skating abilities but he is also small and needs to work on shutting down forwards on the opposing end. Some work over the years and Cam will be a quarterback to a defensive unit leading up a power play unit.
Alex Turcotte (C)
Alex has been touted as one of the most well rounded players in the first round. He isn’t overtly flashy in one area but has ability to score, is a good passer and plays two way hockey. The big thing with Alex is his continued improvement. He has shown the ability to take his game to the next level each year and with his commitment to Wisconsin for this upcoming year, he will be in a good program to continue to grow and improve for the next year.
Peyton Krebs (C)
He is a good skater and passer, he also has a good read of the developing play and how it will unfold. Additionally he has shown a propensity for producing and has experience with two full seasons in the WHL. He has two major obstacles going against him and likely dropping his draft stock. First he tore his Achilles earlier this month and he will miss most or all of training camp recouping from that, second he had a -50 plus minus last year.
Raphael Lavoie (RW)
Despite having likely top 10 skill as a player, most mock drafts are showing him landing outside the top 10 in the draft. Shortly after half way through last year, he was moved from right wing to left and that proved to be all the difference as his production skyrocketed after the change. He is also among the older players as his birthday fell just outside his ability to be drafted last year. He is a work in progress but it looks like he is all too willing to take instruction and improve his game.
Ryan Suzuki (C)
Currently projected around 15-25 draft area, Ryan is another who could return top 10 levels. His IQ stands out with his read of plays and ability to find teammates and set them up with nice assists. Furthermore, while his stats don’t jump out, part of this is due to his dedication to diligent two way play on the ice. He was a top OHL draft pick a few years ago and has demonstrated ability to win (silver medal at 2018 U17 Hockey Championship).