This article is part of our NHL Draft series.
The 2019 NHL Entry Draft gets underway Friday, June 21 in Vancouver. The Devils own the first overall pick for the second time in the past three years and the Rangers will make a top-three selection for the first time in franchise history. Round 1 is also expected to feature a record number of American players selected. The first two selections are almost certainly spoken for, but from pick three (Chicago) onward, this draft could go in countless different directions.
Our annual ranking of the top available prospects is below.
(Note: This is NOT a mock draft, nor does it take any team needs into account)
1) Jack Hughes (C, US U18-NTDP): Seen as the jewel of the 2019 draft class for the past several years, Hughes has lead wire-to-wire in the race to be the first overall selection despite immense heat from the kid listed second here. The US NTDP's all-time leading scorer, Hughes might not have the breakaway speed of Connor McDavid or the elite shot of Auston Matthews, but he has the hockey IQ to match both. In the clip below, he has his head up all the way and easily recognizes the precise time to feed a waiting teammate in front after the opposing defender over commits and leaves the passing lane wide open.
He thinks the game at an extremely high level and excels at assessing his options and making the correct decision with the puck at top speed as well as from a standstill position. Hughes had a strong World Juniors despite missing half the tournament due to a nagging injury and he absolutely dominated the World U-18's in April against the best players in his age group. His play at the World Championship against men was a bit more ordinary before a brilliant effort against Russia in the quarterfinal. Hughes might not a a franchise-altering talent in the McDavid sense, but he's an elite all-around offensive prospect and I would be shocked if he's not playing in the NHL next season. No player has ever gone straight from the US NTDP to the NHL, but Hughes will be the first to buck that trend. To give you an idea of how I view Hughes compared to some other recent high draftees, I would have him behind McDavid and Matthews, ahead of Patrik Laine, and slightly ahead of last year's first overall selection Rasmus Dahlin, simply because the value of an elite offensive center is greater than that of any defenseman. Hughes' ceiling is Patrick Kane and his floor is Clayton Keller. Hughes has been on the map since he was 15 years old and although they haven't made it official yet, I see no scenario in which the Devils take anyone else first overall. Simply put, I don't think GM Ray Shero and the rest of the New Jersey management team have the guts to pass on Hughes and it would likely be a mistake if they did. Teams that win the Stanley Cup are always stacked down the middle and the combination of Hughes and former first-overall pick Nico Hischier would give New Jersey a one-two punch that they can rely on for the next decade.
2) Kaapo Kakko (RW, TPS Turku-Finland): Kakko is the most NHL-ready player in this draft by a wide margin and his dominant effort at the World Championship combined with his stellar play for TPS resulted in me giving him serious consideration for the top spot on this list. In my view, the gap between he and Hughes is virtually nonexistent, but Hughes gets a slight bump for being a center whereas I feel Kakko's ultimate role is that of a power winger. If Hughes is the top rated prospect, Kakko is #1B. His two greatest assets are his physicality and his shot. Here he is using one arm to easily shield off 6-foot-3, 200-pound Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Jaros for an empty-netter early in the tournament.
Kakko is also a better passer than he gets credit for. The clip below is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. While he has a clear lane to get the puck to the net, Kakko also recognizes that he has enough room to slide the puck over to a waiting teammate for a slam dunk.
While playing for TPS in Liiga, Finland's top league, Kakko was named Rookie of the Year and led all first-year players in goals scored with 22. He also broke Aleksander Barkov's all-time league record for most goals scored by a U-18 player. While he's often compared to fellow Finn Laine, I think Kakko is the better prospect. Laine might be a better pure goal scorer, but Kakko is the much more complete offensive player. He has size (6-foot-2) and is willing to go to the difficult areas of the ice to make a play. His ability to win board battles against opposing defenders is remarkable given his youth. I love his tenacity in hunting down pucks and the fact that you can count on getting the same strong effort from him on a nightly basis. Kakko should be a leading contender for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie this coming season. The Rangers' prospect pool is sporting plenty of high-end depth these days (Vitali Kravtsov, Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, K'Andre Miller), but the addition of Kakko will give the franchise their first true cornerstone in this (suddenly accelerated) rebuild. Skeptics are worried that newly named President John Davidson, General Manager Jeff Gorton, and Director of Scouting Gordie Clark will go off the board with their pick (assuming the Devils take Hughes) considering some of the selections the team has made the past few years, but it's not going to happen. Kakko plays on Broadway beginning this fall.
3) Alex Turcotte (C, US U18-NTDP): This is where the draft truly begins. While there are seemingly up to a half dozen players that could be selected third overall by Chicago, the research I did lead me to believe there are just two or three reasonable options in this spot and Turcotte ultimately got the call on my board. Turcotte probably would have been a lock for the No. 3 overall selection had he not been injured/ill for a good portion of the season. The fact that he still has a good shot at being Chicago's selection at No. 3 tells you just how much respect there is for his game around the league. He's been on the map as a top prospect for quite a while so the missed action doesn't figure to hinder his draft position all that much. Turcotte is uber-talented, works his tail off, and plays with pace. He's a complete two-way prospect with zero discernible weaknesses in his game, making him one of the most well-rounded players in the entire draft. Turcotte's offensive skill set and consistent effort level give him a high floor as well as a high ceiling, and he could very easily be one-and-done at the University of Wisconsin.
4) Trevor Zegras (C, US U18-NTDP): I always advocate drafting for ceiling as opposed to floor and I would be willing to listen to an argument that Zegras has the highest upside in this entire draft class. He's certainly less likely to reach his ceiling than Hughes or Kakko, but the potential is there nonetheless. One thing is for certain, Zegras is hands down the best playmaker available this year. Just check out this insane no-look backhand pass from earlier this season.
Although he's listed as a center, I like Zegras better on the wing. He flanked Jack Hughes at the World U-18's and the results were magical. Due to his elite vision, Zegras makes for an ideal option when working off the sidewall, which means he should dominate on the man advantage as a pro. Having said that, high-end centers are incredibly valuable in today's NHL, so I still expect him to begin his professional career in the middle. While the upside here is undeniable, Zegras is underdeveloped physically and likely still several years away from NHL duty. The 6-foot forward battles hard for loose pucks, but he just isn't very strong at this point in time. As such, I would not be surprised nor particularly worried if Zegras struggles early in his Boston University tenure this coming fall. Most world-class athletes (which all these kids are) can transform their bodies over time if they are committed enough and no one is doubting Zegras's dedication.
5) Bowen Byram (D, Vancouver-WHL): This year's crop of defensemen isn't great, but Byram is the unquestioned top option available at the position heading into the draft. Now scouts are asking themselves, is he really that good? Or is he just the best of a mediocre group? I lean more towards the former than the latter. Byram is definitely the best WHL defensive prospect since Seth Jones went No. 4 overall to Nashville in 2013. He is a heck of a player and his production for an underage major junior defenseman was remarkable. He started coming on at the end of the 2017-18 season and carried that strong play into 2018-19. His overall numbers were fantastic (26 goals, 71 points in 67 games) for a very good Giants team. Byram looked increasingly comfortable with the extra ice time he received and I think his NHL floor is that of a two-way second-pairing defender with the potential for considerably more. His reads in regards to when to jump into the play offensively are strong and his defensive-zone coverage is respectable for a kid who will be counted on to provide scoring. Byram is calm and composed with the puck and has the hockey IQ and foot speed to control a game from the back end. Given the glaring need for defensemen around the league, I would be surprised if he falls out of the top five on draft night . He likely needs one more season in juniors, but Byram should be ready for full-time NHL duty in 2020-21.
6) Cole Caufield (RW, US U18-NTDP): Caufield is the draft's best pure goal scorer. He can score from anywhere and can do so in a variety of different ways. In fact, he may very well have the best shot I've ever seen from a draft-eligible player. Caufield broke Phil Kessel's NTDP record for most career goals during a mid-March game in which he scored...wait for it...six times! (The proof is below). He also tallied 14 goals in just seven games at the World U-18's. All told, Caufield finished this past season with a whopping 72 tallies. Despite his goal-scoring brilliance, Caufield won't be a fit for all teams. For one, he is listed at 5-foot-7 and 163 pounds, and no matter how you slice it, there are NHL teams that will shy away from spending such a high pick on such a small kid. Because of his size and the fact that he's American, Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat is the most common comparison for Cole. However, Caufield has the better shot and is actually the better skater of the two. I like Caufield and feel he's an underrated playmaker, but he's going to be of minimal use if he isn't scoring goals as he simply doesn't have the size to contribute in most other areas. That said, his ability to get lost in the offensive zone and finish plays is remarkable. I'd be the first to bet on Caufield's ability to put the puck in the net, but the risk here is immense, as his floor is virtually nonexistent. The diminutive forward will head to the University of Wisconsin for the 2019-20 campaign.
7) Dylan Cozens (C, Lethbridge-WHL): One you get past Hughes and Kakko, Cozens is part of the next half-dozen or so players who can be arranged in seemingly any order. He is a big (6-foot-3), talented kid and a right-handed shot, so it's easy to see why NHL personnel are all over him. When he is on his game, Cozens looks like the third-best player in this draft. I don't love his skating stride, but he always seems to be able to get where he has to go without issue. I don't see one elite offensive attribute here, but Cozens is respectable in most facets of the game. There are some consistency issues to work through, but I see similarities between Cozens and Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele. It took Scheifele quite a while to put it all together and the Jets now have one of the best players in the league on their hands. The team that drafts Cozens could be rewarded similarly if they exercise some necessary patience.
8) Kirby Dach (C, Saskatoon-WHL): Dach has good size (6-foot-4), an intriguing skill set, and is a right-handed center, so again, it's easy to see why he will be a top selection. He's a very efficient passer and a hard worker, although I wish he was a bit more physical when below the goal line of the opposition. Due to his size and effort level, Dach is another player with a high floor. If he becomes more aggressive, plays with more pace and uses his big frame to push around opposing defenders a bit more, he could be a star. There's some high-end skill here (see the ridiculous move below against the eventual WHL Champion Prince Albert Raiders), but it manifests itself in flashes rather than consistently. Dach is firmly entrenched in the second tier of players behind Hughes and Kakko.
9) Matthew Boldy (LW, US U18-NTDP): Playing this season for the loaded US NTDP that figures to produce the first-overall selection (Hughes) and potentially up to a half-dozen first-round draftees, Boldy faded into the background at times. Some of that was his own doing and some was the result of the numbers game. He's a big kid (6-foot-2) who can play both wing positions. I think he's more of a finisher than a passer, but some feel just the opposite. He also displays tremendous defensive awareness for such a young kid. Boldy's all-around skill set is exceptional and his ceiling is massive, but he needs to prove that he can impact the game at a high level on a consistent basis, something he struggled with at times for the NTDP. The Massachusetts native is committed to Boston College.
10) Alex Newhook (C, Victoria-BCHL): A native of Newfoundland, Newhook turned down the QMJHL to maintain his collegiate eligibility for Boston College this coming fall. Although he was undoubtedly going against far worse competition than he would have had he played major junior, you still can't overlook the dominant season Newhook had in 2018-19, racking up 38 goals and 102 points in 53 games en route to winning the BCHL Scoring Championship while also earning CJHL Forward of the Year honors. However, the track record of kids coming out of the BCHL isn't great. For instance, the inconsistencies of Colorado's Tyson Jost come to mind. Newhook has terrific speed, solid puck skills and has displayed a willingness to battle against larger defenders despite the fact that he stands at just 5-foot-11. There is a ton to work with here, but it may take a while for Newhook's game to translate to the collegiate ranks. He did have a strong showing for Canada at the recently completed World U-18's after being cut from Canada's original training camp roster. I'd be willing to listen to an argument that I have Newhook a couple of spots too low here. I just need to see him consistently produce against better competition before my concerns are completely laid to rest.
11) Vasili Podkolzin (RW, SKA St. Petersburg-KHL): I have concerns about Podkolzin, and his poor performance at the World U-18's in April certainly didn't help matters. It was the final look scouts got at the Russian this season and he went out with a whimper. Podkolzin tends to be extremely noticeable on the ice almost every night and that's generally a good thing. He has the natural ability to make creative offensive plays and causes havoc on the forecheck through sheer effort. I wouldn't say he has a high hockey IQ, but I don't think his decision making with the puck will hold him back. I love players who want to make a difference every single shift and Podkolzkin falls into that category. While all of that is great, there are still too many games in which he simply doesn't get a lot done, especially considering his overall skill level. A good portion of his offense is the result of hard work and driving to the net. Some are worried about Podkolzin's foot speed, but I would grade his skating as average. It's not an asset, but I don't think it will hold him back. Podkolzkin is an easy top-ten talent, but the "Russian factor" could send him tumbling a number of spots. He plays for one of the most prestigious clubs in the KHL and there are concerns about when (or if) he plans to come over to North America. The Rangers took Kravtsov ninth-overall in 2018 with a full understanding that he would be coming over within a year. As far as we know, Podkolzin has given no such assurance. His KHL contract reportedly lasts another two seasons, so don't expect to see him cross the pond until at least 2021-22. The payoff here could be massive, but I'd be terrified if my favorite team rolled the dice on Podkolzin early in the draft. It's a risk few teams can afford.
12) Arthur Kaliyev (LW, Hamilton-OHL): This is the draft's most polarizing prospect. Opinions on Kaliyev are all over the map. His biggest strength (by far) is his goal scoring ability. He scored 51 goals for Hamilton this season as a 17-year-old. Kaliyev's quick release and powerful shot allow him to beat the goaltender from just about anywhere in the offensive zone, and you don't have to ask him twice to fire the puck. Check out this clip of Kaliyev bombing a one-timer past a helpless 'keeper with the man advantage.
In my opinion his playmaking skills are severely underrated, but his skating is below-average, so whoever takes Kaliyev will be rolling the dice in a major way. If he's unable to score consistently as a professional, he'll likely end up being a wasted pick. I'm a believer, as I see a big kid (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) who should be able to contribute some offense at even-strength while dominating on the power play. Kaliyev will never be counted upon to play difficult defensive minutes, but that's not why you're drafting him. He could seemingly go anywhere from the back half of the lottery to the latter stages of Round 1.
13) Peyton Krebs (C, Kootenay-WHL): Krebs is a former first-overall selection in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. When you look at his numbers this past season (19 goals, 68 points in 64 games) for Kootenay, it's difficult to believe he'll be such a high selection. Heck, he finished the season with a minus-50 rating! Then you realize his team posted a 13-45-7 record while giving up a league-high 324 goals and the statistics suddenly don't look all that bad. Krebs definitely earned some brownie points with scouts over the past couple years for making the best out of a bad situation. He probably would have flirted with 100 points if he was on a different club. I have Krebs lower than some because I don't think he has the overall upside of some of the players ahead of him on this list, but his floor is high and he's a very good passer. He captained Canada at the World U-18's this spring and it's easy to see him doing the same for an NHL club down the line. Rightly or wrongly, NHL organizations value those kinds of things. Krebs has some untapped potential because we simply don't know how effective he'll be once he's consistently lining up alongside talented teammates. Unfortunately, Krebs tore his Achilles while training in early June and had to undergo surgery. His 2019-20 season is going to get off to a late start, but I doubt the injury will impact his draft stock much.
14) Cam York (C, US U18-NTDP): I'm not big on NHL comparisons, but York reminds me of Keith Yandle. He's slightly undersized at 5-foot-11, and isn't a great defender when forced to spend a significant amount of time in his own zone. However, that may not be a huge issue, as the smart decisions he's able to make with the puck generally limit the amount of time he's forced to spend defending. York can also really skate, thinks the game well, and can effectively run a power play thanks to his excellent vision. He should fare well in the "modern" NHL -- a league that relies on speed and decision making as opposed to brute physicality. The California-born blueliner is committed to the University of Michigan.
15) Philip Broberg (D, AIK-Sweden): Broberg has the size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and skating ability all NHL clubs covet. There's some skill here, but anyone who expects Broberg to turn into the next Erik Karlsson will be severely disappointed. I think he has enough ability to eventually tally around 35 points over the course of a full NHL season, but that's probably about it. I'm concerned about his decision making with the puck at times, but Broberg's mobility is elite, and there's a ton of value in having a rearguard who can skate the puck out of trouble when needed. As long as Broberg cuts down on the mistakes (easier said than done), his foot speed alone should make him a useful top-four defender. Think Brady Skjei. The 17-year-old Swede definitely did himself a ton of good with a strong showing at the World U-18's this past April.
16) Ryan Suzuki (C, Barrie-OHL): The first-overall selection in the 2017 OHL Draft, Suzuki put up respectable numbers (25 goals, 75 points in 65 games) this past season for a lousy team. Suzuki has it all offensively. He's an above-average skater, brilliant passer, and shifty in the offensive zone. Check out his patience with the puck on this play.
He's not a physical player and I would like to see him battle for pucks in the corner a little more, but his hockey IQ is so high that he rarely puts himself in a position where he needs to win a physical battle in order to make a play. His upside is high for a kid who figures to be taken in the second half of the first round. This is the kind of player worth rolling the dice on.
17) Spencer Knight (G, US U18-NTDP): More so than ever, the days of NHL clubs spending high draft picks on goaltenders has seemingly come to an end. While there are a few star NHL netminders who were taken in Round 1 (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price), history has shown that quality players such as Henrik Lundqvist (7th Rd), Braden Holtby (4th Rd), Jonathan Quick (3rd Rd) and Ben Bishop (3rd Rd) can be found later in drafts. The first goaltender taken in the 2018 draft was Olof Lindblom by the Rangers at pick #39 and that was universally panned by most everyone (myself included) as a reach. Knight is, in my humble opinion, the best goaltending prospect since Ilya Samsonov went 22nd overall to Washington in 2015. He's big (6-foot-3), athletic and eerily calm in net. In the clip below, watch how Knight holds his position and waits for the shooter to make the first move.
If there's a goaltender in this class worth spending a mid-first round pick on, Knight is it, but I'm still not entirely convinced that it will happen. His status will definitely be a situation worth monitoring come draft night. The American backstop is committed to Boston College.
18) Victor Soderstrom (D, Brynas-SHL): Soderstrom has an extremely high floor and that makes him attractive for teams looking to acquire a sure-fire NHL player with their first-round selection. I always advocate drafting for upside instead of floor, but I also can acknowledge that Soderstrom has very few weaknesses in his game. He also just got a bunch of playing time and had a steady season in one of the best leagues in the world as a 17-year-old. He sees the ice well, makes smart decisions with the puck, and will join the attack offensively here and there. Soderstrom doesn't have ideal size (5-foot-11) and his physical game is lacking, but he gets a few extra bonus points for being a right-handed shot. The Swede is just a solid, all-around, minute-munching defender.
19) Moritz Seider (D, Adler Manheim-Germany): With the emergence of Leon Draisaitl as a legitimate superstar for the Oilers and Dominik Bokk getting selected 25th overall by the Blues in 2018, German hockey is clearly on the upswing. Seider is the country's latest prodigy. He posted two goals and six points in 29 games for his club team in Germany and recently suited up for his native country (and was effective) at the World Championship. Seider was also extremely impressive while captaining Germany at the World Juniors. Any way you slice it, Seider made significant strides in his draft year despite playing the entire season as a 17-year-old. There is a remarkable steadiness to his game for a kid who comes from a non-traditional hockey market. The main knock on Seider is that he doesn't bring much offense to the table. I actually think he has better hands and more skill than he gets credit for, but Seider is going to make his living as a mobile, shutdown defender. I'd be all over him in the second half of Round 1. You simply can't teach the German's size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) and reliability.
20) Bobby Brink (RW, Sioux City-USHL): I look at Brink and see a ton of similarities between his game and that of Dallas prospect Jason Robertson. Robertson (6-foot-2) is much bigger than Brink (5-foot-10), but their games still have a lot of similar traits. Both are terrific with the puck and display elite hockey sense in regards to positioning. The downfall for both is a lack of foot speed. Robertson won the OHL Scoring Championship this season, but his professional future is still in doubt because there are concerns he will struggle with the pace of the professional game. I'd argue it's even more of a concern for Brink because he's a considerably smaller player and thus will have a more difficult time carving out space in the offensive zone. If Brink can clean up his skating stride just a bit, he has the potential to be one of the ten best players taken in this draft. The rest of his game is that good. Nonetheless, spending a first-round selection on an undersized prospect who is a poor skater is a risky, risky proposition.
21) Thomas Harley (D, Mississauga-OHL): Harley's stock has been steadily rising for months and it's reached the point where it's not out of the realm of possibility that he ends up being the second defenseman off the board behind Byram. Harley clearly gained confidence as the year progressed and his play improved as a result. He skates like the wind and has more offensive talent than he displayed this season, and that's saying something considering he finished the year with 58 points in 68 games for the Steelheads. He has ideal size for a defender at 6-foot-3, but he doesn't use his large frame to his advantage often enough. Having said that, his success in the defensive zone at this point can largely be attributed to his sheer size. Harley's reads need to improve, which is going to take time, but there's definitely a scenario in which he ends up being one of the better players selected in this draft.
22) Nils Hoglander (LW, Rogle-SHL): Hoglander's high hockey IQ and his ability to weave in and out of traffic with seemingly minimal effort are both requirements for a player who is generously listed at 5-foot-9. Although he may be undersized, I haven't seen any examples of Hoglander's height impacting the way he plays the game while watching his tape. He isn't going to win many physical battles against opposing defenders, but it's won't be for a lack of effort. The Swede has very few poor habits in his game, and more than enough talent to fill a top-six role at the NHL level. He has about as much natural skill as any player in the draft. Players of Hoglander's size tend to be of minimal use in depth/checking roles, so he will almost certainly have to put up points in order to succeed in North America.
23) Raphael Lavoie (C, Halifax-QMJHL): Lavoie has been on the map as a top draft prospect for awhile. He had a respectable season for Halifax, notching 32 goals and 73 points in 63 games. The 18-year-old Canadian has a lot going for him. He's massive (6-foot-4), moves well enough for a big kid, and has displayed an ability to put the puck in the net on a regular basis. I like him, but I think his "bust" potential is high, making him a prime candidate to be over drafted. Lavoie is also one of the oldest first-year eligible players in the draft. I don't think he's going to help an NHL club if he isn't putting up points and it seems like the more scouts watched him, the more his flaws were exposed. Lavoie would make for a decent selection in the later stages of Round 1, and although his stock is supposedly dropping, I could see a team reaching for him in the late lottery.
24) Philip Tomasino (C, Niagara-OHL): Tomasino's game is built around speed and skill and he became a major contributor this past season (34 goals, 72 points in 67 games) for a very good Niagara team. This is a kid who managed just five goals in 61 games a year ago. Tomasino's stock rose steadily as the year progressed and he finished the season as NHL Central Scouting's #14 ranked North American skater after landing in the #24 spot in their midterm rankings. The 17-year-old possesses an above-average offensive skill set and his speed alone gives him a high floor as a potential role player. I see top-six potential down the line and as a result, have the Mississauga native pegged as one of my favorite under-the-radar options in the latter stages of Round 1.
25) Ville Heinola (D, Lukko-Finland): Heinola's coming out party came at the World Juniors when he went from a depth player to a major contributor for the eventual gold medal-winning Finnish squad. Hockey sense is arguably the most important asset there is for a defenseman and Heinola has more of that than he knows what to do with. Here is a 90-second clip of Heinola repeatedly making proper reads in both the offensive and defensive zones.
I don't think there's a ton of offensive upside here, but Heinola should pick up his fair share of secondary points simply because he's always in the right position. The 18-year-old Finn has one of the highest floors in the entire draft.
26) Nick Robertson (LW, Peterborough-OHL): I mentioned Stars prospect Jason Robertson earlier in this piece, and this happens to be his younger brother. However, they are not similar players. Nick is barely 5-foot-9 and always plays the game at 100 miles per hour. Robertson had three assists in the CHL Top Prospects Game including a couple highlight reel passes, one of which is below. His numbers for Peterborough (27 goals, 55 points in 54 games) weren't quite as impressive, but there's no doubting his skill level and work ethic. He also possesses a brilliant, underrated shot. I'm a believer, but prospects of Robertson's size generally have a difficult time making it as depth players. I would try to trade up for him if he's still available in the final stages of Round 1.
27) Pavel Dorofeyev (LW, Magnitogorsk-MHL/KHL): It was difficult to get a read on Dorofeyev this season. He dominated for Magnitogorsk's junior club (17 goals, 31 points in 19 games) but was virtually invisible (one goal, two points) while getting limited ice time in 23 KHL contests. While the production wasn't there for Dorofeyev when he was playing against men, there are reasons to be optimistic moving forward. Namely, that plenty of young Russians struggle to generate offense early in their KHL careers due to the limited amount of ice time they receive. I think Dorofeyev has more than enough skill to fill a top-six role down the line and the potential payoff here is high if the team that selects him is patient. My lone concern is the fact that he doesn't play with a ton of pace. If Dorofeyev adds some muscle to his frame and is given a consistent role, I see no reason why he would struggle to produce points and generate offense at the NHL level.
28) Robert Mastrosimone (LW, Chicago-USHL): Another in the ever growing list of players born on Long Island, Mastrosimone is off to Boston University this fall. He's coming off a season in which he was among the USHL leaders in both goals (31) and points (60). Mastrosimone did his damage on the wing this season, but he has played some center in the past. He's undersized at 5-foot-10 and nothing more than an average skater, but his skill level and work ethic are off the charts. In my opinion, Mastrosimone simply has too much going for him to let his lack of foot speed prevent him from developing into a solid player. He has the look of a multifaceted third-liner with the potential for more.
29) Jakob Pelletier (LW, Moncton-QMJHL): A naturally skilled winger, the only knock on Pelletier's game is his lack of size and thus, risk of injury. He's listed at 5-foot-9, 157 pounds and may actually be smaller than that. Pelletier's compete level is exceptional. His positioning is strong and he can finish around the front of the net. It's not pretty at times, but Pelletier always manages to put points on the board. There is always risk involved when selecting a player so tiny simply because their floors are seemingly nonexistent, but I would bet on Pelletier's smarts and talent winning out in the end.
30) Alex Vlasic (D, US U18-NTDP): I'm on the fence about Vlasic. On one hand, I see a 6-foot-6 18-year-old monster with an exceptionally long reach, a good set of wheels, and at least average puck skills. On the other, I could absolutely see a scenario in which Vlasic's offensive abilities fail to translate to the professional level and you are left with a stay-at-home penalty killer. You want more than that with a first round pick, but Vlasic is probably an NHL regular either way, and his potentially high ceiling makes him a worthy gamble late in Round 1. And yes, Vlasic is the cousin of San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
31) Connor McMichael (C, London-OHL): Playing for the best junior program in the CHL which had four former first-round picks on its roster, McMichael had quite a season in 2018-19. One year after posting just eight goals and 16 points in 60 games, McMichael raised those totals to 36 goals and 72 points this campaign. I love his game. McMichael is a jack-of-all-trades type center. He plays hard, has excellent vision, and has displayed an ability to make creative plays at high speed. He also showed very well whenever he was thrust into an expanded role this year. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if McMichael flirted with the 50-goal mark for London next season.
THE NEXT 31
32) Patrik Puistola (LW, Tappara-Finland)
33) Ryan Johnson (D, Sioux Falls-USHL)
34) Yegor Afanasyev (LW, Muskegon-USHL)
35) Samuel Poulin (RW, Sherbrooke-QMJHL)
36) Tobias Bjornfot (D, Djurgardens-SHL)
37) Vladislav Kolyachonok (D, Flint-OHL)
38) Brett Leason (C, Prince Albert-WHL)
39) Samuel Fagemo (LW, Frolunda-SHL)
40) Ilya Nikolayev (LW, Yaroslavl-MHL)
41) Maxim Cajkovic (LW, Saint John-QMJHL)
42) Vladislav Firstov (LW, Waterloo-USHL)
43) Matthew Robertson (D, Edmonton-WHL)
44) Albin Grewe (RW, Djurgardens-SHL)
45) John Beecher (C, US U18-NTDP)
46) Simon Holmstrom (RW, HV71 Jr.-Sweden)
47) Lassi Thomson (D, Kelowna-WHL)
48) Nathan Legare (RW, Baie-Comeau-QMJHL)
49) Anttoni Honka (D, JYP-Finland)
50) Jamieson Rees (C, Sarnia-OHL)
51) Brayden Tracey (LW, Moose Jaw-WHL)
52) Mikko Kokkonen (D, Jukurit-Finland)
53) Nikita Alexandrov (C, Charlottetown-QMJHL)
54) Shane Pinto (RW, Tri-City-USHL)
55) Pyotr Kochetkov (G, HK Ryazan-Russia)
56) Jordan Spence (D, Moncton-QMJHL)
57) Ilya Konovalov (G, Yaroslavl-KHL)
58) Domenick Fensore (D, US U18-NTDP)
59) Henry Thrun (D, US U18-NTDP)
60) Nolan Foote (LW, Kelowna-WHL)
61) Artemi Knyazev (D, Chicoutimi-QMJHL)
62) Zachary Jones (D, Tri-City-USHL)
- Case McCarthy (D, US U18-NTDP)
- Alex Beaucage (RW, Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL)
- Albert Johansson (D, Farjestad Jr.-Sweden)
- Marshall Warren (D, US U18-NTDP)
- Billy Constantinou (D, Kingston-OHL)