2019 NHL Draft

November Rankings (1-100)

Steve Kournianos  |  11/05/2018 |  Nashville  |  [hupso]

Barrie center Ryan Suzuki is one of the top OHL prospects for the 2019 NHL Draft (Photo: OHL Images)

In an era in which teams appear far more inclined to afford younger players the immediate opportunity to develop in the NHL rather than the minors or junior hockey, the attention paid to draft prospects seems to intensify much earlier into the season than later. No 2019 draft-eligible hopeful has had the spotlight shine on him for as long as it’s been on speedy Team USA center Jack Hughes, who some feel is a virtual lock to be the first player selected when the draft convenes in Vancouver in June. But the last few months have shown us that it’s time to make a little room on the stage for other prospects, some who even as early as October have distinguished themselves as candidates to challenge Hughes for first overall.

Yes, Hughes is a sublime talent with explosiveness and puck skills similar to what Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid displayed in their respective draft years. And sure, Hughes remains the consensus choice to follow in their footsteps and have the honor of being the first one called at the draft. But things may start tightening up near the top, as a host of talented forwards from Western Canada and Europe have crept discernibly closer towards making this more than a one-horse race.

For starters, Russian winger Vasily Podkolzin is everything you want in a player, let alone a draft prospect. The fiery left wing oozes skill, leadership, physicality and elite hockey sense, and his burning desire to be the best player on the ice is matched by his brilliance with the puck. Over in Finland, forward Kaapo Kakko is more than just an awesome sounding name. Kakko is big, strong, quick and versatile while playing a top-line role as either a center or wing with TPS Turku in the elite SM-Liiga.

Both Podkolzin and Kakko are playing against adult-age competition, whereas the lighter, leaner Hughes usually matches up against players within his age group. Nonetheless, the electrifying seventeen-year-old Hughes was impressive as he ran through a lengthy gauntlet of topflight NCAA competition. Both he and his loaded Team USA squad will head to Kravare, Czech Republic later next week to play in the under-18 Five Nations Tournament, while Kakko and Podkolzin will be in Hodonin, Czech Republic for the under-20 Four Nations.

The month of November always is a busy one in terms of tracking the progress of draft prospects. There is nearly a half dozen international tournaments taking place, including the annual Canada-Russia Super Series in which each Canadian major junior league ices a U20 lineup of all stars to play two games with their Russian counterparts. The event is a critical piece in finalizing rosters for the world junior hockey championships, which will begin in Vancouver the day after Christmas.

Here are some additional draft storylines to follow as the midseason approaches:

American Muscle

Joining Hughes on the U.S. roster in Central Europe next week will be forwards Trevor Zegras, Matthew Boldy, John Beecher and Cole Caufield, plus two-way defensemen Matthew Helleson, Cam York and Alex Valsic. There is talk that the current installment of the National Team Development Program is the deepest bunch in its history, and as many as 10 players could end up as first-round picks in June. And don’t forget about NTDP center Alex Turcotte, who remains one of the top forwards for the 2019 draft but has been limited due to injuries that likely keeps him from participating at the Five Nations.

Russian Resurgence?

He may only be a teenager, but Podkolzin could have something in common with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Malkin beyond being born in the same country. The 17-year-old winger could become the first player drafted in the top five out of a Russian league since 2004, when Ovechkin and Malkin were the respective top two picks. Podkolzin has a long way to go if he wants to draw additional similarities to the aforementioned future hall of famers, but he easily is the 2019 draft’s most complete player. Only issue is he’s gone on record saying he plans on staying in Russia for a while, which could scare away early-selecting teams looking for an immediate impact player up front. While Podkolzin is otherwise a lock for the first round, Russian junior league linemates Yegor Spiridonov and Pavel Dorofeyev from Stalnye Lisy help form one of the top lines in the MHL and have done enough in a short period to garner serious consideration to go early in the draft. If all three go within the first 31 picks, it will mark the first time since 2004 that at least three players from Russian leagues were taken in Round One.

Western Canada’s bounce-back year

In terms of supplying NHL teams with draft picks, 2018 was an all-time low for the Western Hockey League, which didn’t see one of its forwards drafted until the 3rd round. Take it to the bank – it’s not happening again this year. In fact, a strong case can be made that four of this year’s first 10 picks will come from “The Dub”. Centers Peyton Krebs, Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens are throwback players who combine effort and heart with skill and speed. And although it’s a thin year for elite defense prospects, Vancouver Giants rearguard Bowen Byram’s leadership, decisive two-way play and nasty streak are reminiscent of a young Chris Pronger. Lastly, Victoria Grizzlies’ playmaking center Alex Newhook is one of the top players in the BCHL and will head to Boston College next fall.

Top 31

Rank Name Pos. Team League
1 Jack Hughes C U.S. U18 NTDP
Fast and flashy, Hughes has a clear understanding of the game and is the premier prospect for the draft for his brilliance with the puck at high speeds
2 Vasily Podkolzin LW SKA-Neva VHL
A multi-tool force who plays nasty but also can beat you with ridiculous puck skills, Podkolzin’s desire to develop in Russia shouldn’t trump his game-breaking upside.
3 Kaapo Kakko C/W TPS Liiga
The top draft prospect from Finland is a low-maintenance playmaker who uses his size to his advantage.
4 Alex Newhook C Victoria BCHL
Newhook, who is headed to Boston College, is lighting up the BCHL since late September to a tune of almost two points per game.
5 Trevor Zegras C/LW U.S. U18 NTDP
A natural center with elite skating and playmaking abilities, the Boston University-bound Zegras has shown versatility while flanking Hughes on the NTDP’s top line
6 Alex Turcotte C U.S. U18 NTDP
The injury bug may have temporarily slowed down the hype train, but Turcotte is an explosive two-way center who can carry any linemate.
7 Bowen Byram LHD Vancouver WHL
The top defense prospect for the draft can elevate his game when the situation warrants it. Byram can fill any role and is a coach’s dream
8 Peyton Krebs C Kootenay WHL
Cerebral, Jonathan Toews-type pivot who can beat you with his vision and is a tireless worker in all three zones.
9 Kirby Dach C Saskatoon WHL
Sublime playmaker with elite passing skills and deceptive tight-quarter quickness who has size and plays with snarl.
10 Dylan Cozens C/W Lethbridge WHL
Consider Cozens a sort of Podkolzin-West — a physical force with a team-first attitude who uses skill and strength to dictate the tempo of a game.
11 Victor Soderstrom RHD Brynas SHL
Graceful puck mover with an advanced brain who defends as well as any draft-eligible rearguard. His transition to the SHL from junior has been seamless.
12 Matthew Boldy LW U.S. U18 NTDP
Electrfying winger who can plays with controlled violence and jaw-dropping skill. Boldy treats every shift as an opportunity to strike fear into his opponents.
13 Nils Hoglander RW Rogle SHL
Pesky winger with a nonstop motor and the ability to make plays off of board battles and cycles. The puck always seems to find him.
14 Anttoni Honka RHD JyP Liiga
Honka plays cool as a cucumber under the most harrowing of conditions, and his penchant for beating pressure with his wheels makes him perfect for today’s NHL.
15 Ryan Suzuki C Barrie OHL
The younger brother of Habs’ prospect Nick Suzuki is an outstanding set-up man who plays a bit more engaged.
16 Raphael Lavoie RW Halifax QMJHL
Big-bodied goal scorer with very good speed and can stickhandle his way around any jam.
17 John Beecher C U.S. U18 NTDP
Beecher has top-six talent written all over him, but it’s not easy to distinguish oneself on a team loaded down the middle. He’s a powerful skater with excellent agility and does phenomenal work on the penalty kill.
18 Vojtech Strondala LW Trebic Chance Liga
Undersized Czech winger who always finds a way to stand out on the top line at multiple international events. He’s the leading teenage scorer in the Czech Republic’s second division.
19 Cole Caufield RW U.S. U18 NTDP
Pure finisher with quickness and elusiveness, Caufield may be listed as only 5’7, but he plays fearless and will take the puck inside with authority. Similar to Alex DeBrincat but not as abrasive.
20 Valentin Nussbaumer C Shawinigan QMJHL
Nussbaumer has the misfortune of playing for an undermanned doormat, so take his stats with a grain of salt. He’s a 200-foot center with a high compete level who can tailor his game to his coach’s needs.
21 Billy Constantinou RHD Niagara OHL
A fantastic skater who can play the role of a rover, Constantinou is one of the more graceful teenage defensemen you’ll find for this year’s draft. An artist with the puck, Constantinou is a big gambler but appears eager to learn and improve his play in his own end.
22 Arthur Kaliyev LW Hamilton OHL
Sniping winger with a lethal shot who as a 17 year old is one of the OHL’s top scorers. Kaliyev is a high-volume shooter who does a lot of damage off the rush.
23 Matthew Robertson LHD Edmonton WHL
Poised two-way defender who loves to carry the puck and take it deep. Robertson is the leader of Edmonton’s defense corps and is the option his teammates turn to when they’re under pressure.
24 Cam York LHD U.S. U18 NTDP
Aggressive puck rusher with speed who can whip the puck around with both acurracy and authority. York is a bit of a risk taker but he stretches opposing coverage and owns a deadly wrist shot.
25 Ryder Donovan RW Duluth-East HS-MN
Towering winger who can serve as a pass-first playmaker or a goal scorer. Donovan has incredibly soft hands and is unpredictable once he takes the puck strong to the net.
26 Drew Helleson RHD U.S. U18 NTDP
Another poised defender from the NTDP, Helleson is a one-man breakout who isn’t shy of contact and can be trusted to cover the low slot when it’s required.
27 Yegor Spiridonov C Stalnye Lisy MHL
Smothering two-way center who can score from just about anywhere in the offensive zone and match up against opposing top lines. Spiridonov also dominates on draws.
28 Pavel Dorofeyev LW Stalnye Lisy MHL
A rugged winger with soft hands who plays fearless and relentless in all three zones, Dorofeyev is dangerous in odd-man situations and makes good decisions with the puck.
29 Alex Vlasic LHD U.S. U18 NTDP
Reliable, big-bodied puck mover with a cannon for a shot who can be used in either a shutdown role or orchestrate the attack from deep inside his own end.
30 Tobias Bjornfot LHD Djugardens SHL
One of the draft’s top one-on-one defenders, Bjornfot is a fluid skater with escapability who can log big minutes. His quick release on his wrister helps create rebounds of seemingly harmless attempts.
31 John Farinacci C Dexter HS-MA
Team USA’s top set-up man at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, Farinacci can carry the burden of being the go-to guy. The future Harvard Crimson is extremely crafty with the puck but also is reliable in a defensive role.


32 Philip Broberg LHD AIK Allsvenskan
33 Oleg Zaitsev C Red Deer WHL
34 Connor McMichael C London OHL
35 Samuel Poulin LW Sherbrooke QMJHL
36 Michal Teply LW Benatky Chance Liga
37 Lassi Thomson LHD Kelowna WHL
38 Bobby Brink RW Sioux Falls USHL
39 Moritz Seider RHD Adler Mannheim DNL
40 Massimo Rizzo C Penticton BCHL
41 Nolan Foote LW Kelowna WHL
42 Simon Holmstrom RW HV71 J20 Superelit
43 Patrik Puistola C/W Leki Mestis
44 Jakob Pelletier LW Moncton QMJHL
45 Mikko Kokkonen LHD Jukurit SM-Liiga
46 Albin Grewe RW Djugardens J20 Superelit
47 Nikita Alexandrov C Charlottetown QMJHL
48 Maxim Cajkovic RW Saint John QMJHL
49 Robert Mastrosimone LW Chicago USHL
50 Kaeden Korczak RHD Kelowna WHL
51 Ryan Johnson LHD Sioux Falls USHL
52 Matvei Guskov C/W London OHL
53 Judd Caulfield RW U.S. U18 NTDP
54 Braden Doyle LHD Jr. Bruins NCDC
55 Graeme Clarke RW Ottawa OHL
56 Marcus Kallionkieli LW Sioux City USHL
57 Konsta Hirvonen C HIFK U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga
58 Case McCarthy RHD U.S. U18 NTDP
59 Henry Thrun LHD U.S. U18 NTDP
60 Nathan Legare RW Moncton QMJHL
61 Josh Williams RW Medicine Hat WHL
62 Spencer Knight G U.S. U18 NTDP
63 Henri Nikkanen C Jukurit SM-Liiga
64 Nicholas Robertson C/RW Peterborough OHL
65 Daniil Misyul LHD Loko MHL
66 Thomas Harley LHD Mississauga OHL
67 Maxim Denezhkin C Loko MHL
68 Hugo Alnfeldt G HV71 J20 Superelit
69 Dimitri Sheshin RW Stalnye Lisy MHL
70 Cole Moberg RHD Prince George WHL
71 Egor Afanasyev LW Muskegon USHL
72 Iivari Räsänen LHD Tappara U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga
73 Marshall Warren LHD U.S. U18 NTDP
74 Michael Vukojevic LHD Kitchener OHL
75 Kyen Sopa RW Niagara OHL
76 Aku Raty RW Karpat U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga
77 Karl Henriksson C Frolunda J20 Superelit
78 Simon Lundmark RHD Linkoping J20 Superelit
79 Austin Swankler C Waterloo USHL
80 Kim Nousianen LHD Kalpa U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga
81 Cade Webber LHD U.S. U18 NTDP
82 Sasha Mutala RW Tri-City WHL
83 Artemi Knyazev LHD Chicoutimi QMJHL
84 Luke Toporowski LW Spokane WHL
85 Albert Johansson LHD Farjestad J20 Superelit
86 Dustin Wolf G Everett WHL
87 Matias Maccelli RW Dubuque USHL
88 Albin Sundsvik C Skelleftea J20 Superelit
89 Nikola Pasic RW/C Linkoping J20 Superelit
90 Alexander Gordin RW/LW SKA-Varyagi MHL
91 Matias Mäntykivi C Saipa U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga
92 Colten Ellis G Rimouski QMJHL
93 Ville Heinola LHD Lukko SM-Liiga
94 Vladislav Mikhailov C/RW MHK Dynamo Moscow MHL
95 Martin Hugo Has RHD Tappara U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga
96 Hunter Jones G Peterborough OHL
97 Dillon Hamaliuk LW Seattle WHL
98 Mikko Petman RW Lukko SM-Liiga
99 Blake Murray C Sudbury OHL
100 Alexei Tsyplakov C SKA-1946 MHL
101 Kalle Loponen RHD Karpat U20 SM-Liiga
102 Mike Koster LHD Chaska HS-MN
103 Alex Campbell LW Victoria BCHL
104 Gianni Fairbrother LHD Everett WHL
105 Garrett Pinoniemi C Holy Family HS-MN
106 Filip Prikryl C Saint John QMJHL
107 Danil Antropov RW Oshawa OHL
108 Yegor Bryutov LHD Tyumenski Legion MHL
109 Maxim Shabanov C Belye Medvedi MHL