2019 NHL Draft Ranking: November’s Top-31

A new month means a new 2019 NHL Draft Ranking. Featured in November’s edition are our top-31 ranked prospects, as well as three players to watch and 20+ prospect profiles.

We’re edging closer to the 2019 NHL Draft, and this year’s class is looking stronger and stronger with each passing day.

Led by Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, the NHL franchise who selects first overall will undoubtedly be adding an excellent young prospect to their organization. However, outside of these two dominant forwards, a secondary class of equally promising youngsters is beginning to take shape.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

Yes, as you will see, a great deal of change has taken place since our October ranking was published. However, this same core of prospects remains intact, with all of which battling tirelessly on a nightly basis to establish themselves as elite players capable of making an impact at the NHL-level.

Ryan Suzuki of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Ryan Suzuki will need to dominate with consistency if he wishes to maintain his standing within 2019’s extremely competitive top-10. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Of note this past month was the play of Kirby Dach, Bowen Byram, and Raphael Lavoie. Long projected to be selected within the top-10, Dach has surpassed Dylan Cozens and now sits as the third best prospect eligible in 2019. Moreover, both Byram and Lavoie have been remarkably consistent to begin the 2018-19 campaign, and have earned their new places within November’s top-10.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles

We’re still seven months away from the 2019 NHL Draft, scheduled to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia on Jun. 21-22 — yet, make no mistake, the players listed below are elite young talents soon to become household names.

But, before we hit this month’s ranking, meet three prospects whose play was downright exceptional this past month.

Three Players on the Rise

Bowen Byram

Position: Defence

Team: Vancouver Giants (WHL)

2018-19 Statistics: 5G, 8A, 13Pts — 16GP

Bowen Byram is proving to be one of — if not the — best defencemen eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

What makes Byram so valuable and promising is his stellar two-way game. Founded upon excellent skating abilities, Byram can fly throughout the ice and is incredibly agile and mobile in doing so. What’s more is that Bryam’s feet allow him to play an influential role at both ends of the ice — his speed allows him to lead the rush while his agility allows him to attack and smother opposing forwards in his defensive zone.

Adding greater value to Byram’s stock is his confidence and composure with the puck. More than capable of quarter-backing his team’s power play and lethal in doing so, Byram rarely makes mistakes and will hunt down the puck if he happens to forfeit possession.

Somewhat similar in playing style to Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Byram has all the makings of a minute-munching, top-pairing defender at the NHL-level. Breaking into the top-five for the first time this season, it will be interesting to see whether or not Byram can maintain his standing as the year progresses.

Raphael Lavoie

Position: Centre/Right-Wing

Team: Halifax Mooseheads

2018-19 Statistics: 11G, 7A, 18Pts — 15GP

Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 200-pounds, Raphael Lavoie is arguably the top power-forward eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

Unlike many power-forwards who struggle to combine their size, skill, and skating ability, Lavoie brings a sound, two-way game to the table on a nightly basis. Utilizing his size to his advantage with each passing shift, Lavoie can dominate his opposition at both ends of the ice and is consistent in his abilities.

Perhaps the most notable abilities which Lavoie possesses, however, are his skills with the puck as well as his skating. Despite his lanky frame, Lavoie is a smooth and polished skater, and one who boasts a surprisingly high-level of top speed. Able to overtake defenders who don’t respect his speed, Lavoie can drive his way to the goal and has the fine skill necessary to pot the puck more often than not.

Owing to his impressive offensive output thus far this season as well as his general consistency, Lavoie has ascended into November’s top-10 — and deservedly so.

Trevor Zegras

Position: Centre

Team: USA NTDP U18

2018-19 Statistics: 6G, 13A, 19Pts — 12 GP

Jack Hughes was supposed to be the player to watch on the U.S. NTDP U18 Team this season, however, Trevor Zegras has quickly stolen the spotlight.

In his first 12 games played in 2018-19, Zegras netted six goals and 13 assists — good for a total of 19 points and the second greatest total on his team. And while Hughes’ 20 points did, in fact, lead the team as of the end of October, Zegras’ point per game pace of 1.58 still stood as the higher mark of the two.

The two facets of Zegras’ game which have contributed to his lethality this season are his skating as well as creativity with the puck. As a smooth skater of ample speed and agility, Zegras can navigate the offensive zone with relative ease. Quick on his feet and capable of moving with a purpose, Zegras can create a wealth of time and space for himself while devising scoring plays in the process.

Long expected to be chosen in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft, Zegras’ consistent play and immense offensive output has propelled him into range of the top-10. If capable of maintaining his current level of play, Zegras could prove to be an underrated yet explosive prospect come draft day.

November’s Top-31 Prospects

Well, here they are, this month’s top-31 NHL prospects.

There was a great deal of change within our ranking over the past month, as new forwards broke into the top-10 overall while an emerging defenceman established himself as one of this year’s defenders to watch.

As always, feel free to compare this month’s ranking with that of October’s. However, be sure to use the “+/-” column in order to see how each prospect’s stock has shifted over the past 31 days.

Rank

+/- Player Position Team
1 Jack Hughes C USA U18 (NTDP)
2 Kaapo Kakko C/RW Turku (SM-liiga)
3 +2 Kirby Dach C Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
4 -1 Dylan Cozens C Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
5 +5 Bowen Byram D Vancouver Giants (WHL)
6 +5 Raphael Lavoie LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
7 +1 Ryan Suzuki C Barrie Colts (OHL)
8 +1 Philip Broberg D AIK J20 (SuperElit)
9 -5 Peyton Krebs C Kootenay Ice (WHL)
10 -4 Alex Newhook C VIctoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
11 +1 Tobias Bjornfot D Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)
12 -5 Vasili Podkolzin RW SKA 1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
13 +10 Trevor Zegras C USA U18 (NTDP)
14 Arthur Kaliyev RW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
15 +4 Matthew Boldy LW USA U18 (NTDP)
16 -3 Cam York D USA U18 (NTDP)
17 -1 Anttoni Honka D JYP (SM-liiga)
18 Albin Grewe RW Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)
19 -2 Alex Turcotte C USA U18 (NTDP)
20 +1 Jakob Pelletier C/LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
21 -1 Matthew Robertson D Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
22 -7 Cole Caufield RW USA U18 (NTDP)
23 +2 Victor Soderstrom D Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)
24 +2 Nils Hoglander LW Rogle BK J20 (SuperElit)
25 NR Kaeden Korczak D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
26 NR Thomas Harley D Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
27 Ilya Mironov D Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
28 Dmitri Sheshin F Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
29 +3 Spencer Knight G USA U18 (NTDP)
30 NR Max Wahlgren C/RW MODO J20 (SuperElit)
31 NR Nathan Legare RW Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
HM Marshall Warren D USA U18 (NTDP)
HM Nolan Foote LW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
HM Lassi Thomson D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
HM Blake Murray C Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
HM Marcus Kallionkieli LW Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
HM Samuel Poulin LW Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
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2019 NHL Draft Ranking: October’s Top-31

It’s October! With a new month comes a new 2019 NHL Draft Ranking, and with it 31 top prospects to meet. Although the 2018-19 season is young, you’ll want to see who rose and who fell since September.

The 2018-19 NHL season is upon us, meaning there is no better time than the present to meet this year’s class of NHL prospects.

Much like in years passed, the 2019 NHL Draft will feature a bevy of immensely talented prospects eager to make an impact at the NHL-level. Leading the way this season is Jack Hughes — the consensus first overall selection who has drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jack Hughes
Hughes is the 2019 NHL Draft’s top talent. (Photo Credit – Rena Laverty, USA Hockey’s NTDP)

However, although Hughes stands as this year’s elite prospect, other notable players such as Kaapo Kakko and Dylan Cozens are equally promising and could challenge Hughes for the distinction come Jun. 21, 2019. What’s more is that a strong, secondary class of prospects also exists — a reality which should lead to a great deal of discussion and debate as the 2018-19 season persists.

So, with October now underway and the NHL in full swing, let’s take a moment to meet the NHL’s top-31 prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

RELATED: 2019 NHL Draft Prospects Home Page

Yet, before we do, there are three particular prospects which we must first discuss, as their ascensions within October’s ranking were not only swift but substantial.

Three Early Risers

Although the 2018-19 hockey season remains in its infancy, a handful of prospects have wasted little time proving their abilities as NHL hopefuls.

While none of which are household names, the trio you will meet below likely will be by the conclusion of the current campaign.

Albin Grewe – #18

Position: Centre/Left-Wing

2018-19 Team: Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)

September Ranking: 30th

Albin Grewe isn’t the flashiest player on the ice on any given night, however, he is remarkably consistent and endlessly productive.

Currently skating for Djurgardens J20 in the SuperElit, Grewe is a premier offensive player capable of driving his team’s attack. Boasting great vision with the puck and excellent stick-handling abilities, Grewe can devise lethal plays with ease and is as creative as they come. What’s more is that Grewe possesses a solid shot, and one which is defined by its quick release and power.

When the calendar turned to the month of October, Grewe had already posted 11 points in just seven games played. While his defensive game needs improvement and he would do well to strengthen his 6-foot frame, Grewe holds substantial offensive potential and the drive necessary to one day compete at the NHL-level.

Anttoni Honka – #16

Position: Defence

2018-19 Team: JYP (Liiga)

September Ranking: 29th

Only three players under the age of 18-years skated in the Liiga during the 2017-18 season — Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Rasmus Kupari, and Anttoni Honka.

As a defenceman, Honka’s point per game pace of 0.45 was second only to Kotkaniemi’s 0.51, a statistic which stood as a glaring indication of Honka’s abilities at the professional-level. Extremely composed, poised with the puck, and confident in his decision making, Honka is a well-rounded defender who has progressed rapidly through his play in Finland’s highest level of hockey.

In the midst of his first full campaign with JYP at the Liiga-level in 2018-19, Honka recorded three points in his first seven games played and has continued to exhibit the stellar two-way game which he has become widely known for. Sure, he might be slightly undersized for a defenceman, yet what Honka lacks in stature he accommodates for with energy, skill, and drive.

Although he finds himself in the middle of the pack as of October’s ranking, don’t be surprised if Honka fights to become the first defenceman selected in the 2019 NHL Draft come next June — he is simply that good.

Nils Hoglander – #25

Position: Left-Wing

2018-19 Team: Rogle BK (SHL)

September Ranking: 31st

While he is a late 2000-born prospect, Nils Hoglander is one of Sweden’s most notable prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

Already skating for Rogle BK at the SHL-level, Hoglander is a highly skilled forward capable of injecting energy and offence into his team’s lineup. As somewhat of a spark plug, Hoglander isn’t afraid to mix things up physically and will pair his fiery nature with his immense skill — creating a unique combination of drive and ability.

Perhaps the only negative present within Hoglander’s game is his lack of size. Standing just 5-foot-9, Hoglander is regularly amongst the smallest players on the ice and could face difficulties transitioning to the NHL-level as a result. While there is certainly a great deal to appreciate with respect to Hoglander’s unique style of play, he could rise within the 2019 NHL Draft board if able to produce with greater consistency.

October’s Top-31 Prospects

Although the 2018-19 hockey season remains young, a great deal of change has already taken place since we published our initial 2019 NHL Draft ranking of the campaign in mid-September.

RELATED: 2019 NHL Draft Ranking – September’s Top-31

While this year’s top prospects have not moved since September, a great deal of others have shifted dramatically owing to either slow or quick starts within their respective developmental leagues. In this month’s edition, we’ve added a new column which indicates how each prospect’s stock has shifted since the previous month.

So, although October has only just begun, be sure to keep an eye on our top-31 prospects listed below — these are the players you’ll need to know this season.

Rank Player Position Team
1 Jack Hughes C USA NTDP (U18)
2 Kaapo Kakko C/RW Turku (SM-liiga)
3 Dylan Cozens C Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
4 Peyton Krebs C Kootenay Ice (WHL)
5 +4 Kirby Dach C/RW Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
6 Alex Newhook C Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
7 2 Vasili Podkolzin RW SKA 1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
8 +3 Ryan Suzuki C Barrie Colts (OHL)
9 2 Philip Broberg D AIK J20 (SuperElit)
10 2 Bowen Byram D Vancouver Giants (WHL)
11 1 Raphael Lavoie LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
12 5 Tobias Bjornfot D Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)
13 +3 Cam York D USA NTDP (U18)
14 +4 Arthur Kaliyev RW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
15 2 Cole Caufield RW USA NTDP (U18)
16 +13 Anttoni Honka D JYP (SM-liiga)
17 3 Alex Turcotte C USA NTDP (U18)
18 +12 Albin Grewe RW Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)
19 Matthew Boldy LW USA NTDP (U18)
20 +5 Matthew Robertson D Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
21 1 Jakob Pelletier C/LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
22 1 Blake Murray C Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
23 1 Trevor Zegras C USA NTDP (U18)
24 1 Victor Soderstrom D Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)
25 +6 Nils Hoglander LW Rogle BK J20 (SuperElit)
26 11 Ilya Mironov D Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
27 NR Dmitri Sheshin F Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
28 NR Michael Vukojevic D Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
29 12 Josh Williams RW Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
30 3 Simon Holmstrom RW HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
31 3 Spencer Knight G USA NTDP (U18)

2019 NHL Draft Ranking: September’s Top-31

In Prospect Pipeline’s first top-31 NHL Draft Ranking of the season, we rate the top prospects available as of September and profile this year’s ‘big-three’.

Here they are, the best of the best.

As of the month of September, it is Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, and Dylan Cozens who stand as the 2019 NHL Draft’s top three prospects.

In Hughes we see a legitimate first-line centre at the NHL-level laying in wait — his on-ice vision and playmaking abilities are second to none. Then, in Kakko and Cozens, we have two sizeable forwards whose games are based upon blazing speed, refined skill, and an unquenchable thirst for success.

[RELATED: 2019 NHL Draft Ranking – Pre-Season Top-10]

Although the head of this year’s class is subject to change, it will surely prove difficult to dislodge any of these three players from their perch atop the 2019 NHL Draft. However, a strong secondary class of prospects has begun to emerge — a number of which you will meet below who boast the potential to crack the top-three overall come next June.

With this being said, let’s take a closer look at the cream of the 2019 NHL Draft’s crop before meeting September’s top-31 prospects.

The Big Three

Jack Hughes

Position: Centre

2018-19 Team: USA NTDP (U18)

Jack Hughes is a generational talent — of this there is no question.

Incredibly similar in playing style to Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, Hughes is a quick-thinking playmaker whose creativity knows no bounds. Agile in his skating yet tactile in his movements, Hughes navigates the ice with a sense of purpose and can generate high-quality scoring chances with relative ease.

Jack Hughes’ ability to process the game is second to none in the 2019 NHL Draft class. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Although he will need to strengthen his frame prior to ascending to the NHL-level, Hughes’ impressive intelligence level and ability to think the game allows him to avoid a great deal of physical play — the only defensive approach which seems to slow the young phenom.

In short, Hughes is a dynamic offensive player who boasts elite offensive abilities — a reality which cemented his standing as September’s top prospect. In the coming years, expect Hughes to challenge for the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading point scorer — he is that good.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right-Wing

2018-19 Team: TPS U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)

Ranked as Prospect Pipeline’s second-best prospect in the month of September is Kaapo Kakko — one of the best skaters available in the 2019 NHL Draft. The defining characteristics of Kakko’s game are undoubtedly his speed, agility, and ability to process the game at an elite level despite the native of Turku, Finland’s young age.

At just 17-years-old, Kakko is a rising superstar whose game is defined by his refined skill set. With a smooth set of hands capable of handling the puck in traffic with ease, Kakko can execute highlight-reel dangles and isn’t afraid to drive hard to the net. Utilizing his solid size and speed, Kakko can burn defenders wide before working his way towards the goal.

Once in the vicinity of his target, Kakko can unleash his strong and accurate shot on net. Characterized by its quick release, Kakko’s shot is abrupt yet abundantly effective and owns the velocity necessary to best opposing goaltenders cleanly on a nightly basis.

Although his defensive game requires improvement, Kakko’s upcoming season and the potential to play in a significant number of games with TPS at the Liiga-level will undoubtedly bode well for the progression of the youngster’s all-around game.

Dylan Cozens

Position: Centre

2018-19 Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes

Fleet-footed power-forwards are a rarity in the NHL of today, as the combination of size, skill, and speed is a lethal and incredibly potent mixture.

Fortunately for Dylan Cozens of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes — September’s third-best NHL prospect — the youngster boasts each and every one of these qualities at the age of just 17-years. Standing 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds, Cozens owns a strong frame which he propels throughout the ice owing to his stable foundation and explosive strides.

Size, speed, and skill stand as the foundation of Cozens’ impressive game. (Photo credit: Erica Perreaux)

Capable of attacking opposing defences head on and a possession dynamo, Cozens’ ability to generate offence for his team is a spectacle to behold.

With this being said, it should come as no surprise to learn that Cozens captured the Jim Piggott this past season as the WHL’s Rookie of the Year. After scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace in his last campaign — 53 points in 57 games played — expect Cozens to enjoy a spectacular season with the Hurricanes in 2018-19.

September’s Top-31 NHL Prospects

Brace yourself — here are the top-31 prospects available for the 2019 NHL Draft, as of September.

Given the infancy of the 2018-19 season, expect this ranking to fluctuate dramatically as the campaign progresses. And, despite his current standing as the 2019 NHL Draft’s top prospect, expect a solid secondary class of youngsters to emerge and challenge Jack Hughes for bragging rights as the first overall selection.

If you’d like to read a more in-depth prospect profile regarding a particular player, be sure to click on the names below which are highlighted in blue.

As the 2018-19 NHL season progresses, we’ll work tirelessly to create a greater number of prospect profiles for the vast number of players eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft — so be sure to check in monthly!

Rank

Player Position

Team

1

Jack Hughes C USA NTDP (U18)

2

Kaapo Kakko C/RW

Turku (SM-liiga)

3 Dylan Cozens C

Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

4

Peyton Krebs C Kootenay Ice (WHL)

5

Vasili Podkolzin RW

SKA 1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

6 Alex Newhook C

Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)

7

Philip Broberg D AIK J20 (SuperElit)
8 Bowen Byram D

Vancouver Giants (WHL)

9

Kirby Dach C/RW Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
10 Raphael Lavoie LW

Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

11

Ryan Suzuki C Barrie Colts (OHL)
12 Tobias Bjornfot D

Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)

13

Cole Caufield RW USA NTDP (U18)
14 Alex Turcotte C

USA NTDP (U18)

15

Ilya Mironov D Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
16 Cam York D

USA NTDP (U18)

17

Josh Williams RW Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
18 Arthur Kaliyev RW

Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

19

Matthew Boldy LW USA NTDP (U18)
20 Jakob Pelletier C/LW

Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

21

Blake Murray  C Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
22 Trevor Zegras C

USA NTDP (U18)

23

Victor Soderstrom D

Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)

24

Nolan Foote LW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

25

Matthew Robertson D Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

26

Kaeden Korczak D

Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

27

Simon Holmstrom RW HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
28 Spencer Knight G

USA NTDP (U18)

29

Anttoni Honka D JYP (SM-liiga)

30

Albin Grewe RW Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)

31

Nils Hoglander LW

Rogle BK J20 (SuperElit)

Is Jack Hughes the Next Patrick Kane?

As the projected first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, player comparisons are nothing new for Jack Hughes. However, the similarities between he and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks are far too striking to ignore.

Jack Hughes of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program is an elite if not generational talent who stands poised to dominate the NHL for years to come.

Founded upon exceptional skating abilities, Hughes moves the puck incredibly well and is a threat every single time he steps onto the ice. As unpredictable as he is lethal, Hughes keeps his opponents on their heels owing to his ability to both pass and shoot the puck with absolute authority.

Jack Hughes, NTDP
Jack Hughes is the latest American phenom produced by USA Hockey’s NTDP. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Capable of playing on his team’s power play and penalty kill, Hughes is a versatile all-around threat who can create potent offensive plays in the blink-of-an-eye. Able to steal the puck from opposing players with ease before meandering his way through defences, Hughes’ quick and agile feet and sky-high hockey I.Q. allows him to dominate each and every game in a seemingly stress-free manner.

Hughes’ combination and execution of these abilities at such a young age can be best defined as nothing other than exceptional.

So, it should come as no surprise to learn that Hughes has earned a bevy of player comparisons throughout his career to date, with none more accurate than the similarities between he and current Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.

Jack Hughes: The Next Patrick Kane?

When it comes to Hughes and Kane, the likeness between the two is incredibly striking.

Like Hughes, Kane is a product of the USA’s NTDP, and honed his game while skating with the program during the 2005-06 campaign. Although the season Kane spent with the team preceded his first year of NHL-draft eligibility, the native of Buffalo, New York still managed to record 52 goals and 102 points in his 58 games played for the program.

How did Kane do it?

Well, like Hughes, Kane excelled largely as a result of his impeccable skating abilities and elite-level hockey I.Q. Confident and poised while in possession of the puck and rarely forced into mistakes or turnovers, Kane’s composure with the puck at an early age allowed him to drive his team’s offensive game with relative ease.

Jack Hughes
Like Kane, Hughes is a puck-hound who creates with consistency. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

In addition to the calm displayed by both players, it is both Hughes’ and Kane’s crafty hands, stick-handling abilities, and creativity with the puck that allows the two to mirror one another.

Like Kane, Hughes is a magician with the puck who seemingly keeps it tied to a string. Able to pick the puck out of scrums and capable of controlling possession through the sticks and legs of opposing defenders, Hughes’ ability to command the puck in traffic while generating high-quality scoring chances is a pleasure to behold.

Having created both time and space for themselves through tactile positioning and poise, both Hughes and Kane can then wire the puck on goal or pass it off to a teammate laying in wait.

Jack Hughes
Hughes’ intelligence allows him to elude and dismantle opposing defences. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Perhaps the only similarity the two star players share — and one which is often viewed as a weakness — is the pair’s lack of substantial size. Standing 5-foot-10 and 175-pounds, Kane is never the biggest player on the ice, and neither is Hughes who stands a very similar 5-foot-10 and 165-pounds in his own right.

However, despite this perceived deficiency shared both players, each has learned to adapt to the challenges placed upon them by today’s game. Given their elusive nature and on-ice intelligence, both Hughes and Kane have the generated the proven ability to avoid players of an intimidating stature while still playing an incredibly valuable role for their respective teams.

Hughes and the 2019 NHL Draft

When the 2019 NHL Draft takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia on June 21-22nd, expect the similarities between Hughes and Kane to continue.

In 2007 — following a jaw-dropping 62 goals and 145 points in 58 games played for the London Knights of the OHL — Kane heard his name called by the Blackhawks with the first overall selection in the NHL Draft. Given his immense skill-set and proven production, Chicago’s selection of Kane was a mere formality.

And, when Hughes heads to Vancouver for the 2019 NHL Draft, expect the case to be eerily similar.

Jack Hughes
At the 2019 NHL Draft, Hughes will likely become just the second American chosen first-overall in the past decade. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Considering his incredible play for USA Hockey’s NTDP to date, Hughes’ first overall selection in the coming NHL Draft is virtually all but set. Although an excellent group of other prospects stand poised to challenge the native of Orlando, Florida for the distinction, Hughes’ play to date — and his similarities to Kane — make the youngster’s services far to valuable to pass up.

So, although the 2018-19 season remains in its infancy, expect the NHL to welcome yet another generational talent to its ranks in the immediate future.

And, while Hughes is clearly similar in playing style to Kane, who’s to say that the top-prospect won’t eclipse his fellow American at the NHL-level and — one day — challenge Connor McDavid for the scoring title?

2019 NHL Draft Ranking: Pre-Season Top-10

It’s Prospect Pipeline’s first 2019 NHL Draft Ranking of the season! In this edition, we have listed, profiled, and analyzed the top-10 players available for selection.

The 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft — set to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia on Jun. 21-22nd, 2019 — will boast one of the deepest and heavily skilled classes of prospects in recent history.

Unlike in years passed, the 2019 NHL Draft will ascend a bevy of elite players to the NHL-level rather than just one. Leading the way prior to the 2018-19 hockey season is none other than Jack Hughes — a playmaking centre currently skating for the U.S. National U18 Team who has already drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

2019 NHL Draft Logo
The 2019 NHL Draft will welcome a wealth of talent to the NHL-level.

Although Hughes is the early favourite to be selected first overall, a highly talented group of other prospects stand poised to challenge the young American for the distinction.

Hughes’ strongest contender is likely Kaapo Kakko — an immensely talented ‘Finn whose two-way game and innate offensive skill-set will pave the way to a long and fruitful NHL career. Further, there are the likes of Dylan Cozens, Alex Newhook, and Peyton Krebs — a trio of Canadian forwards bursting with high-end talent.

So, with the 2018-19 season set to begin in a little less than a month, it’s time to meet, profile, and determine the 2019 NHL Draft’s top-10 prospects.

The Top-10 Prospects

10. Raphael Lavoie

Position: Centre

Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 195-pounds

2017-18 Team: Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

Raphael Lavoie has all the makings of a prototypical power-forward.

Related: Prospect Profile – Raphael Lavoie

Already standing 6-foot-4 tall and tipping the scale at 195-pounds, Lavoie is an intimidating presence on the ice who demands the respect of his opponents. Although he would do well to use his size to his advantage more frequently, Lavoie can protect the puck with ease and is a dominant force below the goal line.

Raphael Lavoie
Lavoie blends size and skill into a lethal all-around game. (Photo: David Chan)

However, Lavoie is much more than a big body, as the native of Montreal, Quebec owns soft mitts and a nose for the net. In his second and most recent season of play with the Halifax Mooseheads, Lavoie potted 30 goals and 63 points across 68 regular season games played. If Lavoie can continue to improve his skating this coming season, the youngster should be a lock for the top-10.

Comparable: Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

9. Bowen Byram

Position: Defence

Height/Weight: 6-foot, 180-pounds

2017-18 Team: Vancouver Giants, WHL

If you’re looking for an excellent puck-moving defender with offensive upside, then Bowen Byram is your prospect.

Related: Prospect Profile – Bowen Byram

Founded upon stellar skating abilities, Byram plays a comprehensive two-way game which begins in his defensive zone and ends in his opponent’s. Capable of breaking out of his own zone with ease owing to solid vision and playmaking abilities, Byram transitions the puck to his teammates quickly and is not afraid to join the rush.

Bowen Byram
A strong two-way game and excellent on-ice awareness fuels Byram’s play. (Photo: Chris Relke)

Once in the midst of a rush, Byram can dish the puck or pound it on goal — an ability which generates a ton of rebounds for his teammates. What’s more is the fact that Byram can run his team’s power-play without issue, as the youngster’s composure and poise with the puck allows him to devise and implement high-percentage scoring plays.

Comparable: Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

8. Phillip Broberg

Position: Defence

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 200-pounds

2017-18 Team: AIK J20, SuperElit

Phillip Broberg exploded at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, scoring three goals and four points across five games played while cementing himself as an elite prospect in the process.

Well-known to scouts prior to the tournament, Broberg’s confident and consistent play has ushered the young ‘Swede into the top-10 overall for the time being. Like Byram, Broberg skates like the wind and refuses to waver in the face of overwhelming competition. Willing to skate the puck through traffic in order to generate offence for his team, Broberg is an exceptional two-way talent who munches major minutes.

Further, Broberg already boasts significant size and is remarkably strong on the puck — a reality which allows him to maintain possession with ease while devising calculated plays. This coming season, however, Broberg must work to improve his lateral mobility — his size can make it difficult to smother opposing forwards defensively.

Comparable: John Klingberg, Dallas Stars

7. Kirby Dach

Position: Centre

Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 198-pounds

2017-18 Team: Saskatoon Blades

Size, skill, and speed have come to define Kirby Dach’s growing game.

Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 198-pounds, Dach was a man amongst boys in the WHL this past season despite his age of just 17-years. Fortunately for Dach, he made the most of his unique skill set — scoring seven goals and 46 points in 52 regular season contests for the Saskatoon Blades.

Related: Prospect Profile – Kirby Dach

Although his skating will need to improve if he wishes to enjoy a successful transition to higher levels of hockey, Dach’s raw skill-set will allow him to generate massive offensive totals once refined. Boasting soft hands and excellent awareness within the goal-mouth, Dach loves to pass the puck to his teammates and will battle desperately for any loose puck which presents itself.

In 2018-19, look for Dach to significantly increase his goal-output.

Comparable: Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

6. Vasili Podkolzin

Position: Right-Wing

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 165-pounds

2017-18 Team: Vityaz Podolsk U17

The Hlinka Gretzky Cup was an excellent opportunity for NHL Draft-eligible players to prove their worth to NHL franchises — and that is exactly what Vasili Podkolzin achieved.

Although an already well-known prospect prior to the tournament, Podkolzin cemented his status as an elite 2019 talent through his play with Team Russia. In his nation’s five games played, Podkolzin blasted home a jaw-dropping eight goals while adding three assists for a total of 11 points. What’s more is the fact that a number of Podkolzin’s goals were timely and of the highlight-reel variety — a reality which drew the attention of hockey fans worldwide.

Strong on his skates and a persistent competitor, Podkolzin is an offensive force who is confident and creative with the puck on his stick. Capable of dangling opposing defenders with regularity, Podkolzin’s raw skill-set should translate well to the NHL-level given the youngster’s desire to not only score goals but win important games.

While defence remains an area of weakness for Podkolzin, it is an art which he will learn well this coming campaign with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg of the KHL.

Comparable: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

5. Peyton Krebs

Position: Left-Wing

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 180-pounds

2017-18 Team: Kootenay Ice, WHL

There’s a reason why Peyton Krebs was selected by the Kootenay Ice with the first overall choice in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

Well, a few reasons, actually.

Related: Prospect Profile – Peyton Krebs

An incredibly passionate and driven player, Krebs is an offensive dynamo who prides himself upon sound two-way play and team success. With speed to burn and ample agility, Krebs can dissect opposing defences with ease and has very little trouble filling the back of the net. Although he is a pass-first player, Krebs’ emerging wrist-shot allows him to keep goaltenders guessing.

Peyton Krebs
Lightning-quick skating and hands highlight Krebs’ abilities on the ice.

In fact, in addition to the 37 assists he recorded for the Ice last season, Krebs also potted 17 goals — a number of which coming as the direct result of his accurate shot. While Krebs’ defensive game clearly needs work based on his -22 plus/minus rating last season, the native Okotoks, Alberta will only continue to grow his all-around game as he gains greater experience against challenging competition.

Comparable: Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning

4. Alex Newhook

Position: Centre

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 185-pounds

2017-18 Team: Victoria Grizzlies, BCHL

Despite playing his minor midget year with the York Simcoe Express of the GTHL in 2016-17, Alex Newhook made the transition to the BCHL last season and did not disappoint.

In his 45 regular season games played for the Victoria Grizzlies, Newhook netted an impressive 22 goals and 66 points — a total which afforded him with his team’s second-greatest offensive output. Further, Newhook collected nine points in 12 playoff games — a level of consistent production which saw the youngster awarded with the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy as the BCHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Related: Prospect Profile – Alex Newhook

The traits which separate Newhook apart from his peers are both abundant and evident every time the native of St. John’s, Newfoundland takes to the ice. In addition to his explosive speed and later mobility, Newhook sees the ice extremely well and has the ability to navigate within it with ease. Capable of threading a pass through an opponent’s feet or sliding the puck to the back door, Newhook’s deceptive style of play keeps opposing defenders guessing.

What’s more is that Newhook boasts a solid shot defined by its quick release — a weapon which the youngster fires with regularity.

Comparable: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

3. Dylan Cozens

Position: Centre

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 175-pounds

2017-18 Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL

Dylan Cozens burst onto the scene at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup — routinely driving Team Canada’s offence owing to his raw speed, skill, and determination.

However, Cozens had established himself as an elite NHL prospect long before achieving stardom on the international stage.

Related: Prospect Profile – Dylan Cozens

Selected by the Lethbridge Hurricanes with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Cozens has seemingly set out to spite the 18 league organizations which neglected to secure his talents when they held the opportunity. In his first season of WHL play with the Hurricanes in 2017-18, Cozens tallied 22 goals and 53 points in a mere 57 games played — an incredible output which landed him the Jim Piggott Trophy as the WHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Dylan Cozens
Cozens is a dominating force — his size, speed, and natural puck handling abilities are a lethal combination. (Photo: Erica Perreaux)

Founded upon blazing speed as well as significant size, Cozens owns a unique skill-set which allows him to drive to the goal, pass the puck to a teammate, or shoot the puck on net himself. It is Cozens’ versatile attacking game which makes him such a difficult player to defend — a defining trait which he will surely carry on to the NHL-level.

Comparable: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

2. Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right-Wing

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 180-pounds

2017-18 Team: TPS U20, Jr. A Sm-liiga

Although Jack Hughes is a virtual lock to be selected first overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Finnish sensation Kaapo Kakko could very well challenge the young American for the distinction.

Founded upon smooth skating and a lethal skill-set, Kakko is a polished player who brings both confidence and poise to the ice. Never pressured into making mistakes and calm while in possession of the puck, Kakko can devise high-quality scoring chances with both ease and frequency. What’s more is that Kakko owns an improving shot — one which is both accurate and volatile.

Related: Prospect Profile – Kaapo Kakko

In his most recent season of play for TPS U20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga, Kakko potted 25 goals and 55 points in just 38 games played — an offensive output which led his team by a wide margin. One major factor which drove Kakko’s production last season was his ability to navigate within tight spaces as well as in close to the goal. Much like Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kakko regularly pounced on rebounds and roofed the puck despite his lack of a significant shooting angle, time, or space.

In all, there’s a heck of a lot to like when it comes to Kakko and his growing game. As a capable two-way player who can make an impact at both ends of the ice as well as drive his team’s transition game, the native Turku, Finland is well on his way to a landing spot within the top-3 of the 2019 NHL Draft.

Comparable: Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

1. Jack Hughes

Position: Centre

Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 160-pounds

2017-18 Team: USA National Team U18

Silky smooth, incredibly intelligent, and remarkably consistent, Jack Hughes is a well-rounded prospect who boasts the skill-set of a future franchise player at the NHL-level.

Although Hughes plays a game similar to many within the NHL today, no comparison is more accurate or flattering than his similarity to Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, Hughes is a centre while Kane is a winger, however, both boast a similar physical frame and innate offensive instincts.

Jack Hughes
Like Kane, Hughes has risen to stardom as a member of USA Hockey’s NTDP. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Standing 5-foot-10 and 160-pounds, Hughes is by no means an intimidating force on the ice. However, neither is Kane, who also stands 5-foot-10 and tips the scale at 175-pounds. Yet, despite this perceived deficiency on the part of both players, Hughes and Kane have continued to defy the odds while obliterating the scoresheet in the process.

Related: Prospect Profile – Jack Hughes

In order to attain meaningful and consistent success as undersized players, intelligence, creativity, and confidence are key. Fortunately, these traits are qualities which both Hughes and Kane possess with abundance. When it comes to Hughes, he is more often than not the smartest player on the ice — analyzing the tendencies of his opponents before exposing the weaknesses he discerns within their approach.

Jack Hughes
Although he played his youth hockey in Ontario, Canada, Hughes is the future face of American hockey. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

In addition to this intelligence, Hughes — like Kane — is remarkably creative and confident. Willing to attack the centre of the ice and more than capable of maneuvering within it, Hughes can sense the pressure placed upon him by defenders and use the information to determine the most beneficial course of action. Boasting incredible hands, Hughes’ most common tactic is to pass the puck to teammates situated in excellent scoring positions.

Although his shot needs to improve alongside both his skating speed and lower-body strength, Hughes has the potential to one day lead the NHL in scoring — the defining reasoning behind his standing as Prospect Pipeline’s top pre-season prospect.

Comparable: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

NHL Prospect Profile: Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes will, in all likelihood, be made the first overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. Heck, he’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane at the age of 17.

– Jack Hughes –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Orlando, Florida | May 14, 2001 | 5-foot-10, 161-pounds

Jack Hughes enters the 2018-19 season as the consensus 1st overall pick for the 2019 NHL Draft. The 17-year-old center broke all kinds of NTDP records as a U17 player during the ’17-18 campaign, running up 40 goals and 116 points in 60 games, 36 of which came with the U18 team as an underaged player.

For comparison sake, Hughes’ point total fell just one short of the all-time NTDP record, which was set by none other than Auston Matthews during his second year with the program in 2014-15. Hughes appears to be set to annihilate the competition this year, where he will play both USHL and NCAA opponents, and will likely be a large part of USA’s U20 World Junior squad come December.

Strengths:

  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Playmaking

Jack Hughes is, simply put, a dynamic player who can dictate the game in any shift. He understands the game incredibly well for a 17-year-old, visibly outthinking his opponents and articulating the best play available before it develops. His skating is is exceptional, with the ability to blow by opponents as well as the elusiveness to cut in and out, and edgework that is second-to-none.

Jack Hughes have quickly become the runaway favourite to go 1st overall at the 2019 NHL Draft. Photo Credit – Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP

Putting those two attributes together results in an exemplary playmaker. Hughes utilizes his vision of the ice to understand when and where a lane will open up, and combines his skating abilities to maximize the output of his teammates. He can pull defenders towards him before setting up a wide-open teammate, or go to a quiet area with the puck before threading a pass through traffic.

Weaknesses:

  • Strength

It’s not an easy task to outline Hughes’ weaknesses, because there are seemingly none in his game. The one category that could use some improvement would be his strength. By no means is Hughes a towering center, but he certainly plays bigger than his size would indicate. His strength doesn’t hold him back in any manner at the NTDP level, but in preparing for the NHL, Hughes would be wise to add some muscle.

As a center, he definitely needs it to become reliable in the faceoff circle, in boxing out the opposing center from his own net-front, and to improve in board battles. Again, this is not necessarily a weakness as much as it is an area for potential improvement.

Future Potential:

Jack Hughes forecasts to be a dynamic, point producing, first-line center in the NHL. He possesses all the tools to be a game-changer at the next level and should become a perennial all-star in just a few years. Comparables  include Patrick Kane and Clayton Keller. Hughes ranks as the consensus 1st overall pick for the 2019 NHL Draft heading into the ’18-19 season.