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.
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.
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
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
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.
Anttoni Honka makes it 1-0 with a shot from the point. USA still doesn't have a shot on net, Finns have been in full control.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 195-pounds
2017-18 Team: Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
Raphael Lavoie has all the makings of a prototypical power-forward.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kaapo Kakko boasts a polished skill-set and one which is defined by high-end talent and raw ability with the puck.
– Kaapo Kakko –
TPS (Liiga) | Right Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Turku, Finland | February 13, 2001 | 6-foot-1, 181-pounds
Kaapo Kakko is an elite and dynamic prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft. The 17-year-old winger spent the majority of the 2017-18 season playing for the TPS U20 team, which plays in Jr. A SM-Liiga. He tore the league apart, tallying 25 goals and 55 points over just 38 games. Kakko’s 1.47 points-per-game rank third all-time among U17 prospects playing in the league, behind only Mikael Granlund and Jesse Puljujarvi.
Kakko will likely spend the entire 2018-19 campaign in Liiga where he will be up against stiff competition each night. The greatest point-per-game rate for an NHL Draft eligible prospect in Liiga was 0.93 but, Kakko may be able to push that record.
Kaapo Kakko is an electric force to watch each night he takes the ice. He is an elusive skater who can use his edges efficiently to maneuver through traffic with ease. He reaches impressive top speeds and has the agility and acceleration to make him dangerous within the first three steps.
Kakko also reads the game extremely well, understanding where his teammates and opponents will be as the play develops. He often utilizes this ability to force turnovers and generate offence. Kakko also possesses a quick set of mitts, and frequently makes his opponents look silly by dangling through tight spaces.
As a winger, this undoubtedly has less of an impact than it would for a center, but Kakko has room for improvement in his defensive game. As with most 17-year-olds, Kakko’s game revolves around his offensive abilities, but a slight increase in his awareness within his own zone would go a long way to further convincing NHL scouts of his immense value. A few simple adjustments in positioning and stick locations would morph Kakko into an all-around superstar on the ice. As with all top prospects, it takes some serious nit-picking to find a flaw in Kakko’s game.
Kaapo Kaako projects to be a potent first-line winger and a game-changer in the NHL who could rack up north of 35 goals and 80 points in his prime years. Comparables include Sebastian Aho and Filip Forsberg. Entering the 2018-19 season, Kakko ranks as a top-3 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.