2019 NHL Draft Rankings – Final Edition

Aside from the World Hockey Championship, the hockey calendar for 2018-19 is complete. The hopeful NHL Draft prospects for this season have done all they can to impress the various scouts and now all that is left is for them to put on their best suits and head to Vancouver for the draft. As such, it’s time to finalize the NHL Draft rankings

Vancouver THW 2019 NHL Entry Draft Guide

This is the fifth (and final) edition of my annual NHL Draft rankings here at The Hockey Writers. About every other month, I’ve gone through the 2019 NHL Draft’s prospective top players and ranked them as if I were drafting a team from scratch, based upon their accumulated body of work. My main proviso? I want to draft players that will help my team win consistently, so I tend to err on the side of caution in terms of projecting attributes that will translate to higher levels and focus on larger sample sizes when all else fails.

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The usual disclaimers apply: I live in Western Canada so I see Western Hockey League players the most often, followed by the remainder of Canada’s prospects – especially those affiliated with Hockey Canada. I have to rely on video for players in the United States and Europe for the most part. I’m also hesitant to draft goalies early due to the sheer number of weird things that can go wrong and derail their development.

For some second opinions, check out the latest rankings from my colleagues Larry Fisher, Brandon Share-Cohen and Andrew Forbes.

The First Round (1-31)

No.PlayerPos.2018-19 Teams
1Jack HughesCU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (WJC/U18/WC)
2Kaapo KakkoRWTPS Turku (SM-Liiga)
Finland (WJC/WC)
3Bowen ByramDVancouver Giants (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
4Kirby DachCSaskatoon Blades (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
5Dylan CozensCLethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
6Cole CaufieldRWU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
7Peyton KrebsCKootenay ICE (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
8Trevor ZegrasCU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
9Vasili PodkolzinRWSKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)
SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Russia (Hlinka/WJC/U18/WJAC)
10Alex TurcotteCU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
11Matthew BoldyLWU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
12Cam YorkDU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
13Victor SoderstromDBrynas IF (SuperElit)
Brynas IF (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka/U18)
14Raphael LavoieCHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
15Alex NewhookCVictoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC/U18)
16Philip BrobergDAIK (SuperElit)
AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Sweden (Hlinka/WJC/U18)
17Arthur KaliyevRWHamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
United States (Hlinka)
18Ryan SuzukiCBarrie Colts (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
19Samuel PoulinRWSherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
20Matthew RobertsonDEdmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
21Thomas HarleyDMississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Canada (U18)
22Connor McMichaelCLondon Knights (OHL)
23Philip TomasinoCNiagara IceDogs (OHL)
Canada (U18)
24Bobby BrinkRWSioux City Musketeers (USHL)
United States (U18/WJAC)
25Nils HoglanderLWRogle BK (SHL)
26Jakob PelletierLWMoncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
27Ville HeinolaDLukko (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Lukko (SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka/WJC/U18)
28Brett LeasonRWPrince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Canada (WJC)
29Moritz SeiderDAdler Mannheim (DEL)
Germany (WJC D1/WC)
30Alex VlasicDU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
31Mikko KokkonenDJukurit (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka/U18)

The 2019 NHL Draft is the “Choose Your Own Adventure” first round for the most part. Jack Hughes solidified himself as the clear top pick with a strong performance at the Under-18 World Championship, while Kaapo Kakko has cemented himself as the clear second-best player.

But the Western Hockey League’s playoffs provided some additional clarity, as Bowen Byram put on an absolute clinic for the Vancouver Giants – standing out in all three zones and leading his team to the WHL Final series.

Beyond the top three, things really open up. The WHL has a trio of versatile, talented forwards in Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach and Peyton Krebs, while the U.S. National Development Team has stellar forwards of their own in Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte – Caufield scored at a torrid pace at the Under-18s. Russian winger Vasili Podkolzin is the wild card here, as he’s been superb but teams may be scared off a bit by some of the rough spots in his game (such as his play away from the puck).

The Second Round (32-62)

No.PlayerPos.2018-19 Teams
32Spencer KnightGU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
33Pavel DorofeyevLWMetallurg Magnitigorsk (KHL)
Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
34Anttoni HonkaDJYP (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
JYP/Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
KeuPa HT (Mestis)
Finland (WJC)
35Nathan LegareRWBaie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Canada (U18)
36Lassi ThomsonDKelowna Rockets (WHL)
37Nick RobertsonLWPeterborough Petes (OHL)
38Brayden TraceyLWMoose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Canada (U18)
39Albin GreweRWDjurgardens IF (SuperElit)
Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka/U18)
40Nolan FooteLWKelowna Rockets (WHL)
41Patrik PuistolaRWTappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Tappara (SM-Liiga)
LeKi (Mestis)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
42Jamieson ReesCSarnia Sting (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
43John BeecherCU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
44Henry ThrunDU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
45Ryan JohnsonDSioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
46Tobias BjornfotDDjurgarden IF (SuperElit)
Djurgarden IF (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka/U18)
47Dustin WolfGEverett Silvertips (WHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
48Billy ConstantinouDNiagara/Kingston (OHL)
49Kaedan KorczakDKelowna Rockets (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
50Simon HolmstromRWHV71 (SuperElit)
HV71 (SHL)
Sweden (U18)
51Alexei ProtasCPrince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Belarus (WJC D1)
52Egor AfanasyevLWMuskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
53Mads SogaardGMedicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Denmark (WJC)
54Marshall WarrenDU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
55Vladislav FirstovLWWaterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
56Yegor SpiridonovCStalnye Lisy Magnitigorsk (MHL)
Russia (Hlinka/U18)
57Hunter JonesGPeterborough Petes (OHL)
58Artemi KnyazevDChicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Russia (Hlinka/WJAC)
59Alex BeaucageRWRouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
60Ilya NikolayevCLoko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Russia (Hlinka/WJAC/U18)
61Henri NikkanenCJukurit (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
Kettera (Mestis)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
62Graeme ClarkeRWOttawa 67’s (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)

Among goaltenders, Spencer Knight has been the standout of the 2019 class. While I don’t have him as a first rounder – the riskiness of taking a netminder in the first round causes me some anxiety – it seems probable that a team with a pick late in the first round might take a stab at him. It wouldn’t be a very big reach.

Spencer Knight of the U.S. National Development Program
Spencer Knight of the U.S. National Development Program (Hickling Images)

A pair of WHLers really elevated their draft stock down the stretch: Moose Jaw’s Brayden Tracey and Prince Albert’s Alexei Protas. Tracey had a superb back half of the season, while Protas really excelled as a big-bodied forward in the physicality of the WHL’s playoffs.

The Third Round (63-93)

No.PlayerPos.2017-18 Teams
63Maxim CajkovicRWSaint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Slovakia (Hlinka/U18)
64Michal TeplyLWBilli Tygri Liberec (Czech U19)
Billi Tygri Liberec (Extraliga)
HC Benatky nad Jizerou (2.Extraliga)
Czech Republic (Hlinka/WJAC/U18)
65Sasha MutalaRWTri-City Americans (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
66Robert MastrosimoneLWChicago Steel (USHL)
United States (Hlinka/WJAC)
67Cole MobergDPrince George Cominugars (WHL)
68Shane PintoCLincoln/Tri-City (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
69Martin Hugo HasDTappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
LeKi (Mestis)
Czech Republic (Hlinka/U18)
70Vladislav KolyachonokDLondon/Flint (OHL)
Belarus (U18)
71Jake LeeDSeattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
72Jordan SpenceDMoncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Canada (U18)
73Nikita AlexandrovCCharlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
74Ethan KeppenLWFlint Firebirds (OHL)
75Samuel BolducDBlainville-Broisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
76Adam BeckmanLWSpokane Chiefs (WHL)
77Egor SerdyukRWVictoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Russia (WJAC)
78Matias MaccelliLWDubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
79Michael VukojevicDKitchener Rangers (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
80Marcus KallionkieliLWSioux City Musketeers (USHL)
81Antti SaarelaCLukko (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Lukko (SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka/U18)
82Grant SilianoffRWCedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
United States (Hlinka/WJAC)
83Mikhail AbramovCVictoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Russia (Hlinka/WJAC)
84Dillon HamaliukLWSeattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
85Blake MurrayCSudbury Wolves (OHL)
86John FarinacciCDexter Prep (USHS)
Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
87Daniil GutikLWLoko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Russia (Hlinka/WJAC)
88Samuel FagemoLWFrolunda HC (SuperElit)
Frolunda HC (SHL)
Sweden (WJC)
89Case McCarthyDU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
90Reece NewkirkCPortland Winterhawks (WHL)
91Isaiah SavilleGTri-City Storm (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
92Michael GildonLWU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
93Valentin NussbaumerCShawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Switzerland (WJC)

Samuel Bolduc turned heads with his strong performance at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer. Particularly, many scouts were impressed with his mobility for a young man of his sheer size. If he can keep building his game, his physical gifts give him a great chance to succeed.

Samuel Bolduc NHL Draft Rankings
Samuel Bolduc (58) stood out at the Sherwin-Williams CHL Top Prospects Game (Rob Wallator/CHL Images)

New Jersey product John Farinacci is the top high school player in the draft class. He’s progressed through the primary stages of development for high-end American talent: Shattuck St Mary’s for midget and two years at the hockey factor that is Dexter Prep, most recently as the team’s captain – a post he also served for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. A versatile right shot forward, he’s raw and is going to be a bit of a project for whoever drafts him.

The Fourth Round (94-125)

No.PlayerPos.2018-19 Teams
94Colten EllisGRimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
95Gianni FairbrotherDEverett Silvertips (WHL)
96Antti TuomistoDAssat (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Finland (U18)
97Maxence GuenetteDVal-d’Or Foreur (QMJHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
98Massimo RizzoCPenticton Vees (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC)
99Christopher Merisier-OrtizDBaie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
100Trent MinerGVancouver Giants (WHL)
101Nikita OkhotyukDOttawa 67’s (OHL)
102Liam RossDSudbury Wolves (OHL)
103Matvei GuskovCLondon Knights (OHL)
Russia (WJAC)
104Drew HellesonDU.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (U18)
105Nolan MaierGSaskatoon Blades (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka/U18)
106Alexander CampbellLWVictoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC)
107Jackson LacombeDShattuck St. Mary’s (USHS)
Chicago Steel (USHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
108Ryder DonovanCDuluth East (USHS)
Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
109Cole MackayRWSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
110Harrison BlaisdellLWChilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC)
111Luke ToporowskiLWSpokane Chiefs (WHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
112Karl HenrikssonCFrolunda HC (SuperElit)
Frolunda HC (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka/U18)
113Keegan StevensonRWGuelph Storm (OHL)
114Ben BrinkmanDUniversity of Minnesota (NCAA)
115Jayden StrubleDSt. Sebastian’s School (USHS)
116Braden DoyleDLawrence Academy (USHS)
Boston Jr. Bruins (NCDC)
Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
117Kristian TanusCTappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Tappara/Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
LeKi (Mestis)
118Albin SundsvikCSkelleftea AIK (SuperElit)
Skelleftea AIK (SHL)
Sweden (U18)
119Tuukka TieksolaRWKarpat (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Karpat (SM-Liiga)
Finland (U18)
120Max WahlgrenCMODO (SuperElit)
Sweden (Hlinka/U18)
121Aku RatyCKarpat (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka/U18)
122Cole SchwindtRWMississauga Steelheads (OHL)
123Nikola PasicCLinkoping HC (SuperElit)
Linkoping HC (SHL)
BIK Karlskoga (HockeyAllsvenskan)
124John MaloneRWYoungstown Phantoms (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
125Hugo AlnefeltGHV71 (SuperElit)
Sweden (Hlinka/U18)

Rimouski netminder Colten Ellis backstopped his club through three playoff rounds and really impressed with his performances – the 2000-born Nova Scotia product is the third-best goaltender in the QMJHL post-season.

Keep an eye on Cole Schwindt; the Mississauga forward has quietly been one of the OHL’s more productive even strength players and his offensive numbers seem ready to explode as he gets more ice time and an increased role on the Steelheads as the veterans ahead of him in the rotation age out of junior.

Honourable Mentions

Here are 10 additional prospects that were in consideration for the Top 125, but just missed the cut:

  • D Ronnie Attard – Tri-City Storm (USHL)
  • RW Eric Ciccolini – Toronto Jr. Canadians (OJHL)
  • LW Daniel D’Amico – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  • G Samuel Hlavaj – Lincoln Stars (USHL)
  • D Albert Johansson – Farjestad BK (SuperElit)
  • D Daniil Misyul – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
  • RW Zachary Okabe – Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL)
  • RW Anthony Romano – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
  • RW Kyen Sopa – Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
  • C Kyle Topping – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)