Pike’s Picks: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings – March Edition

The 2018-19 hockey season continues to speed by throughout the globe. European leagues and American college teams are into their playoffs. Across Canada, the three major junior leagues are beginning their post-seasons. With most of the sand through the sesaon’s hourglass, it’s time to revisit the 2019 NHL Draft rankings.

Kaapo Kakko
Kaapo Kakko of Finland is the #2 player available in the 2019 NHL Draft. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

This is the fourth edition of my annual NHL Draft rankings here at The Hockey Writers. Roughly every other month, I will attempt to rank the top players in this year’s draft class 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 – when in doubt, I tend to err on the side of players who have a larger sample size of excellence.

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 and Andrew Forbes.

The First Round (1-31)

No. Player Pos. 2018-19 Teams
1 Jack Hughes C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (WJC)
2 Kaapo Kakko RW TPS Turku (SM-Liiga)
Finland (WJC)
3 Bowen Byram D Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
4 Kirby Dach C Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
5 Vasili Podkolzin RW SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)
SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Russia (WJC/Hlinka Gretzky/WJAC)
6 Dylan Cozens C Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
7 Peyton Krebs LW Kootenay ICE (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
8 Victor Soderstrom D Brynas IF (SuperElit)
Brynas IF (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
9 Alex Turcotte C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
10 Trevor Zegras C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
11 Arthur Kaliyev RW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
12 Matthew Boldy LW U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
13 Cam York D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
14 Ryan Suzuki C Barrie Colts (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
15 Philip Broberg D AIK (SuperElit)
AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Sweden (WJC/Hlinka Gretzky)
16 Alex Newhook C Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC)
17 Samuel Poulin C Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
18 Cole Caufield LW U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
19 Connor McMichael C London Knights (OHL)
20 Thomas Harley D Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
21 Matthew Robertson D Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky)
22 Raphael Lavoie RW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
23 Nils Hoglander LW Rogle BK (SHL)
24 Brett Leason C Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Canada (WJC)
25 Jakob Pelletier LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
26 Philip Tomasino C Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
27 Alex Vlasic D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
28 Ville Heinola D Lukko (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Lukko (SM-Liiga)
Finland (WJC/Hlinka Gretzky)
29 Moritz Seider D Adler Mannheim (DEL)
Germany (WJC D1)
30 Bobby Brink RW Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
31 Pavel Dorofeyev LW Metallurg Magnitigorsk (KHL)
Stalnye Lisy Magnitigorsk (MHL)

The projected first round has a pretty clear-cut top player in Jack Hughes and a clear-cut second-best player in Kaapo Kakko. After that, there’s a bit of flexibility between the third to eighth players: it’s effectively a “Choose Your Own Adventure” top half of the first round, with Bowen Byram standing out (slightly) as the top blueliner for carrying the Vancouver Giants this year and Dylan Cozens, Dakota Krebs, Kirby Dach and Vasili Podkolzin each providing a different unique high-end skillset in the forward ranks.

Bowen Byram Vancouver Giants
Vancouver Giants blueliner Bowen Byram is the best defenseman available in the 2019 NHL Draft. (Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants)

The ceiling for players drops off a little bit in the middle of the first round, but there are still some exciting players to be found.

The Second Round (32-62)

No. Player Pos. 2018-19 Teams
32 Mikko Kokkonen D Jukurit (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
33 Nathan Legare RW Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
34 Anttoni Honka D JYP (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
JYP/Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
KeuPa HT (Mestis)
Finland (WJC)
35 Spencer Knight G U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
36 Nick Robertson C Peterborough Petes (OHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
37 Lassi Thomson D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
38 Jamieson Rees C Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
39 Nolan Foote LW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
40 Dustin Wolf G Everett Silvertips (WHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
41 Hunter Jones G Peterborough Petes (OHL)
42 Albin Grewe RW Djurgarden IF (SuperElit/U18 Allsvenskan)
Djurgarden IF (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
43 Patrik Puistola LW Tappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Tappara (SM-Liiga)
LeKi (Mestis)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
44 John Beecher LW U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
45 Simon Holmstrom RW HV71 (SuperElit/U18 Allsvenskan)
Hv71 (SHL)
46 Mads Sogaard G Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Denmark (WJC)
47 Tobias Bjornfot D Djurgarden IF (SuperElit)
Djurgarden IF (SHL)
Sweden (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
48 Kaedan Korczak D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
49 Maxim Cajkovic RW Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Slovakia (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
50 Marshall Warren D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
51 Egor Afanaseyev C Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
52 Yegor Spiridonov C Stalnye Lisy Magnitigorsk (MHL)
Russia (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
53 Artemi Knyazev D Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Russia (WJAC/Hlinka Gretzky)
54 Sasha Mutala RW Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
55 Alex Beaucage LW Rouyn-Noranda Armada (QMJHL)
56 Robert Mastrosimone LW Chicago Steel (USHL)
U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
United States (WJAC/Hlinka Gretzky)
57 Cole Moberg D Prince George Cougars (WHL)
58 Ryan Johnson D Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
59 Brayden Tracey LW Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
60 Jordan Spence D Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
61 Vladislav Kolyachonok D London/Flint (OHL)
62 Ethan Keppen LW Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Dustin Wolf is a bit of a dark horse in scouting circles, but he was recently named the top goaltender in his Western Hockey League conference. Relative to his peers, he’s elite and comes from an organization that produced Carter Hart.

Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf
Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf has been one of the WHL’s best netminders in 2018-19. (Chris Mast/Everett Silvertips)

Nick Robertson is another interesting prospect. He really impressed at the CHL Top Prospects Game with his mobility and passing. His offensive stats aren’t eye-popping, but he showed he was able to play alongside skilled players and set them up for success.

Ryan Johnson would probably get more love as a prospect if he was in Canadian major junior, but he’s a big-bodied defender who moves well, defends well, and doesn’t have a ton of holes in his overall game.

The Third Round (63-93)

No. Player Pos. 2017-18 Teams
63 Graeme Clarke RW Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
64 Ilya Nikolayev C Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl (NMHL)
Russia (WJAC/Hlinka Gretzky)
65 Shane Pinto C Lincoln/Tri-City (USHL)
66 Dillon Hamaliuk LW Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
67 Billy Constantinou D Niagara/Kingston (OHL)
68 Case McCarthy D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
69 Christopher Merisier-Ortiz D Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
70 Henry Thrun D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
71 Jake Lee D Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
72 Nikita Alexandrov C Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
73 Martin Hugo Has D Tappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga/Jr. B SM-sarja)
LeKi (Mestis)
Czech Republic (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
74 Samuel Bolduc D Blainville-Broisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
75 Michael Vukojevic D Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
76 Adam Beckman C Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
77 Blake Murray C Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
78 Michal Teply LW Billi Tygri Liberec (Czech U19)
Billi Tygri Liberec (Extraliga)
HC Benatky nad Jizerou (2.Extraliga)
Czech Republic (WJAC/Hlinka Gretzky)
79 Henri Nikkanen C Jukurit (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
Kettera (Mestis)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
80 Daniil Gutik LW Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl (NMHL)
Russia (WJAC/Hlinka Gretzky)
81 Colten Ellis G Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
82 Gianni Fairbrother D Everett Silvertips (WHL)
83 Egor Serdyuk RW Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Russia (WJAC)
84 Liam Ross D Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
85 Reece Newkirk C Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
86 Massimo Rizzo C Penticton Vees (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC)
87 Matvei Guskov C London Knights (OHL)
Russia (WJAC)
88 Samuel Fagemo LW Frolunda HC (SuperElit)
Frolunda HC (SHL)
Sweden (WJC)
89 Nolan Maier G Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Canada (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
90 Vladislav Firstov C Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
91 Marcus Kallionkelli C Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
92 Valentin Nussbaumer C Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Switzerland (WJC)
93 Harrison Blaisdell LW Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
Canada (WJAC)

Graeme Clarke was superb at the CHL Top Prospects Game. He has great acceleration and good hockey sense, though size may be a question mark as he moves forward with his career.

Dillon Hamaliuk’s season was cut short by injury, which limits his sample size and makes it a challenge for NHL scouts to fully evaluate him. He was well-regarded enough to be a “B prospect” on Central Scouting’s early season watch list, though.


Samuel Fagemo was eligible for last year’s draft but wasn’t taken. Since that disappointment he’s had a very strong year in Sweden and is one of the top overage players on Larry Fisher’s recent ranking.

The Fourth Round (94-125)

No. Player Pos. 2018-19 Teams
94 Trent Miner G Vancouver Giants (WHL)
95 Antti Saarela LW Lukko (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Lukko (SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
96 Antti Tuomisto D Assat (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
97 Luke Toporowski LW Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
98 Isaiah Saville G Tri-City Storm (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
99 Keegan Stevenson RW Guelph Storm (OHL)
100 Tag Bertuzzi C Guelph/Hamilton (OHL)
101 Ben Brinkman D University of Minnesota (NCAA)
102 Alexei Protas C Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Belarus (WJC-D1)
103 Albin Sundsvik C Skelleftea AIK (SuperElit)
Skelleftea AIK (SHL)
104 Cole MacKay RW Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
105 Max Wahlgren C MODO (U18)
MODO (SuperElit)
Sweden (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
106 Aku Raty C Karpat (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Finland (Hlinka Gretzky Cup)
107 Cole Schwindt RW Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
108 Kyen Sopa RW Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
109 Grant Silianoff C Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
United States (Hlinka Gretzky/WJAC)
110 Tuukka Tieksola RW Karpat (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Karpat (SM-Liiga)
111 Kyle Topping C Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
112 Nikola Pasic C Linkoping HC (SuperElit)
Linkoping HC (SHL)
BIK Karlskoga (HockeyAllsvenskan)
113 Garrett Pinoniemi C Holy Family Catholic (USHS)
Team Northeast (UMHSEHL)
114 Ondrej Psenicka C HC Sparta Praha (U19 Czech)
115 Pyotr Kochetkov G HK Sochi (KHL)
HK Ryazan (VHL)
Russia (WJC)
116 John Malone C Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
United States (WJAC)
117 Michael Gildon LW U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
118 Kristian Tanus C Tappara (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
Tappara/Jukurit (SM-Liiga)
LeKi (Mestis)
119 Patrik Prymula C HC Sparta Praha (U19 Czech)
120 Ethan Phillips C Selects Hockey Academy (Midget)
Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
121 Alexei Sergeyev C Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
122 Xavier Simoneau C Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
123 Keijo Weibel LW Langnau (Elite Jr. A)
SCL Tigers (NLA)
124 Zachary Okabe RW Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL)
125 Ryder Donovan C Duluth East High School (USHS)
Team North (UMHSEHL)

Tag Bertuzzi has struggled with injuries this year, really limiting his chances to go early but potentially a team could buy low on him based on his perceived potential from prior seasons.

Pyotr Kochetkov has been superb in Russia this year as an overage prospect. The only thing that may hamper his draft chances are some questions about the quality of competition in Russia’s secondary pro league. He’s still a teenager stopping a very high percentage of shots from grown men, though.

Trent Miner might be the best junior-aged goalie nobody’s really talking about this season. He’s put up very strong numbers as one of the two foundation pieces – along with Bowen Byram – of the Vancouver Giants’ success.

Honourable Mentions

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

  • RW Danil Antropov – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
  • D Luke Bast – Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
  • C Luke Burzan – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
  • G Jet Greaves – Barrie Colts (OHL)
  • C Karl Henriksson – Frolunda HC (SuperElit)
  • D Simon Mack – Brockville Braves (CCHL)
  • C Matias Mantykivi – SalPa (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
  • C Keaton Mastrodonato – Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL)
  • D Kim Nousiainen – Kalpa (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
  • C Maxim Shabanov – Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk (MHL)