The 2018-19 hockey season is more than two months old, meaning that major junior players are roughly a quarter through their seasons and college hockey is in full swing. Every prominent 2019 National Hockey League draft prospect has played a good chunk of hockey, so it’s a good time to update the draft rankings.
This is the second 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 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.
As has become tradition, your mileage may vary.
The Early November Top 50
|1||Jack Hughes||C||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|2||Kaapo Kakko||RW||TPS Turku (SM-Liiga)|
|3||Dylan Cozens||C||Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)|
|4||Ryan Suzuki||C||Barrie Colts (OHL)|
|5||Kirby Dach||C||Saskatoon Blades (WHL)|
|6||Alex Turcotte||C||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|7||Vasili Podkolzin||RW||SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)|
|8||Bowen Byram||D||Vancouver Giants (WHL)|
|9||Victor Soderstrom||D||Brynas IF U20 (SuperElit)|
|10||Arthur Kaliyev||LW||Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)|
|11||Raphael Lavoie||C||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)|
|12||Alex Newhook||C||Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)|
|13||Matthew Boldy||C||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|14||Blake Murray||C||Sudbury Wolves (OHL)|
|15||Matthew Robertson||D||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)|
|16||Cameron York||D||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|17||Peyton Krebs||LW||Kootenay ICE (WHL)|
|18||Artemi Knyazev||D||Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)|
|19||Nolan Foote||LW||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)|
|20||Maxim Cajkovic||RW||Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)|
|21||Cole Caufield||C||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|22||Jakob Pelletier||C||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)|
|23||Daniil Gutik||LW||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)|
|24||Samuel Poulin||LW||Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)|
|25||Philip Broberg||D||AIK (Allsvenskan)|
|26||Valentin Nussbaumer||C||Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)|
|27||Mikko Kokkonen||D||Jukurit (SM-Liiga)|
|28||Trevor Zegras||C||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|29||Tobias Bjornfot||D||Djurgardens IF U20 (SuperElit)|
|30||Xavier Parent||LW||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)|
|31||Michael Vukojevic||D||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)|
|32||Anttoni Honka||D||JYP (SM-Liiga)|
|33||Albin Grewe||RW||Djurgardens IF U20 (SuperElit)|
|34||Case McCarthy||D||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|35||John Beecher||C||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|36||Alex Vlasic||D||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|37||Nils Hoglander||LW||Rogle BK (SHL)|
|38||Sasha Mutala||RW||Tri-City Americans (WHL)|
|39||Matvei Guskov||C||London Knights (OHL)|
|40||Yaroslav Likhachyov||RW||Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)|
|41||Moritz Seider||D||Alder Mannheim (DEL)|
|42||Spencer Knight||G||U.S. National Development Team (USHL)|
|43||Josh Williams||RW||Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)|
|44||Nick Robertson||C||Peterborough Petes (OHL)|
|45||Luke Toporowski||LW||Spokane Chiefs (WHL)|
|46||Henri Nikkanen||C||Jukurit (SM-Liiga)|
|47||Kaedan Korczak||D||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)|
|48||Ville Heinola||D||Lukko (SM-Liiga)|
|49||Ben Brinkman||D||University of Minnesota (NCAA)|
|50||Dustin Wolf||G||Everett Silvertips (WHL)|
Hughes is the top dog in this draft class, but Kaapo and Cozens are closing the gap with strong starts to their seasons. The entire top seven is pretty strong, with a drop-off after Podkolzin to the rest of the first round.
The top end of the 2019 class is chock full of centers and defensemen. The first round features 13 centers, including five of the projected top six. There are nine defenders in the projected first round and 16 in the projected top 50. For teams looking to build a decent foundation, loading up on first and second round picks in this draft seems like a smart move.
It seems to be a good class for the Western Hockey League, the U.S. National Development Program, and Finland’s SM-Liiga pro league. The WHL has six projected first rounders (led by Cozens and Dach), the U.S. National Development Team also has six (led by Hughes and Turcotte), and the SM-Liiga has representation throughout the top 50.
The Next Dozen: Honourable Mentions
These next 12 players could creep into the top 50 in the next update if they continue to perform at a high level.
- RW Danil Antropov – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
- C Tag Bertuzzi – Guelph Storm (OHL)
- RW Graeme Clarke – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
- LW Pavel Dorofeyev – Stalinye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
- RW Simon Holmstrom – HV71 U20 (SuperElit)
- D Ryan Johnson – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
- D Simon Lundmark – Linkopings HC U20 (SuperElit)
- LW Matias Maccelli – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
- G Nolan Maier – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
- F Massimo Rizzo – Penticton Vees (BCHL)
- C Grant Silianoff – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
- D Oleg Zaitsev – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.