2019 NHL Draft: Forbes’ Top 93 Preseason Rankings

The 2018-19 season is just around the corner. With the NHL preseason starting soon, it won’t be long before it’s revealed which members of the 2018 NHL Draft class will be making their debuts this season.

Now, with major junior camps opening over the next couple weeks, the focus for some turns to the young players getting set for their chance to hear their names called at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver next June. While their upcoming seasons will play a major role in defining their future, these young players are getting set to play in arguably the biggest games of their early careers.

With U.S. National Development Team star Jack Hughes more than likely a no-doubter at first overall, there’s a number of players jousting for the next few spots. That said, there’s a number of centers and defensemen up for grabs in the first few rounds – with the WHL providing a lot of talent for teams to choose from in June’s draft.

Jack Hughes Team USA U-18
Jack Hughes is undoubtedly the number one pick heading into the 2018-19 campaign. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

With THW’s Ryan Pike having already released his preliminary rankings with his top 50 and Larry Fisher releasing his top 124, here’s just one more early list to flood your head with this year’s draft-eligible players.

In it, I’ll provide you with my top 93 prospects. While I haven’t had the opportunity to watch each of these players play live – being from southwestern Ontario – I am relying on the few opportunities I have had as well as video and other input in making up my first preseason draft rankings for THW.

Preseason Rankings – Top 93

No. Player Pos. 2017-18 Primary Team
1 Jack Hughes C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
2 Kaapo Kakko RW TPS Turku U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
3 Bowen Byram D Vancouver Giants (WHL)
4 Alex Turcotte C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
5 Kirby Dach C Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
6 Dylan Cozens C Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
7 Peyton Krebs LW Kootenay ICE (WHL)
8 Alex Newhook C Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
9 Matthew Robertson D Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
10 Raphael Lavoie C Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
11 Ryan Suzuki C Barrie Colts (OHL)
12 Blake Murray C Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
13 Arthur Kaliyev LW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
14 Anttoni Honka D JYP U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
15 Trevor Zegras C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
16 Nolan Foote LW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
17 Matthew Boldy C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
18 Cole Caufield D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
19 Valentin Nussbaumer C EHC Biel-Bienne (NLA)
20 Tobias Bjornfot D Djurgardens U20 (SuperElit)
21 Mikko Kokkonen D Kettera (Mestis)
22 Vasili Podkolzin F Vityaz Podolsk U17 (Russia)
23 Victor Soderstrom D Brynas U20 (SuperElit)
24 Albin Grewe RW Djurgardens U20 (SuperElit)
25 Nils Hoglander LW AIK (Allsvenskan)
26 Michael Vukojevic D Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
27 Jakob Pelletier F Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
28 Tag Bertuzzi C Guelph Storm (OHL)
29 Alex Vlasic D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
30 Sasha Mutala RW Tri-City Americans (WHL)
31 Ben Brinkman D Edina High (USHS-MN)
32 Cam York D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
33 Daniil Gutik LW Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
34 Maxim Cajkovic RW Malmo Redhawks U20 (SuperElit)
35 Artemi Knyazev D Irbis Kazan (MHL)
36 Drew Helleson D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
37 Oleg Zaitsev D MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)
38 Simon Holmstrom RW HV71 U20 (SuperElit)
39 Samuel Poulin LW Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
40 Spencer Knight G U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
41 Nikita Alexandrov C Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
42 John Beecher C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
43 Marshall Warren D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
44 Vojtech Strondala C HC Kometa Brno U20 (Czech U20)
45 Yegor Spiridonov LW Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
46 Ilya Mironov D Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl (NMHL)
47 Moritz Seider D Adler Mannheim (DEL)
48 Case McCarthy D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
49 Lassi Thomson D Ilves U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
50 Danil Antropov RW Oshawa Generals (OHL)
51 Luke Toporowski LW Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
52 Lev Starikov D Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
53 Petr Cajka C/W Zug U20 (Elite Jr. A)
54 Grant Silianoff C Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep (USHS)
55 Henri Nikkanen RW JYP U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
56 Vladislav Mikhailov C MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)
57 Leevi Aaltonen LW KalPa U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
58 Xavier Parent F Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
59 Ryder Donovan C Duluth East High (USHS-MN)
60 Matias Maccelli LW Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
61 Graeme Clarke RW Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
62 Josh Williams RW Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
63 Simon Lundmark D Linköping HC (SuperElit)
64 Brady Meyer C Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL)
65 Martin Hugo Has D Tappara U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
66 Matvei Guskov C Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)
67 Colten Ellis G Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
68 Mason Primeau C Guelph Storm (OHL)
69 Massimo Rizzo F Penticton Vees (BCHL)
70 Nikita Okhotyuk D Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
71 Matej Toman LW HC Cese Budejovice (Czech2)
72 Harrison Blaisdell F Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
73 Philip Broberg D AIK U20 (SuperElit)
74 Anthony Romano RW Aurora Tigers (OJHL)
75 Robert Mastrosimone F Chicago Steel (USHL)
76 Michal Teply LW Bili Tygri Liberec U20 (Czech U20)
77 Nathan Staios D Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
78 Phillip Tomasino C Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
79 Filip Prikryl C HC Plzen U20 (Czech U20)
80 Danny Weight F U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
81 Brooklyn Kalmikov LW Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
82 Isac Andersson C/LW Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit)
83 Hugo Alnefelt G HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
84 Judd Caulfield F U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
85 Dillon Hamaliuk LW Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
86 Kaedan Korczak D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
87 Elmer Soderblom C/RW Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit)
88 Henry Thrun D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
89 Taylor Gauthier G Prince George Cougars (WHL)
90 Nolan Maier G Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
91 Kalle Loponen D Kärpät U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
92 David Kope RW Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
93 Alex Beaucage RW Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

Now, remember these are preseason rankings. There’s a full season ahead giving these young players chances to move up and down the list. Some could fall outside the top 93, while others could make appearances as we head towards the 2019 NHL Draft.

Closing Out the Ranks

With that, there are a few things worth noting as we finish off these preseason rankings.

  • Arseni Gritsyuk spent the 2017-18 season with Avangard Omsk U17 over in Russia and absolutely dominated the opposition. He fired home 28 goals in 36 regular season games and finished with a total of 75 points along with a plus-65 rating. He also tallied three points in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, but the real test will come as he makes the jump to the MHL next season. That’s why he’s sitting just outside my top 100 – ranked 101st.
  • Michal Mrazik is a big left-winger with a lot of growing to go. He’s already 6’4″ and weighs just under 200 pounds. While he only had 20 points in 40 regular season games, he went on to tally seven points in 12 relegation games and six points in four games in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He’ll have to take some steps in his game to climb higher than 104th.
  • Brett Budgell may be my sleeper of the draft. After having an incredible season with the London Jr. Knights of the Alliance Hockey League, Budgell spent time in the USHL with the Chicago Steel – tallying just four points in 14 games. From there, he joined the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders where he notched 10 goals and 22 points in 32 regular season games with another 12 points in 18 postseason games. That said, he plays a blue-collar type of game and could find himself climbing out of the 107th rank.

    Brett Budgell, London Jr. Knights, Alliance Hockey
    Brett Budgell scored 58 points in 32 regular season games with the London Jr. Knights in his minor midget season. (Photo courtesy of Todd Budgell)

As always, I look forward to your thoughts on these preseason rankings. Are there players missing from this list – or some that maybe shouldn’t be on it in your opinion? Be sure to leave your thoughts by commenting below or via email at andrew@thehockeywriters.com.