Hughes & Kakko Remain Top Prospects as NHL CSS Releases Rankings

TORONTO — American centre Jack Hughes remained the top North American prospect, while Finnish right-winger Kaapo Kakko maintained the No. 1 spot among international skaters, as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings for the 2019 NHL draft.

Hughes, a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program’s under-18 team, was listed ahead of Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram, Saskatoon Blades centre Kirby Dach, U.S. U18 teammate Alex Turcotte and Lethbridge Hurricanes centre Dylan Cozens on the North American skater list released Monday.

Russian forward Vasily Podkolzin and Swedish defenceman Victor Soderstrom are second and third, respectively, on the international report.

Hughes led the U.S. U18 team with 92 points (25 goals, 67 assists) in 43 games this season. His 202 career points in 103 games is the most in U.S. NTDP history.

Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide

His brother, Quinn Hughes, was drafted seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2018.

Kakko led TPS Turku last season with 22 goals, a record for a draft-eligible prospect playing in the top-tier Finnish Elite League. Internationally, he scored Finland’s gold-medal-winning goal at the 2019 world junior hockey championship.

Kaapo Kakko

The 2019 NHL draft will be held June 21-22 at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. The New Jersey Devils will select first.

The Canadian Press