As an ongoing special to Bugundy Rainbow, Nathan Chapman (@ncchapman15) has provided the latest installment of his rankings for the upcoming 2019 NHL draft.
With CHL training camps in full swing and even preseason ongoing in the QMJHL, it is time for a look at where the top draft eligible prospects in the CHL stand going into the 2018-19 season.
1-Peyton Krebs, LW/C Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Krebs is an insanely talented forward who combines high puck skills, good skating and a high motor to create chances for his team almost every time he touches the ice. He has a good shot already and will only improve as he grows and fills out. He played both LW and C last year, which he showed well at both spots plus contributed 17 goals and 54 points in 67 games. His older brother is 6’4 210 lbs so there is still likely growth to his current 5’11 180 lbs frame. Krebs is the cornerstone of the Kootenay organization that looks to finally be turning the corner on a long rebuild. It looks like he’ll be a center going ahead and even with a much weaker talent pool around him than his draft eligible peers he should put up great numbers that could see him challenge for the top spot in this year’s draft.
2-Kirby Dach, C Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Dach is an extremely smart player who seemingly has eyes in the back of his head. Dach possesses a rare combination of size at 6’4 and skill which will make him a force once he adjusts to his growth spurt. Dach also has a great shot which could make him an elite scorer but needs to use it more as shown by only scoring seven goals of his 46 points in 52 games. His skating really improved over the summer and is no longer a weakness. He also filled out quite a bit and was using his size much better at the Hlinka which he had a good showing at. Like Krebs, he is the cornerstone of his organization that has a lot of great young talent and a good supporting cast around him.
3-Dylan Cozens, C/RW Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Cozens had an amazing rookie year with 22 goals and 53 points in 57 games and more than earned his WHL rookie of the year honours. Cozens is another lethal threat who has a size at 6’3 and skill combo that teams will love to add to their team. He also had a very consistent rookie year where most young players tapper off and he had a strong playoff run for a young Lethbridge squad with seven goals and 13 points in 16 games. Cozens already has a complete game and plays well in all three zones. He doesn’t quite possess as much game breaking talent as the previous two players but is no slouch in that area either. Cozens is already an advanced player and is part of an elite draft class out west. He had a good performance at the Hlinka in a shutdown role and scored a huge goal in the semi finals to send the game to OT in the dying second.
4-Bowen Byram, D Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Byram as of now is easily the best defenseman going into this year’s draft. He has an elite skill set and plays with a ton of confidence despite his age. He is a great skater who moves the puck well and loves to rush the puck. In his rookie year there were times when he completely controlled the game and would do whatever he wanted. The biggest thing he needs to work on is playing a more consistent game, which is expected at his age. He was Vancouver’s #1 defenseman by the New Year and played a big role as an underage for Canada at the U18’s. Byram also had a big impact in a shutdown role on Canada’s top pairing at the Hlinka which resulted in Gold. Look for a similar jump in offense as Ty Smith had this past year.
5-Raphael Lavoie, C/RW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Lavoie was buried in Filip Zadina’s spotlight last year but his showing at the U18’s was just the first taste of what he can do away from it. Like the previous two players, Lavoie possesses a size at 6’4 192 lbs and skill combo that is a load for teams to contain. Lavoie played a big role on a very good Halifax team and improved as the year went on with a total of 30 goals and 63 points in 68 games. He has a nose for the net and already has a great shot that can beat the best of goalies clean. He also has great vision and is extremely tough to knock off the puck. His skating is decent for his size but that’s the main area he’ll need to improve over the coming year and going forward. Lavoie showed well at the WJC summer showcase and is a dark horse candidate to make the squad.
6-Ryan Suzuki, C Barrie Colts (OHL)
Suzuki like his brother is a very smart playmaker who does a great job finding passing lanes. He’s also a good skater and puck skills but needs to work on putting the puck in the net on his own. While not an overly physical player he does a good job in his own end and protects the puck pretty well for his size.
7-Maxim Cajkovic, RW Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Cajkovic was the first overall pick in the 2018 CHL import draft for a reason as he’s a highly skilled player who is in for a challenge on a weak Sea Dogs squad. Cajkovic is a great skater who is agile and does a good job avoiding contact as he’s not the biggest of players. While he’s not huge he has a good shot and uses his vision to find teammates very well. He’ll need to adjust to the North American game and improve his play in his own zone.
8-Nolan Foote, LW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Like his old man, Nolan is a big physical player who isn’t afraid to get in the opponents faces. Foote is an imposing winger who has a great shot and goes to the greasy areas. Like his brother, Nolan’s biggest weakness is his skating but it shouldn’t hold him back too much. Foote also will have to go back to his shoot first mentality of his rookie year as his shot is his best weapon.
9-Matthew Robertson, D Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Robertson is a big smooth skating defenseman who moves the puck well and picks his spots when to jump into the rush. While not a flashy player he isn’t afraid to make risky plays when he sees them develop and likes to use his size in every zone. He also is an effective PP QB who has a solid shot which should improve as he fills out. He’s already relied upon as the #1 defenseman in Edmonton and plays a steady eddy game which makes him very advanced for his age.
10-Josh Williams, RW Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Williams is a skilled winger with size who has arguably the best shot in this draft class. He also is one of the better skaters in this class which makes him a lethal threat to opposing goalies. He didn’t get much ice time his rookie year early on but got a bigger role as the year went on which should help him in his draft year. His defensive game needs some work but isn’t overly bad and plays a style very similar to that of Owen Tippett. He was one of the better players at the Hlinka and hopefully takes that confidence into the year.
11-Sasha Mutala, RW Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Mutala is also another big skilled winger who likes to shoot the puck and should get a much bigger role this coming year. Along with his shot Mutala is a great skater who plays with a non-stop motor that makes him tough to handle on the forecheck. He’s also a good two-way player who doesn’t fly the defensive zone looking to get points. With more of an opportunity look for his numbers to jump big this year.
12-Jakob Pelletier, LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Pelletier is a small skilled forward who has amazing vision, puck skills and even with being limited somewhat by stature plays a responsible 200 foot game. Other than getting stronger the main thing holding him back at this stage is his shot as it needs some work. Unfortunately Pelletier broke his wrist at the Hlinka which will keep him out of some games early on but hopefully won’t hold him back this season.
13-Arthur Kaliyev, LW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Kaliyev has enjoyed success at a young age as in his rookie year he won the OHL title on a great Bulldogs team which he made a big impact on as a rookie. Kaliyev has good size and a great shot which makes him dangerous in the offensive zone. He also plays with some edge which will bode well for him in the future. He also is a good skater and while he’s more of a shooter he is a decent playmaker as well. Defensively he is a work in progress and will need to focus on rounding out his game going forward.
14-Vladimir Alistrov, LW Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Alistrov was an unknown coming out of Belarus until he stole the show at the U18’s and showed off what made him the second overall pick in the import draft this spring. He’s a big winger who has a good shot and uses his size well. Skating isn’t a weakness either so his raw tools will make scouts take notice. Alistrov will have to translate those tools though as Edmonton is a rebuilding team and won’t have much support for him this coming year. He’ll also need to prove the U18’s wasn’t a flash in the pan and that he’s for real which will be fun to watch this coming year.
15-Oleg Zaitsev, C Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Zaitsev is also a recent high pick in the import draft and has signed with the Rebels. Zaitsev is a skilled two-way center with size that isn’t afraid to us it and should fit it to the WHL pretty seamlessly. While he doesn’t have the flash of some smaller skilled Russians he doesn’t lack in the high skill and creativity department either. Zaitsev made the Russian squad for the Hlinka tournament and while he didn’t get much ice time he showed well with what time he got. With his size, skill and two-way ability Zaitsev has a good chance of being a high draft pick this year.
16-Nolan Maier, G Saskatoon Blades(WHL)
17-Kaeden Korczak, D Kelowna Rockets(WHL)
18-Samuel Poulin, LW Sherbrooke Phoenix(QMJHL)
19-Michael Vukojevic, D Kitchener Rangers(OHL)
20-Blake Murray, C Sudbury Wolves(OHL)
21-Logan Barlage, C Lethbridge Hurricanes(WHL)
22-Colten Ellis, G Rimouski Oceanic(QMJHL)
23-Alex Beaucage, RW Rouyn-Noranda Huskies(QMJHL)
24-Graeme Clarke, C Ottawa 67’s(OHL)
25-Dustin Wolf, G Everett Silvertips(WHL)
26-Artemi Knyazev, D Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
27-Nicholas Robertson, LW Peterborough Petes(OHL)
28-Nikita Alexandrov, C Charlottetown Islanders(QMJHL)
29-Taylor Gauthier, G Prince George Cougars(WHL)
30-Xavier Parent, C Halifax Mooseheads(QMJHL)
31-Nikita Sedov, D Regina Pats(WHL)
32-Danil Antropov, RW Oshawa Generals(OHL)
33-Yaroslav Likhachyov, W Gatineau Olympics(QMJHL)
34-Gabriel Denis, C Shawinigan Cataractes(QMJHL)
35-Xavier Simoneau, C Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
36-Philip Tomasino, RW Niagara Ice Dogs(OHL)
37-Luke Toporowski, LW Spokane Chiefs(WHL)
38-Luke Cavallin, G Flint Firebirds(OHL)
39-Brooklyn Kalmikov, LW Cape Breton Screaming Eagles(QMJHL)
40-Tag Bertuzzi, C Guelph Storm(OHL)
41-Jake Lee, D Seattle Thunderbirds(WHL)
42-Sergei Alkhimov, LW Regina Pats(WHL)
43-Tim Fleischer, LW Hamilton Bulldogs(OHL)
44-Connor McMichael, LW London Knights(OHL)
45-Dillon Hamaliuk, LW Seattle Thunderbirds(WHL)
46-Ethan Keppen, LW Flint Firebirds(OHL)
47-Martin Lang, LW Kamloops Blazers(WHL)
48-Nathan Legare, RW Baie-Comeau Drakkar(QMJHL)
49-Alexei Protas, C Prince Albert Raiders(WHL)
50-Thomas Harley, D Mississauga Steelheads(OHL)
51-Jackson Van De Leest, D Calgary Hitmen(WHL)
52-Kari Piiroinen, G Windsor Spitfires(OHL)
53-Nikita Okhotyuk, D Ottawa 67’s(OHL)
54-Daniil Berestnev, LW Val d’Or Foreurs(QMJHL)
55-Lev Starikov, D Windsor Spitfires(OHL)
56-Jeremy Michel, LW Val-d’Or Foreurs(QMJHL)
57-Erik Cermak, F Peterborough Petes(OHL)
58-Dean Schwenninger, F Portland Winterhawks(WHL)
59-Jarrett Baker, D Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
60-Matvei Guskov, C London Knights(OHL)
HM-Kyen Sopa, F Niagara Ice Dogs(OHL)
HM-Valtteri Kakkonen, D Kootenay Ice(WHL)
HM-Filip Reisnecker, LW Mississauga Steelheads(OHL)
HM-Felix-Antoine Marcotty, RW Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
HM-Yegor Arbuzov, D Spokane Chiefs(WHL)