Dreaming of the Draft: Making a List

As hockey leagues around the world start to get the 2018-19 season underway, most of the draft experts in the media have weighed in and posted their preseason 2019 NHL Entry Draft ranking lists. The draft class and rankings will surely evolve over the season but now is a good goalpost to take stock of where things stand.

There are many different types of publications from national media to independent scouts but the three which I find take the temperature of the draft class the best are Hockey Prospect, Craig Button and Bob McKenzie. Below are each of their top tens for comparison but follow the link to their deeper lists.

 

Hockey Prospect

For me Hockey Prospect aligns the closest to the best attributes in a prospect as they value hockey sense, skating and skill highly. This outlet has a good mix of mainstream sensibility coupled with independent thought. They generally are early on risers, for example they had Podkolzin ninth heading into the summer, and is an important list to watch.

Hockey Prospect’s Rankings

  1. Jack Hughes (C)
  2. Kaapo Kakko (RW)
  3. Alex Turcotte (C)
  4. Vasili Podkolzin (RW)
  5. Dylan Cozens (C)
  6. Bowen Byram (LD)
  7. Alex Newhook (C)
  8. Rafael Lavoie (RW)
  9. Peyton Krebs (LW/C)
  10. Cam York (LD)

Theres not much to disagree with here as expected. Bump down Turcotte, although I do like his well-rounded game at center, and that’s my personal top five. York is an interesting choice as the next best player from the US National Development Team and he’s in the mix for the second best defenseman after Byram.

Newhook is going to be a fascinating one to follow all season as he’s continuing to play with Victoria in the BCHL and was the surprise cut from Canada’s Ivan Hlinka team and therefore still has not had much high level competition and exposure. He will be the one to watch at the World Junior A Challenge and to see if he can remain in the top ten on some boards plus work his way back up on others over the course of the year.

 

Craig Button

Craig Button is known as a bit of a hot take artist but as unexpected as some of his rankings are he hits on a decent number of them. If anything, his lists serve as food for thought to consider players higher or lower than consensus and a reminder that NHL teams very much do the same.

Craig Button’s Rankings

  1. Jack Hughes (C)
  2. Dylan Cozens (C)
  3. Philip Broberg (LD)
  4. Kaapo Kakko (RW)
  5. Vasili Podkolzin (RW)
  6. Bowen Byram (LD)
  7. Rafael Lavoie (RW)
  8. Payton Krebs (LW/C)
  9. Kirby Dach (C)
  10. Cole Caufield (C/RW)

Button loves a good tournament performance so that’s brought Broberg up so high and could hold there for a while due to his splash at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Caulfield gets his nod as second best from the NTDP and will face questions all year of how small is too small in today’s NHL as he stands at five foot six. Button’s current top ten is relatively tame at this time.

 

Bob McKenzie

What makes Bob McKenzie’s rankings so special is because they aren’t formed based on his opinion nor TSN’s but rather is a sampling of ten NHL scouts in order to get an idea where the industry consensus behind the curtain is heading.

Bob McKenzie’s Rankings

  1. Jack Hughes (C)
  2. Dylan Cozens (C)
  3. Kaapo Kakko (RW)
  4. Vasili Podkolzin (RW)
  5. Kirby Dach (C)
  6. Bowen Byram (LD)
  7. Philip Broberg (LD)
  8. Rafael Lavoie (RW)
  9. Peyton Krebs (LW/C)
  10. Ryan Suzuki (C)

The biggest surprise is Kakko is not the consensus second overall pick, though that might quickly change with Kakko’s scorching hot start in the Finnish men’s Liiga. Cozens certainly seems to be the pedigree choice for now but I like his power center type game even if sometimes it isn’t flashy. Podkolzin is a tantalizing do-it-all power forward I’m very fond of and will be curious to see how high a Russian playing in Russia can hold among the industry consensus. Suzuki is the only OHL player on any of these lists and although the field spreads wide open approaching the bottom of the top ten it does seem like OHL exclusion is frowned upon by scouts.

queenjk

Aka tigervixxxen, prospect junkie.

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