The NHL All-Star Game festivities have come and gone, and with that, we head into the second half of the season.
While some teams will be focused on their spots in the playoff race, others are looking towards June and the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.
The hype for the draft really turns up at this time, and fans of teams destined for a lottery pick begin to open the simulators to see where their respective team will land.
Using Tankathon.com, I simulated the lottery 100 times to fairly determine who would have the chance to pick first in the draft.
Much to the chagrin of the Ottawa Senators, they won the lottery. Meaning that they have to watch the Colorado Avalanche take the first player off the board as a result of the Matt Duchene trade.Embed from Getty Images
1) Colorado Avalanche (Via Ottawa)
Jack Hughes, Centre, USNTDP
Colorado currently needs a bit of help down the middle. Carl Soderberg is currently the second-line centre, while 2016 first-rounder Tyson Jost is in the minors.
Losing Matt Duchene ended up helping the Avs land Hughes, who will immediately form a one-two punch of top-notch centres with Nathan MacKinnon.
The American is an elite talent who will make an instant impact and help Colorado take the next step towards being a constant contender in the Western Conference.Embed from Getty Images
2) Florida Panthers
Kaapo Kakko, Right Wing, TPS (Liiga)
Florida found themselves picking second overall in 2013. They selected an extremely talented Fin in Aleksander Barkov, who now anchors their offence.
With another top-three pick, they can’t miss with any of the prospects available, but Kakko is unquestionably the second-best player in this draft.
He does a little bit of everything. He stands at 6-foot-2 and does a fantastic job of putting together great skating, vision, passing, and shooting ability.
Luckily for the Panthers, they’re set at centre. With Barkov and Vince Trocheck already in the top six and Henrik Borgstrom knocking on the door, they can just get the best player on the board.Embed from Getty Images
3) Chicago Blackhawks
Vasili Podkolzin, Right Wing, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Last year, Chicago picked in the top 10 of the draft for the first time since selecting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007. They got a great piece for the future in defenceman Adam Boqvist.
The Blackhawks also have the luxury of selecting the best player on the board, and with Hughes and Kakko all but guaranteed to be the first two prospects taken, that leaves Podkolzin.
The Russian is an incredible talent who is very hard to take off the puck and makes defenders look silly on a regular basis. Just imagine Kane and Podkolzin playing together on the same line in the future.Embed from Getty Images
4) Los Angeles Kings
Kirby Dach, Centre, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Los Angeles is another team that isn’t too used to picking in the lottery. They picked 11th in 2017, selecting centre Gabe Vilardi. This would be the highest the Kings have selected since they took Drew Doughty with the second overall pick in 2008.
They do have some decent depth down the middle with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter holding down the top six. However, they have Adrian Kempe at centre on their third line. He could be swung out to the wing if there was another option down the middle.
Dach is the second-best pivot available in this draft. He has incredible vision and passing ability, and while he doesn’t possess elite speed, Dach certainly isn’t a bad skater – draft pundits have said that he has an impressive stride for a player his size. He’s a seemingly perfect fit for the Kings, who will likely love the 6-foot-4 centre on the forecheck – where they love to grind and wear teams out.Embed from Getty Images
5) Detroit Red Wings
Bowen Byram, Defence, Vancouver Canucks (WHL)
Detroit needs some help on the back end going forward. Nicklas Kronwall is 38 and Mike Green is their other first-pairing defender. Dennis Cholowski is a great young player, but he’s only one piece to the puzzle.
Byram has the upside to be a top pairing defenceman in the NHL and is someone fans should fall in love with. He’s an aggressive defender who doesn’t mind taking a risk to make a play. He’s starting to figure it out offensively and has always been a reliable rearguard in the CHL.Embed from Getty Images
6) New Jersey Devils
Alex Turcotte, Centre, USNTDP
New Jersey has gone centre-heavy in past drafts, taking John Quenneville, Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod, and Nico Hischier in consecutive first rounds from 2014 to 2017.
There isn’t another defender that they should reach for in this spot, so taking an impact player like Turcotte is a good move.
Turcotte hasn’t been able to play as much as he likely wanted to in his draft year due to an injury that kept him out until after the World Juniors. While he doesn’t have a lot of tape this year, he’s still an incredible two-way centre who teams will covet in the top 10.
Zacha and Quenneville have both played on the wing, and McLeod and Turcotte can form a solid pair of pivots behind Hischier in the future.
Turcotte will be heading to Wisconsin next year so the Devils will have some time to figure out the centre situation.Embed from Getty Images
7) Philadelphia Flyers
Matthew Boldy, Left Wing, USNTDP
Philadelphia is a team that can do a number of things in this position. They’ve got Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Nolan Patrick down the middle currently. They also have Jay O’Brien, Morgan Frost, and German Rubtsov waiting in the wings.
Boldy is a winger who possesses some bite and the ability to fill up the scoresheet with his ability to both set up and score goals. He’ll be able to link up with 2018 first-rounder – and USNTDP graduate – Joel Farabee down the road to give Philadelphia some more creativity up front.
That plan is still at least a year away, however, as Boldy will be heading to Boston College next season.Embed from Getty Images
8) Arizona Coyotes
Dylan Cozens, Centre, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
After moving Dylan Strome to the Blackhawks earlier in the year, Arizona could stand to add another centre prospect.
They got Barrett Hayton with the fifth overall pick last year, but Cozens is a supremely talented individual who can only help the Coyotes.
Centre is one of the most important positions on the ice and the 6-foot-3 pivot is a pass-first player who also has elite speed. It would be a big boost to the ‘Yotes if they can land Cozens in this position.Embed from Getty Images
9) Edmonton Oilers
Trevor Zegras, Centre, USNTDP
Edmonton could add another defenceman in the first round this year. But unless they’re willing to reach a bit, they can add another forward in this spot to place alongside Connor McDavid.
Zegras has lined up in a few roles this season with the U.S. National Program. When Jack Hughes has been out of the lineup, he has assumed his spot down the middle. When the projected first overall pick plays, however, Zegras has slid over to his wing.
He has elite speed and equally impressive distribution skills. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of flash in Zegras’ game. He just goes out and gets the job done. That’s exactly what Edmonton needs at the moment.Embed from Getty Images
10) St. Louis Blues
Peyton Krebs, Centre, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
The Blues have a very underrated base of defensive prospects. Vince Dunn and Jake Walman are both solid pieces that will help anchor a blue line that’ll still (presumably) feature Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko.
They could use a shot in the arm up front, and Krebs would be able to give them that. Scouts have said that he has arguably the highest motor of anyone in this class. He has the drive to compete and hates losing – which he’s been a little too accustomed to playing on Kootenay.
He’s already the captain of the Ice at just 17 years old. He’ll likely be wearing a letter at some point in his NHL career. On top of the intangibles, he’s also an extremely skilled player who is elusive and has fantastic hands.
Put him alongside the likes of Tarasenko and O’Reilly and watch what he can do.Embed from Getty Images
11) Anaheim Ducks
Raphael Lavoie, Centre/Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Anaheim’s core is starting to age, and they need to start lining up replacements for the future. They’ve already got some great pieces in Sam Steel, Max Jones, Troy Terry, and Isac Lundestrom. Lavoie would be another top-notch addition.
The 6-foot-4 forward can play down the middle or on the wing and has the entire package. He does, however, have some issues with consistency, according to some scouts. Lavoie prefers to show off his impressive release if he has the chance, but he’s also able to set up teammates with great success.Embed from Getty Images
12) New York Rangers
Ryan Suzuki, Centre, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Suzuki possesses similar qualities to his brother, Nick. He’s got great vision, hands, and passing ability. Some have even said he’s the faster of the two – which could help him a tad in terms of stock.
The Rangers don’t necessarily need a centre, as they have Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, and Brett Howden already. But Suzuki is another top six talent who can help them in their rebuild. The former first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection has only gotten started. There are bigger and better things on the way from him.
13) Vancouver Canucks
Alex Newhook, Centre, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
Newhook’s draft projections have been all over the place. He has been ranked as a lottery pick by most draft pundits but was also ranked 16th among North American skaters by NHL central scouting.
Playing in junior A makes it a little more difficult to truly pinpoint where he’ll land. His skill is unquestionable, though. He’s is a supremely talented skater who was ranked in the top 10 to start the year. He’s a deft playmaker who can put defenders on a highlight reel if they’re not careful.
Vancouver needs to start adding forwards in the first round. They have Olli Juolevi, Quinn Hughes, and Jett Woo as prospects on the back end. Their last two forward picks in the first round – Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser – are now full-time NHLers. Time to re-stock.
Newhook will have a few years to hone his game, as he’ll be heading to Boston College next year. Vancouver isn’t in dire need of him right away so he can make a smooth transition to the pro ranks whenever he decides he’s done in the NCAA.
14) Carolina Hurricanes
Pavel Dorofeyev, Left Wing, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Dorofeyev is a new name that was brought to my attention by Steve Kournianos. He had the young Russian going to the Hurricanes, and after looking at his tape, the pick makes a lot of sense.
He has posted well over a point per game in the Russian junior league. While the track record for MHL draft eligibles cracking the show isn’t great, he has played nearly 20 games with Magnitogorsk in the KHL this year. He just scored his first career KHL goal in a game against Traktor on Thursday.
Dorofeyev will likely make the jump to full-time KHL duty next season. For now, he’s getting to learn from former NHLer – and Magnitogorsk head coach – Viktor Kozlov.
When he makes the jump over to North America, he’ll form a solid pairing with fellow countryman Andrei Svechnikov.Embed from Getty Images
15) Buffalo Sabres
Arthur Kaliyev, Left Wing, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Every team in the league would be happy to land a natural goal-scorer in the draft. Kaliyev is that guy. He’s gotten the chance to be a go-to scorer for Hamilton this season, and he’s run with it, scoring 35 goals in 48 games.
His passing abilities are really something he doesn’t get a lot of credit for – Kaliyev has more assists than goals this year.
Buffalo could get another first-rounder this year if St. Louis finishes outside of the top 10 in the lottery. Regardless, they’ll be looking to fill some holes in the squad.
Adding another guy who has a nose for the net will help their top six immensely going forward.