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NHL 2019 Mock Draft – 2.0

We’re just over a week out from the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. The Buffalo Sabres sit in the seventh spot and will have a handful of options to choose when they’re on the clock.

This will be the second of three mock drafts I put together. The first one was a top 15 look back in April and this version will be all 31 picks. Next week, will be my final version that will also include some trade ideas to make it interesting.

Alright, let’s get started with the New Jersey Devils at number one overall.

1. New Jersey Devils – Jack Hughes | C | US National Development Program

Hughes is still at the top for me and I think the Devils have made it pretty clear that he’ll be their pick.

2. New York Rangers – Kaapo Kakko | RW | TPS (Liiga)

Kakko made a strong push for first overall with a great World Championship performance for Finland. He’s going to be a really nice piece for the Rangers in their rebuild.

3. Chicago Blackhawks – Alex Turcotte | C | US National Development Program

The draft this year begins at third overall. That’s where it can start to get interesting for the remainder of the top 10 picks. Turcotte was one of the players that were getting a lot of buzz at the NHL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago. There are a few options for the Blackhawks to consider here, but taking the Chicago-native to be their top center of the future makes a lot of sense.

4. Colorado Avalanche (via Ottawa Senators) – Kirby Dach | C | Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

The Avs could have gone a few different ways here to improve their depth in the organization at center, but I went with the big center in Dach this time around. Could be a nice one-two punch with Nathan MacKinnon down the road.

5. Los Angeles Kings – Dylan Cozens | C | Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

I thought about going defense here for the Kings, but Cozens makes sense as the future replacement for Anze Kopitar. His speed and offensive skill will be a great start for the Kings in their roster rebuild that could take a few years to turn around.

6. Detroit Red Wings – Bowen Byram | LD | Vancouver Giants (WHL)

A little run here on the WHL players. I think Byram is the fourth-best player in this draft and it wouldn’t shock me if he goes in the top five on draft day. In this scenario, Steve Yzerman gets a nice offensive-defenseman as a piece to begin to change over the aging Red Wings blue line.

7. Buffalo Sabres – Trevor Zegras | C/W | US National Development Program

This is a tough decision if the draft falls this way for the Sabres. I have Cole Caufield and Zegras graded very closely. In my last mock draft, I had the Sabres going with Zegras and in the SB Nation Mock Draft, we had them picking Caufield.

I decided to go with Zegras here for a few reasons. First, the Sabres met with him multiple times during the NHL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago. Also, if they believe he can be a center for them in the future that is the tie-breaker when the other player in the equation is a winger.

8. Edmonton Oilers – Philip Broberg | LD | AIK (Allsvenskan)

Broberg is a great skater and the opinions on him are all over the board. He was a possible top-five pick to start the season and then started to drop down some boards after a tough regular season. The Swedish defenseman jumped back into the possibility of going in the top 10 after a strong U18 World Championship tournament.

Ken Holland has a lot of work to do with the Oilers and grabbing a defenseman with a high ceiling would be a good start.

9. Anaheim Ducks – Matthew Boldy | W | US National Development Program

This was between Boldy and Caufield at this spot. I decided to go with Boldy because general manager Bob Murray may want to add some size to his prospect pool if Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are entering the end of their careers with the Ducks.

10. Vancouver Canucks – Cole Caufield | RW | US National Development Program

Another electric scoring forward for the Canucks. They have a really nice young forward group coming together with Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, and Caufield in this scenario.

11. Philadelphia Flyers – Alex Newhook | C | Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)

Newhook is another player that was getting a lot of buzz at the Scouting Combine. The players out of the second-tier Canadian-junior league, BCHL, are always a risk but he scored a ton in that league. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes for him at Boston College next season.

12. Minnesota Wild – Peyton Krebs | C/LW | Kootenay Ice (WHL)

The torn achilles injury is unfortunate for Krebs. It’ll almost certainly drop him out of the top 10, but he shouldn’t fall that far. Minnesota has the ability to be patient with their prospects at this point as they’re still trying to win now.

13. Florida Panthers – Moritz Seider | RD | Adler Mannheim (DEL)

Seider was the only player that I’m aware of that met with all 31 teams at the combine. His performance for Germany at the World Championship is going to go a long way to pushing him ahead of Victor Soderstrom to be at least the third defenseman off the board.

14. Arizona Coyotes – Arthur Kaliyev | LW | Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

Like Caufield, Kaliyev has some concerns in his overall game but he just scores goals.

15. Montreal Canadiens – Victor Soderstrom | RD | Brynas IF (SHL)

Soderstrom is another one of those next-generation defenders that are exceptional skaters. He has a great IQ and good at both ends of the ice. The Canadiens could use some infusion on their blue line in their prospect pool.

16. Colorado Avalanche – Vasili Podkolzin | RW | SKA-1946 (MHL)

A few months ago, Podkolzin was a consideration for the Avs first pick. Now, he slides all the way down the board to 16 overall. He told reporters at the combine that he plans to honor the remainder of his KHL contract. Since Colorado will be adding a top five pick, they may be willing to wait on the talented winger.

17. Vegas Golden Knights – Spencer Knight | G | US National Development Program

Knight did very well at the combine with his performance during the drills. He’s the unquestioned top goaltender in this class and Vegas can begin to plan for life after Marc-Andre Fleury with this pick.

18. Dallas Stars – Ryan Suzuki | C | Barrie Colts (OHL)

I thought about getting cute and putting both the Suzuki brothers in the Canadiens prospect system. Instead, I have the highly skilled center dropping to 18 for the Stars.

19. Ottawa Senators (via Columbus Blue Jackets) – Nils Hoglander | LW | Rogle (SHL)

I’m a big fan of Hoglander personally. He’s another one of those under-sized forwards, but he has excellent hands with the puck on his stick. The Senators have some very nice talent coming in the future if they can put it all together.

20. New York Rangers (via Winnipeg Jets) – Cam York | LD | US National Development Program

The Rangers walking out with Kakko and York with their two picks in the top 20 would be a haul.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins – Phillip Tomasino | C | Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)

The Penguins with a rare pick in the first round. Their prospect pool needs some help and the speedy center from the OHL would be a good start.

22. Los Angeles Kings (via Toronto Maple Leafs) – Thomas Harley | LD | Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Kings grabbed a forward earlier and with their second first-round pick add to their defense. The big defender has good feet for a player of his size and could be a nice late first-round grab for Rob Blake.

23. New York Islanders – Raphael Lavoie | C/W | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

The big forward had a lot of buzz heading into the season but didn’t really meet expectations during the regular season. He rebounded well in the playoffs with 20 goals and 32 points in 23 games.

24. Nashville Predators – Bobby Brink | RW | Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)

Brink is another undersized scoring forward that will go in the first round this season. He had a great USHL season scoring 35 goals and 69 points in 43 games for the Musketeers.

25. Washington Capitals – Ville Heinola | LD | Lukko (Liiga)

I’ve been following Heinola since he impressed me at the World Juniors playing for Finland this past season. I hold out hope he could fall to the Sabres at the end of round one if they keep their pick, but his solid end to the season in Liiga will likely keep him in the top 25.

26. Calgary Flames – Jakob Pelletier | LW | Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Another sign of change in the NHL. The 5’9” forward is a good play-making forward out of the QMJHL. As we get late in round one some of these players may drop into round two and Pelletier is a possibility. However, I think the late climb up boards will get him into the back half of round one.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning – Alex Vlasic | LD | US National Development Program

Time to squeeze one more USDTP prospect into the first round. The big defender will get a lot of teams to like his mix of size and offensive upside at the end of round one.

28. Carolina Hurricanes – Nicholas Robertson | LW | Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Robertson is one of the younger players in the draft and has a lot of upside to his game.

29. Anaheim Ducks (via San Jose Sharks/Buffalo Sabres) – Egor Afanasayev | LW | Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

The big Russian winger is an interesting player. He has a lot of high-end skill and nice shot. However, he needs a lot of work in other parts of his game to round into a full-time NHL player in the future.

30. Buffalo Sabres (via St. Louis Blues) – Patrik Puistola | LW | Tappara (Liiga)

We know how much Jason Botterill loves to reach into Europe for his prospects. Puistola isn’t one of those players that are going to catch your attention with his speed. He’s a smart player that works hard and scores a lot of his goals around the net. He’s got great hands in tight around the net and could be a nice middle-six winger down the road after a few more years in Finland.

31. Boston Bruins – Lassi Thomson | RD | Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Bruins end round one by picking Finnish puck-moving defender from the WHL, Thomson.