•  Register
24

2019 NHL Draft: Winners and Losers

by Michael Stewart on Jun. 23, 2019

Introduction: The 2019 NHL Draft has concluded and although we didn’t see a flurry of trades; which was expected. We did see some teams come out on top; while other teams not capitalizing on a deep draft. It’s unclear why many teams weren’t active with trades as only one trade was made in round 1 (Philadelphia trading back from 11 to 14 with Arizona for additional 2nd round pick (45th). However; in round 2 there were 23 trades were made in total; which featured the New Jersey Devils acquiring defensemen P.K Subban from the Nashville Predators for defensemens Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies, a 2nd round pick in the 2019 draft a a 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft. So let’s take a look at the top 4 winners and top 4 losers in the 2019 NHL draft.

Winners

 

  1. New Jersey Devils: Having the 1st overall pick certainly made their first decision on draft night a lot easier with their selection of center Jack Hughes. Many experts believed that the Devils would could select Finnish standout Kaapo Kakko 1st overall, however; the Devils had Hughes on their radar from the very beginning. Hughes is already being compared to Patrick Kane for his skill set and size and many believe he’ll need no more than a year of development to secure a spot as a top 6 forward. The Devils didn’t stop there as they made four trades on day two; which featured All Star defensemen P.K Subban coming over from Nashville and John Hayden from Chicago, along with swapping draft picks with San Jose and Washington respectfully.  One of those picks was defensemen Nikita Okhotyuk, who’s a nasty hard-hitting blue liner. All in all it was a solid two days for the New Jersey Devils organization and a big step towards pointing them back in the right direction.  Grade A

 

  1. New York Rangers: Like the Devils, the Rangers had a very easy decision to make with their 2nd overall pick in the 2019 draft with Kaapo Kakko on the board. The Finnish forward already has tremendous talent and many believe he is ready right now to step in and be a top 6 forward for the Rangers in 2019-20 season. Kakko is deceptively strong on the puck and is an exceptional skater and a threat anywhere on the ice. He also has good size and has been playing against adults overseas for the past year; which should translate him into a starting role in the Big Apple. The Rangers also addressed their blue-line prior to the draft with a couple of trades for two solid right handed defensemen in Adam Fox (acquired from Carolina for a 2019 2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd round in 2020 that could be a 2nd round pick if Fox plays more than 30 games in 2019. They also got defensemen Jacob Trouba (acquired from Winnipeg for the 20th overall pick and defensemen Neil Pionk). Surprisingly on day two, the Rangers did not make any trades; which was not expected and utilized all their picks on prospects. Within those picks, keep an eye on 2nd round picks (#49) defensemen Matthew Robertson and center Karl Henriksson (#58) who I believe have 1st round talent. In the end, the Rangers have accelerated their rebuilding plans and could take a big step in 2019-20.  Grade A

 

  1. Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche had two picks in the 1st round and after the top two picks were made with Hughes and Kakko, the Avalanche were delighted as Chicago selected center Kirby Dach, leaving the best defensemen still on the board in Bowen Byram.  Byram is a great skater and has the ability to move the puck effectively through all three zones. The gifted blue-liner is NHL ready and will join a group that already includes    Cale Makar and Sam Girard, which is a solid group of a youth defensemen on the back end. The Avalanche may not be done as they need to make a decision on defensemen Tyson Barrie. The Avalanche also had the 16th overall pick and selected a very gifted center in Alex Newhook who had 102 points in only 53 games. These two 1st round picks along with their other picks in the draft gives the Avalanche solid pieces in moving in the right direction.  Grade B

 

  1. Montreal Canadians: The Canadians sat back in the 1st round and might have gotten a steal in the draft with the purest sniper in Cole Caufield who amassed 72 goals last season. At only 5’7, size was definitely the reason why the gifted forward was passed over by so many teams. In the history of the NHL, many smaller players in statue have excelled and even ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame; most notably Marcel Dionne. This is not to say Caufield will be the next Dionne, but the kid has a high level of offensive skills that warranted top 10 selection. Montreal also were active on the trading end with four separate trades on day 2 with Florida, San Jose, Los Angeles and Philadelphia for draft picks. The Canadians utilized those picks by selecting a total of nine picks; which featured five defensemen, three forwards and a goaltender. Keep an eye on their 2nd and 3rd round selections of defensemen Jayden Struble, Mattias Norlinder and Gianni Fairbrother over the next couple of years as all three have a high ceiling. Grade B.

 

Losers

 

  1. Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings new GM Steve Yzerman comes home with a very impressive resume with the Tampa Bay Lightning for his work on building a power- house in Tampa Bay. However; it seemed a bit of a reach with their 6th overall pick that they selected defensemen Moritz Seider. Seider is projected as a good defensive prospect who has a reputation for being reliable and skilled in his own end, and he brings a lot of size at 6-4. However; going 6th overall with limited offensive skills seemed like a reach with many gifted offensive prospects still on the board. Perhaps Yzerman wasn’t able to trade back and settled on Seider to avoid missing out on him if not taken at #6. Detroit also used three picks in the 2nd round to select two defensemen in Antti Tuomisto (2/35),  Albert Johannsson (2/60) and forward Robert Mastrosimone (2/54) who were all rated to go lower in the draft. Detroit made one trade with the Sabres (draft picks). Overall, it doesn’t appear to be a solid draft for Yzerman’s first season back in Detroit, however; it’s hard to bet against him based on his past achievements. Right now, however; I got to give him a below average grade here: Grade C-.

 

  1. Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are separate for talent right now and shockingly they select the one highly touted prospect who will not be available until 2021 in forward Vasily Podkolzin. Podkolzin still has a 2-year commitment to play in the KHL and must fulfill that his obligation. The Canucks didn’t stop there they made a series of trades on day 2 with Tampa Bay, Buffalo and San Jose. The head scratcher trade was involving the Lightning as the Canucks acquired forward J.T Miller and his  5 year contract for goalie Marek Mazanec, a 3rd round pick in the 2019 pick and a conditional 1st round pick in the 2020 draft. Miller is a serviceable forward, however; surrendering a 1st round pick for him seemed one-sided for the lightning. All in all, the Canucks are going to need to wait a few years to see if any of  their picks will contribute and aside from Miller, really haven’t added much talent to the roster for 2019; maybe that will change during free agency. Grade C-

 

  1. Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers selected a very talented defensemen in Philip Broberg, however; their lack of depth lies at the forward position, especially on the wings and there were plenty of available wingers just sitting there for them like Caufield, Zegras and Boldy. Also, throw in the fact that they will likely lose winger Jesse Puljujarvi (trade request); which further compounds the need to add offensive weapons. So unless they can acquire a young sniper for Puljujarvi, their 1st selection becomes more of a head scratcher. The Oilers defensive depth is plentiful with Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Keegan Lowe, Evan Bouchard and Ryan Mantha as some of these prospects should be ready by next season. The addition of 2nd round pick Raphael Lavoie is a solid pick, but it’s overshadowed by their 1st pick of Broberg. It seemed like the Oilers could have done more with their picks to capitalize on bringing in the right pieces their roster desperately needed. Grade C-

 

  1. Chicago Blackhawks: the Blackhawks selected center Kirby Dach who is not a bad prospect, but with the 3rd overall pick might have been selected too early; especially with the gifted blue-liner Bowen Bryan on the board. Dach may not fulfill the requirements a 3rd overall pick should offensively, so to me this pick is more of a reach than a sure thing.  On the trade front, the Blackhawks made just one trade with Devils that really won’t make the headline news and their other selections in the draft are more of a wait and see in the couple of years. Grade D+

 

Final Thoughts: As expected, there were lots of trades in the 2019 NHL draft, although many experts projected more activity in the 1st round with current players being involved. For many teams, this draft will be more of a wait and see as many of these picks will need to time to develop their game to fully evaluate their value and success in the NHL. I believe this draft will have a rebirth in the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils of years past as Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will forever be linked together as well as P.K Subban and Jacob Trouba, who were both acquired through trades. Now that the draft has ended, teams will now shift gears and focus on free agency; which begins on July 1st. The rumor mill has already been circulating and we should see big named free agents finding new homes immediately.