Welcome to Lottery Day, everyone! It’s time for a quick reminder about what’s on the line tonight with my Lottery Day Top Ten Prospects.
I don’t have a huge stable of prospect insiders at my disposal but I do have a handful of scouts from both NHL teams and independent services that haven’t learned to hate me just yet.
As of Tuesday morning, the Oilers are slotted to pick 7th overall but could still end up selecting 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th or 10th.
From what I’m told these are the top ten prospects available for the 2019 draft.
1. Jack Hughes – Center – USA NTDP
The gap between 1st and 2nd has closed but it has more to do with the play of Kaapo Kakko as opposed to any struggles from Jack Hughes. He’s an extremely talented centre but if the Oilers were to win the lottery he would most certainly begin his career on the wing, next season.
2. Kaapo Kakko – Right Wing / Center – Turku, Finland
Kakko has steadily improved the entire season while playing against men in Finland. At the beginning of the year there was a little bit of debate about who would be the second overall pick but Kakko has done an excellent job crushing any sort of discussion. If the Oilers end up with the 2nd overall selection there should be no hesitation in calling his name.
3. Vasili Podkolzin – Right Wing – St. Petersburgh, Russia
I had a few folks tell me he’s the runaway number three prospect in this year’s draft but others suggest it’s not that clear cut so I decided to put him in the second tier as opposed to a tier on his own. He’s a very complete player, which isn’t something you hear very often about top end Russian prospects. I will be very interested to see where the discussion goes if the Oilers end up with the third overall pick following the lottery.
4. Bowen Byram – Defense – Vancouver, WHL
There is not a lot separating Bryam, Cozens and Dach but I value Byram a little bit more because he separates himself more from others at his position. In a forward heavy draft, Byram is the undisputable top defenseman available. He was a point-per-game d-man in the WHL this season and I had one scout tell me he thinks he’s just starting to scratch the surface of what his offensive upside may end up being. Unless a trade is made the Oilers won’t be selecting 4th, 5th or 6th so unless he slips a bit he likely won’t be on their radar.
5. Dylan Cozens – Center – Lethbridge, WHL
Cozens and Dach have been linked together for a couple of years now and there won’t be much separating them on draft day in Vancouver. Cozens is a big center who moves extremely well. He will likely need another year in junior, which will end up being a dominant season for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. I’d be shocked if he’s still on the board at seven if the Oilers hold serve in that slot.
6. Kirby Dach – Center/Right Wing – Saskatoon, WHL
Dach ended up at the bottom of my second tier because one of my scouting contacts had him 9 to11 range. He shows flashes of brilliance and does not wait for the game to come to him. I’m not sure it will happen but Dach is the most likely name to slide out of the top six which means the Oilers may very well have the option to take him.
7. Trevor Zegras – Center/Wing – USA NTDP
The best thing about Zegras is that he can be whatever you need him to be. He dominates inside the blueline offensively; he already has a pro-awareness defensively and is willing to agitate as well. I think he’s a guy that Oilers fans will be in favour of should the team remain in the seven hole.
8. Alex Turcotte – Center – USA NTDP
He’s the second of three American talents to round out my top ten. The Wisconsin recruit has an offensive game that may fly under the radar the bit because he plays a hard, responsible game at both ends of the ice. There isn’t anything sexy about his game but he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses either.
9. Matthew Boldy – Left Wing– USA NTDP
He’s the biggest of these three American kids and he’s also the purest goal scorer of the trio. He has size, a great shot and soft hands. The thing that really brings it all together though is excellent hockey sense. If the Oilers are willing to draft by positional need this summer he may very well fit the bill.
10. Arthur Kaliyev – Right Wing – Hamilton, OHL
If you need goals, he’s your guy. Kaliyev scored 31 goals as a 16-year old in the OHL last season and followed that up with 51 goals this year. He’s not as complete as the three players from the United States above him in Tier 3 but he can one-time the puck and has shown the ability to find a lot of open ice. If the Oilers really like Kaliyev he could be a target to trade down for.
LET THE BALLS FALL
The good news is that worst-case scenario the Oilers will come back from Vancouver with one of these players. For a team that could really use some help up front, it’s a good year to be drafting in the top ten.