It’s a sad day, as I sit here at a Waves Coffee House in Vancouver I just realized this is my final mock draft of the season. *Single tear rolls down my face*
I’ve had Kirby Dach going to the Oilers in all three of my previous mock drafts and as Britney Spears once said — Oops! I did it again.

1st Overall: New Jersey Devils

Jack Hughes – USA NTDP

Jack Hughes has been the projected 1st overall pick in the 2019 draft for two full seasons so it’s time to give him credit for hanging on to the top spot. It wouldn’t be a mistake for the Devils to use the top pick on Kakko instead but Hughes is a good fit for their club and will provide them with a true superstar to build around. He will most certainly be a key contributor for the Devils next season.

2nd Overall: New York Rangers

Kaapo Kakko – Turku, Finland

Nothing against the Trouba trade but landing Kaapo Kakko with the 2nd overall pick will be the best thing to happen to the Rangers this week. I spoke with one scout today who said he is 100 percent certain that Kakko is better suited right now for the NHL than Hughes and that’s good news for a Rangers team that might be ready to fast forward their rebuild a bit.

3rd Overall: Chicago Blackhawks

Alex Turcotte – USA NTDP

Let me be the first to say that if I was running the Hawks I’d take Bowen Byram with the third overall pick but alas I’m just a blogger/streamer/radio host/play-by-play guy/father of two/husband so what do I know?
I had Byram going third overall to the Hawks in all three mocks prior to the Olli Maatta trade. Byram is likely ready to handle top four minutes in the NHL so why would did the Hawks pay the price they did to get Maatta if they were leaning towards taking Byram? I don’t think they would.
Alex Turcotte has all the tools to become a 1st line center in the NHL and the Hawks may see this as a chance to find a successor for Jonathan Toews, a player they also drafted right here in Vancouver.

4th Overall: Colorado Avalanche

Bowen Byram – Vancouver Giants, WHL

Close your eyes for a second and imagine Cale Makar and Bowen Byram on the ice together, that would be a decade worth of nightmares for teams around the National Hockey League.
You don’t see many defencemen make the leap to the NHL as an 18-year old but Byram has the skill set to get it done. Byram and Makar would have the potential to eventually become the best offensive 1-2 punch from the backend in the entire league.

5th Overall: Los Angeles Kings

Dylan Cozens – Lethbridge Hurricanes

I spent quite a bit of time debating between the two WHL forwards with this pick but decide to go with Dylan Cozens. I’m not sure Cozens has a greater upside than Dach but I do believe he is the safer play. He thinks the game extremely well, with or without the puck, and projects to be a really good second line centre.
****TRADE ALERT: Detroit trades the 6th overall pick and a 4th round pick in 2019 to the Canucks for the 10th overall pick and a 2nd round pick in 2019.****

6th Overall: Vancouver Canucks (from Detroit)

Philip Broberg – Skelleftea, Sweden

The host team makes a splash! The Canucks move up to take Philip Broberg who has elite offensive upside but still needs to learn the game defensively. I do think this is a little bit of the reach but if he pans out for the Canucks it will look like a genius move.
Could the Canucks just wait and hope that Broberg is still available with the 10th pick? Sure, but that’s no fun. Many people have been speculating that the Oilers would take him with the 8th overall pick so if Jim Benning buys into that he’ll have to move up to get him.
Edler would be a great mentor for Broberg if he is still with the Canucks when the younger Swede arrives in North America.

7th Overall: Buffalo Sabres

Cole Caufield – USA NTDP

Jason Botterill has conducted two drafts with the Sabres and has yet to pick a player from the Canadian Hockey League so I’m going to go with the trend and say he passes on Kirby Dach. The Sabres need goal scoring and nobody does it better in this draft than Cole Caufield. He would have a chance to develop alongside fellow Americans, Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt.
Even though he scores goals in bunches I don’t see Caufield going any higher than this.

8th Overall: Edmonton Oilers

Kirby Dach – Saskatoon, WHL

Here we go again. I just can’t get away from Kirby Dach going 8th overall to the Oilers. He has an NHL ready body and knows how to use it. He uses his size to protect the puck extremely well in the offensive zone and also finds his way to the front of the net with or without the puck.
He has the rare ability to slow the game down and control things at his own pace. He’s probably just a year away from being ready to give it a go in the show. I think his style of play would fit in very nicely with the other elite offensive players on the Oilers.

9th Overall: Anaheim Ducks

Trevor Zegras – USA NTDP

The Ducks have never used a first round pick on a player out of the USA Development program but there’s a first time for everything. Zegras is a super confident playmaker that could end up playing either on the wing or down the middle at the next level.
I think the Ducks will be extremely happy to see Zegras still available at nine.

10th Overall: Detroit Red Wings (from Vancouver)

Vasili Podkolzin – St. Petersburg, KHL

The Red Wings move down and get their man at ten. Yzerman had some major success with Russians in Tampa Bay and Podkolzin has all the tools to become a star in Detroit.
The knock on Podkolzin is that he hasn’t yet managed to put everything together at the same time but if/when he does this pick will look like a home run for Stevie Y.


This is your final chance to make a prediction. How do you see the top ten going? What happens if Caufield and Dach are both available for the Oilers at eight? Is it crazy to think that all three of Cozens, Dach and Caufield could be available? Nobody expected both Bouchard and Dobson to still be available for the Oilers last season so it’s fair to say anything can happen.
One final thing to note is that Ken Holland said multiple times on Thursday that he has spent a lot of time watching this powerhouse USA-NTDP program. I don’t think that necessarily means he’s going to take one of those kids but if he does you can be confident he knows every single thing about him.


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Previously by Dustin Nielson: