Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we feature our NHL Draft Grades.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL Draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our NHL Draft Grades now.
To be clear, our NHL Draft Grades are based on the quality and quantity of total talent added in the draft. It is not based on getting value for where you pick. For example, due to a lack of total picks the Columbus Blue Jackets are likely to be given a very poor grade for this year’s draft regardless of how they use them.
LWOH 2019 NHL Draft Grades
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean the best player drafted. It means the best value. For example, Jack Hughes was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Devils. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A second note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.
Anaheim Ducks: A-
Picks: Trevor Zegras, Brayden Tracey, Jackson LaCombe, Henry Thrun, Trevor Janicke, William Francis, Mathew Hill
With Ryan Getzlaf getting older and Ryan Kesler‘s future in doubt, the Ducks needed to address the centre position. Getting Zegras, a speedy forward who plays a two-way game and could become a top-line centre is a coup for the ducks. They took Tracey and LaCombe both a little high. Tracey is a smart offensive forward who can score as well as play the role of playmaker. LaCombe is an excellent skater, who can move the puck and has a very good wrist shot. The Ducks got great value in Thrun. He could become an effective puck-moving defenceman with the ability to play top-four minutes if he develops properly. Janicke is a long-term project up front. He has offensive skill but didn’t get many minutes with the NTDP. Francis and Hill are big defencemen who play physically but don’t bring much offence.
Arizona Coyotes: B
Picks: Victor Soderstrom, John Farinacci, Matias Maccelli, Alexandr Darin, Aku Raty, Danil Savunov, Anthony Romano, Axel Bergkvist, Valentin Nussbaumer,
The Coyotes had a lot of picks, but this is a story of quantity over quality. Soderstrom projects to be a solid all-around defenceman with excellent skating. There are some size concerns but in the modern NHL, they should not limit his potential. Farinacci could become a top-six centre in the NHL. However, given the level of competition he has faced to date, he is a bit of a long-term project. Maccelli plays the game at a high speed and has the stickhandling skill to make plays at that speed. Darin is another speedy winger and has a deadly shot. Raty drives offence through getting in quickly on the forecheck and creating turnovers. Nussbaumer looked like a top pick at this time last year but had a disappointing draft year. He’s a good gamble in the 7th round.
Boston Bruins: C
Picks: John Beecher, Quinn Olson, Roman Bychkov, Matias Mantykivi, Jake Schmaltz
Beecher was a bit of an off the board pick. He didn’t show a lot of offence with the NTDP, though that could have been due to playing in a lower line role on a stacked team. He can play physical and is good in his own end. Olson is a 5’10” winger also known for his grit and two-way game. He is headed to Minnesota-Duluth. Bychkov is a strong skating defenceman, who can move the puck with good stickhandling and passing skill. Mantykivi is a Finnish centre who needs to add muscle on his 5’11” frame. He is known for his playmaking skill. It was a surprise to see Jake Schmaltz drafted, he played a decent defensive game but showed little offence in the USHL. A number of off the boards picks lands the Bruins one of our lower draft grades.
Buffalo Sabres: B
Picks: Dylan Cozens, Ryan Johnson, Erik Portillo, Aaron Huglen, Filip Cederqvist, Lukas Rousek,
The Sabres were pleased to see Cozens fall into their laps. He is a pure goal scorer. He has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release as well as the soft hands to finish in close. Cozens can also be a playmaker. On the blueline, Johnson is an outstanding skater. His first few steps and acceleration are close to an elite level of this draft class. Portillo is a big goaltender coming in at 6’6″. He plays deep in his crease and can be very tough to beat down low. Huglen is extremely skilled, with outstanding hands and the ability to make defenders and goalies look silly. Cederqvist in another goal scorer with a heavy and accurate wrist shot off the wing. Rousek is a 20-year-old who has been passed over in two previous drafts.
Calgary Flames: B-
Picks: Jakob Pelletier, Ilya Nikolaev, Lucas Feuk, Joshua Nodler, Dustin Wolf
Pelletier is another undersized playmaker with outstanding speed. His speed allows him to take a defender wide and create space to get the puck to the front of the net. Nikolaev is a talented playmaker who has been criticized for a lack of consistency in his game. He can look great one game and be full of poor decisions the next. Feuk also has speed but is more of a sniper. He has good power and quick releases on his wrist shot, slap shot and snapshot. Nodler started the season with an outstanding Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. The centre plays a simple game, creating offence through an effective forecheck, and getting the puck to his wingers. Wolf is an undersized goaltender (6’0″) but has fantastic technique. He replaced Carter Hart in Everett and didn’t miss a beat.
Carolina Hurricanes: A
Picks: Ryan Suzuki, Pyotr Kochetkov, Jamieson Rees, Patrik Puistola, Anttoni Honka, Domenick Fensore, Cade Webber, Tuukka Tieksola, Kirill Slepets, Kevin Wall, Blake Murray, Massimo Rizzo
The Hurricanes hit a home run and receive one of our highest draft grades. Suzuki uses outstanding skating ability to create space and generate chances. He can beat defenders wide and accelerate to the front of the net with his speed. Kochetkov plays a controlled game with strong technique. He also gets in and out of his butterfly extremely quickly. Rees is an undersized centre who creates offence due to his outstanding skating, excellent hands, and relentless work ethic. A pure sniper, Puistola has an excellent wrist shot with a lightning quick release. He also has a very good snapshot and one-timer.
Honka is an undersized defender who is much more of a playmaker than a shooter. He is good at using his lateral agility to create shooting lanes. However, he lacks power on his slap shot. Fensore has everything a team would want in a defenceman, except for size. He is a dynamic skater who pairs that with excellent puck handling ability. Murray is a natural sniper, with a strong wrist shot and excellent release. He is willing to shoot the puck if given the slightest opportunity.
Chicago Blackhawks: A-
Picks: Kirby Dach, Alex Vlasic, Michal Teply, Antti Saarela, Dominic Basse, Cole Moberg
The Hawks get a potential franchise centre at third overall. Dach reminds many of Getzlaf and has the same kind of potential. He protects the puck well and can set up teammates with tape-to-tape passes through tight spaces. Vlasic uses his big body to his advantage, especially in his own end. The towering defender already uses his size effectively to clear the front of the net and win battles on the boards. Teply is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He has outstanding vision and hockey IQ. Saarela gets into the dirty areas of the ice at both ends of the ice. He is willing to play a gritty game, getting to the front of the net and creating havoc in the offensive zone. Basse is a big goalie (6’6″) who is set to see better competition next season.
For the next group of teams in our draft grades series, click here.
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