Two days, 31 teams and 217 players later and the 2019 NHL Draft is done.
Sixty-three players were selected from Canada — the most of any country — with the US, a close second, claiming 59 players. The USNTDP set an abundance of records with 17 players taken in total, eight of whom were selected in round one. We witnessed Dylan Cozens become the first Yukon born player taken in the first round.
All told, 27 players were selected that had previous ties to the NHL, lead by Hughes, whose brother Quinn spent the last month of the season with the Vancouver Canucks.
The most heart-warming moment of the day had to be Everett goalie Dustin Wolf being selected by Calgary with the 214th overall pick. I can’t imagine having to sit with your family, watching all of the players you’ve played with and against get selected and enjoy the moment with family and friends, while you sit there wondering what your future holds.
The Wolf family was forced to wait for more than three hours before hearing Dustin’s name called. The screams, the jubilation, the utter joy could be heard and felt throughout Rogers Arena.
Here’s my take on my favourite selection from each round.
Raphael Harvey-Pinard │ 7th round, 201st overall │ Montreal Canadiens
A smallish player who has the heart of a lion, Harvey-Pinard captained the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to President and Memorial Cup titles.
Having experienced a pro camp with the Vegas Golden Knights, Harvey-Pinard will not be fazed by going to camp with Montreal. At the CHL level, he’s a point producer, and he’s relied upon in crucial situations. Harvey-Pinard is like a second coach with his ability to think the game. Hockey IQ is off the charts and when matched with work ethic gives him the chance to make it as a late pick.
Patrick Moynihan │ 6th round, 158th overall │ New Jersey Devils
The best endorsement of a player is that which comes from teammates.
When asked who is the most underrated player on their team, many of the USNTDP players replied with Moynihan. With the ability to play all over the lineup, Moynihan is lauded for the details in his game, for a never-ending motor that allows him to have success.
The production (68 PTS in 92 GP) was still impressive considering all of the other high-end options on their team. Another guy who will find a way to make it. Next stop, Providence.
Kirill Slepets │ 5th round, 152nd overall │ Carolina Hurricanes
Having watched Slepets on several occasions this season both in November at our Canada-Russia series and at the World Juniors, it was easy to see why Carolina took him as a 20-year-old. He possesses world class speed and an ability to anticipate the play, that leads to an abundance of scoring chances.
He does, however, lack finish in his game. That may ultimately be his downfall, but the fallback position for Slepets is a penalty-kill specialist — he has sneaky length and great hand-eye coordination that make him a threat short-handed.
Jordan Spence │ 4th round, 95th overall │ Los Angeles Kings
A player born in Australia, who moved to Japan and eventually back to his dad’s home province of Prince Edward Island, Spence had to live with a friend while waiting for his family to relocate just so that he could play at a competitive level.
Undrafted in his first year of QMJHL eligibility, the Moncton Wildcats jumped up and took him in the second round of the 2017 draft. Before you know it, he’s put up 49 points best amongst QMJHL rookie rearguards en route to the league’s rookie of the year award.
Cole Schwindt │ 3rd round, 81st overall │ Florida Panthers
Big, right-shot centres, are hard to come by, and this player offers that package. Not to condone fighting, but a tussle with Josh Wainman on February 13th happened to coincide with a 5 game point streak.
Understanding that he could hold his own, Schwindt started to use his size to his advantage, and ultimately put up 12 points over Mississauga’s final 9 games of the season.
A good off-season could position him well to take a major step in point production next season.
Brett Leason │ 2nd round, 56th overall │ Washington Capitals
Steal of the draft potential.
Admittedly I’m biased towards Leason because he’s the player I’d had the most live viewings of this season. I watched him play in the regular season, world juniors, playoffs and Memorial Cup resulting in a varying level of competition and a variety of pressure-packed situations.
The thing I like most is that he’s had very little hockey-specific training — indicating that if he puts the work in, he can dramatically increase his ceiling. On his best nights, he can be effective in a multitude of ways, from blocking shots, to stripping pucks, disrupting the breakout, distributing or scoring.
Vasily Podkolzin │ 1st round, 10th overall │ Vancouver Canucks
A player I would deem a top-five pick seemingly has great value for the Canucks at 10.
There are no holes in his game, but Podkolzin plays a North American style that is heavy on compete. He thinks the game well and can create offence in a variety of ways — whether that’s making accurate, hard passes, taking it to the net, working out of the cycle or shooting it, he makes those around him better.
There are some concerns about his skating ability, but something I believe will come in due time as he grows into his solid frame. Yes, the contract issue is a bit of a concern, but as scouts like to say, "the best players always want to come over and play in the best league." It’s not as if he was going to play in the NHL next season anyway.