It’s getting crowded at the top.
Several things have happened since our last rankings were published. We witnessed the New Jersey Devils win the NHL Draft Lottery. We’ve seen most of the very best first-year draft eligibles participate in the World U18 Championship. Playoffs continue to eliminate potential picks, while those who still remain are getting additional platforms on which to prove their worth.
A few events remain, including the men’s World Championship, the Memorial Cup presented by Kia and the NHL Combine. Once those events are done, teams will meet, debate and deliberate en route to Vancouver in June.
1. Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds: His team won bronze, but Hughes performed individually at an all-world pace at the U18s, leading the tournament in scoring with 20 points in seven games.
2. Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga), 6-foot-2, 194 pounds: Will have the men’s worlds to go head-to-head and try to persuade the New Jersey Devils to choose him over Hughes.
3. Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver Giants (WHL), 6-foot, 193 pounds: The legend continues to grow. Try and find the last time a draft-eligible defenceman lead the league in playoff scoring.
4. Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds: Using a marathon mentality, he put a season checkered with injuries into the rear-view mirror with a stellar U18 tournament.
5. Trevor Zegras, C, USNTDP, 6-foot, 169 pounds: Held his own amongst Hughes and Turcotte at the U18s. Amazing ability to make plays in a variety of situations.
6. Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL), 6-foot-3, 180 pounds: Poor team result in the WHL mixed with a mediocre U18 has slowed the Cozens train slightly.
7. Vasily Podkolzin, RW, Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), 6-foot-1, 190 pounds: Reasons for doubt include inability to produce in league play and a U18 tournament that saw him come on only at the end to finish with four points in seven games.
8. Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL), 6-foot-3, 197 pounds: Too banged-up to make it overseas, but playing hurt and playing well to the end of the Blades’ run has made him a top 10 wildcard.
9. Matthew Boldy, LW, USNTDP, 6-foot-1, 192 pounds: Highly skilled with size and speed make for an ideal combination.
10. Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay Ice (WHL), 5-foot-11, 180 pounds: Great motor, leadership qualities and proficient skill set.
11. Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Allsvenskan), 6-foot-3, 199 pounds: Was never in one place long enough to establish his game, but versus peers back in August and again in April, he asserted himself like a future star.
12. Cole Caufield, RW, USNTDP, 5-foot-7, 162 pounds: NHL front offices talk about the team that gets you into the playoffs, and the team that wins in the playoffs. No doubt Caufield is on the team that gets you in.
13. Alex Newhook, C, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), 5-foot-10, 195 pounds: Performed at the same pace he dominated the BCHL with and did it playing with and against better players at the U18s.
14. Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (Sweden U20), 5-foot-11, 179 pounds: Top-notched skating ability is the basis for a solid two-way game. Played big minutes in 44 SHL games this season.
15. Cam York, D, USNTDP, 5-foot-11, 175 pounds: Puck moving defenceman who can get it done on the power play, his U18 numbers are amongst the best single tournament totals ever put up by a defenceman with 11 points in seven games.
16. Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL), 6-foot-3, 188 pounds: Understanding and a willingness to work on his deficiencies will determine his fate.
17. Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL), 6-foot-2, 190 pounds: He can score goals no doubt, with 51 in the OHL this season. But is his effort and play away from the puck consistent enough? Debate amongst yourselves.
18. Spencer Knight, G, USNTDP, 6-foot-3, 192 pounds: A goalie prospect good enough to be selected by a team in the first round — and not just necessarily by one that has multiple first round picks.
19. Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (Liiga), 5-foot-11, 178 pounds: Processes the game well and adapts his play based on the level of competition.
20. Raphael Lavoie, C/RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL), 6-foot-4, 196 pounds: Just when you start to sleep on him, he responds with a world-class playoff performance. He’s still going in the QMJHL final, and you’ll see him at the Memorial Cup, too.
21. Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie Colts (OHL), 6-foot, 176 pounds: Thinks the game two steps ahead, but needs to get inside the dots more regularly.
22. Egor Afanasyev, LW, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL), 6-foot-3, 201 pounds: Plays a pro-style of game with enough size to handle the heavy-lifting. Based on what’s happening in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, his value is going through a bit of an uptick.
23. Brett Leason, RW, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL), 6-foot-4, 200 pounds: If he was 18 instead of 20, where would he go? That’ll be the debate around him heading into the draft.
Brett Leason had a four-point night as the Raiders won Game 3 of the 2019 @Rogers #WHLChampionship Series on Tuesday night.
Get the recap on the Raiders App, or online here; https://t.co/BepINVpjYw
Rik Fedyck#GoRaidersGo pic.twitter.com/wePeeODbCc
— Prince Albert Raiders (@PARaidersHockey) May 8, 2019
24. Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (DEL), 6-foot-3, 183 pounds: Still tough to determine exactly what he projects to be at the next level, but he’s a big right shot defenceman who can skate.
25. Philip Tomasino, RW, Niagara IceDogs (OHL), 5-foot-11, 179 pounds: A centre who showed he could be effective on the wing, likely goes back to his natural spot next season.
26. Simon Holmstrom, RW, HV71 (Sweden U20), 6-foot-1, 183 pounds: Somewhat like Turcotte in that he needed to put injuries behind him before proving just how good he is. Scored six points in seven games at the U18s.
27. Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL), 5-foot-11, 190 pounds: Shoots and passes like a pro. Great skating ability allows him to transition well and consistently be a part of the rush.
28. Connor McMichael, C, London Knights (OHL), 5-foot-11, 174 pounds: Responded well when given prime ice time and high-leverage minutes, but stumbled when minutes weren’t as readily available.
29. Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL), 6-foot-1, 208 pounds: Good size, projects to play up and down the lineup. Could use some polish in terms of finishing ability. NHL bloodlines (from father Patrick) always a plus.
30. Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL), 5-foot-9, 160 pounds: Never takes a day off in trying to improve his game in every facet.
31. Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL), 5-foot-9, 160 pounds: Can’t use his playoffs or U18s as a gauge as he was playing injured.