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2019 NHL Mock Draft 2.0: Colorado focuses on the long run

AJ Haefele Avatar
May 21, 2019

1. New Jersey Devils – Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP (USHL)

I’m holding firm here on Hughes. I like Nico Hischier but I think the Hughes/Hischier 1A/2A center combination is too good of a temptation on how to build a roster. New Jersey is also an organization with deep USA Hockey ties so they’ll have a significant amount of information on Hughes.

2. New York Rangers – Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga)

Kakko could easily end up the star of this draft class. He broke the under-18 goal-scoring record in the Liiga set by Aleksander Barkov and proceeded to put on a show at the World Championships. Not the U-18s. The World Championships. He has just as much claim as the top prospect in this draft class as Hughes does given the seasons they’ve had. The Rangers have stocked their system with a lot of quality young players the last two years. This year they get the superstar to really put the bow on their rebuild.

3. Chicago Blackhawks – Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Chicago has invested heavily in their defense in the last two drafts. They had two first-round picks last year and both were used on defensemen (Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin). They had another top pick, Henri Jokiharju, see action in the NHL this season. Ian Mitchell, who was just named captain of the Denver Pioneers, is another top prospect for them. And yet none of those guys have the upside or all-around game of Byram. He’s the best defenseman in this year’s draft by a significant margin and the pressing question of how Chicago was going to replace Duncan Keith gets answered by the lotto lords here.

4. Colorado Avalanche (from OTT) – Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP (USHL)

Stan Bowman is pals with Alfie Turcotte (Alex’s father) and Chicago has heavily targeted the USHL and specifically the USNTDP in recent years. There are lots of reasons for Chicago to take Turcotte, a fantastic two-way center whose offensive upside might be the only question mark about his on-ice ability. They didn’t and now Colorado gets a guy some are touting as a future Selke candidate. Turcotte has some injury questions and his size will certainly feed into those. I’m ignoring the noise and focusing on what he does on the ice and it certainly has been dynamic. The argument about him not facing the top competition because of Jack Hughes exists and that’s fine but Turcotte’s production without Hughes has been elite in its own right.

5. Los Angeles Kings – Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

The Kings have still valued size and Dach has plenty of that. They’ve also put an increased emphasis on skill and Dach certainly is not lacking there. His combination of physical maturity and skill level make him one of the more intriguing guys. They could easily go with Jeff Carter clone Dylan Cozens but I like Dach’s upside a bit more the Kings.

6. Detroit Red Wings – Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Russia

I’m keeping this pick from my original mock draft because I think Steve Yzerman will stick with what he did in Tampa Bay and just target talent. Podkolzin will be a slow burn as whoever drafts him will wait two years on him in Russia. The timeline is the same as a kid going to two years of college or juniors but the uncertainty of his development path in Russia might scare a team or two off. Yzerman has the ultimate job security and can wait.

7. Buffalo Sabres – Trevor Zegras, C, USNDTP (USHL)

Jack Eichel needs some help here and Casey Mittelstadt hasn’t lived up to expectations yet (par for the course for that draft class right now). They have some intriguing wings but very little down the middle. With Dahlin, Ristolainen, and Montour on the back end I don’t see them reaching for a defenseman. Zegras is a guy whose skill level jumps off the ice and his stock has felt like it was on the rise to the point where I think Los Angeles at five could seriously consider him. He’s a bit too perimeter-oriented for my taste and maybe that turns Buffalo off after the Mittelstadt experience but he’s the best center here.

8. Edmonton Oilers – Matthew Boldy, LW, USNTDP (USHL)

For a team this bad, they certainly don’t have any questions down the middle. McDavid and Draisaitl have shown they can dominate together and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finally stayed healthy and produced like a high-level player. Assuming they don’t trade any of the three, they need to find some wing help immediately. Boldy is a guy who reminds me so much of Marian Hossa in his two-excellence and goal-scoring acumen. He’s an extremely high IQ player who will have a chance to impact the game in all three zones. The Oilers desperately need a guy like that.

9. Anaheim Ducks – Peyton Krebs, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

Another fit between team and player that just makes too much sense not to happen come draft day. Anaheim has a nasty habit of drafting players I personally love and Krebs is one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s extremely smart and has a very good two-way game. There are questions about how high the skill level is but his performance on a bad WHL team was pretty damn impressive. I can’t help but wonder how differently we’d be talking about him had he and Cozens swapped teams for the year. Anaheim just gets it right.

10. Vancouver Canucks – Cole Caufield, RW, USNTDP (USHL)

The little dude scored an outrageous 72 goals across all appearances this year. He’s just 5’7″ and that’s going to test the will of a league that has long had an obsession with size. The success of a guy like Alex DeBrincat would suggest that it really is a smaller player’s NHL right now and Vancouver needs dynamic offense. The other option here was Dylan Cozens but I think Vancouver is going to see an opportunity to have Brock Boeser riding shotgun next to Elias Pettersson and Caufield can do something similar next to Bo Horvat, giving them a top six to legitimately fear.

11. Philadelphia Flyers – Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes, (WHL)

The drop of Cozens, who was my second guy for Detroit, Edmonton, and Vancouver finally ends here. He’s a big body who plays with physicality and loves shooting the puck. Whereas Dach is the playmaking center, Cozens is a shoot-first player. I have Cozens dropping just a touch because I think he ultimately plays right wing in the NHL, which hurts his value just enough when comparing him to guys like Zegras and Krebs and that’s why he gets this far down. His “bull in a china shop” playstyle is a great fit for Philadelphia and it would be fun to see him land on a line with last year’s top pick, Joel Farabee, down the road.

12. Minnesota Wild – Philip Broberg, D, AIK (Allsvenskan)

Paul Fenton has certainly put his stamp on the Wild with a number of deals that shook up their look and feel. With Jason Zucker and Jared Spurgeon potentially on the way out this summer, the big shake-up in Minnesota doesn’t appear close to done yet. One area I expect him to repeat from the success he helped build in Nashville is in building a strong defensive pipeline. The Wild have used just one selection in the first two rounds of the last five drafts on a defenseman and it was last year’s first rounder. I see them going back to the well with Broberg, whose elite skating ability fits nicely in with the league’s trend towards defenders who can fly. The rest of Broberg’s game is a work in progress but this would be a good start for Fenton in trying to plan for the future on a defense that is rapidly aging and on the verge of an overhaul.

13. Florida Panthers – Cam York, D, USNTDP (USHL)

I originally had Florida going after a forward but I took a look at that group again and I just don’t see why they would. They already have one of the NHL’s deepest top six forward group in the NHL and they have a ton of intriguing young players on the way. Just look at this list: Henrik Borgstrom, Aleksi Heponiemi, Owen Tippett, Grigori Denisenko, and Serron Noel. This was the first team I considered going all-in on Spencer Knight as well but I think Cam York could provide a nice Keith Yandle replacement in a few years. Yandle is coming off a career year last season so there’s plenty of time to let the dynamic York develop before he shows up and starts taking o-zone starts.

14. Arizona Coyotes – Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

The Coyotes do a pretty good job of balancing offense and defense in their draft classes so they never feel too top-heavy in any given area. This gives them the flexibility to attack any position whenever they’re on the board. I was insistent last year Arizona would have taken one of the several stud defensemen available but they eschewed that route in favor of going bold with Barrett Hayton as they tried again to find a number one center. This year, I think they do look to the blue line and the swift-skating Harley is the man at this selection. He gives them a mobile blueliner to go with Pierre-Olivier Joseph and is a nice style contrast to their selection of Kevin Bahl last year. They’re an organization that values balance quite a bit and that leaves Harley as the guy here.

15. Montreal Canadiens – Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas IF (SHL)

With 12 picks in the top-100 the last two seasons, Montreal has added seven forwards and five defensemen to their pipeline. That’s pretty balanced given the selections but none of their firsts have been on defense. Soderstrom would immediately give their defense a new top prospect. He’s a solid all-around defender who lacks great size but had a productive and impressive season as a teenager in the SHL. That’s always worth noting.

16. Colorado Avalanche – Moritz Seider, D, Adler Mannheim (DEL)

This one really came down to Seider versus Alex Newhook and with Turcotte the pick at four, it felt like I needed to go with the top defenseman here. The run on defenders left Colorado with a bit of a “leftover” feeling as I like both Harley and Soderstrom more than Seider but that’s not to say Seider is without his own merits. He’s a big kid and a right-handed defenseman who moves very well for his size. He’s a raw defender but has some puck-moving ability. He’s a big question mark right now as to what his ultimate upside is but he’s a piece of clay Colorado can take their time in molding. It’ll be a couple of years before these two guys contribute to the Avs but by the time they arrive, they could be much-needed reinforcements.

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