With the All Star game fast approaching, many struggling fan-bases are now looking forward to the Jack Hughes sweepstakes more than the second half of the season. If you're one of the unlucky few whose team is apart of that race, then we want to help you out.
Maybe your team continues the trend and doesn't win the first overall pick. Who's next? A few members of our team got together to give their best guesses. Over the next three days, we will give you an idea of what to look forward to if you're not lucky enough to score a Jack Hughes or a Kaapo Kakko. Let's kick things off with the player most likely to go to the winner of Lord Stanley's cup.
D Anttoni Honka, JYP (Liiga) - 5’10, 176 lbs.
As the brother of the Dallas Stars’ Juilius Honka, Anttoni came into the world juniors tournament ranked just below the middle of the pack in the first round. After a rather tough showing in the tournament, I think his stock may have dropped off a little bit, but not enough to keep him out of the first round. A solid defenceman who has played on some incredible National teams, Anttoni will be a top tier prospect for whoever wins the Stanley Cup.
D Tobias Bjornfot, Djurgardens IF (SHL) - 6’0, 190 lbs.
Bjornfot is a unique defenceman. His one-on-one play is elite because of his elite skating ability and ability to escape the dangerous situations. He has a unique shot from the blueline, as he likes to put a low shot on net to create rebounds off harmless plays.
D Thomas Harley, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) - 6’3, 185 lbs
A large, puck moving d-man who has put up very nice numbers in the OHL. Can make great passes, is a very good skater, but needs to work on his defensive game, as most young d-men do. Could develop into a nice piece, worth the pick.
C Phillip Tomasino, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL) - 6’0, 181 lbs.
Playing at more than a point per game clip out of Niagara, Tomasino creates plenty of offence by outworking teams. He is able to find holes and drives through defenders in order to get himself into a good scoring position. He should be able to give an NHL team offence from any part of the offensive zone.
LW Nolan Foote, Kelowna Rockets (WHL) - 6’3, 190 lbs.
Foote had a big summer that put him into position to have a huge year, however he has less than a point per game, 37 games into the season. He does have a lot of potential to be a two-way threat and is one of the safer picks in this years draft.
C/LW Nicholas Robertson, Peterborough Petes (OHL) - 5’9, 168 lbs.
The small forward has been impressive this season. Not the fastest, but has strong offensive instincts, similar to his older brother Jason. Has good hands and better vision, but does not shoot the puck as hard as you’d like. Has good accuracy, resulting in good goal numbers, but it can still use some work. Needs to learn to play to his size a little better, as he takes the odd big hit and often loses battles.
D Tobias Bjornfot, Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit) - 6’0, 187 lbs.
Good overall defenceman on both ends of the ice. Good on his feet and is able to find openings with his skating ability. Hasn’t been able to produce great offensive numbers in international tournaments, but has the tools to be a point producer in the NHL mixed in with some average defence.
C Brett Leason, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) - 6’5, 200 lbs.
Has been passed over twice at the NHL draft already, but Leason has really come into his own. His point total has doubled already since last season, in 21 less games. He is starting to use his size to his advantage, and his shot power and accuracy has increased dramatically. He also cracked Canada’s WJHC Under-20 roster.
G Hunter Jones, Peterborough Petes (OHL) - 6’4, 194 lbs.
NHL Central Scouting had him projected as a B prospect (2nd or 3rd rounder) in November after a strong start to the year; he has been even better since. Watching him live, he was very impressive. He has put up great numbers on a not so great team, carrying them to several wins. I feel he will be the 1st goalie off the board due to his combo of size and sheer athleticism. Goalies are always a risk, but someone will take a chance on the consistent netminder.
G Spencer Knight, USNTDP - 6’3, 198 lbs.
Added to the Team USA World Juniors roster but never given a chance to showcase his abilities, Knight has shown the ability to keep the puck out of the net everywhere he goes. The Boston College commit has increased his save percentage every time he comes up to face tougher competition, currently sitting over .920 in 22 games with the national team. While it’s rare that a goalie goes this high, if there is a need for a future netminder, Knight has definitely shown the tools to be a quality NHL goaltender.
LW Nils Hoglander, Rogle BK (SHL) - 5’9, 185 lbs.
He is a skilled winger with good speed and a good release, however, he needs to find a way to get to the dangerous scoring areas. He plays a big game for a small winger, and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He works hard for the puck and in return, the puck seems to find him.
D Mikko Kokkonen, Jukurit (Liiga) - 5’11, 190 lbs.
A strong skater, good puck mover, but not the greatest positional defender yet. Has a lot to work on, but has a lot going well for him. Very strong and physical for his age.
D Ilya Nikolayev, Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl (NMHL) - 6’0, 190 lbs.
A strong skater, with great vision, Nikolayev showed off his skilled repertoire in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with seven points in just five games. While he only managed to net one in the tournament, he made it a highlight reel goal, showing off his strength and hands en route to his only tally.
D Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna Rockets (WHL) - 6’3 190 lbs.
A big, strong right-handed shot defenceman who is known to be a shut down, stay at home guy. This is the type of player that an offensive-minded team could use down the stretch. Korczak is a player that any team will want on their defence core and is starting to become more of a rarity in an offensive-minded era of the NHL.
D Moritz Seider, Alder Mannheim (DEL) - 6’4 198 lbs.
A mammoth on the blueline, he is a surprisingly strong skater, who loves to play the body, and moves the puck with ease. Was recently the captain of Germany’s World Junior team, and had a very strong tournament. Has good offensive senses, but doesn’t get to utilize them much in the DEL. He was able to display them more against his peers at the Div A World Junior tournament.
D Thomas Harley, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) - 6’3, 183 lbs.
The 6’3 defender is kind of lanky in stature, but at 17 he should fill out as he matures. At his current size however, the kid has found a way to put points on the board all year long. With 27 assists in 39 games this season, Harley has shown that if you give him someone up front to play with, he can set them up with ease.
C Connor McMichael, London Knights (OHL) - 5’11, 170 lbs.
McMichael could be a very effective third or fourth line centre option right out of the draft and a future top 6 guy down the road. He’s not the biggest or fastest player, but he is effective at finding the open areas of the ice. He is also a very good distributor of the puck and can finish at a consistent rate.
C Philip Tomasino, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL) - 6’0, 181 lbs.
A very creative and skilled offensive forward, putting up over a point per game in the OHL this year. Works hard and consistently engages in puck battles. Will need to work on skating overall, but is very elusive and reads the game well.
C Connor McMichael, London Knights (OHL) - 6’0 170 lbs.
McMichael doesn’t really have any exceptional physical tools, but he is good in every aspect of the game. The thing that sets him apart from the rest of the pack is his hockey IQ. He is a smart forward who knows exactly where to be and how to put the puck in the net, showcased by his 46 points in 37 games this season.
RW - Albin Grewe - Djurgardens J20 (Superelit) - 6’0” 175 lbs.
Grewe is a high energy player that has shown his offensive abilities at the junior level, and his play on the defensive side of the puck when he was up with the SHL team. He plays with a lot of passion, but sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him and can take a costly penalty.
C Connor McMichael, London Knights (OHL) - 6’0, 170 lbs
Never stands out as doing any one thing great, but is a solid overall player. Very smart player, but will need to work on skating and faceoffs moving forward. Strong player down low, good at protecting pucks. Playing in London certainly helps point totals, but he has still been impressive enough to warrant a late first round pick in my opinion.
C Brett Leason, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) - 6’5, 195 lbs.
The story of Brett Leason has been well documented . He was passed over in the draft twice before exploding in the WHL this season, previously leading the league in points before heading out to the World Juniors. He is a massive centreman at 6’5 and he possesses incredible scoring ability. He would be a good risk for a playoff team that needs an NHL ready prospect.
RW Cole Caufield, USNTDP (USHL) - 5’7, 165 lbs.
He is comparable to an Alex DeBrincat, he is undersized, but is extremely skilled. He has all the offensive tools necessary to be successful and still has a few years to grow. He exciting to watch as his fire and passion show through his play every game. He is a natural goal scorer and could be scary on a playmaking centres wing.
RW Bobby Brink, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) - 5’10, 165 lbs.
The first USHL player of the draft. A highly skilled and smart player, who has posted nearly two points per game this season. Committed to University of Denver, he will have to work on his puck protection and puck retrieval. Usually has the puck on his stick, something he’ll have to adjust to at the higher levels.
D Matthew Robertson, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) - 6’4, 192 lbs.
At 6’4 and nearly 200 lbs, Robertson is a force in the back end. He is a great skater for a player of his size, who mixes in some great offensive upside. With his explosive shot and defensive ability he will fit in well on any NHL team’s blue line. He may fall lower than expected given the undisclosed injury he received in late December that has kept him out indefinitely, making him a low risk steal for some great teams.
C Bobby Brink, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) - 5’10, 165 lbs.
Brink is an extremely gifted offensive player, with quick hands, quick feet and knack for finishing with the puck. He had a good World Junior A Challenge tournament with 8 points across 6 games. He still has room to grow, and is committed to the University of Denver for the 2020-2021 season. He is still a couple years out from the NHL.
D Ville Heinola, Lukko (Liiga) - 5’11, 176 lbs.
Heinola is a very strong puck mover. His point totals don’t jump off the page, but he makes the smart breakout play far more often than not, and has been given more and more defensive responsibility as of late. Still needs to work on coverage, but has continued to look stronger as he adjusts to a very good pro league.
RW Bobby Brink, Sioux City Muskateers (USHL) - 5’10, 165 lbs.
Doesn’t carry the puck too well, but is very good at getting in the right spots to receive and make a pass. Might not have the tools to drive a line, but can definitely succeed at the NHL level with a good linemate.
D Thomas Harley, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) - 6’3, 185 lbs.
There is a Thomas Chabot type player that is visible in Harley. He loves to jump into the rush with his smooth skating abilities and has recently started to come out of his shell. His defensive game still needs some work, but he could prove to be a top offensive defenceman in the NHL some day.
D Victor Soderstrom, Brynas (SHL) - 5’11, 176 lbs.
A very smooth skating Swede, not afraid to play physical, and makes smart decisions. Won’t wow you with offensive numbers, but has the tools to be a very good d-man down the line.
LW Nolan Foote, Kelowna Rockets (WHL) - 6’3, 187 lbs.
Unlike Brink, Foote is great at carrying the puck given his outstanding puck protection. He has a knack for getting into the scoring areas, with 20 goals in 37 games in the WHL. He missed time last year due to injury, but if he stays healthy this season he is likely to climb even higher up the rankings.
D Ville Heinola, Lukko (Liiga) - 5’11” 175 lbs.
Heinola is a very talented and effective offensive threat. He is very quick to get to top speed, and has advanced edgework that allows him to be confident with the puck. His defensive positioning needs some work, as he doesn’t have the power or size to out muscle his opponents.
D Anttoni Honka, JYP (Liiga) - 5’10, 176 lbs.
The human breakout machine. Younger brother of Julius, just as strong of skater, and a very good passer. Needs to work on defensive positioning, but has a lot of positive tools and has the smarts to be a very good defender. Loves to jump in the rush and picks his spots wisely.
C/RW Cole Caufield, USNTDP - 5’7, 157 lbs.
Being pegged as the next Alex DeBrincat, Caufield is an undersized center/winger with incredible offensive upside. He has the ability to make plays happen with his hands, and after seeing the success of DeBrincat, he could be a late first round steal.
D Moritz Seider, Adler Mannheim (DEL) - 6’4, 185 lbs.
He hasn’t seen a lot of playing time this season, as he has been playing a reserved type of game to earn some trust from the coaching staff. However, he showed his offensive prowess at the World Junior Division 1 tournament last month, scoring 7 points in 5 games and helping Germany get promoted back to the main tournament. He is a big mobile defenceman who could benefit from a year in the OHL, skating on North American ice next season with Owen Sound.
D Matthew Robertson, Edmonton Oil Kings - 6’4, 201 lbs.
The monster on the blue line for Edmonton is certainly worth the 20th overall pick. Surprisingly good skater and has put up great numbers this year in the W. A steady defensive presence that makes good first passes. No real jaw-dropping offense from him, but can always count on the smart and steady play.