We’re now less than five months away from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, however, the state of this year’s class is anything but definitive.
Despite a somewhat solidified top-five overall, the remainder of the players poised to be selected within the first round of the draft continue to fluctuate dramatically. While some players have established themselves a guaranteed first round choices, others have struggled with their consistency and have moved about a great deal as a direct result.
Related: 2019 NHL Prospect Profiles
As we head towards the end of the 2018-19 regular season, there are more than a handful of players ranked from tenth-overall to 25th who will need to play with a greater deal of regularity if they wish to hear their names called on opening night. If not, these prospects — which you will identify below — could risk falling out of the first round and into a future of uncertainty.
On the other hand, the top-five prospects overall — as mentioned above — seem to be set in stone. Although Bowen Byram will surely be challenged for fifth-overall, all of Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Dylan Cozens, and Kirby Dach are here to stay and would have to fall off dramatically in order to deter significantly from their current standings.
With this being said, let’s take a look at three of the hottest NHL prospects of late before diving into February’s somewhat tumultuous Draft Ranking.
Three Prospects on the Rise
Connor McMichael (#22)
2018-19 Team: London Knights (OHL)
January Rank: 26th Overall
Connor McMichael continues to soar — both on the ice and within draft rankings. Although widely viewed as a potential mid-round pick to begin the 2018-19 season, McMichael has become a lethal offensive force for the OHL’s London Knights — leading his team in points entering the month of February and paced by 31 goals in a mere 48 games played.
For McMichael, his game is founded upon explosive speed and high-end skill. Although willing to drive to the net for rebounds, McMichael is most dangerous on the rush and uses his agility and ample acceleration to create both time and space for himself. As a player whose style of game is endlessly attractive to NHL franchises, McMichael could push close to the top-overall come the end of the season.
Victor Soderstrom (#15)
2018-19 Team: Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)
January Rank: 21st Overall
Bowen Byram seems to be the consensus top defenceman eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, however, a secondary class of blue liners has begun to emerge. While the likes of Phillip Broberg, Tobias Bjornfot, and Thomas Harley have impressed, it is Victor Soderstrom whose game has continued to grow by leaps and bounds of late.
Despite his young age of just 17-years, Soderstrom has already become a full-time player at the SHL-level, regularly competing against grown men for Brynas IF while enjoying a great deal of success in the process. While his offensive game has always been a constant, it is Soderstrom’s stable two-way play under pressure which has continued to demand attention.
Alex Turcotte (#13)
2018-19 Team: USA U18 (NTDP)
January Rank: 18th Overall
A injury-riddled beginning to his 2018-19 campaign had impaired Alex Turcotte’s stock ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft, however, the uber-talented American has quickly re-established himself as a prospect of immense potential of late. Since his return from injury, Turcotte has been a dynamic force for the U.S NTDP — routinely recording greater than a point-per-game.
A strong 200-foot player, Turcotte brings energy and creativity to the ice — traits which allow him to dismantle opposing defences with relative ease. Known for his explosive strides and confidence with the puck, Turcotte will attack his opponents at a high-speed and is seemingly relentless in his pursuit of the puck as well as offensive opportunities. Although his shortened season will provide a much smaller sample size than most, Turcotte is a prospect who must not be overlooked.
February’s Top-31 Prospects
Here they are, February’s top-31 prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.
As mentioned above, this year’s class is anything but clear. While the prospects who comprise the top-five overall remain unchanged, there was a ton of change throughout the middle of the first round as players continue to seek consistency and a sense of comfort within an extremely stressful season.
As always, be sure to use the “+/-” column to understand how each and every prospect’s stock has changed since we last convened. If you happened to miss last month’s ranking, be sure to catch up on some important reading by following the link below.
Related: All 2019 NHL Draft Rankings
|1||–||Jack Hughes||C||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|2||–||Kaapo Kakko||C/RW||Turku (SM-liiga)|
|3||+1||Dylan Cozens||C||Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)|
|4||-1||Kirby Dach||C||Saskatoon Blades (WHL)|
|5||–||Bowen Byram||D||Vancouver Giants (WHL)|
|6||–||Philip Broberg||D||AIK J20 (SuperElit)|
|7||+2||Arthur Kaliyev||RW||Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)|
|8||+2||Vasili Podkolzin||RW||SKA 1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)|
|9||-2||Alex Newhook||C||VIctoria Grizzlies (BCHL)|
|10||-2||Peyton Krebs||C||Kootenay Ice (WHL)|
|11||+1||Jakob Pelletier||C/LW||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)|
|12||-1||Trevor Zegras||C||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|13||+5||Alex Turcotte||C||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|14||+1||Tobias Bjornfot||D||Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)|
|15||+6||Victor Soderstrom||D||Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit)|
|16||-2||Cam York||D||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|17||+3||Bobby Brink||RW||Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)|
|18||-1||Anttoni Honka||D||JYP (SM-liiga)|
|19||+3||Nils Hoglander||LW||Rogle BK J20 (SuperElit)|
|20||-4||Albin Grewe||RW||Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)|
|21||+2||Thomas Harley||D||Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)|
|22||+4||Connor McMichael||C||London Knights (OHL)|
|23||-10||Ryan Suzuki||C||Barrie Colts (OHL)|
|24||–||Matthew Boldy||LW||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|25||-6||Raphael Lavoie||LW||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)|
|26||-1||Cole Caufield||RW||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|27||–||Matthew Robertson||D||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)|
|28||NR||Vladislav Kolyachonok||D||Flint Firebirds (OHL)|
|29||NR||Brett Leason||RW||Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)|
|30||NR||Yegor Afanasyev||F||Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)|
|31||–||Pavel Dorofeyev||LW/RW||Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)|
20 Honourable Mentions
This year’s draft class is proving to be an extremely deep one, as a number of wildly talented prospects stand on the verge of the first round as of the month of February.
Now, although these 20 honourable mentions — listed in alphabetical order — may not hold a spot in the top-31 overall, any or all of which could hear their name called on opening night come June. Three particular players to watch of those listed below are Spencer Knight, Phillip Tomasino, and Alex Vlasic — prospects of varying position who have been remarkably consistent all season long.
|HM||Bryce Brodzinski||RW||Omaha Lancers (USHL)|
|HM||Alexander Campbell||C||Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)|
|HM||Nolan Foote||LW||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)|
|HM||Ville Heinola||D||Luuko (Liiga)|
|HM||Hunter Jones||G||Peterborough Petes (OHL)|
|HM||Kaeden Korczak||D||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)|
|HM||Spencer Knight||G||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|HM||Nathan Legare||RW||Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)|
|HM||Ilya Mironov||D||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)|
|HM||Ilya Nikolayev||F||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)|
|HM||Samuel Poulin||LW||Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)|
|HM||Jamieson Rees||C||Sarnia Sting (OHL)|
|HM||Nicholas Robertson||C/LW||Peterborough Petes (OHL)|
|HM||Moritz Seider||D||Adler Mannheim (DEL)|
|HM||Dmitri Sheshin||LW/RW||Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)|
|HM||Lassi Thomson||D||Kelowna Rockets (WHL)|
|HM||Phillip Tomasino||C||Niagara IceDogs (OHL)|
|HM||Alex Vlasic||D||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|HM||Marshall Warren||D||USA U18 (NTDP)|
|HM||Max Wahlgren||C/LW||MODO J20 (SuperElit)|