The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is not that far out, set to go June 21 and 22 in Vancouver. And while everyone’s got their own theories about who will draft which player and which team will make a trade to improve their draft position ahead of the big day, nothing’s set in stone – apart from some of the top draft prospects, which have been ranked by NHL Central Scouting.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at some of the top names up for grabs later this month.
Jack Hughes tops the list of North American skaters, of course.
The brother to Quinn Hughes, who made a splash late this season with the Canucks, is projected to be the top pick in the draft and that essentially puts him with the New Jersey Devils unless there are shenanigans.
Hughes is skating with the United States Development Team, but he made waves when he applied to enter the CHL a year ahead of eligibility on account of exceptional status. His application was denied and that put Hughes in line for the Toronto Marlboros. He was then drafted into the OHL, going eighth overall to Mississauga.
Hughes was committed to the U.S. Development squad, however, and honoured the commitment with a 116-point campaign in 2017-2018. That’s just a point shy of Auston Matthews’ record, by the way, but the current Toronto Maple Leafs star was a year older when he did it.
Without question, Hughes comes into this draft as a point-producer unlike anything we’ve seen in years – and he’s doing it at a high level with the development team. I mean, this kid was skating against colleges and U18 international squads and putting up these numbers.
People have compared him to Patrick Kane on a number of levels, with the most blaring comparison coming in terms of their size. Hughes is billed at 5’10 and 168 pounds, give or take. When Kane was drafted, he was 5’10 and a buck 71. Kane went on to produce like a madman in the with the developmental program, too, and he turned into a pretty good hockey player.
The difference between Hughes and Kane comes back to one of degrees, though. When Kane was putting up 70 points in 63 games at Hughes’ age, he was playing Tier II Junior A league squads in the U.S. When Hughes was doing it, he was already putting in work against Tier I squads and with the United States national U18 team.
So if that “size matters” trope comes up with anyone you know, remind them that Hughes has already been playing against dudes who’re bigger and stronger than him. He seems to be doing just fine.
The book on Hughes is not only that he’s a monster points producer at a high level, but that he’s got vision and skating ability to match. And he’s the sort of player to make his teammates better, which means the Devils are sitting on a winner.
(Photo credit: NHL.com)