Number 6- Bowen Byram (WHL Vancouver)
Bowen Byram is considered by most to be the best defensive prospect in the draft. He’s a step ahead of the other ones mentioned earlier and it’s not hard to see why. He’s a talented two way player with some solid offensive production while not being a liability on defense.
He’s a moderately built player standing 6’1 and pushing 200lbs he’s one of the more physically developed players in the draft which will make it possible for him to jump to the NHL sooner than later. Byram doesn’t shy away from physical play but it’s not his trademark as he usually uses his positioning and stickwork to make plays.
Byram is a good puck moving defender and can start a break out quite competently. Byram projects to be a top line defender on whichever team he ends up on and I see a role as a power-play quarterback in his future. I predict Byram will be the first defender selected and will likely go somewhere from the 4-7 range depending on which teams select there and their respective needs.
Team Fit- 5/10- You can always use skilled defenders, but it’s not a pressing need for the Ducks. They have young capable defenders and Rasmus Dahlin he is not.
Likelihood- 5/10- I don’t see this one as overly likely unless things go badly and the Anaheim Ducks end up picking 9th-11th and all of the high skill forwards are taken and Byram inexplicably falls to them. It’s not something where it makes much sense to use a pick in a range that you rarely get, on a piece that you’ve proven to be able to acquire later in the draft. I stand by my assessment that the best defenders are taken later in the draft than earlier in most cases.
Number 5- Kaapo Kakko (Turku (SM Liiga))
Kaapo Kakko is considered by most to be the 2nd overall pick in the draft, and quite a few pundits have even taken to saying he might push for being the first overall pick over Jack Hughes. Kakko is a bigger body than Hughes standing 6’2 and pushing 200lbs, he plays a good 200′ game playing a strong, exhausting offensive game while being responsible defensively.
Kakko is not afraid to get into the dirty areas in the corners and on the boards and dig pucks out of scrums. Kakko is an elite prospect and one that fans will be in awe of from the first time he steps on the ice. The one knock on Kakko is that he’s not the fleetest of foot, he’s not slow, but he isn’t a world-beater when it comes to speed. He’s quick and agile for his size, but he’s not exactly Connor McDavid on his skates, but when you’re as big a body as he is, you don’t have to be.
Team Fit- 9/10- I think Kakko will thrive as more of a winger than a center and that knocks a point off, but everything else about him is a perfect match for the Ducks.
Likelihood- 4/10- While I think that it’s almost impossible that Jack Hughes ends up a Duck, I think it’s only “unlikely” that Kakko would be one. If the Anaheim Ducks won the 1st overall pick I think that they would take Kakko over Hughes, if they won the 2nd overall pick I think that there’s more teams that would select Hughes 1st overall than Kakko, therefore the Ducks could end up with him there. So while there’s only one scenario where I see the Anaheim Ducks taking Hughes, I can see a couple where they take Kakko.