1st Overall: New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes is the logical choice here; he is the best player available and a franchise-changing center. Hughes has been seen as the “next big thing” for the 2019 NHL Draft for years and his time is finally here.
Anytime a team has a chance to choose 1st overall you take the best player available, and that’s exactly what New Jersey will do with this pick. Jack Hughes can do it all and has every chance to be a franchise cornerstone for years and years to come.
2nd Overall: New York Rangers
Jack Hughes may be the best prospect in this draft by most accounts, but Kaapo Kakko is not far off. A big bodied winger with game-breaking potential, there has been some real discussion about whether Hughes or Kakko deserves to go first overall. Most of the time, in those scenarios usually, the center gets taken over the winger.
The Rangers, however, will be more than happy to take the Finnish power forward. One of the more complete players in the draft, Kakko has very few weaknesses and will make an immediate impact for the Rangers.
3rd Overall: Chicago Blackhawks
This is where things get to be a bit foggier. While Kakko and Hughes are the undisputed #1A and #1B prospects in this draft, the next 10 or so picks could go many different ways. The Blackhawks find themselves in the Top 5 for the first time since they took Patrick Kane 1st overall and Jonathan Toews 3rd overall in the 2006 and 2005 drafts respectively. A somewhat unfamiliar position for the team they’ll be looking to add a game-changing talent who will bring a new era of Blackhawks hockey to Chicago.
I went back and forth with whether they would take Bowen Byram or Alex Turcotte but ultimately landed on Turcotte. The Blackhawks have not drafted a forward in the first round since 2014 when they took Nick Schmaltz 20th overall. They’ve drafted 3 defensemen in the first round the last two years and while they do have Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat, who both looked great this year, I still think Alex Turcotte will be drafted 3rd overall.
Turcotte is a dynamic center who is equally responsible in the offensive and defensive zones. Getting a player like that, with the elite level talent of Turcotte is a rarity, and giving him the chance to learn from Jonathan Toews, who plays a somewhat similar style game, might prove invaluable.