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Ten Prospects Ready For the NHL in 2019

NHL Draft Impact Players

C Jack Hughes / RW Kaapo Kakko – NJD and NYR (most likely)

This year’s consensus number one and two prospects are both expected to step onto NHL rosters immediately. The two forwards play drastically different styles, Hughes with his lightning quick 5’10 165lb frame, and Kakko with a man’s body at 6’2 190lb, but both come into the league with extensive accolades. Hughes owns the career USNTDP scoring record, and Kakko  recorded the most goals by a draft eligible player in Finland’s top professional league this past year. Hughes’ record was previously owned by Clayton Keller, and Kakko’s record was previously held by Aleksander Barkov, so expectations will certainly be high in the tri-state area.

RHD Cale Makar COL

Cale Makar exploded onto the Hockey scene with an extremely impressive playoff performance prior the Avs unfortunate second round exit. With an awesome name and an electrifying play style that features some of the quickest feet in hockey Makar seems like one of the game’s most exciting defensive prospects, and he has the resumé to back it up. The fourth pick in the 2017 draft, Makar lit up the NCAA with UMass, scoring 49 points in 41 games and leading his team to the Frozen Four.

C Martin Necas CAR

The Hurricanes proved with their playoff run to the Easter Conference Final that they have more depth and talent than most gave them credit for. They also proved with their Eastern Conference Final performance that they have ample room to improve. One spot where they’ll certainly look to upgrade is at third line center, where Grant McKegg is currently slotted. The answer may come in the form of former first round pick Martin Necas, a 6’2 190lb Czech center who just completed a very strong first season on North American ice, with an impressive 52 points in 64 AHL regular season games.

RW Kristian Vesalainen WPG

The Winnipeg Jets are in a difficult position this offseason. They multiple foundational players in need of contract extensions, trade rumors swirling around young talents, Jack Roslovic, Nik Ehlers and Jacob Trouba and they’ve yet to discover a formula that will unlock Patrik Laine’s full potential. 2017 first round pick Kristian Vesalainen presents a potential solution to multiple problems. Vesalainen would be a cheap replacement for one of Roslovic, Ehlers, Tanev or Perreault should the team decide to move a top nine winger, and as a countrymen of the finnish Laine, Vesalainen could be a natural fit on the wing across him.

C/RW Alexandre Texier CBJ

Alexandre Texier is in the unique position of having the opportunity to become the greatest hockey player his country has ever produced. One of only 12 current French NHLers, and one of only 12 ever to lace it up in the big league, Texier only has to beat out Antoine Roussel revolutionize the French record books. This feels likely. Texier has proven himself to be a capable offensive producer in his past two seasons in Finland’s top professional league, as well as encouraging but brief stints in the AHL and in this year’s playoffs.   

RW Jeremy Bracco TOR

If Jeremy Bracco had been on almost any other team he likely would have made his NHL debut. But Bracco is a member of the Maple Leafs organization, and in 2018 the LEafs had some of the best depth at forward of any team in the league. This offseason however, they’re against the salary wall after giving massive contracts to Matthews, Tavares, Nylander and Marleau in recent years.  The Leafs are going to have to let go of good players, likely in the form of trading one of their young forwards. Luckily they have Jeremy Bracco, a former second round pick fresh off of an absolutely dominant 79 point performance in 75 games.LW/RW Victor Olofsson BUF

LW/RW Victor Olofsson BUF

Victor Olofsson took a circuitous route but he appears to be ready for a consistent role at the NHL level. It’s unlikely for a 7th round pick to make it to the NHL but Olofsson looks like he’s one of the outliers. After being selected in the final round of the 2014 draft the 23 year-old Olofsson has been steadily progressing through the Swedish pro ranks and now after a strong first season in the AHL, where he scored 63 points in 66 games, Olofsson appears ready to add firepower to a top-heavy Sabres lineup.

RHD Adam Boqvist CHI / RW Jesper Boqvist NJD

The Boqvist brothers are two years apart in age, and have taken slightly different routes as prospects, but both seem to be ready to make the jump to NHL play in 2019. The 20 year-old Jesper was drafted in the second round by New Jersey in 2017, and has since competed in Sweden’s top professional league, the SHL. He’s steadily increased his point production since getting drafted and seems like a strong candidate to bolster New Jersey’s top nine. The 18 year-old Adam was drafted 8th overall by the Blackhawks in last year’s draft and opted to make the jump to North American ice immediately, playing last season with the London Knights of the OHL. Adam’s decision proved to be a good one, as he established himself as a point per game producer as a right shot defenseman, which will make him a valuable commodity at the NHL level.

Notable Trades For 2019 NHL Draft

  • COL acquired No.4 overall pick from OTT for Matt Duchene (Nov.5, 2017)
  • OTT acquired No.19 overall pick from CBJ for Matt Duchene and Julius Bergman
  • NYR acquired No.20 overall pick from WPG for Kevin Hayes
  • LAK acquired No.22 overall pick from TOR for Jake Muzzin.
  • ANA acquired No.29 overall pick from BUF for Brandon Montour
  • BUF acquired No.30 or 31 overall pick (TBD) from STL for Ryan O’Reilly.