With the 2019 NHL Draft concluded, TSN Hockey Director of Scouting Craig Button analyzes each Canadian team's draft and grades each of their prospect pools this off-season.

 

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Caufield not worried about falling in Draft: Montreal is a 'perfect fit'

Cole Caufield was expected to at least go within the top 10 of the NHL Draft but after falling to 15th he was selected by the Canadiens. The American says that doesn't matter now and he believes Montreal is a perfect fit and is excited to learn from Brendan Gallagher.

2019 First Pick: No. 15 Cole Caufield (5-foot-7-1/4, 163), RW, USA U-18

Craig’s Projection: First-line elite goal scorer

The Skinny: The 5-foot-7 “mini-Ovechkin” according to coach John Wroblewski, set U.S. Development Program goal records for single season (72 in 64 games) and all-time (126 in 123 games) production.

Marc Bergevin, Montreal GM: “Goal scoring is at a premium in this league. It’s hard to score goals and every level he was he was able to do that, so we don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to do that at the next level. He’s done it everywhere. It’s not like he’s been 6-foot-4 and then he wakes up one morning and now he’s smaller. He’s been scoring at that size everywhere he’s been.”

Canadiens’ Picks: Caufield, RW (15); Jayden Struble, LD (46); Mattias Norlinder, LD (64); Gianni Fairbrother, LD (77); Jacob Leguerrier, LD (126); Rhett Pitlick, LW (131), Frederik Nissen Dichow, G (138); Arsen Khisamutdinov, C (170); Rafael Harvey-Pinard, LW (201); Kieran Ruscheinski, LD (206)

Craig's Bottom Line: Caufield is the best goal-scorer in the draft and Struble is one of the best athletes. A history lesson: Montreal passed on Mike Bossy at No. 10 in 1977 leaving him for the Islanders at No. 15.  Bossy had 75 goals in 61 games his draft year. Caufield, this year’s No. 15, had 72 in 64 games.

The Skinny: Montreal selected five left defencemen – including four straight from the second through fifth rounds, addressing a pronounced need.

Canadiens’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade A-Plus - Six members of the top 10 have been added since the 2018 draft, a remarkable infusion of talent – and that doesn’t include Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who made the jump directly to the NHL. The Canadiens suddenly have Canada’s deepest and most balanced talent pool.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Nick Suzuki C/RW 19 Guelph (OHL) 59 - 34 - 60 - 94
2. Cole Caufield RW 18 U.S. U-18 (USHL) 64 - 72 - 28 - 100
3. Ryan Poehling C 20 St. Cloud State (NCAA) 36 - 8 - 23 - 31
4. Alexander Romanov LD 19 CSKA Moscow (KHL) 43 - 1 - 3 - 4 
5. Cayden Primeau G 19 Northeastern (NCAA) 25-10-1 - .933 - 2.09
6. Jesse Ylonen RW 19 Pelicans (Liiga) 53 - 13 - 14 - 27
7. Jayden Struble  LD 17 St. Sebastian's (USHS) 28 - 10 - 30 - 40
8. Josh Brook  RD 20 Moose Jaw (WHL) 59 - 16 - 59 - 75
9. Jacob Olofsson C 19 Timra IK (SHL) 34 - 3 - 6 - 9 
10. Cale Fleury  RD 20 Laval (AHL) 60 - 9 - 14 - 23

 

 

 

EDMONTON OILERS

Oilers' pick Broberg says he's a big Swedish defenceman like Hedman

After the Oilers selected him 8th overall at the NHL Draft, Philip Broberg says he emulates his game after fellow Swedes' Victor Hedman and Nicklas Lidström. But he admits he's working on his physicality to get to Hedman's level.

2019 First Pick: No. 8 Philip Broberg (6-foot-3-1/4, 200), LD, AIK

Craig's Projection: No. 2 elite skating defenceman

The Skinny: Broberg collected six points in seven games and was named top defenceman at 2019 World U-18 Championship for gold medal-winning Sweden.

Ken Holland, Edmonton GM: “I like that he’s talented. I like that he’s 6-foot-3 and that he can skate. He can move the puck, he can transport the puck.”

Oilers’ Picks: Broberg, LD (8); Raphael Lavoie, C (38); Ilya Konovalov, G (85); Matej Blumel, RW (100); Tomas Mazura, C (162); Maxim Denezhkin, C (193).

Craig's Draft Bottom Line: Holland picked a top-pair defenceman, top-two line goal scorer and long-term prospect in goal (KHL rookie of the year Konovalov) over the first three rounds. A good start to a new era.

The Skinny: The Oilers had lots of time to watch the playoffs and it was not lost on them that size still matters in the NHL. Edmonton didn’t pick a player under 6 feet tall until the seventh round.

Oilers’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade B-Plus - The future is bright on the blueline with three A level prospects in Evan Bouchard, Broberg and Dmitri Samorukov. Adding Lavoie gives them a much needed big body scorer on the wing. The Oilers need more wings to transform a helicopter team into a team ready for takeoff.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Evan Bouchard RD 19 London (OHL) 45 - 16 - 37 - 53
2. Philip Broberg LD 17 AIK (Allsvenskan) 41 - 2 - 7 - 9
3. Dmitri Samorukov  LD 20 Guelph (OHL) 59 - 10 - 35 - 45
4. Raphael Lavoie C/W 18 Halifax (QMJHL) 62 - 32 - 41 - 73 
5. Tyler Benson LW 21 Bakersfield (AHL) 68 - 15 - 51 - 66 
6. Caleb Jones LD 22 Bakersfield (AHL) 50 - 6 - 23 - 29 
7. Kailer Yamamoto RW 20 Bakersfield (AHL) 27 - 10 - 8 - 18
8. William Lagesson LD 23 Bakersfield (AHL) 67 - 8 - 19 - 27 
9. Ryan McLeod  C 19 Saginaw (OHL) 63 - 19 - 43 - 62 
10. Olivier Rodrigue G 18 Drummondville (QMJHL) 35-9-1 - .902 - 2.43

 

 

 

OTTAWA SENATORS

Thomson on being drafted: 'I want to see how they play hockey here'

Lassi Thomson was drafted 19th overall by the Ottawa Senators, making him the second Finnish player taken in the 2019 NHL draft. Thomson discussed how he is excited to play in the NHL and how his strengths as a player could translate to the professional level.

2019 First Pick: No. 19 Lassi Thomson (6-0, 186), RD, Kelowna

Craig’s Projection: No. 3/4 offensive defenceman

The Skinny: The WHL’s top rookie point-producing defenceman was second only to No. 4 overall pick Bowen Byram in goals (26 to 17) by first-time draft-eligible defencemen.

Trent Mann, Ottawa Chief Scout: “He’s able to move the puck and transition the puck up the ice quickly. He’s able to support the play and he has upside at the offensive blueline… Right shot, skilled defenceman with a good shot and he scored 17 goals in Western Hockey League for a kid that moved away from Finland.”

Senators’ Picks: Thomson, RD (19); Shane Pinto, C (32); Mads Sogaard, G (37); Viktor Lodin, C (94); Mark Kastelic, C (125);  Maxence Guenette, RD (187)

Craig's Bottom Line: Imagine a top four of LD Thomas Chabot, LD Erik Brannstrom, RD Jacob Bernard-Docker and newcomer RD Lassi Thomson. Add in a heavy competitive forward in honourary first rounder Pinto, the first choice in the second round.

The Skinny: Ottawa went big, selecting six players at least 6 feet tall, including the tallest player in the draft: 6-foot-8 goalie Sogaard. They also went relatively old, picking a pair of 20-year-olds (Kastelic & Lodin).

Senators’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade B-plus - There’s no denying Brannstrom and Drake Batherson have great potential – but the strength of the prospect list rests in its depth with Josh Norris, Thomson, Bernard-Docker and Alex Formenton all locks to play.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Erik Brannstrom  LD 19 Chicago (AHL) 41 - 7 - 21 - 28
2. Drake Batherson RW 21 Belleville (AHL) 59 - 22 - 40 - 62
3. Josh Norris C 20 Michigan (NCAA) 17 - 10 - 9 - 19 
4. Lassi Thomson  RD 18 Kelowna (WHL) 63 - 17 - 24 - 41 
5. Logan Brown C 21 Belleville (AHL) 56 - 14 - 28 - 42
6. Jacob Bernard-Docker RD 18 North Dakota (NCAA) 36 - 5 - 12 - 17
7. Christian Wolanin LD 24 Belleville (AHL) 40 - 7 - 24 - 31 
8. Filip Gustavsson G 21 Belleville (AHL) 12-18-1 - .887 - 3.38
9. Alex Formenton LW 19 London (OHL) 31 - 13 - 21 - 34 
10. Shane Pinto C/W 18 Lincoln (USHL)  30 - 17 - 15 - 32 

 

 

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Russian Podkolzin excited for Vancouver to be next step in his career

Projected to be a top five pick before the year, Russian Vasili Podkolzin slipped down to the Canucks at No. 10. Speaking through a translator after the selection, Podkolzin shared his excitement around being drafted by Vancouver, what skills he hopes to display at the NHL level, and more.

2019 First Pick: No. 10 Vasily Podkolzin (6-feet-3/4, 196), RW, St. Petersburg

Craig's Projection: First or second-line bulldog winger

Jim Benning, Vancouver GM: “He’s got the size and strength and can get to the net. He’s going to be a good complementary player for some of our really skilled players. He plays a heavy game and we’ve seen in the playoffs that you need those strong guys who can get to the net and protect the puck.”

The Skinny: 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup goal-scoring leader is under contract to St. Petersburg in the KHL for two more seasons.

Canucks’ Picks: Podkolzin, RW (10); Nils Hoglander, LW (40); Ethan Keppen, LW (122); Carson Focht, C (133); Karel Plasek, RW (175); Jack Malone, RW (180); Aidan McDonough, LW (195); Arvid Costmar, C (215).

Craig's Bottom Line: Benning upped the organization’s compete level – picking ultimate team player Podkolzin and buzz saw Hoglander – and added skill by trading for Tampa’s J.T. Miller. But the Canucks gave up a 2020 first rounder to the Lightning.

The Skinny: The Canucks did not choose a single defenceman among their nine picks – one year after selecting Quinn Hughes and Jett Woo in the first two rounds.

Canucks’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade B - Vancouver’s engine promises to rev high in the future if players who have shown great will prove to have NHL skill. The four forwards among the top 10 – Podkolzin, Tyler Madden, Hoglander and Zack MacEwen – are all motor men. They are complements to cerebral, high end puck movers Hughes and Olli Juolevi.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Quinn Hughes  LD 19 Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA) 32 - 5 - 28 - 33
2. Vasily Podkolzin RW 18 SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL) 14 - 2 - 3 - 5 
3. Olli Juolevi LD 21 Utica (AHL) 18 - 1 - 12 - 13
4. Tyler Madden  C/RW 19 Northeastern (NCAA) 36 - 12 - 16 - 28
5. Nils Hoglander LW 18 Rogle BK (SHL) 50 - 7 - 7 - 14 
6. Jack Rathbone LD 20 Harvard (NCAA) 33 - 7 - 15 - 22
7. Guillaume Brisebois LD 21 Utica (AHL) 49 - 3 - 8 - 11
8. Mikey DiPietro G 20 Windsor (OHL) 11-8-1 - .920 - 2.32
9. Jett Woo RD 18 Moose Jaw (WHL) 62 - 12 - 54 - 66
10. Zack MacEwen C/RW 22 Utica (AHL) 69 - 22 - 30 - 52

 

 

 

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

2019 First Pick: No. 53 Nick Robertson (5-foot-8-3/4, 162), LW, Peterborough

Craig’s Projection: Second-line skill winger

The Skinny: The 5-foot-8-3/4 prospect’s birth - three months premature - coincided with history: Sept. 11, 2001. The point-per-game player was voted one of the best stickhandlers in the annual OHL coaches poll.

Kyle Dubas, Toronto GM: “He is driven. Aside from the skill and the hockey sense, this kid lives, breathes and eats hockey. It’s all he does. You have to put faith that the players are going to do the work because the pyramid gets smaller and you need highly motivated people and he is certainly one of those guys. He wants it.”

Leafs’ Picks: Robertson, LW (53); Mikko Kokkonen, LD (84); Mikhail Abramov, C, (115); Nicholas Abruzzese, C (124); Michael Koster, LD (146); Kalle Loponen, RD (204)

Craig's Draft Bottom Line: Dubas adds to a prospect pool with three things in mind: skating, skill and (hockey) sense, He subtracts $6 million from his payroll by offloading Patrick Marleau to Carolina– but surrendered a first-round pick in 2020. That could make it two straight years without a first-round choice.

The Skinny: One hundred per cent of the Leafs picks – six of six – are listed under six feet tall. Only Arizona selected more (seven) and they had nine picks. They also drafted zero Canadians for the second time in six drafts.

Leafs’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade B - What the Leafs lack in incandescent star power, they make up for in depth of assets. This is the Leafs’ currency to make their team better either by adding capable low-salary players to the lineup or by parlaying them into bona fide NHLers – think Sean Durzi and Carl Grundstrom for Jake Muzzin.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Rasmus Sandin LD 19 Toronto (AHL) 44 - 6 - 22 - 28 
2. Jeremy Bracco RW 22 Toronto (AHL) 75 - 22 - 57 - 79 
3. Timothy Liljegren RD 20 Toronto (AHL) 43 - 3 - 12 - 15
4. Ilya Mikheyev RW 24 Omsk (KHL) 62 - 23 -22 - 45
5. Nick Robertson LW 17 Peterborough (OHL) 54 - 27 - 28 - 55 
6. Yegor Korshkov RW 22 Lokomotiv (KHL) 19 - 3 - 2 - 5 
7. Joseph Woll G 20 Boston College (NCAA) 13-21-3 - .919 - 2.41
8. Ian Scott G 20 Prince Albert (WHL) 38-8-2 - .932 - 1.83
9. Calle Rosen LD 25 Toronto (AHL) 54 - 7 - 39 - 46 
10. Teemu Kivihalme LD 24 Karpat (Liiga) 60 - 9 - 21 - 30

 

 

 

CALGARY FLAMES

Pelletier confident he can make an impact on the Flames

The Flames used their 26th overall pick to select Jakob Pelletier from the Moncton Wildcats, he explains why he's excited to be a part of the Flames and hopes his compete level can help him make an impact in the years to come.

2019 First Pick: No. 26 Jakob Pelletier (5-foot-9-1/4, 165), LW, Moncton

Craig’s Projection: Second-line offensive winger

The Skinny: Even more impressive than Pelletier’s number of goals (39) in 2018-19 is the number of games he scored goals in: 32 of 65 regular season games (49 per cent).

Brad Treliving, Calgary GM: “Elite compete and elite hockey sense and those are two things we value greatly. He’s very productive. He has skill, but he has hard skill. He goes to the hard areas. The DNA of this kid is a high, high motor and just ultra, ultra-competitive. Tons of character. That’s the core of him and it’s wrapped in a pretty skilled package.”

Flames’ Picks: Pelletier, LW (26); Ilya Nikolaev, C (88); Lucas Feuk, LW (116); Joshua Nodler, C (150); Dustin Wolf, G (214).

Craig's Bottom Line: Treliving doesn’t make a player trade at the draft – ending a four-year streak – but does add a couple of classics, a competitive Canadian winger (Pelletier) and prototypical Russian centre (Nikolaev).

The Skinny: The best moment of the draft: Flames picked goalie Dustin Wolf with the fourth last pick  (No. 214) and a huge cheer announced the excited goalie was present to go down and get his new Flames’ sweater.

Flames’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade B-Minus - Eight of the top 10 are forwards and the other two goalies. Two of the forwards are certain NHLers: Dillon Dube and newcomer Pelletier. There isn’t a single defenceman in part because Juuso Valimaki, Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington have all graduated to the NHL. Calgary didn’t pick a defenceman for the second straight year in 2019. It has selected a total of one defenceman in three drafts.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Dillon Dube LW 20 Stockton (AHL) 37 - 15 - 24 - 39
2. Jakob Pelletier  LW 18 Moncton (QMJHL) 65 - 39 - 50 - 89
3. Ilya Nikolaev  C 17 Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) 41 - 10 - 15 - 25
4. Adam Ruzicka  C 20 Sudbury (OHL) 65 - 35 - 43 - 78
5. Martin Pospisil   RW 19 Sioux City (USHL) 44 - 16 - 47 - 63
6. Emilio Pettersen C 19 Denver (NCAA) 40 - 6 - 24 - 30 
7. Milos Roman LW 19 Vancouver (WHL) 59 - 27 - 33 - 60 
8. Jon Gillies G 25 Stockton (AHL) 16-23-1 - .889 - 3.51
9. Tyler Parsons   G 21 Stockton (AHL) 9-10-1 - .898 - 3.70
10. Dmitri Zavgorodny LW 18 Rimouski (QMJHL) 67 - 28 - 36 - 64

 

 

 

WINNIPEG JETS

Jets' pick Heinola excited to be in the same organization as Laine

20th overall pick Ville Heinola was selected by the Winnipeg Jets. The defenceman resides from Finland and admits he's always looked up to Patrik Laine and is excited to be in the same organization as him.

2019 First Pick: No. 20 Ville Heinola (5-foot-11-3/4, 178), LD, Lukko

Craig’s Projection: Second-pairing puck-moving defenceman

The Skinny: Heinola is labeled a lower-case Miro Heiskanen. He’s the third straight Finn picked in the first round by Finn-ipeg: 2016 Patrick Laine, 2017 Kristian Vesalainen and 2019 Heinola. (Jets didn’t have a first-round pick in 2018.)

Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg GM: “[Heinola has] played at a high level already and the experiences that he’s gained and shown that he can play in a men’s league is certainly something that is of great value…He has a high, high hockey IQ.”

Jets’ Picks: Heinola, LD (20); Simon Lundmark, RD, (51); Henri Nikkanen, C (113); Harrison Blaisdell, C (134); Logan Neaton, G (144).

Craig's Bottom Line: Cheveldayoff has drafted more than the Jets’ share of star players since 2011; he added high-end support players in 2019.

The Skinny: The Jets ended a five-year streak of picking forwards with their top picks – no matter how high or low – by selecting Heinola. In fact, they drafted defencemen with their first two picks for the first time since moving to Winnipeg (2011) and first time in franchise history since 2004.

Jets’ Top 10 Prospects: Grade B-Minus - Winnipeg’s list is populated by prospects projected to be middle-six, bottom-half-of-the-lineup NHLers. Heinola is the only 2019 draft choice to instantly move to No. 1 on his team’s prospect list. Cheveldayoff did well to get back his own first rounder for Jacob Trouba – after having him for one more (failed) playoff run.

 

Top 10 Prospects

 
Player Pos Age 2018-19 Team GP - G - A - P
1. Ville Heinola   LD 18 Lukko (Liiga)  34 - 2 - 12 - 14 
2. Dylan Samberg  LD 20 Duluth (NCAA) 39 - 7 - 12 - 19 
3. Kristian Vesalainen LW/RW 20 Jokerit (KHL) 31 - 6 - 11 - 17
4. Mason Appleton C 23 Mantioba (AHL) 40 - 15 - 17 - 32 
5. Logan Stanley LD 21 Mantioba (AHL) 73 - 6 - 16 - 22
6. David Gustafsson C 19 KV71 (SHL) 36 - 2 - 10 - 12 
7. Simon Lundmark  RD 18 Linkoping HC (SHL) 28 - 0 - 3 - 3
8. Mikhail Berdin G 21 Jacksonville (ECHL) 16-8-2 - .912 - 2.66
9. Declan Chisholm LD 19 Peterborough (OHL) 67 - 5 - 43 - 48
10. Santeri Virtanen  C/W 20 SaiPa (Liiga) 40 - 5 - 5 - 10