Kaapo Kakko,Ryan Poehling,Mikey Anderson,Cayden Primeau

Predicting the First 15 Picks of the NHL Draft

With the NHL Draft Lottery in the books, the top 15 picks have been set. The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks all leapt ahead in the draft, grabbing the top three picks. However, some of the most important picks in recent years have come between selections 5-15. Start doing your research for the Draft for those who aren't watching their teams in the Playoffs.

15. Montreal Canadiens - Ryan Suzuki

The Canadiens have the rare opportunity to build the next great brother duo of the NHL. After trading for Nick Suzuki, the Habs could look to bring his brother, Ryan, aboard to shore up their center core even further. The 17-year-old scored 75 points in 65 games for the Barrie Colts of the OHL. His skating and passing ability make up for his lack in size, exemplified by his 50 assists this past season. 

14. Arizona Coyotes - Raphael Lavoie

The Coyotes are quietly building an impressive core of forward prospects for the future but could still use some diversification on the front end. Lavoie can slot in as both a winger or a center and his 6-4 frame gives him the toolkit for a strong NHL career. He had himself a slightly disappointing season, logging 73 points in 62 games in the QMJHL, but he exploded in the playoffs for 20 points in 11 games. The 'Yotes could undoubtedly use a sizable winger with his offensive skills. 

13. Florida Panthers - Philip Broberg

The Florida Panthers haven't used a first-round pick on a defenseman since Aaron Ekblad in 2014. They have a saturated prospect pool of talented forwards but they lack in defense. Broberg would give the Panthers a prospect with elite skating ability and plenty of size. His offense isn't top-end, but he could develop into a strong stay-at-home defenseman. With Ekblad and Keith Yandle handling the offense on the blue-line, a defensive defenseman like Broberg could do wonders for the Panthers organization. 

12. Minnesota Wild - Thomas Harley

The second-best defensive prospect in the draft has been a stand out two-way player in his young career. As just 17-years-old, he logged plenty of minutes for his Mississauga Steelheads while scoring 58 points on the season. The Wild's defensive prospects are lacking so Harley would immediately jump to the forefront of their blue line prospect pool. 

11. Philadelphia Flyers - Cole Caufield

Cole Caufield broke records this year when he showed off his natural goal scoring ability with six goals in a single game. Obviously having Hughes as his center helped but there may not be a player outside of the top two picks that have a shot like him. His 54 goals led the National US Developmental Team but the Flyers need to pair him with a playmaker to get that sort of production. Luckily, the Flyers have plenty of those in Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek or Shayne Gostisbehere. 

10. Vancouver Canucks - Matthew Boldy

Elias Petterson and Brock Boeser have combined to be the next stars of the Vancouver Canucks. However, they still need a left winger for their dynamic duo. Matthew Boldy possesses a natural ability goal scoring ability but lacks in speed. Wth the right development, the Canucks could build Boldy into a fantastic first-line winger for their established stars. 

9. Anaheim Ducks - Peyton Krebs

The Anaheim Ducks boast quite the forward prospect pool of Sam Steel, Troy Terry or Max Stone. However, Krebs has the speed and his hockey IQ outmatches all three of those prospects. The 18-year-old center has a pass first mentality with plenty of defensive reliability. With Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler on the back-end of their careers, a player like Krebs could be the next star of their system. 

8. Edmonton Oilers - Trevor Zegras

The Edmonton Oilers are in desperate need of forward help for Connor McDavid. Without much cap space, they'll have to build through the draft. Trevor Zegras is a versatile forward that can slot in at both center and wing. He shined with the US National Development team, emerging as one of the top passers in the Draft field. His 52 assists were second only to Hughes on the US National Development team. Zegras would be a perfect fit for the Oilers system as they search for versatile wingers for McDavid. 

7. Buffalo Sabres - Alex Turcotte

The Sabres had it easy in 2018 with the first overall pick, but they'll have a crucial decision to make at No. 7 this year. They have their top center of the future in Jack Eichel, but Casey Middelstadt disappointed in his first year as a pro. Obviously, there's still plenty of development in Middelstadt's game, but adding another top center prospect couldn't hurt their rebuild. Alex Turcotte is committed to the University of Wisconsin but will probably be in a one-and-done situation. His 87 points in in 46 games was second in point-per-game only to Hughes on the U.S. National Development team. If he can remain healthy, Turcotte should be a valuable asset for the Sabres. 

6. Detroit Red Wings - Kirby Dach

With Filip Zadina progressing nicely and seemingly poised for a full season in 2019-20, the Red Wings should look to shore up their center core at the Draft. Besides Joseph Veleno, Detroit lacks many other promising center prospects. Dach's 6-4 frame makes him an enticing option to man the second line behind Dylan Larkin. The Wings could build a sizable center core with plenty of offensive upside with the acquisition of Dach. 

5. Los Angeles Kings - Bowen Byram

The Los Angeles Kings are starved for a top defensive prospect. They probably could have benefitted from a top-three pick, but settling on the top projected defenseman will have to do. The 17-year-old blue liner has an incredible 71 points in 65 games for his Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He's third in scoring among defenseman in the WHL, trailing only Montreal Canadiens prospect, Josh Brook, and Dawson Davison. Byram would give the Kings their best defensive prospect since Drew Doughty. 

4. Colorado Avalanche - Vasili Podkolzin

The Colorado Avalanche lost out on the top pick of the NHL draft, but that doesn't mean they can't hit a home run with a top prospect at fourth overall. Outside of Hughes and Kaapo, Podkolzin is the next best draft eligible player. Unfortunately, his KHL contract carries for the next two-years, which makes him slightly less desirable. The 17-year-old has been spectacular in international play, but it will be interesting to see how he develops when he makes the leap into a full-time NHL player. 

3. Chicago Blackhawks - Dylan Cozens

The Chicago Blackhawks have been gifted with a third overall pick but it's a far more difficult choice than the first or second selection. In a forward-heavy draft, the Blackhawks should take a chance on the versatile center, Dylan Cozens. The 18-year-old has the ability to play both wing and center, which would be a huge asset for the Hawks going forward. Vasili Podkolzin is regarded as the No. 3 prospect, but his future in the KHL puts his career in question. 

2. New York Rangers - Kaapo Kakko

The Rangers may finally get the goal scoring winger that they've been so desperate for. Kaapo Kakko has shown his scoring ability with 22 goals and 18 assists in 45 games of the Finnish Liiga. He's broken Aleksander Barkov's record of goals scored in Liiga by a first-time eligible draft player. He also did that in eight less games than Barkov. The Finnish phenom should be able to make an immediate mark on the Rangers. 

1. New Jersey Devils - Jack Hughes

After winning the Draft Lottery, the Devils have a chance to get a long term 1-2 punch up the middle. The combination of Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes at center should be a opportunity too good to pass up for Ray Shero and his Devils. Hughes has been nothing short of remarkable, scoring 134 points in 65 games for the United States Development Team. As a 17-year-old, he had four points in four games at the U20 World Junior Championships this past winter and dominated the U18 WJC with 12 points in seven games. The Devils would be foolish to pass up on Hughes with the first overall pick.