The NHL Draft officially kicks off this Friday. American center Jack Hughes and Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko are the undisputed top two prospects in this year's class, who are both bound for either the New Jersey Devils or New York Rangers.
Given that it's essentially a two-man draft in terms of elite talent, NHL fans should be prepared for plenty of surprises in terms of player selections.
Here are eight prospects who could get called to the NHL Draft stage earlier than many expected.
8. Kirby Dach, C
NHL teams yearn for centermen help. There has been talk of an early run on centers, which could start with the Chicago Blackhawks with the third pick. One of those is Kirby Dach, who is ranked behind Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte on various draft boards. Not taking anything away from Dach, who's a no-doubt top-ten prospect. But he could be taken earlier than many expect.
7. Spencer Knight, G
Spencer Knight is in uncharted territory. Goaltender prospects don't normally go in the first round, with the recent exception being Carey Price. Knight is expected to join that rather elite group, where he's projected to be selected as early as No. 13 to the Florida Panthers, despite his big board rankings.
6. Philip Broberg, D
As mentioned earlier, there will be a significant run on centers in the top ten picks. The defensemen class isn't as deep, which will cause teams in desperate need for depth to reach. Broberg does have the size and speed that many teams will fall in love with, but he did struggle against older competition in Sweden. Yet, considering he's 17 years old, teams will certainly give him a shot, especially those with holes in their defense.
5. Arthur Kaliyev, W
Despite tallying 102 points this past season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Arthur Kaliyev has been described as a one-dimensional goal scorer with poor defensive prowess. Teams in the middle of the first round will certainly be enticed by the amount of points Kaliyev produced, even with his question marks.
4. Vasili Podkolzin, W
Vasili Podkolzin is no doubt THE most polarizing prospect in this year's draft class. He's shined in international competition, but struggled to produce in Russia. Oh, and he's still under contract for two more seasons in the KHL. Even so, it only takes one team to take a chance, and Podkolzin could go very early based off his ceiling.
3. Cole Caufield, W
Cole Caufield is rising up draft boards based off his performance in the U-18 IIHF World Championships. He tallied 72 goals this past season with the US National Team, but many will point to playing alongside top prospect Jack Hughes. While standing at 5-7 could come as an issue at the pro level, best believe an NHL team will run up to the podium with the chance to select Caufield based off his scoring abilities.
2. Robert Mastrosimone, W
There is perhaps no quicker riser in the first round than Robert Mastrosimone. Originally slated to be a second round prospect, Mastrosimone has caught the eyes of scouts based on his play with the Chicago Steel in the USHL this season, where he tallied 31 goals. If a team slated in the mid-to-bottom tier of the first round is truly in love with him, expect them to take them earlier than many anticipate.
1. Victor Soderstrom, D
Victor Soderstrom is the top right-handed defenseman in the entire draft class. While his talent isn't as explosive as Browen Byram, he can shut down passing lanes and get physical with opposing forwards. Any team in need of a right-handed defenseman could be enticed to take him as early as possible.