While the first two picks of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft are considered simple enough for the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers who have to claim the top two players in the draft in Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, the real draft gets started at No. 3 where the Chicago Blackhawks must wade through a bevy of prospects and decide who is the best of the rest.
Many scouts have suggested the next obvious player to be taken could be defenseman Bowen Byram, who Chicago head scout Mark Kelley compared to Paul Coffey. However, would the Blackhawks take a defenseman in the first round after selecting Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin in the first round last year and Henri Jokiharju in the first round in 2017 (plus taking Ian Mitchell in the second round that year as well).
Even if Chicago is willing to take the plunge to draft another defenseman in the first round, The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus (subscription required) writes that the team is banking on success as quickly as possible while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are on top of their game, leaving little time to sit around and develop their first-rounders. Lazerus writes that the team needs the most NHL-ready player to take over and defenseman rarely fit that bill as forwards develop much quicker and produce more quickly than defensemen.
- Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the Colorado Avalanche will find themselves watching what the Blackhawks will do at the draft. The Avalanche, who own the No. 4 pick in the draft, also would be interested in drafting Byram, but could have more pressing needs as well. The team has a number of top defensemen in Tyson Barrie, Cale Makar, Samuel Girard and Connor Timmins, which would make Byram a luxury, especially considering they could have a bigger need on offense. While the team has a number of young NHL players in Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher and Alexander Kerfoot that could fill the team’s second line, none of them have taken that next step in their development. All have done well, but none look like top-six players yet. That could still happen, but the team also has interest in Alex Turcotte, who could help the team out quickly as well.
- With a need to bring in a future franchise goaltender and the top goaltending prospect, Spencer Knight, likely to be available when the Vegas Golden Knights pick at No. 17, it would look to be a great fit. Even his last name fits perfectly in Vegas. However, Sinbin.vegas’ Ken Boehlke writes that while Marc-Andre Fleury was a major success when he was drafted in the first round back in 2003, there have been 18 goaltenders selected in the first round and few of those have been successful as only five of them have made more than 10 starts in the NHL with only two of them having become franchise goalies for the teams that drafted them in Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy, suggesting the team would be better off going after a skater than taking a major risk with their first-round pick.