The 2019 NHL Entry Draft was short on trades but still filled with surprises. Starting at third overall when the Chicago Blackhawks shocked many by selecting Kirby Dach, things didn’t go how any prospect prognosticator expected. The Detroit Red Wings may have given the draft floor the biggest shock when GM Steve Yzerman announced Mortiz Seider’s name at No. 6. Yzerman told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that they tried to move back, but didn’t want to risk missing out on the big German defenseman.
That seemed to be the theme of the night. Trades were discussed, but only one ended up being completed with the Arizona Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers flipping spots in the middle of the round. Now, as the hockey world prepares for day two and rounds 2-7 trade talk is heating up once again. Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia tweets that the Ottawa Senators have had talks with a lot of teams including the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ottawa holds the first pick of the second round along with No. 44.
But if the Senators choose to keep that pick, what’s left? Who fell out of the first round and are looking to make the league regret it? Here’s a few names that may be picked at the top of round two.
Arthur Kaliyev – F, Hamilton OHL
Kaliyev was ranked seventh among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and was a lock to go in the first round by most other publications. That’s thanks to his 51-goal season for the Bulldogs and a nose for the net unlike many other prospects available. The 17-year old forward can score through any type of shot you can think of, and almost always seems to find himself in the right situation at the right time.
Despite that, there have been some to question his work ethic and drive to improve the other aspects of his game. He currently doesn’t project as an excellent skater and can shy away from physical play despite standing 6’2″ already. Those questions are probably what dropped him out of the first round, but they also could be why a team like Ottawa, Los Angeles or New Jersey have the opportunity to grab an offensive dynamo so late.
Bobby Brink – F, Sioux City USHL
If you want skill and offensive upside, it’s hard to pass up on Brink. The 17-year old winger from the USHL has scored at every level and is one of the best playmakers in the draft. His hockey sense is out of this world and he often sets up teammates before they even know the puck should be coming to them. Unlike Kaliyev, Brink is known for his hard work on the ice and willingness to do whatever the team needs.
Unfortunately, he also comes in a 5’8″ package with below average skating tools. Brink’s size and stride are what took him out of the first round, as there is plenty of work to do to get him to the point where he can really use that offensive skill at the professional level. His anticipation may get him a step ahead at the USHL level, but that skating may hold him back in the NHL or even the AHL. For a first round pick it might be hard to take that chance, but a team that trusts its development staff could get a steal early this afternoon.
Raphael Lavoie – F, Halifax QMJHL
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Lavoie, blessed with all the physical tools to make him a monstrous hockey player at the professional level. A great skater for a player of his size—6’4″ already—he can get behind defenders or power right through them coming off the wing. Lavoie was once expected to be a top pick in this 2019 draft, but after failing to show that huge development step in the QMJHL teams may have cooled on him a bit.
Perhaps that’s because of a growing feeling that his upside may be capped because of a lack of real playmaking ability. Though there are times when Lavoie looks like the most dangerous player on the ice, it is too often that the play dies on his stick if he can’t use his physical attributes to beat a defender. Still, after an outstanding playoff run with teh Mooseheads you can bet he won’t be on the board much longer.
Nils Hoglander – F, Rogle SHL
There’s no lack of skill outside of North America either. The 5’9″ Hoglander may have the best hands in the entire draft, able to turn defenders inside out even at a standstill. That’s not a position he’s often in though, as the Swedish forward is always pressing and probing defenses with his solid edgework and agility. Even starting the year at 17, the undersized Hoglander spent the entire season in the SHL and recorded 14 points in 50 games—a solid total for such a young player.
The question will be whether or not those elusive puck skills will translate to a complete professional game in North America, or if Hoglander is destined to be a top scorer in a lower league. He’s not afraid of physical play but he can sometimes be overmatched by bigger players, especially ones who can skate well and close the gaps quickly. That’s all that he’ll see in the NHL, which makes using a first round pick on him somewhat difficult. An early second though? Hoglander won’t wait around long on day two.
Brett Leason – F, Prince Albert WHL
Unfortunately for Leason, he knows the feeling of not being picked on the first day of the draft. He’s been through this twice before. The 20-year old forward is in his third year of eligibility but is coming off an outstanding season in the WHL and a top-end performance at the World Juniors. He ended up ranked 25th by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters, but some had him potentially climbing into the end of the first round.
While Leason may end up dropping a few more spots, the fact that he is an older player might come in handy. He can go directly to the AHL to continue his development in 2019-20 and could be in the NHL quicker than many other second-round selections if things go well. The 6’4″ winger is more than happy to engage physically in the corners but has a nose for the net as well that could make him a potential option in front on the powerplay one day.