2019 NHL Entry Draft FavouritesSource: Wikimedia
The 57th edition of the NHL Entry Draft will take place at the Rogers Arena in British Columbia on 22nd June, a much-anticipated event among fans of the sport. The draft allows the top teams to access some of the best new players around, both from North America and Europe. Usually, domestic players must be between 18 and 20 years of age by the cut-off date while those from European countries can be up to 21 years old in order to be eligible. The 2019 entry rules will allow players born before September 15th, 2001 to be drafted
As before, the 2019 iteration of the draft has included a lottery to see which teams will be able to take first picks of the available players. This lottery is weighted to support teams which have not reached the Stanley Cup playoffs in the previous season. In April, the New Jersey Devils won the lottery and will consequently take first pick. The New York Rangers took the second spot and the Chicago Blackhawks won the third lottery pick. The draft undoubtedly means hitting the big time for some players. Of course, if a career in professional ice hockey is not for you, then you could always try your luck at an online casino instead. Which exciting new players are likely to be drafted first in this big money process?
Jack Hughes (USA)
According to the scouting system which precedes the annual NHL Entry Draft, Hughes is the top-ranked player in North America. Born in May 2001, he is a centre with the Mississauga Steelheads in the Ontario Hockey League despite also playing for the US National Development Team. Hughes set a new NTDP all-time points record during the 2018-19 season. He was given with the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award in 2018 and was the youngest ever player to play for Team USA at an IIHF World Championship. Hughes is immersed in ice hockey. In fact, his father was a professional and his brother, Quinn Hughes, gained a professional contract in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft when the Vancouver Canucks signed him up. Few expect him not to be drafted as one of the top two players at this year’s event.Source: Wikimedia
Kaapo Kakko (Finland)
An exciting right winger, Kakko is the leading international player in this year’s draft. The Finnish player was born in February 2001 and is seen as such a great prospect for NHL teams because of his versatility. Kakko is known for his prowess as a centre as well as on the wing. The young Finn scored the goal that won his country the 2019 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships final earlier in 2019. In fact, the winger is already the youngest player ever to have won a gold medal in all three IIHF world championship tournaments, including the juniors and the world under-18 championships. Interestingly for such a hotly tipped player, Kakko is a diabetic. If Kakko is not drafted first in the 2019 NHL entry process, he is likely to be picked second.
Bowen Byram (Canada)
Byram is not only the top-ranked Canadian player but also the leading defenceman to have been scouted for the 2019 draft. He currently plays for the Vancouver Giants, a team that plies its trade in the Western Hockey League. Born in June 2001, Byram set a record by scoring six overtime goals in a single season for his team. In just one season, the player gained 71 points – made up of 26 goals and 45 assists – making him a hot prospect for any NHL side looking to draft a defenceman with an all-around game. The son of a professional hockey player, Byram is already a gold medallist, having won at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup as part of the Canadian team that beat Sweden in the final.
Pyotr Kochetov (Russia)
Born in June 1999, Kochetov is one of the oldest players to be part of this years NHL Entry Draft. He is also the top-ranked international goaltender. Kochetov plays for SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League. Initially playing for the Dizel Sports Academy, the Russian was part of the junior side that claimed the Volga Region Championship in 2011. He signed a two-year deal with HC Sochi in 2017 and after being placed on loan for a while was swopped with SKA in a deal that was struck two years later. He was awarded the IIHF World Junior Championship Best Goaltender prize in 2019 after helping Russia claim the bronze medal at that year’s competition.