While NHL scouts can and will weigh and measure the merits of Jack Hughes vs. Kaapo Kakko, there’s no debating this - a Canadian will not be the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.
With Hughes, the American centre, and Kakko, the Finnish winger, certain to be the first two players chosen by New Jersey and the New York Rangers, the best Canada can hope for at Friday’s draft in Vancouver is to nail down the No. 3 spot.
And not even that is absolutely guaranteed in what can be described as the (draft) Year of the American.
Auston Matthews was the last American to go No. 1, in 2016, followed by Switzerland’s Nico Hischier in 2017 and Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin in 2018. Hughes will almost certainly be the man in 2019, leaving Connor McDavid as the last Canadian to go No. 1 (in 2015).
Hughes is ranked No, 1 on TSN’s 2019 NHL Draft Final Ranking, followed by Kakko at No. 2.
The top-ranked Canadian on TSN’s final 2019 list is Vancouver Giant offensive defenceman Bowen Byram at No. 3.
That doesn’t ensure the Chicago Blackhawks will take him third overall. TSN’s No. 4-ranked American centre Alex Turcotte, the son of former NHLer Alfie Turcotte, is also believed to be a serious consideration for the Blackhawks, Byram is not only the top-ranked Canadian, he’s the only defenceman ranked in TSN’s Top 10.
If just one defenceman is actually selected in this year’s Top 10, it would only be fourth time in the 51-year history of the draft that nine of the top 10 picks were forwards.
Before highlighting various aspects and storylines of TSN’s Top 31 final rankings, a quick word on how they were arrived at and what they mean.
This is not a mock draft. There’s no effort made here to match up prospects with specific NHL clubs based on the order of draft selection. TSN’s ranking has no connection to any individual club or the order of selection.
It is determined by surveying a panel of 10 NHL scouts on how each would numerically rank the available prospects. Those 10 individual sets of rankings are amalgamated to create a consensus ranking that forecasts a number or range where each prospect can reasonably be expected to be chosen.