Three weeks ago, the NHL Entry Draft seemed so far off. It was at that time that I dropped Five Bold Predictions for the first round. Well, the day has finally arrived and as we’ve surely learned by now, you cannot speak in definitives when it comes to draft day. As such, here are four more bold predictions.
1. Three defensemen will be selected in the top-10
This class has long been pegged as a weak crop for defenders. Bowen Byram is the cream and is a near lock to go in the top-five. But after the Giants’ stalwart, things get a little murky. That won’t stop GMs from tripping over themselves to reach in an attempt to fill an organizational need over selecting the best player available. Who those next two defenders are anyone’s guess, but I’ll hang my hat on Moritz Seider earning some ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ when he goes to Buffola at pick seven, followed by Philip Broberg ending up in Edmonton, Anaheim or Vancouver.
Do I love these selections? No. No, I do not. I think Seider is a very interesting prospect with a ton of raw upside. I think Broberg’s physical tools are extremely impressive but the decision-making is more than a minor concern.
Teams continue to prove incapable of stopping themselves from reaching on centres of defenders. This year will be no different.
2. The Canucks make their splash
In the first piece, I referenced the host club’s desire to give their fans a show this year. They’ll try and fail to move up from the 10th overall pick. But that won’t slow them down. In a package deal, the team will move their 2020 first round pick (without lottery protection) for a point-producing, right-shot defender. The early buzz was Rasmus Ristolainen. The current buzz is Tyson Barrie. That’s who they’ll land. They’ll take the risk that they can extend Barrie (who only has one year remaining on his deal), and take even more risk that they will have given up a lottery pick in an extremely deep 2020 crop.
GM, Jim Benning is entering the final year of his contract. The lame duck manager only has so many more opportunities to earn another deal. He took a nice step with the Alex Edler extension, but he surely feels the pressure to do more and in a hurry.
3. Steve Yzerman will trade down twice
While in Tampa Bay, Yzerman was not averse to sliding back in the draft. His return to Detroit will begin with him sliding back not once but twice. First, he’ll move a few spots back from the sixth overall pick while gaining assets. He’ll then do it again to slide back until the late teens where he’ll select the best defender remaining on the board. The Red Wings fans may not like it, but Detroit is accruing a lot of talented players and if Detroit wants (and needs) some high-end blueliners in their system, dipping back into the second tier of backs is the best way to do it.
Yzerman has always been a forward thinker, and the 2019 draft won’t be any different.
4. Arthur Kaliyev doesn’t hear his name called on day one
In the first instalment, I prognosticated that Kaliyev would be selected before Cole Caufield. This time I’ll show the other side of the proverbial coin and say that the talented, yet enigmatic, AmeRussian forward will have to wait for another sleep before being selected.
Despite destroying the OHL this season to the tune of 51 goals and 102 points, the 17-year-old frustrated more than a few scouts with his looping skates, and casual demeanour. If there’s one kid that literally no one has an accurate opinion on where he’ll go, it’s Kaliyev.
Enjoy the festivities (I sure am)