As we near the turn of the calendar year, we are starting to get a better feel for the overall scope of the 2019 NHL Draft and this is the first ranking this season where we project the overall value of the ranked prospects (see the ‘Value’ column on the right).
The top 3 players on our board remain the same, but after that the field becomes more open. While the prospects that make up first and second round candidates don’t seem as established and proven as in years past, this draft seems extremely wide-open once we move further down the list with a large pool of prospects who could make a case for moving up the list in future months.
At this point it’s safe to say that the main riser on our list in the last few months has been Ville Heinola. The Finnish defenseman is playing well with Lukko at the Liiga level and has also been impressive in our international viewings at U20 level. We liked the upside in his game when thinking about ranking him as high as we did and his performance in the last month made us feel comfortable enough about doing just that.
Simon Holmstrom on the other hand has been on a downward slide. He reportedly had hip surgery after last season and when he did get back this season he didn’t look like the impactful winger we saw at the beginning of 2018. To make things worse, he has been sidelined again for a while with a hand injury. We still like Holmstrom’s talent level and if he manages to rebound when fully healthy he could get back on track as a top prospect, but as of now he is looking like a real wild card. Not only his recurrent injuries are a concern per se, they are even more when they seem to affect the way he competes on the ice when he is able to play.
As we move further down the list, things become wide open and there are more than a few names who made a legit play for taking the lower spots on our Top 20. We are curious to see whether some prospects will further separate themselves from the pack and make a more serious play for the higher spots on our list. As it stands now, we have quite a large pool of interesting prospects with good potential, but none that have clearly pulled away from others to join the top tier (to mention a popular name as an example, that pool include Finnish defenseman Anttoni Honka, who we currently have in that 3rd-Round tier).
As we move along into 2019, that is one of the things we will be on the lookout for.