Prospect Big Board 3.0: Podkolzin, Zegras climb, Hughes still No. 1
The champagne's been popped, the calendar's turned, and the world juniors are over - it's now 2019, and the next NHL Entry Draft is less than six months away.
Without further ado, here's the third edition of theScore's Prospect Big Board (player ages and stats as of Wednesday, Jan. 9):
1. Jack Hughes
C | 5-foot-10 | 168 lbs | U.S. National Team Development Program
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 1
Hughes is still hockey's top prospect - and barring some dramatic, unforeseen event, that isn’t going to change. While he sat out three games at the world juniors, Hughes did produce four assists in four appearances and had moments when it seemed like his numbers would have been much better with different wingers. Regardless, his speed and electric skill set were on display during most shifts, and we should expect a big second half with the U.S. National Team Development Program and at the Under-18 World Championship in April.
2. Kaapo Kakko
RW | 6-foot-1 | 181 lbs | TPS (Liiga, Jr. A SM-liiga)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 2
Kakko's tournament-winning goal for Finland at the world juniors was just the latest example of why he's a star in the making. Though he's still behind Hughes, there's a wide gap between Kakko and the next tier of prospects, and his advanced hockey sense is a big reason. It’s not the only reason, though, as he also brings an appealing combination of composure, high-end puck skills, and physicality.
3. Kirby Dach
C | 6-foot-4 | 198 lbs | Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 3
Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs are hot on his heels, but at this point we still prefer Dach. While his scoring pace has slowed down - thanks to an 11-game stretch with just one assist - Dach still has more points than games played. With a high offensive ceiling and an NHL-ready frame, he looks to be solidly in the top five.
4. Vasily Podkolzin
RW | 5-foot-11 | 165 lbs | SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 8
If you're wondering why Podkolzin's only played 10 MHL games ... well, he had a very busy December. The winger followed up an excellent Hlinka-Gretzky Cup performance by representing Russia at both the World Junior-A Challenge, where he had eight points in six games and won silver, and the world juniors, where he had three points in seven games and earned bronze. It's easy to like Podkolzin when you see his tenacity in these best-on-best matchups - especially against older players at the world juniors - while he's a smart, creative forward who's effective at both ends of the ice.
5. Dylan Cozens
C | 6-foot-3 | 176 lbs | Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 6
Cozens was the 2017-18 WHL Rookie of the Year for a reason. He's the full package - a complete, confident player who makes smart decisions, battles hard, and burns opponents with high-end speed. Don’t be surprised if Cozens moves up even higher as the season wears on. Keep an eye out for him - and others - in the upcoming CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
6. Bowen Byram
D | 6-foot-1 | 192 lbs | Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 4
Byram's still the top defenseman in this year’s class, as his terrific skating, excellent poise, and high-end vision make him a one-man breakout machine. He's occasionally caught out of position, but it's the type of risk that comes with young, dynamic puck-moving defensemen, and an area where Byram should improve as he matures.
7. Matthew Boldy
LW | 6-foot-0 | 174 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 7
Boldy's improved shot and skating ability - combined with silky hands and composure - make him another appealing product of the U.S. development program. He takes advantage of every opening to create opportunities for himself and his teammates, and he managed to keep producing just fine without Jack Hughes (which is also a credit to teammate Trevor Zegras, who's one spot back).
8. Trevor Zegras
C | 5-foot-11 | 159 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 13
Zegras is sometimes hidden behind Hughes with the USNTDP, but he showcased his high-end skills during the latter's time at the world juniors. As a crafty playmaker and an excellent skater, Zegras creates chances for his teammates and embarrasses opponents.
9. Alex Newhook
C | 5-foot-11 | 183 lbs | Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 10
Newhook still possesses the raw skills we liked so much early in the season - burning speed and playmaking ability - but he needs to pick it back up in the second half following a less-than-impressive World Junior-A Challenge. On a more positive note, Newhook's only three points away from last year's point totals in 10 fewer games.
10. Philip Broberg
D | 6-foot-3 | 198 lbs | AIK J20 (SuperElit)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 19
Broberg, a smooth-skating defenseman with power behind his stride, has leapfrogged up these rankings, in part due to a respectable performance as an underager at the world juniors. While he's got space for growth (especially with his puckhandling skills), Broberg projects to be a solid player at the next level.
11. Peyton Krebs
LW | 5-foot-11 | 181 lbs | Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 9
Krebs is an exciting, tenacious, well-rounded player who could certainly be selected inside the top 10. He performs well under pressure, and his elite offensive production is largely due to his excellent vision.
12. Ryan Suzuki
C | 6-foot-0 | 172 lbs | Barrie Colts (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 12
While he needs to improve his game away from the puck, Suzuki's a creative and exciting forward. Teams will salivate over his puckhandling skills and his high-end vision.
13. Cole Caufield
C/RW | 5-foot-6 | 154 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 15
Sure, he's small, but so is Alex DeBrincat. Caufield's offensive instincts and terrific skating ability - along with having virtually no quit in his game - make him a threat nearly every time he's on the ice.
14. Alex Turcotte
C | 5-foot-11 | 194 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 5
Everyone rejoice - Turcotte's healthy once more and should display the skills that kept him high on this list even while missing time. He's a relentless player with strong offensive instincts who makes good decisions at both ends of the ice. And realistically, Turcotte's probably a top-10 talent, so don’t be surprised if he climbs back up these ranking.
15. Cam York
D | 5-foot-11 | 165 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 11
York's a strong, mobile defenseman with a high offensive ceiling. He's also an excellent skater who's poised and continues to improve the weaker areas of his game.
16. Raphael Lavoie
C/LW | 6-foot-4 | 192 lbs | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 14
Lavoie scored an invite to Canada’s world junior pre-tournament camp, and that's nothing to sneeze at. The projected power forward has an accurate and heavy shot, while he's good at protecting the puck.
17. Victor Soderstrom
D | 5-foot-11 | 176 lbs | Brynas IF J18/J20 (J18 Elit/SuperElit)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 17
Soderstrom's an offensively minded puck-mover who, despite his size, isn’t afraid to get involved in the physical side of the game. He's also recorded four points, including two goals, in 22 SHL games this season.
18. Matthew Robertson
D | 6-foot 3 | 201 lbs | Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 18
Robertson isn't the flashiest defender out there when it comes to offense, but he's smart, plays in all situations, and is pretty mobile for a guy who stands 6-foot-4.
19. Arthur Kaliyev
LW | 6-foot-2 | 190 lbs | Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 16
Kaliyev may not be at a goal-per-game pace anymore, but he's always dangerous thanks to his excellent release. He protects the puck well and isn’t afraid to get into difficult spots.
20. Connor McMichael
C | 6-foot-0 | 170 lbs | London Knights (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 36
McMichael's terrific vision, hockey IQ, and point production in the OHL make him an appealing prospect. He's also a good skater and playmaker who works hard in all three zones.
21. Nolan Foote
LW | 6-foot-3 | 187 lbs | Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 24
22. Anttoni Honka
D | 5-foot-10 | 170 lbs | JYP (Liiga)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 22
23. Jakob Pelletier
LW/RW | 5-foot-9 | 161 lbs | Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 27
24. Maxim Cajkovic
LW/RW | 5-foot-11 | 187 lbs | Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 26
25. John Beecher
C | 6-foot-3 | 203 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 25
26. Moritz Seider
D | 6-foot-4 | 183 lbs | Adler Mannheim (DEL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 21
27. Robert Mastrosimone
C | 5-foot-10 | 170 lbs | Chicago Steel (USHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 28
28. Samuel Poulin
LW | 6-foot-1 | 207 lbs | Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: NR
29. Bobby Brink
C/W | 5-foot-10 | 165 lbs | Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 34
30. Mikko Kokkonen
D | 5-foot-11 | 190 lbs | Jukurit (Liiga)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 20
31. Albin Grewe
C/RW | 6-foot-0 | 176 lbs | Djurgårdens IF J20 (SuperElit)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 23
32. Phillip Tomasino
C | 6-foot-0 | 181 lbs | Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 37
33. Alex Vlasic
D | 6-foot-6 | 192 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 33
34. Nils Hoglander
LW | 5-foot-9 | 185 lbs | Rogle BK (SHL)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 29
35. Spencer Knight
G | 6-foot-3 | 198 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: NR
36. Valentin Nussbaumer
C | 5-foot-11 | 165 lbs | Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 42
37. Ben Brinkman
D | 6-foot-1 | 181 lbs | University of Minnesota (NCAA)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 40
38. Thomas Harley
D | 6-foot-3 | 183 lbs | Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 45
39. Tobias Bjornfot
D | 6-foot-0 | 187 lbs | Djurgårdens IF J20 (SuperElit)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 44
40. Pavel Dorofeyev
LW/RW | 6-foot-0 | 163 lbs | Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 41
41. Marshall Warren
D | 5-foot-11 | 168 lbs | USNTDP
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: NR
42. Sasha Mutala
RW | 6-foot-1 | 198 lbs | Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 32
43. Blake Murray
C | 6-foot-3 | 185 lbs | Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 39
44. Lassi Thomson
D | 6-foot-0 | 187 lbs | Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Age: 18 | Previous Rank: 48
45. Simon Holmstrom
RW | 5-foot-11 | 172 lbs | HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 31
46. Ryan Johnson
D | 6-foot-0 | 161 lbs | Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 43
47. Cole Mackay
RW | 5-foot-11 | 185 lbs | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: NR
48. Egor Afanasyev
LW | 6-foot-3 | 203 lbs | Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: NR
49. Matvei Guskov
C | 6-foot-1 | 172 lbs | London Knights (OHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 49
50. Dustin Wolf
G | 6-foot-0 | 161 lbs | Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Age: 17 | Previous Rank: 50
Hannah Stuart keeps a close eye on both drafted and draft-eligible prospects and can usually be found trying to learn more about hockey analytics. She has previously written for FanRag Sports, The Hockey Writers, and Hooked On Hockey Magazine, and can also be found at High Heels and High Sticks. Find her on Twitter @HockeyWthHannah.