Victoria Grizzlies forward Alex Newhook is expected to be taken in the first round of the NHL draft on Friday, June 21, 2019. (Black Press file photo)

NHL Draft 2019: First-round mock selections

Hughes expected to go No. 1 overall; Canucks have 10th pick

B.C. hockey fans can get an up-close look at hockey’s stars of tomorrow as the 2019 NHL Draft takes place starting Friday, June 21 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The last time the city played host to the entry draft was in 2006. The host Canucks, picking 14th, selected speedy forward Michael Grabner, who scored a grand total of five goals with Vancouver before being dealt in a package to the Florida Panthers that saw Keith Ballard come to the Canucks.

Vancouver also hosted the draft in 1990, with the Canucks taking centre Petr Nedved second overall. While the high-scoring centre fashioned a solid career, scoring 310 goals (including 38 with Vancouver in 1992-93), you can’t blame Canucks fans for playing the ‘what if?’ game, given Jaromir Jagr (1,921 career points) went three picks later to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This time around, the rebuilding Canucks have missed the playoffs for four years in succession and hold the 10th overall pick as they look to add to their young core.

Here’s our VIFD/Black Press 2019 NHL Mock Draft, a look at how our draftniks see the first round (5 p.m, Sportsnet, TVAS, NBCSN) unfolding, with additional notes for the league’s Canadian teams:

1. New Jersey Devils

VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf’s pick: Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (USHL), 5-foot-10, 160 pounds

Black Press NHL correspondent Kieran O’Connor’s pick: Hughes

VI Free Daily content editor John McKinley’s pick: Hughes

2. New York Rangers

PW: Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (FIN), 6-2, 194

KO: Kakko

JMC: Kakko

3. Chicago Blackhawks

PW: Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL), 6-1, 194

KO: Alex Turcotte, C, USA U-18 (USHL), 5-11, 189

JMC: Byram

4. Colorado Avalanche

PW: Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL), 6-4, 195

KO: Trevor Zegras, C, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-0, 166

JMC: Turcotte

5. Los Angeles Kings

PW: Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL), 6-3, 181

KO: Byram

JMC: Dach

6. Detroit Red Wings

PW: Zegras

KO: Dach

JMC: Zegras

7. Buffalo Sabres

PW: Cole Caufield, RW, USA U-18 (USHL), 5-7, 162

KO: Caufield

JMC: Caufield

8. Edmonton Oilers

PW: Turcotte

Caufield, the tiny goal-scoring sensation, would have been an ideal complement to the league’s best player, Connor McDavid. But Turcotte provides a nice consolation prize, perhaps allowing the Oilers to eventually trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for defensive help.

KO: Matthew Boldy, LW: USA U-18 (USHL), 6-2, 187

The Oilers are in dire need of wingers for their top six forward group to supplement their franchise centres, McDavid and Draisaitl. Boldy has exceptional vision and is able to use his line-mates effectively in any situation.

JMC: Philip Broberg, D, AIK (SWE-Als), 6-3, 199

Oilers will take the second-most talented defenceman. Their fans will melt down and call it a huge reach. The internet will point and laugh. It’s just what happens in Edmonton.

9. Anaheim Ducks

PW: Boldy

KO: Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (DEL), 6-4, 185

JMC: Cozens

10. Vancouver Canucks

PW: Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Neva St. Petersburg 2 (RUS-2), 6-1, 183

The Canucks could go in a number of directions here. Does general manager Jim Benning, looking to make a splash before the home fans, trade up if Byram slips a spot or two? Does he deal down to acquire more assets? Way back in 1984, the Canucks selected defenceman J.J. Daigneault, who was injured and made his way up to the stage on crutches. Do they revisit history and tab centre Peyton Krebs, who recently had surgery to repair a partial tear to his Achilles tendon. Podkolzin is highly skilled and could eventually slot nicely in Vancouver alongside centre Elias Pettersson.

READ MORE: Newhook heads to worlds as BCHL MVP, top scorer

KO: Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL), 5-10, 190

Newhook is easily one of the best skaters in the draft who can do remarkable things with the puck at top speed. The NHL is getting faster and Newhook would be a great addition to the Canucks forward core of Pettersson, Boeser and Horvat. Newhook would add an element of speed that the Canucks currently lack in their young forward group. Newhook played close to Vancouver in the BCHL with the Victoria Grizzlies, putting up a league-leading 102 points in 53 regular season games. Newhook solidified his draft ranking with a standout U18 performance with Canada in the spring.

JMC: Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SHL), 5-11, 180

Canucks will look at their holes on D and their 1-2 centre punch of Horvat and Pettersson and pass on Newhook and Peyton Krebs for a smart, puck-moving new-age Swedish defenceman. Silly Canucks.

11. Philadelphia Flyers

PW: Broberg

KO: Peyton Krebs, C, Winnipeg (WHL), 5-11, 180

JMC: Podkolzin

12. Minnesota Wild

PW: Krebs

KO: Broberg

JMC: Newhook

13. Florida Panthers

PW: Spencer Knight, G, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-3, 192

KO: Podkolzin

JMC: Knight

14. Arizona Coyotes

PW: Newhook

KO: Cozens

JMC: Boldy

15. Montreal Canadiens

Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL), 6-3, 185

PW: The Canadiens, with two second-round picks, could also be candidates to move up in the draft. With LHD a position of weakness, if the Habs stay put, Harley or Cam York make sense here. Hulking QMJHL winger Raphael Lavoie is another potential target.

KO: Harley

A defenceman makes sense here for Montreal, especially if Harley is available. He is a play-driving defender with good size. Harley is one of the younger skaters in the draft who contains the speed and skill to play in today’s NHL.

JMC: Seider

Habs do go D, but they will favour the impressive athlete who impressed against men over the other options who played with boys

16. Colorado Avalanche

PW: Arthur Kaliyev, LW, Hamilton (OHL), 6-1, 190

KO: Soderstrom

JMC: Cam York, D, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-0, 175

17. Vegas Golden Knights

PW: Soderstrom

KO: Pavel Dorofeyev, LW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL), 6-0, 163

JMC: Krebs

18. Dallas Stars

PW: York

KO: Kaliyev

JMC: Raphael Lavoie, RW, Halifax (QMJHL), 6-4, 195

19. Ottawa Senators

PW: Phillip Tomasino, C, Niagara (OHL), 6-0, 180

The rebuilding Sens need help everywhere. The skilled Tomasino would slot in nicely as a future top-six forward.

KO: Tomasino

Ottawa would be lucky to have Tomasino fall to 19. Arguably the only NHL team firmly locked in a rebuild, Ottawa does need help in every position, more so in their forward group after acquiring star defensive prospect Erik Brännström in exchange for Mark Stone at the trade deadline.

JMC: Tomasino

Tomasino might have the best shot of guys ranked outside the top of the draft to be a first-line player. And Ottawa really, really needs first-line players.

20. Winnipeg Jets

PW: Seider

The cap-strapped Jets, having unloaded talented RHD Jacob Trouba for a package including this selection on Monday, look to refill their defence pool.

KO: York

The Jets should be taking a defenceman here after trading Trouba and potentially exposing RHD Tyler Myers for free agency. I can’t see Seider dropping this far, but I can see York being available. York played with a dominant USNTDP team this year who proved to be effective on the power play. York is a steady all-around defenceman.

JMC: Harley

Harley is raw, but the size-speed combination is excellent and he has the toolbox for the Jets to develop.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins

PW: Lavoie

KO: Knight

JMC: Ville Heinola, D, Luukko-Liiga (FIN), 5-11, 175

22. Los Angeles Kings

PW: Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City (USHL), 5-10, 165

KO: Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL), 5-11, 172

JMC: Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough (OHL), 5-9, 160

23. New York Islanders

PW: Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL), 6-0, 175

KO: Robertson

JMC: Kaliyev

24. Nashville Predators

PW: Egor Afanasyev, LW, Muskegon (USHL), 6-4, 201

KO: Suzuki

JMC: Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls (USHL), 6-0, 161

25. Washington Capitals

PW: Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL), 6-1, 208

KO: Brink

JMC: Poulin

26. Calgary Flames

PW: Brett Leason, RW, Prince Albert (WHL), 6-4, 200

Passed over in two previous drafts, the big 20-year-old adds size and skill to the Flames prospect pool.

KO: Heinola

Heinola is an excellent defenceman who proved to be efficient playing in Finland’s top men’s league as well on the top pairing for Finland in the World Junior Championships. The Flames would love to add him to their prospect pool if he is available at pick 26.

JMC: Leason

Flames will like the size and skill to augment their flanks. They will like the fact the overager might be close to helping them already even more.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning

PW: Alex Vlasic, D, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-6, 200

KO: Nils Hoglander, LW, Rögle BK (SHL), 5-9, 185

JMC: Suzuki

28. Carolina Hurricanes

PW: Robertson

KO: Vladislav Kolyachonok, D, Flint (OHL), 6-2, 181

JMC: Brink

29. Anaheim Ducks

PW: Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL) 6-0, 190

KO: Lavoie

JMC: Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djurgarden (SHL), 6-0, 196

30. Boston Bruins

PW: Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton (QMJHL), 5-9, 160

KO: Poulin

JMC: Pelletier

31. Buffalo Sabres

PW: Heinola

KO: Brayden Tracey, LW, Moose Jaw (WHL), 6-0, 177

JMC: Thomson

Rounds two through seven take place Saturday, June 22 (10 a.m., NHL Network, Sportsnet). The Canucks hold picks No. 40, 71, 102, 133, 156, 164, 180 and 195.

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