Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf NHL Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top NHL prospects. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Top 100 NHL Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at NHL prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. The cut-off for what is or isn’t considered one of our NHL prospects is 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Top NHL Prospects
After going through each team’s top 10 NHL prospects, and then ranking every organization in the NHL, we now bring you our top 100 NHL Prospects. This was a very difficult list to compile, and there are a number of players who barely missed the cut. There is so much talent coming into the league, hockey fans have a lot to look forward too. With that said, let the debates begin.
One Note, Clicking the Player Name will take you to the team’s NHL prospects page, or his individual draft scouting report.
Caufield has an excellent arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are both deadly accurate and have good power. They also have very quick releases which fool goaltenders. Caufield also has a very good one-timer. He has a knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting his shot off. Caufield can even score on his backhand. He is not afraid to battle in the dirty areas of the ice and goes hard to the net. When he is there, he can score on rebounds and deflections due to his soft hands and excellent coordination. He also shows the ability to make passes through tight spaces and the vision to find teammates but is better known for his goal-scoring. Caufield can show flashes of brilliance as a playmaker though.
Boqvist has outstanding vision and the ability to thread the needle on passes. He is a very aggressive player, willing to join or lead the rush and to pinch at the blue line. His speed keeps him from getting caught out of position. Boqvist has a tremendous shooting arsenal. He gets a lot of power on his wrist shot and has a quick and deceptive release. He also has a great slapshot and one-timer. Boqvist understands how to keep his shot low, and on the net, leading to tip-ins and rebounds for teammates. Boqvist is smart in the offensive zone. He walks the line to create passing and shooting lanes. He is poised with the puck and has the patience to wait for plays to open up.
Zadina is a pure and talented goal scorer. He has a very heavy wrist shot, with a lightning-quick release. He can combine this with his skating and power game to be a real threat off of the wing. An absolute sniper, he can score with his wrist shot, snap shot, slap shot and one-timer. He even has a strong backhand. Zadina takes advantage of his shooting skill, as he generates a very high number of shot attempts every game. Zadina also has the soft hands to score in close to the net. He can bury rebounds, deke goalies, and get tip-ins. He has a knack for getting himself open, finding soft areas on the ice even when everyone is watching him.
Suzuki thinks the game very well, spotting openings that other players do not see and seems a step ahead of the puck. When he has the puck, he makes smart plays, and when he does not, he finds openings to create a scoring chance. Suzuki has excellent vision and is a very good playmaker. He can feather tape-to-tape passes through tight openings and puts linemates in a great position to finish. Suzuki uses his stickhandling to change angles and open up passing and shooting lanes. Also impressive as a goal scorer, Suzuki has quick hands and drives the net. From further out, Suzuki has a good wrist and snapshot. His release is very quick and can be deceptive for goaltenders. Suzuki is effective on give-and-go plays, finding open space for a return pass.
Zegras marries his skating ability with the ability to handle the puck and make plays at top speed. He has very good vision and passing skills, helping him to be a primary playmaker on his line. Zegras anticipates the movements of his teammates and opponents, allowing him to create quality scoring chances. He can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas as well as saucer passes to teammates. Zegras is especially effective on the power play, where he can run the play off the half-boards. While best known as a playmaker, he can score goals with soft hands in tight to the net. His wrist shot has decent strength and is very accurate. He has a quick release and can fool goaltenders.
Dach has the size to be a powerful centre. Dach takes the puck to the net and is more likely to go through a defender than to try and get around him. He is very tough to contain on the cycle. Dach protects the puck well and this allows him to extend plays and wait for a teammate to get open or for an opposing defender to get out of position. Dach has very good vision and passing skills. He finds open teammates and sets them up for scoring chances in tight. Dach also has a decent wrist shot and release. Last season, he started using that shot more and it is leading to goals and opening up defences, making his playmaking skill even more deadly. While he is still a pass-first player, the improved willingness to shoot has made a difference in his game.
Cozens is a pure goal scorer. He has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release as well as the soft hands to finish in close. Cozens also has a good snapshot and slap shot. He is not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice, establishing position at the top of the slot, where he can fire in one-timers or provide the “high-screen”. He is not afraid to take the puck to the front of the net. Cozens also sees the ice very well. He controls the puck in the cycle game before dishing to an open teammate. He can control the puck and has the patience to slow down the play and the instinct to speed it up in order to create openings. His vision and skill allow him to quarterback the power play on the half boards.
At 6-foot-2, Carter Hart comes in at slightly below average when we look at other highly touted goalie prospects. Hart makes up for his lack of size with his exceptionally fast reflexes. He gets in and out of the butterfly very quickly and takes away the bottom of the net with exceptionally fast legs. He is aggressive and makes himself seem bigger by coming out of the net and cutting down angles. Strong skating, being able to move out and back quickly, as well as the ability to go side-to-side with ease allow Hart to really challenge shooters and aggressively play the angles. He also has a quick glove hand. Hart is extremely athletic in the crease.
Kravtsov is a skilled offensive player. He pairs his great skating ability with outstanding hands. He can stickhandle in a phone booth. This makes him absolutely deadly in one-on-one situations. He can make all these moves and handle the puck while moving at top speed. If defenders back off to respect his speed and stickhandling, he has a deadly arsenal of shots that he can put on the net. Kravtsov has a very good wrist shot and snapshot. Both shots feature a quick release. With the hands to also score in tight, he’s a natural sniper. Kravtsov also has the vision and passing skill to be a playmaker off the wing, though he is more of a shoot-first player.
Bouchard has an absolute bomb of a slap shot. His slap shot and one-timer are NHL calibre. He also has outstanding wrist shots and snapshots. Bouchard has a real knack for getting his shot on the net, despite heavy traffic. He is poised with the puck and makes subtle moves to open up passing and shooting games. Quick stickhandling changes angles and opens things up. Bouchard understands to keep the puck low, allowing teammates to get deflections, tip-ins, and rebounds. He has improved his passing. Bouchard is far more accurate and consistent than he was early in his OHL career. He can quarterback the power play from the point, and can also lead the rush.
Podkolzin has good stickhandling skills which make him tough to defend in one-on-one situations. He can beat defenders out of the corner, or off the rush. Podkolzin also has very good passing skills with the vision to find open teammates and the skill to get the puck through passing lanes. He creates turnovers through a strong forecheck and pressuring defenders. Podkolzin is powerful and wins battles on the boards and creates problems in front of the net. The true standout area of Podkolzin’s game is his ability to be a sniper. A natural goal scorer, Podkolzin has a strong wrist shot with a lightning-quick release. This release can fool goaltenders and he beats them off the rush.
Turcotte controls the play down low, extending the possession and waiting for teammates to get open. When there is an opportunity, he makes tough passes through tight spaces. Turcotte also has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release. His snapshot and slap shots are also very good. Turcotte has the soft hands to score goals in tight. He is not afraid to take punishment in front of the net and has the hand-eye coordination to get tip-ins and pounce on rebounds. Turcotte is relentless, forechecking hard and causing turnovers. He is a real thorn in the side of opponents. He also has plenty of skill, with his ability to control the puck and make plays while skating at top speed a real asset to his game.
Dobson has the passing and skating skills to move the puck up the ice and provide offence from the backend. He is a good playmaker, who can create off the rush and quarterback the power play. He has the vision and smarts to find the open man and the passing skill to thread the needle through tight openings. Dobson uses his agility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. Dobson has a bomb of a slapshot and one-timer. He lets both fly from the blue line. Dobson plays a strong defensive game, with good positioning and gap control. His strong skating also allows him to keep attackers in front of him and force them to the outside.
Necas can handle the puck and make plays while moving at top speed. His hands are quick and soft, and he protects the puck well. This makes him extremely dangerous on the rush. Necas has excellent vision and makes tough passes through tight areas. He is very creative with his passing game and can find openings that other players wouldn’t try. Necas sees the ice extremely well and has the hockey IQ to anticipate plays before they happen. He seems to know what his teammates are thinking ahead of time. He can also be dangerous as a shooter with a quick release on both his wrist and snapshots. Necas is good in the cycle game, using his body to protect the puck, and his vision and passing skill to make plays for teammates.
Byram has the vision and passing skills to quarterback the power play. He understands how to get his shot on the net through traffic, using his lateral agility to open up shooting lanes. He is able to score in a variety of ways and sneaks down from the point to use his wrist shot or snapshot. Both feature a quick release. They can also be effective weapons on the rush. Byram also has an excellent slap shot. Byram is a strong puck-mover, willing to make plays through the neutral zone and to push forward to create offence as well. He is not afraid to lead the rush or join as a trailer. Byram can make a strong first pass to start the transition game. His offensive game is already at a very high level.
Glass has good hands, with the ability to stickhandle in tight spaces and make moves one-on-one. He protects the puck extremely well down low, extending plays and keeping possession. He shields the puck, using his body to keep defenders away, while also having the balance to fight through checks. Glass is good in board battles and could be even better as he adds muscle. He also has the passing skills and vision to make linemates better. Glass is a creative playmaker, finding ways to get the puck to teammates, even when there doesn’t appear to be a lane to do so. He makes those passes on both his forehand and backhand and through tight spaces. He also has a decent wrist shot and good release. Glass’ quick hands help him to finish plays in tight to the net. What really sets him apart though is his hockey IQ.
Hughes is an outstanding skater. He looks like he is floating above the ice. He has very good speed and acceleration in both directions. Hughes has a textbook stride and the ability to change directions on a dime. Hughes has excellent vision and playmaking ability, as well as the hockey sense to almost always make the right play. He seems to think the game and anticipate plays better than others out there on the ice. With his skating and stickhandling ability, Hughes is not afraid to skate the puck out of his zone or lead the rush. He can also make a long pass to start the transition game and start an odd-man rush.
Makar can be an offensive force. He has a very good wrist shot, as well as a strong slap shot. A bit more strength on his frame could make that slap shot an even bigger weapon in his arsenal. Makar’s skating and lateral agility allow him to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. He understands how to get his shot through traffic, as well as how to keep it low and on the net. This helps his teammates to set up screens, capitalize on rebounds, and make deflections. He also has excellent stickhandling abilities and can rush the puck from end-to-end. Makar can also join the rush as a trailer, picking good opportunities to add offence from the back end.
Kakko is a highly-skilled winger who can create in a variety of ways. He has the soft hands to stickhandle in a phone booth and protects the puck, extending plays. His wrist shot is extremely powerful and features a very quick release. He also has an effective one-timer. Kakko uses his soft hands to finish plays in tight. All of this makes him a pure sniper. However, he can also be an effective playmaker. When an opportunity arises, he sets up teammates for scoring chances. Kakko sees the play developing and makes smart plays. He has very good vision and finds open teammates in front of the net. His soft hands and quick feet allow him to change angles and beat a defender to create a passing lane. While Kakko can add some muscle to his frame, he already shows the power to play against men in Finland.
Hughes has a complete offensive game and it starts with his skating ability. He is an elite-level skater, with outstanding speed and excellent acceleration. Once he gets a step on a defenceman, he is tough to catch.
Hughes marries his elite skating with the soft and quick hands to handle the puck and make quick moves while skating at that top speed. With the way the NHL continues to emphasize speed and skill, Hughes is the perfect player to take advantage of those conditions. Hughes is an outstanding playmaker. He has great vision and anticipates the movements of teammates. His hockey IQ is extremely high. Hughes can make a tape-to-tape pass through tight areas. His skating ability allows him to speed up the play or slow it down, creating time and space for his linemates.
Top NHL Prospects Main Photo:
NEWARK, NJ – JULY 14: New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes (86) Skates during the New Jersey Devils Development Camp Red and White Scrimmage on July 13, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)