With their three picks, GM Jarmo Kekalainen neither swung for the fences nor played it safe. Grade: B+, MORE: Wisconsin coach Tony Granato on 15th overall pick Cole Caufield. At first glance, it appears Bolduc has the highest potential out of any of the Isles 2019 picks. One of the better selections made in the later rounds by any team was the drafting of two-way center Maxim Denezhkin (193rd) who moved up Loko’s impressive depth chart to become a top-six center and key contributor in their MHL title run. They took two more defenders in crafty power-play specialist Zachary Jones (68th) and project blueliner Hunter Skinner (112th). The Habs came into the 2019 draft with a lot of picks following a season in which they barely missed the playoffs, and the weekend began with a thunderous explosion after expert sharpshooter Cole Caufield (15th) slipped right into their laps in the middle of the first round. It may take two or three years at Michigan for Beecher to realize his scoring potential, but he’s a specimen nonetheless. You don’t need double-digit picks in a single year to walk away with a solid grade, and the Capitals are proof that you still can make a splash at the draft while maintaining a contending NHL team. Want another example of first-round quality in later rounds? Center Aliaksei Protas (91st) was Leason’s center for the second half of the season and both were critical in Prince Albert winning the WHL finals and advancing to the Memorial Cup. Kakko is the obvious headliner, but the rest of the picks combine to make this one of the best Rangers draft classes in years. Although it was a bit of a surprise when Gorton selected mobile two-way defenseman Matthew Robertson (49th), the depth in defense prospects already within the organization should not take away from the fact that he is a borderline first-round prospect with top-pairing potential. A solid draft for a team that didn’t even have a first rounder. He has big-time skill and the smarts to match it. How about swift-skating playmaker Ryder Donovan (110th), a Wisconsin recruit who can skate extremely well for his size but also possesses keen vision and passing accumen. They started out well in Round 2 by taking underrated center Nikita Alexandrov (62nd) and top goalie prospect Colten Ellis (93rd) in the third. Swedish overager Mattias Norlinder (64th) was a horse as MODO J20’s top-pairing blueliner, and Everett’s Gianni Fairbrother (77th) knows how to create offense within a tight-checking system while dishing out big open-ice hits and haymakers in the process. Grade: D. Dallas only had four picks in the draft but were able to keep their first rounder when the condition in the Mats Zuccarello trade was not met. The Seider pick notwithstanding, the impressive part of Detroit’s draft was the middle portion, where they scooped up underrated sniper Robert Mastrosimone (54th), physical puck rusher Albert Johansson (60th), abrasive two-way winger Albin Grewe (66th) and speed merchant Ethan Phillips (97th). Two-way center Shane Pinto (32nd) plays a similar game to current Sens’ phenom Colin White, so the attraction is understandable even if he was taken higher than expected. The Penguins were in uncharted waters when they held on to their first-round pick, and the selection of three-zone specimen Samuel Poulin (21st) was the first step made by a team looking to make themselves tougher to play against.
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