Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

ESNY’s 2019 NHL Mock Draft 2.0 is unsurprising, but it’s hard to see the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers going any other way.

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is just one week away. Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko? The Rangers or the Devils? Kakko or Huges? New Jersey or New York? 

The mystery surrounding the future and how each youngster’s fate will play out remains as serious as ever. Nobody knows.

What we do know is that the time to find out is nearly here and ESNY brings its 2019 NHL Entry Draft top 20 mock to the forefront before it all excitingly goes down.

Top-20 Mock Draft:

1. New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes — C, USDP

Despite a late push from Kaapo Kakko, Hughes still holds the top spot. New Jersey is getting a future star in this ultra-skilled American center.

2. New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko — RW, TPS

That was quick. Short would be the word to describe the length of the Rangers’ rebuild, and also the amount of time Jeff Gorton and John Davidson will think about who they’re gonna pick at this spot. It’s Kakko or Hughes, and New York will be adding a special player regardless.

3. Chicago Blackhawks: Bowen Byram — LHD, Vancouver Giants

Plenty of options for Chicago here, but Bowen Byram is the choice. He solidifies their emerging blue-line. Byram has top-pairing potential and should succeed alongside Adam Boqvist for years to come.

4. Colorado Avalanche: Alex Turcotte — C, USDP

If Chicago opts for Byram over Turcotte, then the hard-working American forward won’t have to wait long to hear his name called. He’d fit in nicely with Colorado’s up-and-coming forward group. Turcotte’s motor and skill-set make him a solid choice here.

5. Los Angeles Kings: Dylan Cozens — C, Lethbridge Hurricanes

In this situation, I could definitely see the Kings taking Dylan Cozens. L.A. has many needs, so they’ll take whoever they think is the best player available. My best guess is Cozens, who is a big two-way center. Anze Kopitar will serve as the perfect mentor.

6. Detroit Red Wings: Trevor Zegras — RW, USDP

Trevor Zegras would be a tremendous pick for the Red Wings. His playmaking ability is off the charts, he’s versatile, and he’s hard-working. there is little to dislike about Zegras. He’ll join Dylan Larkin, Filip Zadina, Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha to form a dangerous group of young forwards.

7. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Caufield — RW, USDP

If I were to compare Cole Caufield to a current NHL player, it’d be Jeff Skinner. Now he could join Skinner in Buffalo. Caufield is a really nice fit here, as he and Skinner will slot-in alongside Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt. This could be a high-scoring offense.

8. Edmonton Oilers: Philip Broberg — D, AIK

Edmonton is in need of help on the back-end. For this reason, I think they’ll reach for Philip Broberg at this pick. This will likely turn out to be a real hit-or-miss pick. I just think the risk is too high with Broberg.

9. Anaheim Ducks: Kirby Dach — C, Saskatoon Blades

The Ducks add Ryan Getzlaf‘s replacement in Kirby Dach. His size and playmaking ability are hard to find. Dach would be a nice addition for the Ducks.

10. Vancouver Canucks: Matthew Boldy — LW/RW, USDP

With Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat down the middle, Vancouver is in need of wingers. They’ll take the top winger available in Matt Boldy. The USDP product should fit in nicely with the Canucks.

11. Philadelphia Flyers: Alex Newhook — C, Victoria Grizzlies

Chuck Fletcher could go in a lot of different directions here. I suspect that he’ll trade this pick. If the Flyers do stay put, Alex Newhook could be the pick. He’s a bit of a risk, but if he puts it all together this could be a true steal.

12. Minnesota Wild: Arthur Kaliyev — LW, Hamilton Bulldogs

Another risky pick. The Wild are in desperate need of a dynamic player. They find that in Arthur Kaliyev. With 50 goals last season, there is a lot to love about the sniper. I’m a big fan of his. Others have doubts about his defensive game and work ethic.

13. Florida Panthers: Vasili Podkolzin — RW, SKA St. Petersburg

To complete the hat-trick of risky selections, the Panthers take Vasili Podkolzin. The enigmatic Russian showed signs of becoming a future first-line player, but he also disappeared far too often. If he can find consistency, he’ll be a star.

14. Arizona Coyotes: Peyton Krebs — C, Kootenay Ice

Kevin Durant wasn’t the only notable athlete that tore his Achilles. Peyton Krebs did the same thing. Because of his injury, I think Krebs will fall to the Coyotes. This would be an excellent selection for Arizona.

15. Montreal Canadiens: Cam York — LHD, USDP

A nice low-risk selection here for Marc Bergevin. Cam York is a steady, solid defenseman. He’s the type of player that every team needs. He’d fit in well with the Canadiens.

16. Colorado Avalanche: Spencer Knight — G, USDP

Colorado nabs their goalie of the future in Spencer Knight. This would be a great value pick for the Avs. If Knight turns out to be the elite goalie he’s projected to be, then watch out for the Avalanche. They’ve got tons of young talent.

17. Vegas Golden Knights: Ryan Suzuki — C, Barrie Colts

Vegas could go a number of different ways here. I think they’ll reunite the Suzuki brothers. Ryan Suzuki would be an excellent choice at this spot for George McPhee.

18. Dallas Stars: Victor Soderstrom — D, Brynas IF

Dallas is rumored to be looking for a defenseman, so I assume that they’ll take the best one available in Victor Soderstrom. Thomas Harley could also be considered here, but I don’t think he’ll ultimately be the choice. I think Soderstrom would be a bit of a reach here.

19. Ottawa Senators: Raphael Lavoie — RW, Halifax Mooseheads

The Sens will go out and get Mark Stone‘s replacement in Raphael Lavoie. He fills the void Stone left behind as a big, strong, yet skilled forward. Ottawa would be a good landing spot for the high-potential winger.

20. New York Rangers: Philip Tomasino — C, Niagara IceDogs

Philip Tomasino would be a great get for the Rangers with their second pick. He’s a very quick and skilled center who has big-time potential. He reminds me of Brayden Point. Tomasino could cap-off an excellent first round for the Blueshirts.

Top-15 Rankings:

1. Jack Hughes
2. Kaapo Kakko
3. Bowen Byram
4. Trevor Zegras
5. Alex Turcotte
6. Cole Caufield
7. Kirby Dach
8. Alex Newhook
9. Matthew Boldy
10. Arthur Kaliyev
11. Dylan Cozens
12. Cam York
13. Philip Tomasino
14. Ryan Suzuki
15. Peyton Krebs

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Brian Paget has been a diehard New York Rangers and New York Jets fan since 2007. He is an aspiring young journalist, who is thrilled to be writing for Elite Sports New York. Brian will be covering the Blueshirts and the Jets for ESNY. He is currently a member of the NHL's Youth Advisory Board, and previously served as a Staff Writer for a Rangers website entitled BlueshirtsNation. You can reach Brian via E-Mail at brianhockey10@gmail.com, and find him on Twitter at @BrianPaget17.