Back in August this was no doubt the Jack Hughes draft. But that has changed. Finland’s Kaapo Kakko has emerged as a true challenger to the American center. Hughes remains on top but I have never been closer on the two then I am right now. I can certainly see things changing as well. While both project as NHL stars, the race to number one overall, in my eyes, is 55 to 45 slightly in favor of Hughes.
Let me elaborate.
Hughes has not lived up to the expectations I set for him at the start of the year. I’ve been underwhelmed for parts of the season for someone I believe can be the first name off the board. I am very concerned with his shot, in fact it may rank as one of the worst of the 29 players I see as first round talents. Alas, it is hard to overlook his game-changing skating.
He is, without question, the best player in transition of this draft class. I’ve never seen a player turn nothing into something as well as him. His speed and agility allow him to attack open areas of the ice on a consistent basis.
What Kakko does so well is hang onto the puck and recognize scoring opportunities. I’d dub him as more of a playmaker than a sniper but he brings both. He can score from range or around the net. His large frame helps him protect the puck and make plays.
In comparison to Hughes he impacts the game in more ways, specifically in the corners and cycling in the offensive zone.
The race to number one is already so close and could get even more interesting as the season goes on.
After the top-2 there is still some quality players to be had. Matthew Boldy has rocketed up my rankings. He headlines the second tier of players which includes Vasili Podkolzin, Alex Turcotte, and himself. His upside is what ultimately pushed him that high. He has the potential to be special.
My midterm rankings include the top-100 players on my board. Some quick awards on the players listed:
Best Skater: Jack Hughes
Best Hockey IQ: Trevor Zegras
Most underrated: Jamieson Rees and Billy Constantinou
Most Overrated: Raphael Lavoie and Alex Vlasic
Boom or Bust: Arthur Kaliyev
Best Name: Kaapo Kakko
Here are the rankings:
|57.||Jakub Rychlovsky||LW||Chance Liga|
|81.||Adam Najman||C||Chance Liga|
|82.||Juuso Parssinen||C||Jr. A SM-Liiga|
|84.||Aku Raty||RW||Jr. A SM-Liiga|
|93.||Mikko Petman||RW||Jr. A SM-Liiga|
|97.||Leevi Aaltonen||RW||Jr. A SM-Liiga|