We're not even 48 hours removed from the end of the 2018 NHL draft, yet we're looking ahead to 2019. It might seem early, but there is a lot to be excited about in next year's draft class.
That obviously starts with American phenom Jack Hughes. The 17-year-old has been on everyone's radar for months after his incredible, record-breaking season at the U.S. National Team Development program. He's the odds-on favorite to go No. 1. Hughes at the top is fitting, considering that 2019 is looking like a big year for Americans in general. Many of Hughes' teammates at the NTDP have a chance to be first-round selections, as well.
It's also is shaping up to be a pretty good year for the WHL. Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Kirby Dach and Bowen Byram are names to keep close tabs on. "Each year, a new group of 16-year-olds comes in, and a handful of them really have a strong impact [in the WHL], but this past year, things were on an entirely new level," a WHL scout said. "It's not just 16-year-old players having impacts; [they are] literally being the best players on their teams at that position for stretches of games. It's really been something."
With all of that in mind, here's my way-too-early top 10 for 2019, with a number of honorable-mention players worth watching closely as we head into the next draft season.