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2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles: Wingers

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

This Friday night, the 2019 NHL Draft will open and 31 new prospects will be selected in the first round of the draft.

The Flyers have the 11th pick in the NHL Draft, and throughout the week, we are looking at prospects at each position as potential targets and top players available in the draft.

We started by taking a look at centers in the draft on Monday. Today, we look at some of the top wingers in the draft.

Cole Caufield

The NHL Draft usually features at least one player who has done a lot to turn heads recently. This year, you could argue that the singular player who has captured a lot of attention is Cole Caufield.

Caufield had a record-breaking season with 72 goals for the NTDP, has an exceptional shot and is an offensive dynamo. In addition to that, he has good hands, skates well and knows when to pick his spots on his shot.

Caufield is a unique player. His size, which is one of the weaknesses in his game, is reminiscent of Alex DeBrincat, who has gone on to have great success in the NHL. He can also park it at the face-off circle and crank a one-timer like Alex Ovechkin. The other knock on Caufield is that he has to rely on scoring to be successful. If he’s not scoring, he becomes too invisible because he hasn’t shown he can contribute in another way.

He is one of the more intriguing players in the draft. He could have vaulted his way into the Top 5 with his goal scoring prowess, especially late in the season, or he could go around 10-15 if his size proves to be too much of a risk for the teams picking at the top.

“Players that force your hand when evaluating them usually turn out to be impressive players at the NHL level,” Hockey Prospect scout Brad Allen said in the Hockey Prospect Black Book. “That was Caufield for me this season.”

Vasili Podkolzin

In December, Vasili Podkolzin was sitting in third place right behind the top two projected picks -- Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Over time, the consensus has become that after those two, nobody knows who will go third and who will go 15th. It’s that close and teams will all rank them differently.

Podkolzin didn’t have the best tournament performances and that hurt his rankings a bit, but he’s been known to be an incredibly tough player to play against. He’s tenacious on the puck, works hard, has great compete level, and is a smart two-way player. He has great speed and is a solid skater.

His size is a bit of a knock and he can focus too much on trying to make it all happen himself, which can allow him to miss passing opportunities, but overall, he’s a solid player who many are regarding as a safe pick, especially if he slips closer to the 10th overall pick.

“Skilled and hard to play against,” an NHL scout said in the Hockey Prospect Black Book. “He’s a big pest. Good on the walls and along the half-boards.”

Matthew Boldy

Matthew Boldy is another of the American prospects from the NDTP that brings a well-rounded game. He’s a smooth skater, a solid passer, protects the puck well and was able to put up 66 points in 53 games, solid production numbers.

He brings a balance of size, speed and skill and adds in great vision, making him a great set-up guy, but he can be a shooter too. He doesn’t give a lot away, so he can be very deceptive.

He has the willingness to go to the net, though it is inconsistent and he can sometimes try things within a game that can get him into trouble with turnovers. If he can string together his puck management and be more consistent with his play, he’s got the skills to become a top-line playmaker.

“He could be the new type of power forward,” a scout said in Recrutes Draft Guide. “The U-18 team doesn't generally play those grinding style games, but when they do happen to get into them, he's there. He works the boards, wins battles and makes plays, drives to the net.”

Arthur Kaliyev

From a stats standpoint, Kaliyev is excellent. He scored 50 goals as a 17-year-old, numbers that should make him a highly-coveted player.

He’s got perhaps the best shot of any prospect in the draft and can get the puck on net quickly and find seams in goaltenders. He has a solid net-front presence and has great hockey sense offensively.

The knock on him is that he has a lot of improvement to do in his play away from the puck. For as skilled as he is offensively, he lacks the ability without the puck. There are games where his compete level isn’t there and that’s hurt his rankings. He’s likely not a candidate for the Flyers at 11th overall, more a player to watch if the Flyers either trade down or if he slips into the second round.

"Nobody denies his ability to score goals, it's elite ability,” Hockey Prospect scout Mark Edwards said in the Hockey Prospect Black Book. “I just don't like the lack of compete in his game and it also translates to his skating. I've coached at the Junior level and one thing that always frustrated me was players who played a lazy game with selective compete. I had my share of them over the years and they always hurt our team.”

Samuel Poulin

At 6’1” and 206 pounds, Poulin is one of the prospects that has more size, particularly in his frame and uses it well to win board battles and be a physical player. He’s a smart player who skates fairly well and can definitely score, reaching 29 goals and 76 points, though scoring isn’t the highest quality of his game.

He’s got a great work ethic and possess a decent two-way game for a winger, knowing his positioning. Nobody questions his ability to work hard and be a physical presence, but his numbers and scoring ability will likely make a lower first-round pick at best. He’s not going to project to be a sure Top-6 forward, more middle-6 and possibly a third-liner.

It’s his character and the intangibles that make him a safer pick in the draft because you know you are going to get a hard-working player.

“He’s a good player,” a scout said in the Recrutes Draft Guide. “Just goes about his business. Works hard every shift. Big body, good shot. He’s a character player. He’s got some intangible stuff.”

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