Updated: Jul 11, 2019
The first round of the NHL draft is tonight. It's an exciting time for all hockey fans, but especially for fans of teams who have had a difficult season and are looking forward to an injection of good young talent into their team's roster. At the draft, hope springs eternal. But the draft is also where a team's hopes can go to die. Missing on picks, especially high picks in the first round, can set a franchise back for years, and with those stakes on the line, draft night must be a very tense time for war rooms across the NHL. The night can be very stress-inducing for fans, as well. For months, they've read countless prospect lists, player evaluations, and mock drafts in hopes of figuring out who their team will draft and whether that decision will blow up in the organization's face or bring them a new glorious era for years to come. The choices executives and scouts will make on Friday will impact their legacy and possibly change the outlook of their franchise. The pressure to succeed is on.
For the teams using the top ten picks in the draft this year, the pressure is even higher. The players in this range are extremely close in talent and expected upside, so it becomes even harder to choose the right one for your team. So wouldn't it be easier for them if there was a definitive way to order the draft prospects in a manner that was irrefutable, incontestable, and 100% accurate? A list that had each of the top ten prospects listed exactly where they should go? A list that would clear up all the confusion and give trams the exact information they need to make a good, well-informed decision? Well, that would be this list right here! (Well, not really, but that certainly would be cool.)
Speed and skill is out of vogue for professional hockey (at least according to Pat Maroon), so NHL teams would be better suited to draft for players' other potential attributes. If a team is looking to invest in their marketing and appearance, there's no better place to snag a new franchise face than the draft- you just have to find one with the best smile, one made for the spotlight. And how does one figure out the right criteria to find the best smile?
To find the best smile at the top of the draft, I took the top ten prospects Bob Mckenzie listed in his final draft rankings, and then observed a variety of factors that make up a great smile- confidence, smile size, dimples, and, most importantly, cheesiness. Each category was ranked out of five, except for cheesiness, which could earn a prospect up to ten extra points. This list should set the standard for how to draft NHLers in the new era, as it clears up the confusion they have to deal with looking at play style, character, potential, and other factors and consolidates all draft stock into one easy-to-observe category. I look forward to the plethora of calls I will receive from NHL front offices in the days to come. So who had the best
1st overall, to the New Jersey Devils:
Cole Caufield, US National Development Team
5'7", 163 pounds
SMILE SIZE- 4/5
For a small dude, Caufield packs a big smile. That's what happens when you score 72 goals in one year, and when you are line mates with Jack Hughes. Caufield's smile is the class of the draft and New Jersey should definitely pick him. It's fitting that his smile is as cheesy as they come, he'll fit right in at Wisconsin next season. Slap him on a billboard, Jersey. You've got a keeper.
2nd overall, to the New York Rangers:
Kaapo Kakko, TPS
6'2, 190 pounds
CONFIDENCE 5/5, SMILE SIZE- 4/5
DIMPLES- 4/5, CHEESE- 5/10
Widely expected to go 2nd overall, Kakko has a very genuine smile that will do good for him in the Big Apple. He has the confidence of a future All Star, and already plays like a full-grown man. The smile looks good off the ice, but on the ice, it'll strike fear into opponents for years to come.
3rd overall, to the Chicago Blackhawks:
Jack Hughes, US National Development Team
5'10", 170 pounds
CONFIDENCE- 5/5, SMILE SIZE-3/5
DIMPLES- 4/5, CHEESE- 5/10
Jack Hughes is an Abercrombie and Finch model that doubles as a generational hockey talent. The Hawks should be more than happy making him the face of their franchise, as his smile oozes confidence with just the right amount of subtlety.
4th overall, to the Colorado Avalanche:
Kirby Dach, Saskatoon Blades
6'4", 198 pounds
CONFIDENCE- 4/5, SMILE SIZE- 3/5
DIMPLES- 4/5, CHEESE- 4/10
Dach looks a tad mischievous, which is fitting as he's capable of all kinds of mischief on the ice. He looks like he's where he belongs, even if his smile doesn't have the Caufield cheese or the dimples of the Kaako/Hughes duo. A solid smile for a solid draft pick.
5th overall, to the LA Kings:
Bowen Byram, Vancouver Giants
6'0", 190 pounds
SMILE SIZE- 2/5
A goofy looking smile gets major props from me. What's lacking in smile size is made up for in just enough cheese to leave a memorable impression. Byram is a future top defenseman, and his mug will look good all over Hollywood.
6th overall, to the Detroit Red Wings:
Peyton Krebs, Kootenay Ice
5'11". 181 pounds
SMILE SIZE- 1/5
The smiles fall off quickly after the top 5, but Krebs still portrays a fair amount of confidence, boosting his score over the the second group of prospects. He looks like he's carried an entire team for a year now, which is true, so the tired smile is earned and admirable.
7th overall, to the Buffalo Sabres:
Dylan Cozens, US National Development Team
6'3", 183 pounds
SMILE SIZE- 4/5
Cozens looks like he does not want to be here and is being held against his will. This is fitting, as he keeps bouncing from top 5 prospect to a top 15 prospect back to a top 5 prospect again. He's confused, we're confused, maybe he'll go first overall?
8th overall, to the Edmonton Oilers:
Vasili Podkolzin, SKA St. Petersburg- MHL
6"1', 191 pounds
CONFIDENCE- 3/5 SMILE SIZE- 1/5
DIMPLES- 2/5 CHEESE- 1/10
Podkolzin doesn't smile a lot for the media, but I can see the workings of a wry grin below the surface. His smile is a good metaphor for his draft stock: untapped potential with plenty of risk. But given the right opportunity, what's below the surface is sure to shine through.
9th overall, to the Anaheim Ducks:
Alex Turcotte, US National Development Team
5'11", 185 pounds
SMILE SIZE- 1/5
Turcotte looks like a chipmunk, which gives him high potential. Unfortunately, not a lot of that potential is being utilized. If he's trying to be taken seriously, his chipmunk features are doing him more of a disservice. Overall, this smile is just a tad confusing and there could be so much more.
10th overall, to the Vancouver Canucks:
Trevor Zegras, US National Development Team
6'0", 174 pounds
SMILE SIZE- 0/5
Trevor Zegras reminds me of Draco Malfoy. The confidence is there, but he looks like he's still trying to figure out how to smile correctly. Zegras looks like he eats biscotti and drinks Voss water regularly, and I don't think I trust him. He's also not cheesing, even the slightest bit, and that doesn't fly here. So he'll have to go tenth overall, still get paid millions of dollars, and get to play with Elias Petterssen for at least ten years. That's what you get, Trevor.
So, there you go, these are the smiling faces entering into the league over the next few years. Even though the draft definitely won't, and definitely shouldn't, go this route, I want to clarify that this article is entirely facetious, all these guys have great smiles, and all of them are going to change the game forever. I look forward to everything they will accomplish across their careers, all the goals, all the highlights, and all the cups, and I look forward to all that service coming with a smile.