Haggerty's 2016 NHL Mock Draft 2.0
Haggerty's 2016 NHL Mock Draft 2.0
The one thing we know as a rock-solid certainty from last summer’s NHL Draft weekend: anything can happen with Don Sweeney at the general manager’s helm. There’s every bit as much chance the Bruins make both of their first round selections as there is that the B’s flip one of them to get the defensemen help they so desperately need.
Count on them dealing the San Jose first rounder as it’s now dropped into one of the final two selections of the first round thanks to the Sharks ascension toward the mountaintop. Beyond that, the one thing most agree on is that there is some level of drop-off after the first three picks of the draft,each of whom is expected to be able to play in the NHL right off the bat next season.
“The first three forwards will all be high impact guys right off the bat next season, but I believe there are five forwards at the top of the draft that will all eventually be good No. 1 line players,” said one veteran talent evaluator of the 2016 draft pool. “There is no Drew Doughty, or Victor Hedman, or Aaron Ekblad-type of franchise defenseman in this draft, but there are still some pretty good top pairing guys to be had.”
After that it will be up to the 30 scouting departments to figure out which players will be a first round success like Logan Couture rather than a Zach Hamill cautionary tale just a few years from now.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, Zurich (Swiss)
The consensus No. 1 overall pick is a big center in the Joe Thornton mold, and exactly what the Maple Leafs need as they continue their Shanahan/Lamoriello/Babcock overhaul of the organization. The US-born Matthews has perhaps been off the radar a bit while choosing to play in Europe this season, but he’ll be Toronto’s first legitimate franchise center since Mats Sundin. He showed some good flashes of what he can do offensively during the world championships with his size/speed/hands/vision combo, and should just get better as he goes from junior hockey strength to man-strength in the NHL. We’ll be seeing him quite a bit on Hockey Night in Canada for years to come.
2. Winnipeg Jets: Patrik Laine, Tappara (Finland)
A big, goal-scoring left wing that will really make this whole lottery/draft process a huge win for a Jets
team that’s already got considerable talent on the NHL roster. Laine was a presence for Finland in
helping get them to the final world championships game against a talented Canada contingent, and showed the ability/willingness to mix it up physically as a youngster. Besides…Winnipeg had luck with some other first round pick from Finland many, many moons ago, didn’t they? Some guy named Selanne, I think.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Finland)
The Finnish GM Jarmo Kekalainen gets one of his countrymen in this right winger, who should be the last of the draft picks expected to jump right into the NHL ranks next season. Puljujarvi had 17 points in seven games to lead Finland to the Gold Medal in the World Juniors last December, and is an explosive offensive force that will replace Ryan Johansen in time. You just can’t teach 6-foot- 3, 203-pounds.
4. Edmonton Oilers: Matthew Tkachuk, London (OHL)
While the Oilers already have a bevy of talented forwards, drafting the 6-foot- 1, 200-pound Tkachuk could allow them to finally trade Taylor Hall for an established top-pairing defenseman. Peter Chiarelli values size and strength on the wing, and Tkachuk would bring plenty of that along with net-front presence just like his old man. He also has the added benefit of hockey IQ as a second-generation NHL prospect that comes from a great hockey family in Boston. There’s just as good a chance, however, that Chiarelli ends up moving this pick in a bigger deal to remake his defensemen corps. So what we’re trying to say is that anything is possible.
5. Vancouver Canucks: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
The 6-foot- 3, 201-pounder has the versatility of playing both left wing and center, and could give Jim Benning and the Canucks the kind of power forward-type on the wing they thought they had in Zack Kassian a few years ago. Dubois is ranked at the top of the NHL Central Scouting List for North American skaters, had 42 goals and 99 points in the Q this past season. If the Canucks are going to re-tool around the Sedin Twins, this is as good a place to start as any after addressing some of the D-men issues with the deal for Erik Gudbranson. Most around the league feel that Benning will go for a forward here rather than a defenseman given the quality levels of the draft.
6. Calgary Flames: Alexander Nylander, Mississauga (OHL)
With big brother William already pushing his way into the NHL with his undeniable skill level, Calgary takes a first round flier on his offensively explosive, 6-foot, 172-pound younger brother. Nylander should fit right into what the Flames are building in Calgary with his offensive explosiveness and ability to create plays with all of the other skill guys inside the Saddledome.
7. Arizona Coyotes: Olli Juolevi, London (OHL)
Another Finnish hero from the World Junior team, the 6-foot- 2, 180-pound blueliner is a smooth puck-moving defenseman with very good size. There is disagreement among scouts, however, as to whether there is even a single prospect in this draft that will turn into an elite No. 1 defenseman. Juolevi is probably closest to that type of D-man, but isn’t drawing any comparisons to Drew Doughty or Victor Hedman at this point. The 14 points in 18 OHL playoff games was impressive for the Finn-born prospect, and he would make a nice compliment to Oliver Ekman-Larsson out in the desert.
8. Buffalo Sabres: Mikhail Sergachyov, Windsor (OHL)
The 6-foot- 3, 195-pound defenseman is effective at both ends of the ice, and doesn’t have any weaknesses with speed, tenacity and puck skills among the items in his tool box. He was named the best defenseman in the OHL after his first year in the league. Clearly the Sabres already have one excellent young D-man in Buffalo with Rasmus Ristolainen, but Sergachyov will give them a matching set complete with twin devastating skill levels from the point on the PP. Perhaps just as important, Buffalo is clearly not scored away from the Russian prospects given some of the players already within their organization.
9. Montreal Canadiens: Tyson Jost, Penticton (BCHL)
The University of North Dakota-bound center was the top forward at the U18 World Juniors, and would give the Canadiens a formidable 1-2 center punch with Alex Galchenyuk. Scouts love his makeup just as much as the skill he shows on the ice, which sounds just like another Canadian center that went to North Dakota. Some guy named Toews, I think? The leadership, skill and cachet of a guy like Jost is exactly what Montreal has needed at the center position for some time.
10. Colorado Avalanche: Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia (OHL)
The 6-foot- 2, 205-pound defenseman is a bit of a tough one to predict: he could be the first defenseman taken, or he could last all the way to something in the neighborhood of Boston’s pick at No. 14. The feeling here is that he’ll go in the top-10 at some point given his mix of size, toughness and high end offense, but there are some scouts that wonder if it will ever completely come together for such a clearly gifted prospect. There is potentially high upside coupled with a wee bit of risk when selecting this player.
11. New Jersey Devils: Logan Brown, Windsor (OHL)
The 6-foot- 6, 200-pounds has rare massive size at the center position, and the middle is clearly an area of need even after the Devils drafted Pavel Zacha last season. The 21 goals and 74 points were impressive in junior last season, and the 53 percent success rate in the face-off dot will make NHL coaches big fans of his quickly. While Brown’s potential ceiling is high someday down the line, the big-bodied project might take a little while before he reaches it like fellow massive centers Brian Boyle and Joe Colborne.
12. Ottawa Senators: Clayton Keller, USNTDP (USHL)
Undersized at 5-foot- 9, 170-pounds, but Keller has the kind of creativity and playmaking skills that would fit right in with the Senators’ style of play. His 70 assists in 62 games for the NTDP U-18 team last season is eye-popping, and he could do a lot of damage with the offensive talent up and down the Ottawa lineup. Like several of the first round favorites, Keller is headed to Boston University next season.
13. Carolina Hurricanes: Kieffer Bellows, USNTDP (USHL)
The son of former NHLer Brian Bellows is a 6-foot, 189-pound sniper at left wing who could bring some of that explosiveness to a solid Carolina team that simply needs more offense. Bellows had a ridiculous 50 goals in 62 games for the NDTP U-18 team last season, and obviously has the hockey IQ and instincts that go along with the NHL bloodlines.
14. Boston Bruins: Dante Fabbro, Penticton (BCHL)
The talented defenseman could go anywhere from here to about the 25-range based on some scouts’ opinions, but fits in here for organizational depth with a Bruins team that badly needs puck-movers. Bruins fans will get a good look at him as he’s one of about four or five first round talents committed to Boston University. One scout likened the high-octane Fabbro to Kevin Shattenkirk at a similar stage in the player’s development, and that would be a good fit given that Shattenkirk is one of the possible immediate fits for the NHL club.
15. Minnesota Wild: Max Jones, London (OHL)
The big winger has a bit of nasty in his game and would give the Wild the kind of size and offensive ability they’re looking for on the wing and will fill out more while currently sitting at 6-foot- 2, 203-pounds. They could opt for a D-man or a center if a run at free agent Kyle Okposo is in their plans, so this will be an interesting choice for Minnesota. If the Bruins go for size, toughness and scoring at the forward position then Jones might be very be their pick at No. 14 instead of Fabbro. His 28 goals and 106 penalty minutes last season screams out Old Time Hockey.
16. Detroit Red Wings: German Rubstov, Russian National U18 Team (MHL)
The Red Wings will be digging deep in the amateur junior ranks in Russia for a strong two-way center to replace the departing Russian center Pavel Datsyuk. The 6-foot- 2, 178-pounder is strong on the puck and a high-effort player, and certainly would give Detroit what they’re always looking for in their prospects. Some teams shy away from the Russian prospects for any number of reasons, but not the Red Wings even given the difficulty of gauging a Russian prospect at their junior levels.
17. Nashville Predators: Julian Gauthier, Val D’Or (QMJHL)
There is much to like about Gauthier’s game. He’s big at 6-foot- 4, 221-pounds, he can skate and he can score while giving the Preds another premium forward to go with their talented defensemen crew. His 41 goals, and 11 power play strikes, in 54 games last season is mighty impressive, and lets you know he’s much more than just a big body on the wing.
18. Philadelphia Flyers: Jake Bean, Calgary (WHL)
He’s smallish at 6-foot, 165-pounds, but he can skate and move the puck with some creative flash. His big, booming shot will create offense from the power play, and should be a legit NHL weapon as long as he keep getting bigger and stronger as he moves up the ranks. The Flyers are perpetually on a search for talented young D-men, and he might develop just in time to replace the skill set of Mark Streit. His 24 goals led all CHL defensemen this past season.
19. New York Islanders: Michael McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)
The Islanders could go in a number of different areas depending on need and losses in free agency, but are always on the lookout to find talented, skilled and dangerous forwards. McLeod and his speedy skating legs will start to help fill a seemingly impossible void. The 6-foot- 2, 188-pounder is relentless and crafty, and should fit right into the Isles way of doing business alongside John Tavares.
20. Arizona Coyotes (from the Rangers): Charlie McAvoy, Boston University (NCAA)
The Coyotes will be one of several teams to pluck Boston University talent in this first round, and that’s a testament to the recruiting class for Dave Quinn. McAvoy is a smooth-skating 6-foot, 206-pound defenseman that posted three goals and 25 points as an 18-year- old freshman for the Terriers, and blocked 39 shots in 37 games while cracking the All-Hockey East Rookie Team.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (from the LA Kings): Alex DeBrincat, Erie (OHL)
The Hurricanes aren’t afraid of smaller forwards with Nate Gerbe already on their roster. DeBrincat is 5-foot- 7, 165-pounds, but plays with an amazing talent level that helped him score 51 goals this season. He could be another Johnny Hockey-type in the making, and no scout wants to miss the boat on that.
22. Winnipeg Jets (from the Chicago Blackhawks): Luke Kunin, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
Kunin was a point-per- game player with a feisty playing style and leadership qualities as one of the youngest players on his team. The 19 goals and five power play goals in 34 games is a ridiculous level of domination at the NCAA level. He sounds like the kind of player that could bring many of the intangibles and qualities that the Jets are constantly on the lookout for while building a sustained contender in the Western Conference.
23. Florida Panthers: Rasmus Asplund, Farjestads (Sweden)
One of the youngest players in the Swedish Elite League who performed well for Sweden at the World Juniors. The 5-foot- 11, 176-pounder has skating speed and playmaking that could translate quickly, particularly with a talented group of wingers in Florida, and his leadership and attitude are considered pluses as intangibles. He only had four goals and 12 points last season, but that’s actually note-worthy considering the high level of competition he faced in Sweden.
24. Anaheim Ducks: Riley Tufte, Blaine (Minnesota High School)
The 6-foot- 5, 205-pounder is headed for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, so the Ducks can be patient with yet another power forward that fits right into their power/production style. His stat line was predictably sick: 47 goals and 10-game winners in 25 high school games. The fact that he’s the 2016 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award winner is also nothing to sneeze at either, don’tcha know?
25. Dallas Stars: Logan Stanley, Windsor (OHL)
The 6-foot- 7, 225-pound defenseman is a bit of gamble given the way NHL trends are not being kind to oversized blueliners, but Stanley should have the skating wheels to keep up with a quickening league. Stanley would be the perfect fit as a massive, skilled D-man to blend in with a Dallas team that already has skill and speed for days, and needs something of more defensive substance. Stanley could provide all of that as his five goals, 17 points and 103 penalty minutes could attest.
26. Washington Capitals: Pascal Laberge, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
A versatile forward that can play center or wing and do it all offensively, but needs time to get stronger and learn about playing both ends of the ice. He already gets high marks for his grittiness and willingness to get to the dirty areas in the offensive zone. He was the MVP of the NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game in January. He sounds like he’ll make a fine addition to the Caps forward group someday, and will give a nice balance to some of the elite offensive skill already on board. He’s a Barry Trotz kind of player.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Tage Thompson, UConn (NCAA)
While UConn isn’t known as a hockey hotbed, a first round talent like Thompson could help start to change things in Storrs, CT. The 6-foot- 5, 189-pound center is a big project in need of increased size and strength, but Tampa Bay is the kind of team that can have patience with him. He led the NCAA with 13 power play goals in 36 games, and could someday be a real force in front of the net. He’ll have time to further develop at the college level regardless of which team takes a flier on him in the first round.
28. St Louis Blues: Carl Grundstrom, Modo (Sweden)
He’s not as big as that other Carl (Soderberg) from Modo, but he plays a gritty game as a left winger. He also played well under the big spotlight of World Juniors, which counts for plenty within the scouting world. The Blues boast a lot of talent out of Sweden on their NHL roster, and Grundstrom could be a good eventual replacement down the line if a Troy Brouwer-type player moves on in free agency.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (via the Pittsburgh Penguins): Kale Clague, Brandon (WHL)
Clague’s stock has dropped a bit over the last season when he was considered among the top D-men available, but there’s still plenty to like about the raw tools from the 5-foot- 11, 178-pound blueliner. The 43 points in 71 regular season games and 14 points in 21 playoff games were significant for the Wheat Kings, and Clague is in the mix among a number of D-men with similar skill/projection levels.
30. Boston Bruins (via the San Jose Sharks): Boris Katchouk, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The 6-foot- 1, 192-pounder plays with an aggressive, take-no- prisoners kind of game, and could be a good fit for the Bruins if they indeed make this selection. The feeling is this late first round pick may be on the move to help net them the transition D-man they’re looking for. The 24 goals, 51 points and 61 penalty minutes last season for the Soo sound like they’re right up the B’s alley, and they’ll get a good scouting report on him from fellow Soo prospect Zach Senyshyn.