Haggerty's 2016 NHL Mock Draft 1.0
Haggerty's 2016 NHL Mock Draft 1.0
The one thing we know from last summer’s NHL Draft weekend is that anything can happen with Don Sweeney at the general manager’s helm. There’s every bit as much chance that the Bruins make both of their first round selections as there is that the B’s will trade 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 four selections of the first round thanks to the Sharks ascension all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Beyond that, the one fact everybody knows is that there is a clear drop-off after the first three picks of the draft, who are all expected to be able to play in the NHL right off the bat next season. After that it will be up to the 30 scouting departments to figure out which players will be first round success rather than a Zach Hamill cautionary tale 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 franchise center since Mats Sundin.
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. They had luck with some other first round pick from Finland, didn’t they?
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.
4. Edmonton Oilers: Matthew Tkachuk, London (OHL)
While the Oilers already have a bevy of forwards, drafting Tkachuk could allow them to finally trade Taylor Hall for an established top-pairing defenseman that could make an impact right away. Peter Chiarelli values size on the wing, and Tkachuk would bring plenty of that along with net-front presence just like his old man. There’s just as good a chance that Chiarelli ends up moving this pick, however, so anything is possible.
5. Vancouver Canucks: 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 a single prospect in this draft that will turn into an elite No. 1 defenseman.
6. Calgary Flames: 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 Brian Burke and the Flames a power forward-type on the wing. Dubois is ranked at the top of the NHL Central Scouting List for North American skaters.
7. Arizona Coyotes: Tyson Jost, Penticton (BCHL)
The University of North Dakota-bound center was the top forward at the U18 World Juniors, and would give the Coyotes a formidable 1-2 center punch with Dylan Strome. 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?
8. Buffalo Sabres: Alexander Nylander, Mississauga (OHL)
With big brother William Nylander ready to star for the Maple Leafs, Buffalo takes a first round flier on his offensively explosive, 6-foot, 172-pound younger brother. It could be an awesome border/brother rivalry for years to come, and a Nylander/Eichel combo could be really fun to watch.
9. Montreal Canadiens: 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. With Andrei Markov on the down side, Sergachyov would give Montreal their next Russian staple along the back end.
10. Colorado Avalanche: Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia (OHL)
The 6-foot-2, 194-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.
11. New Jersey Devils: Kieffer Bellows, USNTDP (USHL)
The son of former NHLer Brian Bellows is a 6-foot, 189-pound sniper at left wing that could bring some of that explosiveness to a Jersey team that needs more offense.
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 Ottawa Senators’ style of play.
13. Carolina Hurricanes: Logan Brown, Windsor (OHL)
The 6-foot-6, 200-pounds has rare size at the center position, and the middle could be an area of need after the Hurricanes dealt away Eric Staal at the trade deadline. While Brown’s potential ceiling is high someday down the line, the big-bodied project might be a while before he reaches it.
14. Boston Bruins: Charlie McAvoy, Boston University (NCAA)
The Bruins scouting staff loves their NCAA players, and that goes doubly so for the guys playing in their backyard. In this instance it’s also a smooth 6-foot, 206-pound defenseman that posted three goals and 25 points as an 18-year-old freshman for the Terriers.
15. Minnesota Wild: Max Jones, London (OHL)
The big winger has a bit of nasty in his game, 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, 189-pounds.
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. Some teams shy away from the Russian prospects for a number of reasons, but not the Red Wings.
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.
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. 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 are likely to be losing Kyle Okposo in free agency, and will need to find talented, skilled and dangerous forwards to make up for the loss. McLeod and his speedy skating legs will start to help fill a seemingly impossible void.
20. Arizona Coyotes (from the Rangers): 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. He sounds like the kind of player that could bring many of the intangibles and qualities the Coyotes will be losing soon when Shane Doan rides off into the sunset.
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): Dante Fabbro, Penticton (BCHL)
The talented defenseman could go much higher based on some scouts’ opinions, but fits in here for organizational depth if the Jets are forced to move Jacob Trouba this summer. Bruins fans will get a good look at him as he’s committed to Boston University.
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. His speed and playmaking could translate quickly, particularly with a talented group of wingers in Florida.
24. Anaheim Ducks: Riley Tufte, Fargo (USHL)
The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder is headed for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, so the Ducks can be patient with another power forward that fits right into their style.
25. Dallas Stars: Filip Gustavsson, Lulea (Sweden)
It should be obvious by now that the Stars have a big need between the pipes, and Sweden is one of the best places to go looking for goaltending. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is likely to be the only goalie taken in the first round.
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 sounds like he’ll make a fine addition to the Caps forward group someday.
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, but Tampa Bay is the kind of team that can have patience with him.
28. Boston Bruins (via the San Jose Sharks): Carl Grundstrom, Modo (Sweden)
He’s not as big as the other Carl from Modo that suited up for the Bruins, but he plays a gritty game as a left winger. He also played well under the big spotlight of World Juniors. The Bruins have pulled a lot of talent out of Sweden over the last few years.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (via the Pittsburgh Penguins): Kale Clague, Brandon (WHL)
Clague’s stock has dropped over the last season, but there’s still plenty to like about the raw tools for a blueliner.
30. St. Louis Blues: Vitali Abramov, Gatineau (QMJHL)
He’s an undersized forward that’s produced in the Q. He could be the kind of player that the Blues roll the dice on this time around after taking a pass on Artemi Panarin in free agency last summer.