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Draft Guide

Eastern Conference Prospects

by Joey Alfieri
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Boston Bruins: 

Charles McAvoy-D: Boston selected McAvoy with the 14th overall pick in this summer’s entry draft. The 18-year-old can become an all-around defenseman with the proper development. He’s still a few years away from contributing at the NHL level. McAvoy will spend the 2016-17 season at Boston University.  

 

Jakub Zboril-D: The Bruins selected Zboril with the first of three consecutive first round picks in 2015. The 19-year-old has a high ceiling, but he actually saw his goal and point totals decrease in his second year of junior hockey. He’ll likely be heading back to junior.  

 

Zachary Senyshyn-RWSenyshyn was one of three Boston first rounders in 2015. The Ottawa, Ontario native scored 45 goals and 65 points in 66 games in his third OHL season. Senyshyn has a good combination of size (6’2, 195 pounds) and skill.  

 

Jake DeBrusk-LW: Like ZborilDeBrusk saw his overall numbers decrease in his third season in junior. The 19-year-old was also traded from Swift Current to Red Deer during the season. He’ll look to bounce back in his final year of junior. He has the potential to be a goal-scoring winger.  

 

Malcolm Subban-G: The 22-year-old’s season was cut short after a scary throat injury. He has the potential to be a number one goalie down the road, but he’ll likely spend next season in the AHL. 

 

Buffalo Sabres: 

Alex Nylander-LW: The Sabres invested the eighth overall pick in Nylander during the 2016 draft and for good reason. He scored 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games during his rookie season in the OHL. Nylander has a chance to be a point-producing forward, but he’ll need to develop more at the lower levels first. 

 

Justin Bailey-RW: Bailey was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft. He got his first taste of NHL action with the Sabres last season, but he was unable to pick up a point in eight games. That’s not too discouraging when you consider he scored 20 goals in the AHL as a 20-year-old.  

Brendan Guhle-D: Guhle was one of Buffalo’s final cuts heading into the 2015-16 season. Instead, he was sent back to the WHL where he put together a 10-goal, 28-point season with the Prince Albert Raiders. After his junior season ended, the 19-year-old went to the AHL where he collected a goal and four points in six games. He’s Buffalo’s top defense prospect.  

 

Hudson Fasching-RWFasching was originally drafted by the LA Kings, but his rights were traded to the Sabres back in 2014. The 21-year-old picked up a goal and an assist in seven games with the Sabres after wrapping up his career at the University of Minnesota. He could make the jump to the NHL this season.  

 

Rasmus Asplund-C: The 18-year-old was Buffalo’s second round pick, 33rd overall, in the 2016 draft. Asplund hasn’t put up big numbers at the pro level. He’ll likely stay in Sweden next season before eventually coming to North America. He had three goals and five points in seven games at last winter’s World Junior Championship. 

 

Carolina Hurricanes:

Sebastian Aho-LWAho finished the 2014-15 season with four goals and 13 points in 30 games in the top division in Finland. The Hurricanes drafted him with the 35th overall pick the following summer and watched him explode last season. The 19-year-old had 20 goals and 45 points in 45 games with Karpat in the Finnish league. He might be able to crack Carolina’s lineup as early as this season. 

 

 

Jake Bean-D: Bean was the Hurricanes’ first round pick in the 2016 draft. He’s a defenseman with huge offensive potential, but he’ll likely need to work on his overall game before he’s able to get a crack at playing in the NHL.  

 

Haydn Fleury-D: Fleury was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft and he’s now completed his junior eligibility. The 20-year-old bounced back in 2015-16 after his point totals decreased significantly the year before. He has big upside, but don’t expect him to play in the NHL this year. 


Alex Nedeljkovic-G: The Hurricanes have had some issues with their goaltending of late, so it wasn’t surprising to see them draft Nedeljkovic in the second round in 2014. The 20-year-old makes the leap to the AHL next season and he should be ready for the big show in two to three years.  

 

Julien Gauthier-LW: Gauthier is 6’4 and he comes from a family of weightlifters, which makes him NHL-ready when it comes to size. The 18-year-old had a strong start to his QMJHL season, but faded in the second half of the season. He was once considered a top-10 prospect, but eventually fell to Carolina with the 21st pick in the draft.  He has the potential to be a scoring winger at the next level. 

 

Columbus Blue Jackets: 

Pierre-Luc Dubois-LW: The Jackets raised some eyebrows when they passed on Jesse Puljajarvi with the third overall pick in 2016, but they obviously preferred Dubois. The 18-year-old has a great combination of size (6’3, 202 pounds) and skill. He scored 42 goals and 99 points in 62 games with Cape Breton (QMJHL). He shouldn’t be too far away from being a big-time contributor at the NHL level.  

 

Zach Werenski-D: Like Dubois, Werenski was also a top-10 pick in his draft. The Jackets took the University of Michigan product eighth overall in 2015. He had a terrific season with the Wolverines (36 points in 36 games) and he also made his professional debut in the AHL as well. He could crack the NHL lineup, but he could probably use a little more development time. He has top-pairing potential. 

 

Sonny Milano-LW: Milano made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and recorded an assist in three games. The 20-year-old also put together a solid rookie campaign in the AHL (31 points in 54 games). Milano will likely start the year in the AHL again, but he could force his way onto the roster at some point next season. 

 

Oliver Bjorkstrand-RWBjorkstrand got his first taste of NHL action last season and he didn’t disappoint. He picked up four goals and four assists in 12 games with the Jackets and certainly didn’t look out of place. Can he make the full-time leap to the big show in 2016-17? That remains to be seen. But one thing is clear, the 89th overall pick in 2013 has some serious upside.  

 

Gabriel Carlsson-DCarlsson was Columbus’ second first round pick after Werenski in 2015. He spent last season in Sweden and picked up one goal and nine points in 45 games. The 19-year-old will need more time to develop, but he definitely has the size and ability to get to the next level.  

 

Detroit Red Wings: 

Evgeny Svechnikov-LWThe 19-year-old had almost an identical first and second season in the QMJHL. In 2015-16, he scored 32 goals and 79 points in 50 games. The Red Wings rarely allow their young prospects to make the jump to the NHL without playing in the AHL first. Even though he’s loaded with skill, don’t expect the Russian to make the leap this year.   

 

Dennis Cholowski-DThe 18-year-old was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Cholowski scored a pair of goals and 40 points in 50 games in the BCHL last season. He’ll head to play college hockey at St. Cloud State next season.  

 

Anthony Mantha-RWMantha was a prolific scorer in the Quebec League and although he hasn’t put up the same numbers in the AHL, he’s still been productive. The 21-year-old’s strong AHL performance got him a promotion to the NHL. Mantha scored two goals and three points in 10 games. He could stick with the Wings this season.  

 

Joe Hicketts-DThe Red Wings found a hidden gem when they signed the undrafted prospect. Hicketts has represented Canada at the World Junior Championship and has been a dominant player in junior. The 20-year-old had 61 points in 59 games with Victoria (WHL). He’s expected to make the leap to the pros in 2016-17. 

 

Tyler Bertuzzi-LWBertuzzi completed his first AHL season in 2015-16 and put up some solid numbers in the process. The 21-year-old had 12 goals and 30 points in 71 games with Grand Rapids. Bertuzzi could make the leap to the NHL this year, but he’ll likely spend the majority of the year in the AHL again. 

 

Florida Panthers: 

Mike Matheson-D: Matheson joined the Panthers for three regular season games and the playoffs. There’s a great chance that the 22-year-old will become an important part of Florida’s defense starting this season. Matheson also looked good at the World Championship last spring.  

 

Lawson Crouse-LW: The power forward was the 11th overall pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft. Crouse scored 23 goals and 62 points in 49 games with Kingston (OHL) last year. Many experts believe he’s a prospect with a high floor, which could make him ready to jump into the NHL immediately.  

 

Ian McCoshen-D: After three years at Boston College, McCoshen will look to make the jump to the NHL on a full-time basis. With the departure of Erik Gudbranson, there could be an opening for McCoshen as soon as this season.  

 

Henrik Borgstrom-C: The Panthers drafted the 6’3 center with the 23rd overall pick in 2016. Borgstrom spent last season with HIFK’s U20 team in Finland, where he scored 29 goals and 55 points in 40 games. He’ll begin his career at the University of Denver in 2016-17. 

 

Jayce Hawryluk-CHawryluk isn’t the biggest player (5’10), but he does have plenty of offensive ability. The 20-year-old scored 47 goals and 106 points in 58 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings last season. Hawryluk will make his professional debut (likely in the AHL) next season.  

 

Montreal Canadiens: 

Mikhail Sergachev-DThe young Russian made his North American debut last season and he didn’t disappoint. He scored 17 goals and 57 points in 67 games as a 17-year-old in the OHL. Sergachev, now 18, already owns NHL size, but is he ready mentally ready to play in the NHL right away? That remains to be seen. Even though he’ll likely go back to Windsor next year, don’t be surprised if the Canadiens give him a long look in training camp.  

 

Nikita Scherbak-RWScherbak had a tough introduction to pro hockey. He battled the injury bug quite a bit during his first AHL season and his production wasn’t as high as many expected it to be. Scherbak will likely head back to St. John’s for another season in the minors, but he could make his NHL debut at some point in the season.  

 

Michael McCarron-RW: The hulking power forward got a 20-game stint with the Habs last year. He proved to be physically ready for the challenge, but his offensive game still needs some work. McCarron will need a strong camp to make the team. He could start the season in the AHL and return to the NHL at some point in 2016-17. 

 

Noah Juulsen-D: Juulsen saw his offensive numbers decrease last season, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a solid prospect. The 19-year-old will look to get his totals back up in his final year of junior before making the leap to the pro ranks the following year.  

 

Artturi Lehkonen-LWLehkonen had a strong year with Frolunda in the Swedish League in 2015-16. He had 16 goals and 33 points in 49 games during the regular season and he added 11 goals and 19 points in 16 postseason games, helping Frolunda win the league championship. The 21-year-old will now come over to North America in 2016-17 and will likely start in the AHL.  

 

New Jersey Devils 

Pavel Zacha-LW: The Devils selected Zacha with the 6th overall pick in 2015. He scored 28 goals and 64 points in 51 games with Sarnia last year and even played in his first NHL game near the end of the season. He was able to pick up a pair of assists in his lone NHL appearance. The 6’3, 213 pounder will be in contention for a roster spot at training camp this fall.  

 

Michael McLeod-C: The 12th overall pick in 2016 is a smart two-way player who projects as a good second line center. He’ll head back to Mississauga for another year of junior where he’ll look to build on his 61-point season from last year.  

 

Mackenzie Blackwood-GBlackwood is the Devils goalie of the future even though they’re set with current starter Cory SchneiderThe 19-year-old had a solid season with the Barrie Colts and that’s where he’ll be in 2016-17. 

 

Nathan Bastian-RW: Bastian put together a solid season with Mississauga in his draft season.  The 18-year-old has tremendous size (6’4, 208 pounds) which could help him get to the NHL quicker than other prospects. He’s still a couple of years away from making an impact in New Jersey.  

 

Steven Santini-DSantini came up through the U.S. National Development Team program before heading to Boston College. After three years with the Eagles, Santini made his NHL debut with the Devils last season. The 21-year-old will probably head to the AHL first, but he could join the big club at some point this season. He has top-four upside.  

 

New York Islanders 

Mathew Barzal-C: It looks like the Islanders got a steal when they drafted Barzal with the 16th overall pick in 2015. The 19-year-old scored 27 goals and 88 points in 58 games with WHL Seattle and has put himself in position to maybe make the NHL as a teenager. Even he goes back to junior, he still has enormous long-term upside.  

 

Ryan Pulock-D: Pulock is the likeliest prospect to make the jump to the NHL heading into 2016-17. The 21-year-old played 15 games with the Islanders last year and played another six during New York’s postseason run. He has a bomb oa shot and could make an impact on the Islanders power play this season.  

 

Michael Dal Colle-LW: Dal Colle was the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft and after four years in junior, he’s ready to make the full-time jump to pro hockey. The 20-year-old had 80 points in 60 games last season and exploded for 18 points in nine OHL playoff games. He’s likely heading to Bridgeport next season.  

 

Anthony Beauvillier-LW: The 19-year-old lit the lamp on a consistent basis with Shawinigan last season. He scored 40 goals and 79 points in just 47 contests. It’s the second time in two seasons that he hit the 40-goal mark in the Quebec League. He’ll spend one more year in the junior ranks before graduating to the pro ranks.  

 

Keiffer Bellows-LW: The Islanders selected the son of Brian Bellows with the 19th overall pick in 2016. The 18-year-old is coming off an impressive season with the U.S. National Under-18 team that saw him score 16 goals and 16 assists in 23 games.  

 

New York Rangers: 

Jimmy Vesey- The prize of the off-season as far as UFA rookies were concerned, Vesey signed with the Rangers after completing his NCAA career with the Hobey Baker award. He had 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games with Harvard this past season and should crack the Rangers lineup out of training camp. He is a top-ten prospect heading into the season.

 

Pavel Buchnevich-RW: After spending four years in the KHL, Buchnevich will make the trip over to North America. With the lack of quality prospects in the Rangers’ organization, Buchnevich could be the next forward to make the leap straight to the NHL. 

 

Brady Skjei-DSkjei got his first taste of NHL action this season as he played seven regular season games and five games in the playoffs. The Rangers are lacking mobile defensemen, which means that the 22-year-old has a legitimate shot at breaking camp with the team.  

 

Igor Shestyorkin-GShestyorkin is the top goalie in the Rangers’ farm system, which means he could be next in line whenever Henrik Lundqvist is ready to move on. The 20-year-old remains extremely raw and he’s played just 22 KHL games in the last three years. 

 

Ryan Gropp-LWGropp has posted back-to-back 30-goal seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. The 6’2, 187 pound winger has interesting upside, but like most of New York’s prospect, he’s a few years away from making the jump to the NHL. 

 

Ottawa Senators: 

Logan Brown-C: The Senators drafted the 6’6 center with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft. The 18-year-old has plenty of skill for a player of his size. He had 21 goals and 74 points in 59 games with the Windsor Spitfires in 2015-16. He might have NHL-ready size, but don’t expect him to play in the big leagues this season.  

 

Colin White-C: White’s first year at Boston College was a success, as he scored 19 goals and 43 points in 37 games with the Eagles. White and Brown give the Senators should give Ottawa a strong one-two punch down the middle for years to come.  

 

Thomas Chabot-D: Chabot is a big (6’2) mobile defenseman, who’s capable of moving the puck. The 19-year-old posted a career-high 45 points in the QMJHL last season despite playing just 47 games. Chabot might still be young, but there’s a chance he could crack the Sens lineup starting in 2016-17.  

 

Filip Chlapik-C: Chlapik was Ottawa’s second round pick in 2015. The 19-year-old posted 75 and 54 points in his first two years in the Quebec League. Chlapik isn’t as close to jumping to the NHL as the other prospects on the list.  

 

Jonathan Dahlen-C: The 18-year-old had a solid first full year in the Swedish League. He scored 15 goals and 29 points in 51 games with Timra IK.  

 

Philadelphia Flyers: 

Ivan Provorov-DProvorov is as dynamic a defense prospect as there is in the NHL right now. The 19-year-old scored 15 goals and 61 points in 60 games during his first WHL season in 2014-15 and topped those numbers in 2015-16 when he scored 21 goals and 73 points in 62 games. He might not be that far from making his mark on the NHL. 

 

Travis Sanheim-D: The Flyers organization is loaded with quality defense prospects and Provorov and Sanheim are the best of the bunch. The 20-year-old has good size (6’4, 199 pounds) and the ability to move the puck. He had well over a point-per-game in his final WHL season. He added three points in four games with Lehigh Valley (AHL).  

 
Travis Konecny-RWKonecny is a little undersized at 5’10, but he’s capable of putting the puck in the net. The 19-year-old scored 26, 29 and 30 goals in his first three OHL seasons. He’ll head back to junior next season and could be in Philadelphia in the next two to three years.  

 

German Rubtsov-CRubtsov was Philadelphia’s first round pick in the 2016 draft. The young Russian gives the Flyers a center with some size (6’2) in the system. He had 12 goals and 26 points in 28 games with the Russian U18 team. He’s likely a few years away from earning a spot on the Flyers roster. 

 

Samuel Morin-D: Unlike Provorov and Sanheim, Morin’s game isn’t centered around moving the puck. Instead, the 21-year-old uses his size to crush the opposition. Morin is 6’7 and already weighs over 225 pounds. Opponents won’t like going into the corner with this giant.   

 

Pittsburgh Penguins: 

Daniel Sprong-RW: Surprisingly, Sprong stuck with the Penguins out of training camp. The second round pick in 2015 played 18 games with the Pens as an 18-year-old, but he only managed to score two goals. Pittsburgh sent him back to the QMJHL where he scored 16 goals and 46 points in 33 games. Sprong, now 19, added five goals and seven points in 10 AHL playoff games in 2016. 

 

Filip Gustavsson-G: The Pens might be loaded in goal with Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury, but that didn’t stop them from drafting Gustavsson in the second round of the 2016 draft. Gustavsson played six games with the Swedish League’s Lelea HF and went 4-2 with a 2.17 GAA and .910 SVP. He’s several years away from landing in Pittsburgh. 

 

Kasper Bjorkqvist-RW: Pittsburgh selected Bjorkqvist with their second pick of the second round in 2016. The Finnish forward scored 28 goals and 66 points in 45 games in the junior A-SM-Liiga (Finland). He’ll start his college career at Providence College in 2016-17. 

 

Tristan Jarry-G: The second goalie on this list already has a professional season under his belt. The 21-year-old had a 17-13-3 record with a 2.64 GAA and a .905 SVP with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. He could be in line to take over backup duties in Pittsburgh if the Pens trade Marc-Andre Fleury 

 

Oskar Sundqvist-C: Sundqvist played 20 games for the Penguins in 2015-16, including two in the playoffs. The 22-year-old didn’t provide much offence during his time in the NHL. He also added five goals and 17 points in 45 games in the AHL. He could crack the lineup as a bottom-six player in 2016-17. 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning: 

Brayden Point-C: Point isn’t the biggest guy, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing at the junior level. The 20-year-old scored 25 goals and 88 points in 48 games with Moose Jaw last year. He also served as the captain on Team Canada’s World Junior team last year. 

 

Brett Howden-C: Howden was the Lightning’s first round pick in 2016 and he was also a teammate to Brayden Point in Moose Jaw. The 18-year-old scored 24 goals and 64 points in 68 games during his second full WHL campaign. He’ll return to junior for the upcoming season and probably won’t be in Tampa before 2018.   

 

Libor Hajek-D: The Bolts traded former first rounder Anthony DeAngelo to Arizona to acquire the second round pick they used to draft Hajek. The Czech defenseman put up modest numbers in his first season in North America, but the Lightning believe he’ll develop into a key piece of the puzzle.  

 

Adam Erne-LW: Erne got his first take of pro hockey, as he spent the 2015-16 season with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. The 21-year-old scored 14 goals and 29 points in 59 games. Those aren’t huge totals, but they are respectable for a first-year player. If all goes well with his development, he could develop into a second line winger.  

 

Mitchell Stephens-C: Like Point, Stephens also represented Canada at the last World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old plays a strong two-way game and will probably never be a huge point-producer at the next level. He should develop into a serviceable NHLer 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs: 

Auston Matthews-C: Matthews was the can’t-miss prospect of the 2016 draft class. He has the potential to become the next big franchise centerman in the NHL. After spending last season in the Swiss League, don’t be surprised to see Matthews make the jump to the NHL immediately. The sky is the limit for this 18-year-old. He’s the best prospect in the game right now.  

 

William Nylander-CNylander might not be as big as physically mature as Matthews, but he certainly isn’t shy about putting up points. The 20-year-old played 22 games with the Leafs last season and didn’t look out of place. He collected six goals and 13 points during that stretch. Look for him to join the Leafs on a full-time basis this year.  

 

Mitch Marner-RWMarner isn’t very big (5’11, 160 pounds), but he might just be the most skilled prospect in the Leafs’ system. The 19-year-old scored 39 goals and an incredible 116 points in 57 games with the London Knights last season. Toronto could opt to leave him in junior for one more year as he continues to develop physically. Marner projects as a top line forward whenever he arrives in the NHL. 

 

Kasperi Kapanen-RW: The Leafs acquired Kapanen from the Penguins as part of the Phil Kessel trade. The 20-year-old scored nine goals and 25 points in 44 games with AHL Toronto. He also went pointless in nine games with the Leafs in 2015-16. If his development goes according to plan, Kapanen could turn into a solid top-six winger in the NHL. 

 

Yegor Korshkov-RW: Toronto raised some eyebrows when they took an “overage” player with the first pick in the second round of the last draft. The 6’4 Russian forward put up modest numbers in the KHL last season, but the Leafs clearly see something in him 

 

Washington Capitals: 

Ilya Samsonov-G: This Russian netminder is talented, but with Braden Holtby still well below the age of 30, it’ll be interesting to see if the Capitals opt to use him as a trading chip. The 22nd pick in the 2015 draft had a 6-4-3 record with a 2.04 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage with Magnitogorsk of the KHL last season. He has the potential to develop into a stud number one goalie at the next level.  

 

Jakub Vrana-CVrana was the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft and he hasn’t disappointed since coming to North America. In his first 39 games of AHL action, the 20-year-old has scored 16 goals and 39 points. He’ll probably spend at least one more year in the minors before joining the Capitals. His skill should allow him to eventually fit right in with this team.  

 

Madison Bowey-D: The 21-year-old might be NHL ready after one season in the AHL. It’ll be interesting to see if the Caps can find a way to keep him on the roster this season (assuming he has a good training camp). Bowey scored four goals and 29 points in 70 games during his first stint in pro hockey (AHL). 

 

Lucas Johansen-D: Johansen was Washington’s first round pick in 2016 after his solid season with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. The 18-year-old scored 10 goals and 49 points in 69 games. He has the potential to develop into a top-four blueliner, but he’s still a few years away from the NHL. 

 

Riley Barber-RW: Barber was the second-leading scorer in his first year with AHL Hershey. The 22-year-old was a sixth round pick in 2012 and went on to have a great career at Miami University (Ohio). He’ll likely need some more time in the minors before making the jump to the NHL.