To those of you who have been watching this space for all or even part of the year, you would have seen regular scouting reports on young hockey talent from around the globe, written by our hard working writers, Craig Smith, Dennis Schellenberg, Alessandro Seren Rosso, Kevin Olexson, Krist Hayes, Miika Arponen, Jimmy Hamrin, Scott Crawford, Jason Lewis and Anthony Petrielli. With the top 26 slots in the 2016 draft now set and the draft little more than one month away, it is time to peruse the entirety of our collective work and present the top 60 prospects eligible for the draft.
First a word on our method. For all skaters, we look at five categories – skating, shot, puck skills, off-puck smarts and physicality. For netminders, we have seven distinct categories – athleticism, quickness, play reading/anticipation, compete/temperament, rebound control, technique, and puck handling. Each attribute is rated on the 20-80 scale, with 50 representing a projection to roughly NHL average down the road. A given ranking will tend to be as high as we feel the player can reasonable get to with a normal development curve. The individual categories grades are then weighted – differently for each position – and added up to get a final score, which we call their Overall Future Projection (OFP).
This top 60 article is then the summation of the top 60 prospects by OFP. I have included each OFP here to give you an idea of where tiers are and the perceived gaps between players. One final note worth mention is that some players in their second and even third year of draft eligibility are present and their OFPs have been debited according to their age as they would, by virtue of their more advanced age, have less projection remaining.
Without further ado:
Rank Name Team League Pos Height Weight OFP
1 MATTHEWS, AUSTON ZURICH SWISS C 6’1.5″ 210 67.25
Intelligent, two-way franchise center with a high end shot and near-elite puck skills. Would fit as a second line center right now, and very little stands in the way between his current level and eventual status as a first line center.
2 LAINE, PATRIK TAPPARA FINLAND RW 6’4.0″ 206 65.75 A pure sniper without any notable weaknesses to his game. Can score from anywhere blueline and in. Ready for the NHL next year.
3 PULJUJARVI, JESSE KARPAT FINLAND RW 6’3.5″ 203 64.75
Does everything well. Having played with adults for years already and is still growing as an offensive force. Is ready for the NHL – the last player on this list who fits that designation.
4 CHYCHRUN, JAKOB SARNIA OHL D 6’2.0″ 215 64.5
A superior skater with plus puck skills and a high end shot. OF the top tier blueliners this year, Chychrun gets top slot as the home run pick.
5 NYLANDER, ALEXANDER MISSISSAUGA OHL LW 6’0.5″ 179 63.5
The younger Nylander brother has all of the offensive tools. A truly dynamic player who showed in the WJC that he can rise to the level of his competition.
6 TKACHUK, MATTHEW LONDON OHL LW 6’1.25″ 195 62.75
In some ways a chip off the old block, Tkachuk combines physical gifts with hockey smarts and a high work rate.
7 JUOLEVI, OLLI LONDON OHL D 6’2.5″ 179 62
Safer than Chychrun, Juolevi is a smooth puck moving bluleliner who demonstrates a plus hockey mind.
8 KELLER, CLAYTON USA U-18 USHL C 5’9.5″ 168 61 Undersized, Keller is a puck wizard with one of the highest skill grades in the draft class. More agile than fast, he finds ways to make offense happen.
9 MCLEOD, MICHAEL MISSISSAUGA OHL C 6’2.25″ 188 60.5
One of the best skaters of the draft class, McLeod is a two-way contributor who can disrupt opponents with his wheels and his tenacity. Destined to be a fan favorite.
10 DUBOIS, PIERRE-LUC CAPE BRETON QMJHL LW 6’2.5″ 202 60.25
Dubois has plus physical tools but a superior mind. A very heady player who will find his way onto the scoresheet more than his skating, shot or puck skills would suggest – although those are pretty good, too.
11 MCAVOY, CHARLES BOSTON UNIVERSITY H-EAST D 6’0.25″ 208 60
A very good skater with a tremendous physical game, McAvoy is tenacious and unlike most of the other North Americans on this list, has already proven himself against older competition in the collegiate ranks.
12 KUNIN, LUKE U OF WISCONSIN BIG10 C 5’11.75″ 193 59.5
Another NCAA player, Kunin is a high moter forward who rates as a plus across the board. His numbers with Wisconsin stick out even more after considers the overall weakness of the team around him.
13 DEBRINCAT, ALEXANDER ERIE OHL RW 5’7.0″ 163 59.5
DeBrincat makes Clayton Keller look huge. Thankfully, he plays bigger than his listed size. He has a preternatural nose for the net and has demonstrated that he does not need high end teamamets (Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome) to create for him to score.
14 FABBRO, DANTE PENTICTON BCHL D 6’0.25″ 189 59.25
Another high potential puck moving blueliner. Fabbro excels at transitioning the puck from his end to the opposition’s end. His composure also stands out.
15 SERGACHEV, MIKHAIL WINDSOR OHL D 6’2.5″ 206 59
In terms of ceiling, only Chychrun can match what Sergachev brings to the table. On the other hand, the creative Russian import has more to prove before taking the next step.
16 JOST, TYSON PENTICTON BCHL C 5’11.25″ 191 59
A versatile forward who can be counted on in all situations. He proved during the recent U18s that his skills and production were not simply a product of playing in the BCHL.
17 RUBTSOV, GERMAN TEAM RUSSIA U18 RUSSIA-JR. C 6’2.0″ 178 59
A high skill forward with a smooth skating stride, Rubstov was denied the chance to play in front of a large international audience due to the drug scandal that overtook the Russian entry in the U18s. Plays hard in all three zones.
18 ALLISON, WADE TRI-CITY USHL RW 6’1.75″ 205 58.75 Probably the first surprise player in this ranking. After a slow start to the season, Allison exploded down the stretch and into the USHL playoffs. A strong skater who always seems to be around the puck, Allison will be a possession driver with strong goal scoring ability.
19 BROWN, LOGAN WINDSOR OHL C 6’6.0″ 222 58.5
A huge man, Brown began to play up to his size as the year went on. He can create plays for his linemates as effectively as he can charge the net.
20 BELLOWS, KIEFFER USA U-18 USHL LW 6’0.0″ 196 58.25
A shoot first winger who plays a physical style, Bellows projects as a middle six goal scoring power forward at the highest level.
21 BEAN, JAKE CALGARY WHL D 5’11.75″ 173 57.25
A good skater with solid puck skills and above average hockey smarts, Bean’s most notable attribute is his shot, a bomb form the point. Can be tame in his own end, but will still contribute to the success of his team.
22 BENSON, TYLER VANCOUVER WHL LW 5’11.75″ 201 57.25
Forced under the radar by a series of injuries – which should all be overcomable – Benson displayed occasionally explosive skating and high end smarts when healthy. Would likely have been ranked higher if not for his injuries.
23 ABRAMOV, VITALY GATINEAU QMJHL RW 5’8.75″ 172 57.25
Small but incredibly agile, Abramov was incredible in his first year in North America, averaging nearly 1.5 points per game with Gatineau. Has excellent puck skills.
24 TUFTE, RILEY BLAINE HIGH-MN LW 6’4.75″ 205 57.25
Spending most of his season in the Minnesota high school ranks was not good for his exposure, but over three points per game helped keep Tufte on the radar. He caught up to the speed of the USHL game well enough when he returned to Fargo late in the season. A tremendous skater once factoring in his size.
25 DAHLEN, JONATHAN TIMRA SWEDEN-2 C 5’11.25″ 176 56.75
With great hands and a high hockey IQ, Dahlen received the highest marks of all Swedish-based players for the draft. He produced well playing with men in Sweden’s second league this year and top six projections are easy to make.
26 GAUTHIER, JULIEN VAL-D’OR QMJHL RW 6’3.5″ 225 56.5
A pure goal scorer with deceptive speed, Gauthier’s production slowed down in the latter portions of the season. Still a very desarble prospect between his size and his high end shot.
27 BITTEN, WILLIAM FLINT OHL C 5’9.75″ 167 56.25
Easy to overlook in the disfunctional Flint program, Bitten is a plus skater with good hands. He capped off his season with a strong showing at the U18s.
28 FREDERIC, TRENT USA U-18 USHL C 6’1.75″ 203 56.25 Frederic is a highly intelligent player who projects very safely into a two-way role in the NHL. He may never get past the third line, but there is enough there in terms of skating ability and his shot to suggest higher offensive upside than he has shown so far with the USNTDP.
29 STEEL, SAM REGINA WHL C 5’11.0″ 177 56 Good both off and on the puck, Steel is a plus skater wh reaches top speed quickly. More a playmaker than a scorer, he played a key role in getting Regina back into the WHL playoffs.
30 JONES, MAX LONDON OHL LW 6’3.0″ 205 55.75 A very strong skater who sometimes loses control, Jones’ numbers do not necessarily reflect his skills as he played a second line role on an incredibly dominant London squad.
31 PITLICK, REM MUSKEGON USHL C 5’9.25″ 196 55.5
Our first overaged player Pitlick led the USHL in goals, assists and points. He plays harder than his listed size suggests and has an elite shot.
32 DUBE, DILLON KELOWNA WHL C 5’10.25″ 180 55.5
A heads-up player with a fine skating stride, Dube is a “safe” pick in the second round, as a third line type with decent offensive upside.
33 ZIMMER, MAX CHICAGO USHL LW 5’11.75″ 187 55.25
A highly skilled player who was hurt in hsi draft year by playing for a team committed to the dump and chase, Zimmer rates as plus with both his skating and his shot. His play ticked up in the second half of the season.
34 RYCZEK, JAKE WATERLOO USHL D 5’10.0″ 181 55
An undersized blueliner who overcomes size concerns through strong stick work. Ryczek is very mobile and is comfortable in all three zones. His play took off after being traded from Sioux City to Waterloo.
35 ELIOT, MITCHELL MUSKEGON USHL D 5’11.5″ 188 55
Similar in some ways to Ryzcek, but more physical and with a greater lean towards the defensive side of the ice.
36 ASPLUND, RASMUS FARJESTAD SWEDEN C 5’11.0″ 176 55
A good skater with a plus shot, Asplund does a bit of everything on the ice. Playing in Sweden’s top flight, his role was limited, but he showed more of what he could do in a strong showing at the WJC for Sweden.
37 KOSORENKOV, IVAN TEAM RUSSIA U18 RUSSIA-JR. RW 5’11.0″ 183 55
A raw talent with much refinement still needed away from the puck, Kosorenkov has two high level attributes in his plus skating and shooting. Needs to learn to play the other dimensions as well.
38 FITZPATRICK, EVAN SHERBROOKE QMJHL L 6’2.5″ 222 55
A workhorse netminder in the QMJHL, Fitzpatrick displays advacned understanding of the butterfly style, and play reading. The top goalie prospect available in 2016.
39 LINDGREN, RYAN USA U-18 USHL D 5’11.5″ 198 55 Another safe puck moving defenseman, Lindgren prefers the safer, simple play to trying to break the game open, but altogether, he is very effective and processes the game well.
40 GREEN, LUKE SAINT JOHN QMJHL D 6’0.25″ 189 54.75
A strong skater with plus puck skills, Green is stronger with the puck than without, but has had great mentors in Saint John in Thomas Chabot and Jakub Zboril.
41 FILIPE, MATT CEDAR RAPIDS USHL LW 6’1.5″ 196 54.75
Not a playmaker per se, Filipe does not have the highest work rate, but picks his spots well and demonstrates soft hands to go along with an above average shot and hockey smarts.
42 DINEEN, CAM NORTH BAY OHL D 5’11.0″ 183 54.5
Dineen has high end puck skills, and an advanced approach to the game, both helping to make up for lack of size and only average mobility.
43 MASCHERIN, ADAM KITCHENER OHL LW 5’9.5″ 206 54.5
Built like a fire hydrant, those who like Mascherin appreciate his hockey sense and puck skills. Thos who don’t knock his skating ability. All agree however, that he knows how to score.
44 KUOKKANEN, JANNE KARPAT JR. FINLAND-JR. LW 6’0.75″ 175 54.5
Kuokkanen has elite hockey sense alng with great hands. One of the more exciting players available in the second round.
45 THOMPSON, TAGE U OF CONNECTICUT H-EAST C 6’5.0″ 185 54.25
Smart and tough, Thompson has a nose for the net, but is downgraded due to subpar skating, even after considering his size.
46 HOWDEN, BRETT MOOSE JAW WHL C 6’2.25″ 193 54.25
A smart power forward, he reminds some observers of Lawson Crouse, although maybe not as fast, nor with as strong of a shot. Still, a good value in the middle of the second round.
47 GREENWAY, JAMES USA U-18 USHL D 6’5.0″ 213 54.25
Greenway, whose brother Jordan was a second rounder last year, isa real high risk, high reward pick. Big and physical, he displays sporadic bursts of offensive life that suggest game breaking potential if he can become more consistent.
48 GRUNDSTROM, CARL MODO SWEDEN RW 6’0.0″ 194 54.25
Although his most natobale characteristic is his physical game, Grundstrom does everything well enough. PLayed some of his best hockey for MODO during the relagation series.
49 MOVERARE, JACOB HV 71 JR. SWEDEN-JR. D 6’2.5″ 198 54.25
Solid in all aspects of the game, but without any standout traits, Moverare had a strong season in the Swedish junior ranks and is ready to be tested at a higher level.
50 HART, CARTER EVERETT WHL L 6’0.5″ 177 54.25 Hart was a wall in net for Everett this year, although he lacks the size most teams desire in their goalies. On the plus side, he moves very well in the crease and is exceptionally poised.
51 POINT, COLTON CARLETON PLACE CCHL L 6’3.5″ 219 54.25
A massive netminder, Point’s stock rose significantly with a monster postseason with Carleton Place, where he was practically unbeatable, helping scouts move past a disappointing WJAC.
52 PARSONS, TYLER LONDON OHL L 6’1.25″ 184 54.25
As you can see by the final grades, the space between Hart, Point and Parsons is negligible. Parsons can be overlooked on the London Knights, but between his quickness, rebound control and puck handling, there are enough present attributes to suggest that his success is more than just a beneficiary of his teammates.
53 CHOLOWSKI, DENNIS CHILLIWACK BCHL D 6’0.25″ 170 54.25
Smart with great puck moving skills, Cholowski has more to prove than fellow BCHL’er Jost and Fabbro as he has had less exposure against higher competition levels. Nonetheless, he is a worthy gambe at this stage of the draft.
54 BORGSTROM, HENRIK HIFK JR. FINLAND-JR. C 6’3.0″ 176 54
A high hockey IQ player, Borgstrom would rank higher were it not for his being in his second year of eligibility. He has done nothing but score in the Finnish junior leagues and is taking his game to the University of Denver for next season.
55 STANLEY, LOGAN WINDSOR OHL D 6’6.75″ 220 54
Logan Stanley is gigantic. If he were not so big, he wouldnt be on this list. He needs to work on his agility to avoid being turnstiled in transition. At this point, an NHL team would be gambling on his frame.
56 JOHANSEN, LUCAS KELOWNA WHL D 6’1.25″ 174 54
Johansen took big steps forward in his game this year. A plus skater with good reads, he makes up for his undersized frame by making more good decisions than bad.
57 CLAGUE, KALE BRANDON WHL D 5’11.75″ 177 54
If last impressions count for much, Clague will long gone by this point in the draft, as he is following up a solid, if not spectacular regular season with a huge playoffs for Memorial Cup contender Brandon. He is a plus skater who can contribute at both ends of the ice.
58 KAYUMOV, ARTUR TEAM RUSSIA U18 RUSSIA-JR. LW/RW 5’10.0″ 158 54
A sniper with strong wheels, Kayumov was the leading scorer for the Russian U18 hothouse team. A long term project, he needs to put on muscle before being ready to play in the smaller ice surfaces of North America.
59 FOX, ADAM USA U-18 USHL D 5’10.25″ 185 54 Another undersized, mobile blueliner, Fox has shown the ability to play in all situations for the USNTDP. He wants the puck and has enough skill and shooting prowess to make it worthwhile to get it to him.
60 METE, VICTOR LONDON OHL D 5’9.5″ 174 54
A great skater with a strong shot, to call Mete undersized is to give him credit. He has good poise and will make a difference for the team that plays him, but he will generally need to be paired with someone who can do the heavier lifting.