2016 NHL Draft – top 60

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.

13 thoughts on “2016 NHL Draft – top 60

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’ve probably watched more hockey in the last month than you’ve seen in the last decade, not to mention the other 11 analysts whose reports have gone into this list, but other than that, we barely watch any hockey whatsoever.

  1. You had never watch any LHJMQ games to put Pierre-Luc Dubois at #10 and Juien Gauthier at #26. And I can’t believe you forgot Pascal Laberge from my native city Victoriaville. Chychrun lost a lots of points since the last months but he’s a great skater, maybe a team is crazy about his style.

    • Thanks for the comments, Andy.
      Craig Smith, who covers the Q for us, has actually seen all of those guys on multiple occasions. We actually love Dubois. There is a solid argument for him to move ahead of McLeod, and it is really, really close as it is, as you can see by their relative rankings. It betrays some of our proclivities, in the sense that we really value speed – as you noted regarding Chychrun.
      Gauthier scored a lot of goals, and he has a great shot, but his skating and puck skills are both only slightly above average and his off-puck game disappointed. Also, you mentioned how Chychrun lost points as the year wound down – what about Gauthier? Over the final two months of the regular season, 13 points in his final 18 games did not improve his draft stock. He also didn’t do much for the Foreurs in the postseason.
      As for Laberge, we gave him a final score of 52.5, which is tied for 85th (late 3rd round). I have him earmarked for more looks, as he could show both high end skills and mediocrity, depending on when he was seen. AS mentioned, this ranking is provisional and could be adjusted before the final list comes out as we continue to watch game videos.
      Hope you keep reading.

    • To be honest I am personally higher on Dubois than McLeod. I have Dubois in the top five and McLeod is closer to 15 for me.
      Every scouting service weights attributes differently. We try to score the players with no bias and let the scores provide the rankings.

      Gauthier has very raw skills and is a one dimensional player. He really struggles to include the players around him in any of the three zones. He is slow to react to transitional play. He’s a first round pick but not a sure fire top six talent.

      Chych has the highest range of possible outcomes in this draft amongst the D. He is a possible Hedman, Pietrangelo type impact or a Bogosian type player. We believe in the proper system and with proper development he will be closer to his ceiling than his floor.

  2. Chychrun scored 3 even strength goals in 62 games.

    At the under 18 he was not the best D on the team

    So why #4?

    • Thanks for writing, Ron. Ultimately, while we do consider the stats when evaluating draft prospects (and already drafted prospects, for that matter), they pale in comparison to a player’s skill set. Simply put, both Craig Smith and myself believe that Chychrun has an elite skill set and, if he puts it all together (i.e. increases his consistency) he has it in him to be a true #1 defender at the NHL level. This came from numerous vieiwngs in the regular season in addition to the U18 tournament. No other blueliner in this draft class can say that. I discuss this very question at more length in the most recent Hockey Prospectus podcast with Matthew Coller.

  3. It seems to me when looking for a #1 Dman in the draft they must obviously pass the eye test. They must have high IQ great skater passer and shooter.

    Also if your into advanced stats they should be in a range of points in Junior hockey. Chychrun numbers are low for a potential #1 D-man. He probably does not project to be a #1.

    Why has he not dominated more games with his speed and his shot and strength , you would thinking he should be tearing up the OHL.

  4. Pingback: HF Blog Draft Rankings – thehockeyfanblog

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  6. I didn’t like the comment that you give little weight to stats. I also question your audacity in deviating so far from professional scouting services, and NHL team scouts. I mean, the USHL bias is pretty hard to defend, almost as if you want to be controversial, …historically, outside the USNDP (and this year, NCAA) there’s no justification for it, and even those who do pick a player. it’s C Morrison, who most know from the OJHL. Regarding stats, Canucks army had a computer draft players based entirely on (CHL) stats, and it drafted all of the top NHL scorers ten years down the road. Anyway, except for USHL anomalies, it looks pretty good.

    • Neil – thank you for writing – where did I say that I give little weight to stats? we definitely weigh the players’ production. It would be insane not to. We don’t base the rankings solely on stats, as there is still room for projection at this age, but good scouting “eye test” means relatively little without the stats to back it up.
      A few comments – I don’t care about the other scouting services. They have their methods and their eyeballs and we have our own (20/80 scale). Unless you work in the scouting department for an NHL team, you don’t know more about their draft boards than we do. I happily admit to being higher on some USHL talent than others, and I stand by that. The league has improved quite a lot in terms of the talent level it attracts – look at last year’ first round – you talk about the history pointing only to the USNTDP, but then we see both Kyle Connor and Brock Boeser – neither of whom played for the U18 team – selected in the first round. further, we saw more kids popped from the USHL in last year’s draft than any other junior league. I see that trend continuing this year. Maybe some won’t be AS high as I have them (I’m guessing Ryczek and Eliot are both taken closer to the 4th than the 2nd), but these guys are very talented and will be on draft boards.
      Finally, this draft board was provisional. Our final ranking is here: http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/hockey-prospectus-big-2016-draft-board/

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