2016 NHL Draft: Top 50 Prospects


0118-draft16Yes!  Something I’ve intended to do for years now in addition to doing my mock draft I finally have the time to do, thank you HORRENDOUS oil prices!


This list will be rough compared to what I’ll come up with by late June.  I compile information, I don’t get to watch a lot of these kids play so I look around, ask around, do whatever I can to find out how these kids play, and TRY to find out their weaknesses because one thing about when talking about draft prospects is that unless they have attitude issues, nobody will ever point out a flaw.  “His skating isn’t great but it is good enough”.  No, just say the kid doesn’t skate good.  “He’s not the most physical player…”  So he’s soft?  Just say it!  It is likely better for the kid anyway.  If you hear something negative about you and DON’T get pissed off and try to prove that person wrong, who would then still want that kid on their team?


So if a kid is considered somewhat soft, I’m not a fan.  If a kid is considered an average skater I’m going to knock him down.  I’m a “sizest”, and much to a lot of fans and media’s dismay, a team full of small players never wins anything.  You can afford to have 3 or 4 small guys on the roster, but that’s about it.  If you want rankings that don’t take size and how a game will translate in the NHL into consideration, check out Corey Pronman of ESPN.  That’s not a knock on his work, but I just see things vastly different from him.


This is where someone will point out the exception to the rule.  I love how sports is the only walk of life where people will point out the exception to the rule as if that wins an argument.  Anyway, the exception to that rule is the 08 Detroit Red Wings.  That was a small team.


Again though, that is the exception.  The rule is that you win with speed, grit and size.  You win with high end centres and high end defencemen.  Goaltenders are an enormous crap shoot, but I’m not anti goaltenders being taken high (last year for example I was very high on Ilya Samsonov).


Last year when doing this list I talked a lot about tiering the players and that to me it was more important to have tiers than what number the players were ranked.  After a few picks, there won’t be much separating players and that’s when it should boil down to need over BPA…because there will likely be hot debates over who is the BPA past pick 4 or 5.  I didn’t do tiering for this initial list, but I will get that done in the next few weeks and I will be updating this list as often as possible.


635873478224268717-AP-Finland-Ice-Hockey1. Auston Matthews  Zurich  Suisse A

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Anze Kopitar

What I love about this kid is he is this high in the rankings without being flashy.  It’s not as though he doesn’t have boat loads of skill, but it isn’t what he’s about.  He’s about being a complete centre, which…let’s be honest.  This last generation of U.S. born players haven’t been overly concerned with playing a complete game.  It’s odd, because when I was growing up they were.  Look at the 96 USA World Cup team, complete players all over the roster.  It seems lately there has been maybe too much emphasis on skating ability, because it is rare that you find a high end American prospect who isn’t a GREAT skater.  This kid is so different though.  Elite vision, shot, IQ, solid 2 way game which is rare for an 18 year old, he’s just going to be an elite number 1 centre and will be a piece not only the team who drafts him will be desperate for, but team USA in international tournaments have been desperate for.


jakob_chychrun_sarnia_sting_32. Jakob Chychrun  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 215  Shot: L

Comparison: Rob Blake

No, this isn’t vastly outdated.  I’m still THIS high on the kid despite underwhelming the scouts this season.  2 reasons: D-men are MUCH more valuable than wingers, and this D-man has all the tools to be elite.  6’2, 215, Craig Button calls him the best skater in the draft, high IQ, can run a PP, has a big shot, has a bit of a mean streak, there is nothing this kid doesn’t bring to the table.  Shitty year?  From what was expected yes, and others have had better years than expected.  But is he actually playing bad?  Not from anything I’ve seen or heard.  Might seem like I’m putting him here for attention rather than belief, I’m not.  It’s a combination of being this high on the kid and how much more vital a top D-man is to a team than a big winger.  And Juolevi might be close in most rankings, if not surpassed.  Chychrun has the tools to do it all in every situation.  Juolevi has limitations.


etupate3112SP_nu3. Patrik Laine  Tappara  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 206  Shot: R

Comparison: Rick Nash

Everyone is in love with him and Puljujarvi, but it is a must you keep in mind that teams simply do not win with these wingers.  Everyone always falls in love with them.  Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk, Thomas Vanek, the myth is that these players can do it all and will be unstoppable.  The fact is that they are so physically gifted that they’ve never had to think the game.  And if they could think the game at a high level, they would be centre’s, not wingers.  It doesn’t mean they can’t learn to think it, but that is a talent too.  I hope they both have a 2 way game like Marian Hossa, but most wingers of this ilk never become more defensively then they have to be.  Having said all this, both guys have all the tools and I really don’t know how you put one ahead of the other.  What does it for me is that Laine is a bit more physical.  He’s probably not going to be as physical as Nash, but everything else in his game really reminds me of Nash.


Jesse%20Puljujärvi4. Jesse Puljujarvi  Karpat  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 203  Shot: R

Comparison: Blake Wheeler

Curse you Craig Button for stealing my comparison!!!  Someone can try to say that I just copied what Button said, but I actually did have Wheeler as my comparison for Puljujarvi a few weeks back when I first started putting this together.  Actually gives me a little more confidence that I actually know what I’m talking about…somewhat.  Anyway, like Laine, Puljujarvi is a stud prospect whom my only concern is being able to think and process the game, because he has all the tools imaginable just like Laine.


635811302260340869-GTY-4900609205. Matthew Tkachuk  London  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

He’s more of a playmaker than the old man was, and he’s a little smaller than the old man was, but that’s about it.  The game is pretty damn similar.  Unlike Laine and Puljujarvi, he’s going to do it with grit and toughness just as much as skill.  He’s the type of winger who is the exception to my rule, because this type is nearly impossible to find.  In the 90’s, every team had 1 or 2 guys like this.  Today, I’m not sure there are 3 guys like that in the league.


Olli+Juolevi+NAPsrAuj9rcm6. Olli Juolevi  London  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

He’s closing the gap on Chychrun for most people.  For me however, I still like the all world guy better, and the offensive numbers are very similar.  Still, should Juolevi end up near the level of Ekman-Larsson…whoever picks him won’t be complaining!  Smooth skater, great breakout pass, great stick defensively and takes great angles.  Offensively he’s just so smooth.  Walks the line as good as any 18 year old you’ll see, and his passing ability is elite.


Apr18_OHLplayer7. Michael McLeod  Mississuaga  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Kesler

I don’t get this.  I don’t get how a kid with this size, speed, RH shot, just everything you want in an elite 2nd line centre finds himself behind Alex Nylander in every ranking.  It’s insane to me.  NHL teams understand how vital an elite 2nd line centre is, for some reason scouts don’t.  Actually, NHL teams miss on this too.  I was sky high on Dylan Larkin entering the 2014 draft, and Nashville, Arizona, and Washington all really needed him, and they all passed in favour of soft or undersized wingers.  Also think about this: if McLeod fails in his first few seasons, he’ll still have trade value.  If a kid like Nylander fails, like Jonathan Drouin or Nail Yakupov have failed to this point, they have no real trade value.  I just don’t get it, seems as though everyone gets caught up in pure skill.


0f8f40bd-3c2e-4760-8b55-3856be63946e_JDX-NO-RATIO_WEB8. Pierre-Luc Dubois  Cape Breton  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 202  Shot: L

Comparison: Shane Doan

This is a power forward draft, no doubt about that and Dubois isn’t far off guys like Laine, Puljujarvi or Tkachuk.  Bob McKenzie said it too, Dubois plays a pro style game.  For me, that’s huge.  That means he’s willing to get his nose dirty and go to the tough area’s on the ice.  Really has no holes in his game, just doesn’t have a skill that he possess at an elite level.  Then again, that might be his competitiveness.


Barrie+Colts+v+Mississauga+Steelheads+_3jDcRCjYQRl9. Alexander Nylander  Mississuaga  OHL 

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Milan Hejduk

Nylander is a finishing piece.  The type of player that you go get once your team is nearly rebuilt.  They’re easy to find around the league.  And they are the least valuable type of player in the league too, so if you need to pull off a trade you’re already going to have trouble finding value for an undersized, perimeter winger.  So I don’t like taking these guys in the first round, let alone the top 10.  But I have him at 9 for now because everyone else seems to be gushing over him, so I don’t know why I would be right and everyone else so wrong.  But 9 is still much lower than most.  We aren’t talking about him having Patrick Kane type talent.  Heck, even a kid like Johnny Gaudreau who was getting all this love earlier in the season is now being exposed.  He’s getting his at home when Hartley finds him soft matchups, but he’s a much different player on the road when the Flames can’t get him away from tough assignments.  In football if you don’t have guys who can block, a good QB, and the right guy drawing up and calling the plays, it doesn’t matter how good your WR is, he won’t have an impact.  That’s this type of winger.  If he’s without guys who can do the heavy lifting, his impact is going to be very limited.  Anyway I’ve rambled on far too long about this.  And I don’t HATE Nyalnder at all, an extremely talented kid who can put up a lot of points in the NHL.  But I wouldn’t take him top 10-15 in this draft unless you have a situation similar to the Jets in 2014 when they took a similar guy in Nik Ehlers.  They were pretty loaded everywhere and had grit and size, so that’s where it made sense.


Mikhail+Sergachev+CeCK7oxNcXdm10. Mikhail Sergachev  Windsor  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Roman Hamrlik

I can’t help but wonder if the only reason he isn’t right there with Chychrun and Juolevi is because he’s Russian.  It would be logical, there is a higher bust rate with Russian players than any other nationality.  Another kid in this draft is Dante Fabbro, and it’s similar with him in that you wonder if he’s not just as good as the top 2 D-men, but scouts are just a little more nervous.  With Fabbro though, it’s about the league he plays in.  Sergachev is doing it in the OHL.


julien-gauthier-600x33811. Julien Gauthier  Val d’Or  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 225  Shot: R

Comparison: James Neal

Upside is great, but the motor is the big question with this kid.  I still can’t help but think how valuable he’s going to be if he puts it together.  For this comparison, unlike with Puljujarvi, I did copy what Craig Button said.  The comparison to Neal is just spot on.  He won’t put guys on their ass very often, but he is great down low and on the wall, has real good wheels and an awesome shot.


orig-mediaitemid19992-526912. Dante Fabbro  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 189  Shot: R

Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk

So I love everything I’m reading on Fabbro.  Everything.  But he plays in the BCHL.  Remember how high everyone got on Joe Colborne when he played in Camrose?  Or Dylan Olsen?  Players can work going from Jr.A, but you need to see them against better competition first.  So they really are a crap shoot.  But I still have him ahead of WHL riser Jake Bean because Fabbro seems to have a more complete game.  Nobody has anything negative to say about this kid, so you wonder if scouts are moving him up the rankings because they’re saying “he’s this good despite the league he’s in”.  But it is easy to have supreme confidence when playing inferior talent.


bean_jake213. Jake Bean  Calgary  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 173  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyson Barrie

Right now he’s one of the fast riser’s in this draft.  But something I’m not thrilled with is Bean’s defensive game.  He’s putting up great numbers, but there is just a lot of work to be done.  And I’ve been watching a guy in Edmonton for 4 seasons now who was highly touted, awesome offensively and supposed to figure out the defensive end of the ice.  It never happened, and while D play can be learned, the player has to be willing to learn it.  If I were interested in Bean, the interview process would be huge for me.  I want to know how intelligent this kid is, and what kind of passion he has for the game.  If both those things check out, then he’s got massive potential.  If they don’t, he could be another Justin Schultz.


Hamilton+Bulldogs+v+London+Knights+Lhmt7IUo1Bhl14. Max Jones  London  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Scott Mellanby

Much like with the other power forwards, I love how Jones game SHOULD translate.  Also, it has to be tough for him in London playing behind so many guys like Marner, Tkachuk, Dvorak, etc.  He plays an old school power forward game, he has a nasty streak.  Combine that with the way he can skate and shoot, I have to think he’ll be capable down the line of being a complimentary top 6 player.  Not a driver of a line, but a perfect guy to pair with your skilled players.


McAvoy U1715. Charlie McAvoy  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: L

Comparison: Keith Yandle

Full disclosure, I get sick of doing write up’s on a lot of the D-men who come out of the USHL.  They are all SO similar.  Smooth skating, puck movers who have big questions about playing in traffic and playing with the type of toughness it takes to play in the NHL.  Now don’t get me wrong, we see a LOT of Canadian D-men like this, European D-men like this, but the USHL produces a ton of the same type of D-man.  McAvoy is one of these guys.  Does a great job quarterbacking the PP, does a nice job of jumping in the play when the time is right, and while he’s not physical he takes good angles and has a good stick.


Logan Brown16. Logan Brown  Windsor  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 222  Shot: L

Comparison: Nick Bjugstad

I have Brown higher than most and obviously you can see why.  You can’t teach 6’6, and you can’t find it very easily too.  So while a kid like Kieffer Bellows might end up being a decent player and has far less of a bust factor than Brown, a guy like Bellows can be found elsewhere.  Brown, it’s pretty difficult to find that guy.  First 2 steps is concerning, but high end speed is good and we are seeing a lot more guys improve their skating the last 6 or 7 years after they’ve been drafted.  Leon Draisaitl for example came to the Oilers this season with his skating drastically improved.


Jost3-CM17. Tyson Jost  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 191  Shot: L

Comparison: Adam Henrique

Like his teammate Dante Fabbro, it is very tough to judge Jost based on the league he plays in.  McKenzie has Jost ahead of Fabbro, I basically have them flipped.  I don’t think Jost will be a centre in the NHL (could easily be wrong though), and what I read on Fabbro just intrigues me more than Jost does.  But having said this, Jost is obliterating the BCHL with 91 points in just 43 games as of writing this.  And it isn’t as if nobody has ever come out of tier 2 junior, plenty of kids do.  But any kid is going to take a bit of a hit playing in a weaker league.


Rubtsov18. German Rubtsov  Russia U-18  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikko Koivu

A true 2 way centre who can be a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th line centre on a team so whoever picks him at worse is likely getting an NHL player.  But he definitely is expected to be a 2nd line centre who a team will be able to use in any situation.  Good size, speed, vision, shot, IQ, he just does everything very well.  If he can take his offensive game to another level, this kid could develop into a 1st line centre someday.


Kunin19. Luke Kunin  Wisconsin  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 193  Shot: R

Comparison: Derek Stepan

Really a very similar player to Rubtsov, I give the edge to the Russian because of the size, but it’s not as though Kunin is that small.  Plays a very smart game.   I don’t know if I like a comparison better than Kunin to Stepan and while I did come up with that, I’m sure I can’t be the only one making this comparison.  Great speed, great shot, and a great motor (I’m using motor now instead of compete level, easier to type).  He’ll be one of the safer picks in this draft.


Keller NTDP320. Clayton Keller  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyler Ennis

Corey Pronman has Keller 4th on his list.  A tad different than my take on him.  If it’s a perfect situation, then it makes sense to draft him.  But rarely does a team ever have a need for a 5’9, sub 170 pound centre.  Also, while other area’s of the game can be taught, I think some scouts get caught up in that and simply assume the player will learn, but he has to be willing to do it.  I compare him to Tyler Ennis, and Ennis is a guy who has had some success in the league.  But for the most part his impact has been minimal, and the scouting report is very similar, with Ennis doing what he did in a tougher league.  Take a kid like Kunin.  I’m the only one with Kunin ahead of Keller.  But Kunin’s game suits the NHL better than Keller’s does.  Keller to me will not play the middle in the pro’s, so I do like that he is playing a 200 foot game now, that’ll help him down the road.  But I don’t hide from the fact I’m a bit of a sizest and even if a kid like Keller pans out, a team full of Keller’s never works.


Bellows21. Kieffer Bellows  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Brian Bellows

I’m sorry if you want a different comparison, but he does, he plays like his old man.  He’s a pure sniper.  Great shot, ability to get to where he has to score whether that’s the front of the net or find the dead/open ice in the slot.  You aren’t getting a complete player with Bellows, but he is a kid who will fill the net if he has the right centre feeding him the puck.


Tyler-Benson22. Tyler Benson  Vancouver  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Max Pacioretty

I realize he’s been hurt most of this season, but I have trouble punishing a kid for 1 injury plagued season.  I still like him better than some of the kids I have in front of him, but I can’t kid myself and not pretend the injuries don’t decrease his value.  But I got to this point and this is the point where the draft rankings get messy for everyone.  So I tend to favour upside when it gets to this point because nobody knows what they’re getting.  The kid is going to be a sniper.  Has a bit of an awkward stride, but he can score.  Knowing the vast majority of you reading this are from the Edmonton-Lloyd area, you likely know how amazing Benson was in his Bantam draft season and was the clear cut number 1 choice for the Vancouver Giants.


Stanley23. Logan Stanley  Windsor  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’7  Wt: 220  Shot: L

Comparison: Brooks Orpik

He’s a classic stay at home D-man, a dying breed.  But any coach will take a guy who can put out against the other teams top line and eat 25 minutes a night.  But is Stanley going to be that guy, Orpik was that kind of guy for a lot of years. Or, will he just be an Eric Gryba type?  He’s more mobile than Gryba, but we’ll see.  He does show some flashes offensively, but chances are he’s just a stay at home guy.  But I’m a guy who still believes you need 1 or 2 D-men like this and being so unique, worst case scenario is he’ll get a lot of chances to make it.


Dube24. Dillon Dube  Kelowna  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: Brendan Gallagher

He’s small but this kid has bite in his game.  He’s been able to shine this season for the top ranked team and defending WHL champs, going at over a point per game pace.  Dube really shows no fear out on the ice and is willing to play a very greasy game.  You hate to play against him, but you love him on your team.


2015-02-24-01-15-32-Tremblay2_détourée25. Pascal Laberge  Victoriaville  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 162  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Strome

I’m a big fan of Dubois, Laberge was the MVP of the prospects game.  He showed off how skilled he is in that game, and while it’s just 1 game it’s a big game.  Your going against the best prospects in the CHL, it’s a big stage, and he showed up.  Was the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 QMJHL draft, and had a tough start to his Q career last season and was dealt to Victoriaville.  But this season he’s starting to show why he was that pick and while I have him at 25, I could see him continuing to ascend.  He’s really slick, the question will be whether or not he’s willing to get his nose dirty and can do it in traffic.


Tage Thompson26. Tage Thompson  Connecticut  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 185  Shot: R

Comparison: Nik Antropov

Back to back total projects here.  He’s a shoot first guy, so he might be better suited for the wing.  Tough for a guy like me who believes in size to have him behind kids like Laberge and Dube, but they play in the CHL.  Thompson is doing it at UCONN, big difference.  But 2 things have shot Thompson up some boards this year.  He’s grown 3 inches in the last year, and back in the fall he recorded a hat trick while playing Boston University, not exactly weak competition.  He’s a shoot first kid, and a lot of people rave about his shot.  But he’s still a big project.  Is he Hugh Jessiman?  Or is he Blake Wheeler?  People always remember the former, but they forget the latter was a MAJOR project when picked by the Coyotes 5th overall in 04.  It is so tough to find a good comparison for Thompson because he’s so far from being developed.  I settled on Antropov, but again he’s a LONG way from being that guy.


rtufte27. Riley Tufte  Blaine  USHSW

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: James Van Reimsdyk

Damian Cox suggested in one write up he was the next Nick Bjugstad, in another talked about how great his skating is.  Sportsnet REALLY needs to stop trying to make him their draft guru, because he simply isn’t.  I want to know why Tufte didn’t want to play in the USHL.  Left Fargo after 12 games, and that’s a red flag.  The competition he is now playing against is also a big red flag.  He doesn’t play anything physical.  He’s a boom or bust guy.  Just like Thompson, is he Hugh Jessiman, or is he Blake Wheeler?  But there is no denying his domination of the Minnesota high school ranks.  If a team has a stocked cupboard, they might be willing to take a shot on him.  I can’t help but question his toughness though.  It’s fine if he doesn’t want to throw a hit, but he better be willing to at least use his size and go to the dirty area’s.


Libor Hajek28. Libor Hajek  Saskatoon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Dan Hamhuis

I like this kids game.  Has good wheels and is very gritty.  Point totals have really dropped off.  Had 13 points in the first 18 games, just 7 points in his last 36 games.  But when you see him play you can see the talent is there to do it at both ends of the ice.  Still, even if he never develops offensive consistency, he’ll be a miserable guy to play against.


Kale Clague29. Kale Clague  Brandon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

It’s ironic that the top 3 kids who going into the highly touted 2013 WHL Bantam draft would be eligible for this 2016 draft (Nolan Patrick of course isn’t up until next season), ironic that those 3 are all in the same boat.  Fell down the rankings this season, yet all 3 could still easily be 1st rounders.  Might just be being bias for the hometown kid, but I believe Clague is hurt by the team he plays for, Provorov in particular.  It takes away a lot of opportunity he would have to really develop.  He doesn’t have the same chance to develop like a Jake Bean has in Calgary.  Having said that, he didn’t have a good prospects game and hasn’t had the season most expected of him to this point.  He’ll have his chance to jump back into maybe the top 20 with a big playoff run.  He shines there, all will be forgiven.


Howden-Preseason-Sep830. Brett Howden  Moose Jaw  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 193  Shot: L

Comparison: Shawn Horcoff

This is the type of kid any team would love.  And his scouting report really reminds me of Ryan O’Reilly.  Honest player, gritty as can be, will do anything to win.  He reaches his potential and he’s wearing a “C” some day in the show.  It was tough for me to have him behind some of the kids I have him behind, but the fact is the heart and soul guys are no sure thing either.  Perfect example right now is Anton Lander in Edmonton.  He’s a heart and soul guy, wore a “C” at every level, he’s simply not good enough.  Howden is a better skater than both of those guys though and he’s a pretty safe bet to be at least a bottom 6 centre, and a kid all Cup contenders need.


31. Rasmus Asplund  Farjestad  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikkael Granlund


32. Nathan Bastian  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 208  Shot: R

Comparison: Matt Beleskey

Is it because of playing with McLeod and Nylander that he’s improved so much, or is it just coincidence?  Tough not to love his game.  Very physical, does all the little things you want a player to do.


33. Taylor Raddysh  Erie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 203  Shot: R

Comparison: Troy Brouwer

Having a great year, has nice size, has a well rounded game, but his skating is a question mark and will likely keep him out of the 1st round.


34. Markus Niemelainen  Saginaw  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 189  Shot: L

Comparison: Mattias Ekholm

Plays an extremely safe game however.  I could see him moving into the 1st round because he’s a safe pick with massive upside.


35. Alex DeBrincat  Erie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

Obviously the comparison comes from the size, but also because both players play with some bite.  The question for me is whether or not DeBrincat has, not the speed, but the kind of speed he’ll need to overcome his lack of size.


36. Carter Hart  Everett  WHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 177  Glove: L

Comparison: Jarolsav Halak

Only thing holding this kid back from being a top 10 pick…yes, top 10, is his size.  If he had another inch and a half of height, he’d be that elite goaltending prospect this country has been waiting for (mind you at the junior level, he’s still likely on Team Canada the next 2 years at the WJC).


37. Sam Steel  Regina  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Riberio

One of the best playmakers in the draft, putting up a point per game, yet some scouts have soured on him.  For me it’s more of an issue of his skating being good enough to overcome his size which he obviously isn’t tiny, but not at all big.


38. Lucas Johansen  Kelowna  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Anton Stralman

The Rockets have a BIT of a history of developing D-men, and Ryan’s little brother could be the next in that line.


39. Sean Day  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 230  Shot: L

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

Wasn’t going to do big write up’s on guys past number 30, but I have to touch on Day.  I still have him higher than most, because for me at this point, he’s more than well worth the risk.  We’re talking about kids at this point who likely aren’t going to make the league anyway.  I would love to see Day go to a team like Detroit, Chicago, LA, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa, St.Louis, some team that has a great track record of taking their time with their kids.  I do really wonder, and I’m sure others do too, whether or not Day really loves hockey, because this kid has a ridiculous skill set.  And his body language most nights is that he is disinterested.  Top 3, if not the top skater in this draft, great size, he’s pretty solid in his own zone, it’s offensively where he leaves people scratching their heads.  Is it passion?  Is it the IQ?  His interview process is going to be vital, more so than any other kid eligible for this draft.


40. Filip Gustavsson  Lulea  SWE-J20

Pos: G  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 184  Glove: L

Comparison: Robin Lehner


41. Vitalli Abramov  Gatineau  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Cam Atkinson


42. Chad Krys  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Nick Leddy


43. Samuel Girard  Shawinigan  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: L

Comparison: Torrey Krug

Girard is a 1st rounder for a lot of the scouting services.  I wonder if it’s because of the slight success (no pun intended) of Sami Vatanen or Torrey Krug or Jared Spurgeon.  For every 5’9 D-man who has been successful, I can show you 47 who haven’t been able to last in the league.


44. Carl Grundstrom  Modo  SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Patric Hornqvist


45. Will Bitten  Flint  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 167  Shot: R

Comparison: Dave Bolland

I kind of regret not having Bitten higher this time around, but then I come back to the reality that he’s really going to have to fill out to play the feisty game he plays in the pro’s.  Still, a lot of talent and an extremely high motor.


46. Tim Gettinger  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 202  Shot: L

Comparison: Eric Daze

I might kick myself for not putting Gettinger higher.  Not only 6’6, but he can fly.  A bit of a disappointing season, but it’s 1 season.  Still an extremely intriguing prospect, wouldn’t be shocked to see him picked on day 1 come June.


47. Jordan Kyrou  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 175  Shot: R

Comparison: Matt Read


48. Evan Fitzpatrick  Sherbrooke  QMJHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 206  Glove: L

Comparison: Michael Hutchinson


49. Trent Frederic  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 203  Shot: L

Comparison: Zemgus Girgensons


50. Dennis Cholowski  Chilliwack  BCHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Josh Gorges


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