Didn’t Win it All, But they Won Big

usa-today-9312813.0I went a day late with this, but I’ve been grinding away on some articles that I’m writing for Hockey’s Future.  That’s right, this dip shit is now writing for Hockey’s Future.  No, not posting on the message boards, actually writing on the Canadiens prospects.  So become a Habs fan and check that shit out!

 

Speaking of the Habs, P.K. Subban is a pretty big Raptors fan.  Nice transition, don’t you think?!

 

Well the Raptors won their NBA title in game 4.  Down 2-1 in the series, at home and with the Cavs coming on strong, the Raptors managed to go toe to toe with a Cavs team that I believe is about to win the NBA title.  If you’re realistic about it, that was the Raptors championship.  I said it before the series that if they got it to a game 6 it would be a massive win, and they did.

 

Is that loser talk?  No, it’s realistic.  Nobody wins in the NBA without a major superstar and most of the time you need 2 superstars.  The only exception to that rule might be the 3 titles the Pistons have won, though Isiah Thomas was definitely an all time great, and Rasheed Wallace was a superstar when he felt like being one.

 

But this whole playoff run was massive for the Raptors.  You could see them grow as the playoffs went on.  After game 1 against the Pacers it looked as though they were going to get their ass kicked once again by a more veteran squad who had been to the East finals just 2 years previous.  But they grinded it out and pulled the series out in 7.  Unimpressively, but they did it.

 

Going into the Miami series, despite the Heat not having Chris Bosh I felt the Heat were going to win.  Still felt that way after game 1, still felt that way after game 2.  Game 3 was where everything changed for the Raptors.  A close game down the stretch and Kyle Lowry took over.  THAT was the game.  If this squad ever wins anything, Raptors fans can look back at that game as the turning point.  Because Lowry finally realized he can hang with the best in the game, and the Raptors realized they can win tight playoff games.  Even though it went 7 as well, it felt and looked like a much more confident Raptors squad and in game 7 they pulled away to blow out the much more experienced Heat.

 

The first 2 games in Cleveland were ugly and you started to think “maybe they didn’t turn the corner, maybe they just played an awful Heat squad”.  Game 3 was fun, but it had an asterisk next to it.  Rumour was that the Cavs were out partying all night in Toronto on the Friday prior to game 3, and so they weren’t taking it seriously.  Game 4 though, that was cool.  That was the Cavs getting it going, and the Raptors went shot for shot with them and managed to tie the series.  That kind of experience is going to serve this team very well moving forward.

 

But does moving forward include DeMar DeRozan?

 

Yesterday he really sounded like a guy who has no plan of leaving Toronto, and why would he?  Where is he going to go?  The Lakers?  They’re a mess right now.  The Sixers?  They’re the biggest mess in all of sports.  In Toronto he is “the guy” along with Kyle Lowry who he has a tremendous relationship with, and they are the clear cut 2nd best team in the conference.

 

But my question has been, are the Raptors better or worse committing the kind of money DeRozen will cost?  It is a dangerous road to go down for GM Masai Ujiri, but he may have to.  The fact of the matter is that the NBA has become a shooters league, and DeRozen can’t shoot.  He can score, but his jumper is weak and from 3 he’s awful.  Do you dare consider letting him walk and going after a guy like Harrison Barnes who is a stretch 4?  Terrance Ross could step into the starters role in place of DeRozen and Barnes (still only 23) not only would improve them at the 4 but is a much better shooter than DeRozen (although in fairness he would get a lot more attention from D’s in Toronto than he does as the 4th option in Golden State).

 

There also is the 9th pick overall.  What a steal this turned out to be as this pick is the result of the Andrea Bargnani trade.  So for a completely useless player, they got the 9th pick.  But you have to make it count.  Do they simply sit back and pick?  If so, I got my eyes on a few kids.  I think it’s POSSIBLE that a kid like Jamal Murray falls to them, but it isn’t probable.  Chad Ford of ESPN likes Marquese Chriss out of Washington as their pick and I like that.  He’s a lot like Barnes in that he’s a stretch 4 with a unique skill set.  If not him, Furkan Korkmaz is the kid that peaks my interest.  He’s a 2 who is a great shooter.  In the late 90’s and early 2000’s this type of player would be a mid to late 1st round pick.  But with the way the game is played now, you need guys who can really shoot and Korkmaz can really shoot.

 

One thing I love about Ujiri is that he sees the value in the D league.  The NBA seemingly has yet to figure out how to use the D league.  Most executives seem to be worried about getting the draft age moved to 20 from 19, yet none of them seem to realize that they can give these kids an extra year or two to develop in the D league.  Ujiri does, so taking either of the kids like the ones mentioned above could and likely would see most of next season playing for Raptors 905.

 

But the other end of this is that maybe they don’t simply just pick.  Maybe they look to package the pick to land that stretch 4 who I’ve been talking about that they need.    Who that is, I really don’t know.

 

This really should be the start of an awesome stretch for the Raptors.  They have an elite GM, solid coach, a deep roster, and now have real experience.  I would say they have about a 2-3 year window.  Kyle Lowry is in his prime, but he may only have a season left before he starts to decline, and of course he is the straw that stirs this drink.

 

Getting past the Cavs will be a heck of a challenge, but all this playoff run did was prepare them for that challenge.  You can’t expect them to get over that hump, they don’t have the superstar who can get them there.  But enjoy the ride as the Raptors become one of the elite teams in the NBA.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2016 NHL Draft: Top 50 Prospects May 16

0118-draft16I guess this would be the 2nd addition of the top 50 for 2016, the 3rd addition for my top prospects list as I did my top 20 prior to the draft lottery.  I have made a few changes from that top 20 list, and there are a lot of changes from the February edition.

 

This really being the 2nd time around (again, 3rd if you include my mini top 20 list a few weeks back) I have a lot more information on guys, yet it still won’t be close to what I’ll have in a month once the Memorial Cup and draft combine is complete.

 

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 3.

 

Tier 1

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

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Anze Kopitar

All this talk of Laine making a push for 1st overall is absurd.  Laine is amazing, but you don’t take a potential elite sniper over an elite 1st line centre.  Even looking at a situation like the Oilers or Sabres.  If they the top pick tonight, there is a chance that those are 2 teams who may prefer Laine, but neither would take him at 1.  You move back, load up, and take Laine because an elite 1st line centre is just such a valuable piece to have.  So is a sniper like Laine, but as I’ve said a million times you NEED a centre like Matthews to win, you don’t NEED a guy like Laine.  Matthews will come in as one of the most polished all around 1st overall picks.  His talent isn’t up there with McDavid, but he’s

 

Tier 2

etupate3112SP_nu2. Patrik Laine  Tappara  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 206  Shot: R

Comparison: Ilya Kovalchuk

CHILL with the Ovechkin comparisons!  He’s damn good, but other players have played this style not just Ovechkin.  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, Kovalchuk, Thomas Vanek, 3 years ago some were clamouring for Valeri Nichushkin to go as high as 2nd overall.  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, there are a limited amount of players in the league who have a shot like his, and even less who have a one timer like his.  Ovechkin, Stamkos, Subban, Burns, maybe a few others but those are the ones that come to mind and the point is there are VERY few.  He moves up to 2nd on my list more because of Chychrun proving to be less of a sure thing in my mind, and it’s something I’m guilty of forgetting when ranking these kids is that a players certainty needs to be kept in mind.

 

Tier 3

0f8f40bd-3c2e-4760-8b55-3856be63946e_JDX-NO-RATIO_WEB3. Pierre-Luc Dubois  Cape Breton  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 202  Shot: L

Comparison: Shane Doan

I love my power forwards and I love my centres.  So all season I was of the understanding that Dubois, one of my favourites, was projecting as a LW.  I knew he played some centre, but didn’t know it was a lot.  Kyle Woodlief from the Redline Report however says Dubois is a full fledged centre and won’t have a problem playing the middle.  So that, combined with his continued tremendous play this season, has him shooting up my rankings yet again.  And Bob McKenzie said it, 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 possesses at an elite level.  Then again, that might be his competitiveness.  Call me nuts, but I’m taking the do it all centre over the highly skilled winger (Puljujarvi).  And even if Dubois ends up only playing the wing, while he likely won’t have the points Puljuarvi will have, he’ll be more of a player teams crave.  Think Toews v Kane, not that either play like them, but I would take Toews over Kane anyday of the week.  I won’t be shocked if once we get close to the draft we start hearing about Dubois possibly going 3rd over Puljujarvi.

 

Jesse%20Puljujärvi4. Jesse Puljujarvi  Karpat  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 203  Shot: R

Comparison: Jakub Voracek

I decided to come up with a new comparison since Craig Button and Damian Cox were both using Blake Wheeler, but you get the idea.  A winger who can carry a line and has a great all around game.  Anyway, 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.  Make no mistake though they do play different games.  Puljujarvi uses his size and will lean on defenders much like Peter Forsberg used to do, but don’t expect him to ever put anyone on their ass.

 

635811302260340869-GTY-4900609205. Matthew Tkachuk  London  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Corey Perry

I use Corey Perry as the comparison, but he has much more of a mean streak than Perry.  He’s Andrew Shaw with serious skill.  He is an extremely rare talent.  Normally when you find an Andrew Shaw or Brad Marchand or Brendan Gallagher it is in rounds 3-7 because part of what sparks that game is survival and being overlooked.  Tkachuk has had every advantage imaginable growing up!  And as I said, he is highly skilled.  He can score a finesse goal, a power goal, a greasy goal, and he’s a damn good playmaker too.

 

Tier 4

jakob_chychrun_sarnia_sting_36. Jakob Chychrun  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 215  Shot: L

Comparison: Rob Blake

He’s been over scouted, without a doubt.  Corey Pronman had him ranked 11th and said in one section comparing him to Dante Fabbro “I was continually impressed by Fabbro while waiting for Chychrun to have those “wow” games”.  What does that even mean?  That’s over scouting.  Chychrun didn’t meet his astronomical expectations, while Fabbro exceeded his which weren’t near as high.  Darcy McLeod was on Inside Sports in Edmonton last week and he spoke about some of the analytics behinds Chychrun.  Said that they showed he had a 16 year old season similar to Drew Doughty’s, and that his lack of progress is due to a shoulder injury and first year head coach Darian Hatcher basically trying to make him a more defensive defenceman (like Hatcher was).  He had nowhere to go but down this season, yet he still had a great year, just not a year that left scouts wanting to see more.  And at the end of the day you still have to look at what the upside is, and it’s incredible.  6’2, 215, Craig Button calls him the best skater in the draft, high IQ, can run a PP, has a big shot (loves to use it too), plays mean in his own zone, there is nothing this kid doesn’t bring to the table.  Chychrun has the tools to do it all in every situation.  I feel like Juolevi and Bean have limitations, Sergachev is a Russian and the fact is Russian players are massive wildcards in the draft.

 

Mikhail+Sergachev+CeCK7oxNcXdm7. Mikhail Sergachev  Windsor  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Dougie Hamilton

As much as I love Chychrun, the only thing that separates him and Sergachev is that historically it is a higher bust rate with Russians.  There really isn’t anything different with the way either guy plays the game.  Both great size, both LH shots, both play physical, both are terrific skaters, both love to shoot the puck, both can move it well, they’re just very similar in skill sets.

 

Olli+Juolevi+NAPsrAuj9rcm8. 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.

 

Tier 5

Jost3-CM9. Tyson Jost  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 191  Shot: L

Comparison: Claude Giroux

He answered the doubts I had about him.  Jost is a kid that can play in any situation.  I won’t be shocked if he exceeds this ranking and becomes a number 1 centre at some point in his career.  I had him ranked behind McLeod and Brown in my top 20 rankings, but above them now even though nothing has really changed.  But the more I think about it, I just don’t see how Jost isn’t a centre at the next level which was my only concern.  Loved what I saw in Grand Forks though.

 

Apr18_OHLplayer10. Michael McLeod  Mississuaga  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Kesler

I still like McLeod better than most, because I just fully believe you win in the NHL with a kid like McLeod.  Can play in any situation, size, RH shot, this is the type of centre every team craves.  Unlikely he becomes a number 1 guy, but a great number 2 guy, and even if he doesn’t meet expectations he’s still going to be a valuable guy to have.  I realize he had a poor U18’s, but I still like him to be a top 10 pick, and I still like him 5-10 years from now to be one of the most valuable players to be picked in this 1st round.

 

Logan Brown11. Logan Brown  Windsor  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 222  Shot: L

Comparison: Nick Bjugstad

I’m proud that I had Brown higher than most back when I did the first list, and he proved me right at the U18’s.  He and Jost really separated from Kunin at that tournament (in my eyes, though Kunin obviously wasn’t at the U18’s) and Rubtsov but that could be a messy situation for the Russian.  Anyway, no chance NHL teams won’t love the package that is Logan Brown.  This kid can SKATE despite his massive size!  That is tough to pass up if you need a centre. Could be up there with McLeod, but for me right now even though McLeod is smaller he still has real good size and is quicker, maybe plays a grittier game.  But obviously with this size Brown gives a team literally a lot to work with.

 

bean_jake212. Jake Bean  Calgary  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 173  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyson Barrie

He continues to be a riser in this draft.  He put up great numbers, but there is just a lot of work to be done.  And I watched a guy in Edmonton for 4 seasons 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.

 

orig-mediaitemid19992-526913. Dante Fabbro  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 189  Shot: R

Comparison: Zach Bogosian

Same deal as Jost, the teammates answered a lot of my concerns at the U18’s.  Fabbro was outstanding, and even though he isn’t THAT big he plays a very complete game.  He can play in any situation.  Not as good of a skater as some of the other potential 1st round D-men, but it’s highly likely he can improve it to another level, it isn’t as though it is a weakness.  But he’s tough, moves the puck extremely well, he’s got a rocket of a shot, great stick and positioning in his own zone can be matched against the opposition’s top line, and he’s one of a very few highly ranked D-men in this draft who is a right handed shot.

 

Keller NTDP314. Clayton Keller  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau

Corey Pronman has Keller 4th on his list.  Man we just see things different.  Not to speak for him, but he seems to base everything completely on point projections on the next level.  I prefer players who’ll have the biggest impact on the team and that doesn’t always show up on the stat box.  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’ve softened my stance on him a bit as you can see by my ranking this time around, but I still just look at players like Keller as final pieces to the puzzle, and teams drafting in the top 10 normally need to finish building the house before they buy the 60 inch 4K TV.

 

Barrie+Colts+v+Mississauga+Steelheads+_3jDcRCjYQRl15. Alexander Nylander  Mississuaga  OHL 

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Ales Hemsky

Nylander is the same deal as Keller.  We aren’t talking about him having Patrick Kane type talent.  And again, I don’t HATE Nyalnder at all, an extremely talented kid who can put up a lot of points in the NHL.  I have him MUCH lower than most, but I wouldn’t take him top 10 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.  There are teams who can really use a guy like Nylander, like Keller, I just would want to make damn sure I had the more important holes filled first.

 

Tier 6

McAvoy U1716. Charlie McAvoy  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: R

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/NCAA.  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 States produce 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.

 

Hamilton+Bulldogs+v+London+Knights+Lhmt7IUo1Bhl17. 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.

 

julien-gauthier-600x33818. 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 and a lot of kids seemingly keep passing him on the rankings.  I still can’t help but think how valuable he’s going to be if he puts it together.  For this comparison I completely admit I’m echoing 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.

 

Rubtsov19. German Rubtsov  Russia U-18  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikko Koivu

Ok so I have no idea what to make of him, as he was in the middle of the drug scandal with the Russian U18 team.  So does this hurt his draft ranking?  I don’t see how it won’t.  But I still love the way he plays the game, and still think he’s a top 20 or so prospect.  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.  I’ll have him higher in my rankings than I will in my mock drafts, unless we get an answer one way or another whether or not the scandal will hurt him.

 

Kunin20. Luke Kunin  Wisconsin  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 193  Shot: R

Comparison: Derek Stepan

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.

 

Kale Clague21. Kale Clague  Brandon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

A little dip from my top 20 but still in the same tier.  And again, I might be just being very biased.  But Clague has just gotten better and better as the season has gone on.  His game elevated after the prospects game, elevated even more when the playoffs began.  He has maybe been the Wheat Kings best player in the playoffs.  Remember, they have Ivan Provorov.  Again I’ll say, he has a ways to go with his defensive game, but he is back on track after a rough start to the season that saw his draft ranking plummet.

 

Tier 7

Bellows22. 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.

 

rtufte23. Riley Tufte  Blaine  USHSW

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Chris Kreider

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’s a boom or bust guy.  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.  The Kreider comparison is basically spot on if you look at Kreider in his draft year.  Scouts were intrigued about the skill set, but worried about the competition he had played against.  Great skater for a kid this size, great shot, has a little bit of a mean streak, good vision too.

 

Tier 8

Stanley24. 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.  You hear about complimentary wingers, well I see Stanley as perhaps a complimentary defenceman.  The type of guy you want your top puck mover to have on the opposite side.

 

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.

 

Bitten26. Will Bitten  Flint  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 167  Shot: R

Comparison: Dave Bolland

He’s limited, but I love the way this kid plays.  He’s really going to have to fill out to play the feisty game in the pro’s.  Still, a lot of talent and an extremely high motor.  Last time I regretted not having him higher, so I got him jumping 14 spots.

 

Dube27. 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.  Didn’t have a great playoff showing, just 2 goals and 5 assists in 18 games, but teams were able to key in on him.

 

Tier 9

Gustavsson28. Filip Gustavsson  Lulea  SWE-J20

Pos: G  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 184  Glove: L

Comparison: Tuukka Rask

This kid really boosted his stock at the U18’s, he was fabulous.  He had a very inconsistent season, but for me I’m more forgiving of D-men and goaltenders who have inconsistent seasons as 18 year olds than wingers or centres.  Pretty tough to find a U20 team like Gustavsson played for that has total buy in from their forwards to a 200 foot game, which will obviously hurt the D and tendy’s.  He is technically sound and depends on his positioning a little too much.  When he improvises is when he becomes elite so he just needs to learn to do so more often.

 

Lucas+Johansen+PdSm_9goczsm29. 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.  Some like him as much as Clague and it’s tough to argue.  Similar size and attributes.  But Clague’s playoff performance as pushed him up the board in my eyes.  Still, if a team needs a D-man late in the 1st, Johansen would be a safe bet.  Real solid at both ends of the ice.  Not very physical, but he has a great stick defensively.

 

Cliff+Pu+Oshawa+Generals+v+London+Knights+mhSMY6zcVQPl30. Cliff Pu  London  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Frans Nielsen

He’s risen a ton for a lot of people as scouts have looked closer at him.  Obviously in London he’s hidden behind a lot of high end talent.  But the more people watch them, the more they are noticing this extremely well rounded centre who is giving a big effort every night.  Pu is a bit of a project, but a safe project.  Once he fills out, and gets more ice time, we’ll see if he’s a bottom 6 guy or a top 6 guy.

 

Howden-Preseason-Sep831. 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.

 

Tier 10

Asplund32. Rasmus Asplund  Farjestad  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikkael Granlund

Will he play the middle should he make the show?  I don’t know, he’s right on that line of centre or winger.  I would project him as a winger, but when he fills out he should play around 190 so it isn’t as though he is too small.  He is a limited player offensively, but he plays with some edge and works his ass off.  The worry with a kid like Asplund and next up Steel is if they are “tweeners” much like Sam Gagner and Cody Hodgson are.  Good enough to play in the league, but no real role for them.

 

Sam Steel33. Sam Steel  Regina  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Riberio

I thought about it, and asked myself “why should Asplund be an early 2nd rounder and Steel be so much lower”.  You won’t get 2 players more similar in this draft.  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.

 

Libor Hajek34. Libor Hajek  Saskatoon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Dan Hamhuis

Has good wheels and is very gritty.  Point totals have really dropped off.  Had 13 points in the first 18 games, just 13 points in his final 51.  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.

 

Niemelainen35. Markus Niemelainen  Saginaw  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 189  Shot: L

Comparison: Mattias Ekholm

Plays an extremely safe game.  I would say there is more offensive upside with Niemelainen then there is with Hajek, but Hajek has a lot more bite in his game.  Obviously he has a lot of filling out to do, but normally lanky guys like this are awkward skaters.  Niemelainen though is a very smooth and effective skater.

 

Tyler-Benson36. Tyler Benson  Vancouver  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Mark Stone

I had a real tough time slotting Benson this time around.  I knew his skating wasn’t great, but when I see more and more scouts being concerned about it then it really concerns me.  I think he really has to change the way he plays to succeed in the NHL, but he has the ability to do just that.  He is one of those kids who might be a smart enough player to overcome the lack of wheels, and it isn’t as though he can’t improve his skating.

 

Carl-Grundstrom37. Carl Grundstrom  Modo  SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Patric Hornqvist

He’ll play in the show, it’ll just be a matter of whether he will be a top 6 winger or top 9 winger.  Out of all the comparisons I have (50 in case you’re keeping count), I don’t know if any is more spot on than Hornqvist to Grundstrom.  High motor, isn’t that big but miserable to play against and wreaks havoc down low and in front of the net.

 

Tier 11

Boris+Katchouk+SYxA2bJoemxm38. Boris Katchouk  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Justin Abdelkader

Katchouk is the first of 3 guys who have good size (he is the smallest of the 3), play a tough game, but have skating issues.  I believe Katchouk is the best skater of the 3, and he’s got the better 200 foot game of the 3.  He also put up pretty good numbers (51 points in 63 games) while playing with lesser talent.  Bastian had McLeod and Nylander on his line, Raddysh played with Strome and DeBrincat.  That’s going to help anyone.

 

Bastian39. Nathan Bastian  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 208  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrick Maroon

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.

 

Raddysh40. 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.  Also much like Nathan Bastian, are his numbers (73 points) strictly a result of playing with Strome and to a lesser extent DeBrincat?

 

Top_5_players_to_watch_-_Alex_DeBrincat___Gallery41. 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.  He put up monster numbers with Dylan Strome this season though (101 points).

 

Tier 12

635967499001659552-Hockey-Card-27-Dennis-Cholowski42. Dennis Cholowski  Chilliwack  BCHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Josh Gorges

2 red flags are the competition he played against and the fact that he’s currently only 170 (though we’ll see if that’s improved once they measure him at the combine).  Those aren’t bad red flags though, just makes teams hold off on drafting him until the proper time.  He is great offensively though and will likely have teams intrigued.  Doubt he can sneak in the 1st round, but really early 2nd won’t shock me.

 

defenseur-robervalois-samuel-girard-22-e144620567851443. Samuel Girard  Shawinigan  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: L

Comparison: Marc-Andre Bergeron

The comparison I use now for Girard is not because of the region he’s from or league he plays in.  If you recall what Bergeron was, he wasn’t a guy who could play 5 on 5.  But he was great on the PP, especially for the Oilers during the 2006 season.  I have read a lot of quotes from scouts who see him as a PP specialist like Bergeron and not a guy who’ll become more than that despite being small such as Sami Vatanen or Jared Spurgeon.

 

Tage Thompson44. Tage Thompson  Connecticut  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 185  Shot: R

Comparison: Nik Antropov

I’ve soured on him after doing some more research.  Credit Redline Report with this, and that of his 14 goals this season, only 1 was 5 on 5.  I’d be interested in taking him for any team because as you can read he has assets you can’t teach, but he is a big time project.  So he goes from a top 30 guy for me to outside the top 40.  Mid 2nd round he sounds a lot more appealing than with a 1st round selection.

 

Sean+Day+Niagara+IceDogs+v+Mississauga+Steelheads+2E334snlDEll45. Sean Day  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 230  Shot: L

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

I still have him higher than most, because for me at this point, he’s worth the risk.  We’re talking about kids who are probably 30-70 to make the league at this point anyway.  I would love to see Day go to a team like Detroit, Chicago, LA, 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.  If his interview is bad at the combine, you won’t see him on this list again.  But until I know this, he is still on here.

 

Tier 13

giavani smith46. Givani Smith  Guelph  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Brayden Schenn

You have to think of what Schenn has developed into, not what he was projected to be, and you have Smith.  I LOVE this kid.  Of course, if I got him ranked I obviously like him, but the guy is a bull out on the ice.  High motor, has a bit of skill too, not to say he will be one of these guys but if you’re looking for a Jamie Benn or Milan Lucic in this draft I would put my money on Smith.  On a bad Storm team he managed 23 goals and 42 points in 65 games.

 

gettinger47. Tim Gettinger  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 202  Shot: L

Comparison: Eric Daze

He never jumped like I thought he might midseason.  Still, he is a great skater for a kid his size.  No doubt he’s a project, but man…this kid could be something real good down the line.

 

Abramov48. Vitali Abramov  Gatineau  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Cam Atkinson

I have him pretty low for a kid who had 93 points in just 63 games this season.  Obviously size is a large part of that, but I don’t doubt this kid can be a 2nd line winger in the pro’s.  It’s just that outside of being a scorer I have my doubts he can contribute elsewhere.

 

North+Bay+Battalion+v+London+Knights+brmZ37hMOqdx49. Cam Dineen  North Bay  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

Dineen is pure offence.  59 points in 68 games this season.  He has a lot of work to do defensively, but the NHL is becoming more and more accepting of a high risk defenceman like Dineen.

 

Kitchener+Rangers+v+London+Knights+oCJQSYS4Lvil50. Tyler Parsons  London  OHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 184  Glove: L

Comparison: Brian Elliott

A lot of people have other goaltenders ahead of Parsons.  He’s not that big, and he’s playing behind a great team.  But he was great in the OHL playoffs, particularly in the series against Kitchener.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2016 NHL Mock Draft 2.0

0118-draft16A week later than I suggested this would be, but with reason.  Decided to let the conference semi finals play out so we knew who the final 4 would be and thus knew the draft order 1-26.

 

This will be the only mock draft for May.  Then I do three in June.  One in the first week or so, one the weekend prior to the draft (released on the Monday which this year I guess will be June 20th), and then finally one the day of the draft and if I do what I did last year and take the day off for the draft I’ll do it about an hour out from the draft.

 

As always, a little insight to how I look at things.  I’m looking at what teams have 25-27 and under in their organization.  I look at need and not just the BPA (best player available) these days as do most teams because it is getting more and more difficult to make trades in the NHL.  Also I try and look for patterns with teams and their past 4 or 5 drafts.  Do they go CHL heavy?  Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids?  Maybe they’re head over heals for Europeans?

 

Remember, just because McKenzie or Redline report or ISS or CSS have one guy ranked higher than another doesn’t mean that he is the BPA for that particular team.  This is why they have their own scouting staffs people.  Also, I put where I personally rank these kids off to the right side of their name and team in brackets, in case you are wondering what that means.  Where I have the player ranked in my top 50 rankings is in brackets next to the players name.  Here we go…

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs1. Auston Matthews (1)  Zurich  Suisse A

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Anze Kopitar

Can we shutup with the talk of Laine going 1st?  This is a classic case of the media being bored with who is at 1 and they see this extremely flashy guy and start clamouring for him.  You don’t take the winger over the centre!  It amazes me how people still don’t understand this.  Leafs get the elite number 1 centre they need to build around.  Now they just have to work on the blueline and maybe get a few heavier wingers, but they’re on the right path now.  Hope you can stomach the Toronto media hyping them the next 2 or 3 years, and I hope Leaf fans can look past the Toronto media trying to crush them now that they’ve built them up.

Other Options: None

 

 

Winnipeg Jets2. Patrik Laine (2)  Tappara  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 206  Shot: R

Comparison: Ilya Kovalchuk

Every hockey fan is pumped for the Jets winning the 2nd overall pick, and let the Teemu Selanne comparisons begin!  Laine is a sniper, but as my Kovalchuk comparsion suggests he’s more of a power forward, bomb of a one timer type sniper.  Fits this team PERFECTLY, especially for a prospect like Kyle Connor.  Everyone is saying Scheifele, but Connor and Laine could be the Jets version of Backstrom and Ovechkin.  Please, I’m not saying Laine is Ovy like other knobs are going overboard saying, but just that Connor is an elite playmaker and Laine will be an elite finisher.

Other Options: None

 

 

Columbus Blue Jackets3. Jesse Puljujarvi (4)  Karpat  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 203  Shot: R

Comparison: Jakub Voracek

They’re ecstatic because Kekalainen is a Fin and Puljujarvi obviously is a Fin, but the Jackets really needed to win this lottery.  Now, they really look destined to be that team that is always good never great.  Maybe they get lucky next season, maybe someone emerges, you never know.  But I hated the Johansen trade for them, and another winger, as talented as Puljujarvi is, I don’t believe will do a whole lot for them.  If it’s me, I’m more interested in Dubois IF (a big if) the belief is that he can be a 1st line centre.  You need to be in the top 5 of the draft to find a true 1st line centre.  Guys like Kopitar and Getzlaf are outliers.  Crosby, Toews, Malkin, Thornton, Tavares, Seguin, McDavid, etc. are all top 5 picks…actually they’re all top 3 picks.  The Blue Jackets aren’t likely to be picking in the top 3 moving forward.

Other Options: Pierre-Luc Dubois

 

 

Edmonton Oilers4. Pierre-Luc Dubois (3)  Cape Breton  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 202  Shot: L

                                                        Comparison: David Backes

Everyone in Oiler land seems to think Chiarelli will trade this pick.  This was also the thought in 2013 when they had the 7th pick.  You have to realize, teams not picking high refuse to acknowledge the value of a high pick.  They always will try to low ball these teams because they believe those teams will be desperate for immediate help.  That’s why the last team that traded out was the Lightning in 02 and the return was dreadful.  Add to this, Dubois and Tkachuk would be this pick if the Oilers hold it, and both of those guys perfectly fit what Peter Chiarelli is looking to build (and please, for those of you who think they need a defenceman with the 4th pick…you’re a moron, hate to break it to you).  Look at last year when they “had to move the 16th pick”.  How would Evgeny Svechnikov or Matt Barzal or Travis Konecny or Thomas Chabot look now?  Add a Mitchell Stephens or Brandon Carlo to that.  For a D-man who they already had 2 of…who were better…and now Reinhart is 4th in that pecking order, maybe 5th.  So, not much value, and you’re getting a power forward.  Yet they’re going to move the 4th pick hey?  Maybe they will, but it doesn’t seem likely to me.  If Arizona were to offer 7 and 20 then perhaps I do that, but I don’t know that they would.  Dubois is a perfect guy to ride shotgun next to McDavid.  The kid is a bull on the ice and the Oilers haven’t had that type of player for nearly 20 years.

Other Options: Matthew Tkachuk

 

 

Vancouver Canucks5. Mikhail Sergachev (7)  Windsor  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Dougie Hamilton

I think they’ll move back a few spots (maybe with Montreal) and look to take their D-man there.  But contrary to what Craig Button had on his mock draft, this team is DESPERATE for defencemen in their system.  And while I was higher on Logan Brown than most earlier in the year, Button is going overboard on him.  He’s not a better prospect in my mind than at least 3 of the top 4 D-men , not to mention the Canucks are already have potential 2nd line centres in Bo Horvat and Jared McCann.  Learn from the Oilers, build that blueline!

Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Olli Juolevi

 

 

Calgary Flames6. Matthew Tkachuk (5)  London  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Corey Perry

This is a gift for Brian Burke.  His type of guy falling to 6th, this really would be the perfect scenario for the Flames.  Put him on the 2nd line (in 2018) next to Sam Bennett and as an Oiler fan I would probably hate it 5 times a year because man would they be hard to handle!  They have done 2 deals recently with the Canucks, so perhaps those 2 make a swap for 5 which would ensure the Flames of either Dubois or Tkachuk.

Other Options: None

 

 

Arizona Coyotes7. Olli Juolevi (8)  London  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

They don’t get Matthews and they don’t even get Tkachuk who nobody has talked about but would also have been a pretty marketable kid for them.  Again, they’ll push hard to trade up, but not likely.  So back to business as usual for the Yotes and that being the case they are pretty desperate all of a sudden to rebuild their blueline.  I like Chychrun, but of those big 4 D-men in this draft it is anyone’s guess the order they go and obviously I have Sergachev going to the Canucks already.  I’ll say the Coyotes take Juolevi but they can’t go wrong with any of them.

Other Options: Jakob Chychrun

 

 

Buffalo Sabres8. Jakob Chychrun (6)  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 215  Shot: L

Comparison: Rob Blake

The Sabres get my guy!  Buffalo much like the Canucks and Coyotes really need one of these big 4 D-men.  Chychrun just has everything to be a legit number 1 D-man at the next level, but I will say that while some have said he’s a really intelligent kid, the interview would be huge for a kid like him.  Because if he’s got a really high IQ why is he dropping?  Likely because scouts have fatigue on scouting him, but maybe there is something to it.  Still, the fit for him in Buffalo is perfect.

Other Options: None

 

 

Montreal Canadiens9. Logan Brown (11)  Windsor  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 222  Shot: L

Comparison: Nick Bjugstad

If it were me, I’d take Mike McLeod here.  But Marc Bergevin has been looking to make the Habs a lot bigger since he became GM, and they really need a centre as the idea of Galchenyuk becoming a centre in the NHL is looking less and less likely.  I love the idea of this if the Habs are picking at 9.

Other Options: Tyson Jost, Michael McLeod

 

 

Colorado Avalanche10. Jake Bean (12)  Calgary  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 173  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyson Barrie

Ironic that my comparison on Bean has been Barrie since it looks like Barrie is on his way out of Denver.  I’ve harped on it for years now, the Avs need to build up their blueline.  Jeff Marek was adamant before last year’s draft that he was told the Avs were taking a D-man with the 10th pick no matter what (had the 10th pick last year as well).  Then they didn’t, and Nikita Zadorov is a project.  I did like taking Nicolas Meloche in the 2nd round, but it’s not enough.  Jake Bean might not be enough, but I’ll feel a lot better about the situation if they snag Bean or one of the other big 4 D-men in this 1st round.

Other Options: Dante Fabbro

 

 

NJ Devils11. Alexander Nylander (15)  Mississuaga  OHL 

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 179  Shot: R

                                                        Comparison: Ales Hemsky

This is another team that might want to snag a D-man.  And for a few years now I’ve heard and read about how people love the talent they had on the back end and I always scratched my head.  Well, Eric Gelinas was ditched, people soured on Damon Severson this season, and Adam Larsson looks as though he’ll just be ok.  But the problem is at 11 is that the 4 best D-men are gone now.  So I went with the winger and what I love about this idea is that neither Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or incoming Pavel Zacha are guys who need the puck on their stick all the time.  Nylander does, which is one reason I’m not as high on him as most are, but he would likely fit perfectly with this squad.  Also, go on hockey’s future and look at the Devils depth chart on the right side.  1 guy, in the whole system.  And that one guy is someone I’ve never heard of, nor are any of the centre’s who might move to the wing.

Other Options: Tyson Jost, Clayton Keller

 

 

Ottawa Senators12. Tyson Jost (9)  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 191  Shot: L

Comparison: Claude Giroux

I don’t know where they’ll go now with Bryan Murray out of the picture.  I THINK a forward of some type would be the preference because they don’t seem to be too happy with a lot of their forwards, centre or wing.  And Jost is the type of kid who would fit with the culture they’ve had in Ottawa the last few seasons.  Not a big team, but a lot of bite.  They’re the Eastern version of the Calgary Flames.  Jost is 100% this type of player, and I said it when doing my prospects list that Jost has potential to be a 1st line centre someday.  It’s a lot less likely than others because of his stature and his skill level though high is a little limited, but this kids has big time passion.

Other Options: Michael McLeod

 

 

Carolina Hurricanes13. Clayton Keller (14)  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau

Again I’ll say it, I don’t think he’ll play the middle in the pro’s.  He’s suited to play the wing which would free him up a bit more offensively.  But I will say that should he go to Carolina or any team in the East he would have a much better chance thriving playing centre then if he were to be taken by a team in the West.  I hate comparing him to Gaudreau because everyone is going to use that comparison, but I honestly can’t think of another guy like that right now.  Kane and Gaudreau, that’s all you’ll hear about this kid.  He’s not Kane, but he might be Gaudreau.  And Carolina is set on D, they’re OK down the middle for now, but they can use a highly skilled winger like Keller likely will be.

Other Options: Michael McLeod

 

 

Boston Bruins14. Michael McLeod (10)  Mississuaga  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: R

                                                        Comparison: Ryan Kesler

Craig Button had Charlie McAvoy here, and I gave that a ton of thought and was going to go with it.  But then I thought about it….they took 3 D-men in the top 52 last year.  What they didn’t do was take a centre, even though they likely should have taken local product Colin White over Zach Senyshyn.  So McLeod fits, and he’s the BPA at this point which is also what the Bruins like to do.  And if he has a chance to learn from a guy like Patrice Bergeron he could be the next Patrice Bergeron.

Other Options: Dante Fabbro, Charlie McAvoy

 

 

Minnesota Wild15. Julien Gauthier (18)  Val d’Or  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 225  Shot: R

Comparison: James Neal

This team is in no man’s land.  Hiring Bruce Boudreau was great, but he isn’t working with Ovechkin and Backstrom here.  He isn’t working with Getzlaf and Perry here.  Koivu and Parise aren’t those guys.  I do think he’ll improve the team, but the combination of moving a ton of assets at trade deadline’s and other prospects not panning out likely means this organization is in the midst of their peak.  Anyway as they currently stand they could use some more help up front in the organization so they take Gauthier who down the road should be a nice 2nd line winger, and could be a tremendous weapon on the PP with his shot.

Other Options: Max Jones

 

 

Detroit Red Wings16. Dante Fabbro (13)  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 189  Shot: R

Comparison: Zach Bogosian

I prefer Fabbro to McAvoy, but there isn’t much separating those 2 prospects right now.  The Wings need one of them and look at this time to be a perfect spot to snag one of them.  It blows my mind how little they’ve invested in their blueline the last 4 or 5 years.  This HAS to be the draft where they turn that around.  I’d without a doubt take Fabbro or McAvoy here, and then I’d go with another D-man with the 46th pick.

Other Options: Charlie McAvoy

 

 

Nashville Predators17. Charlie McAvoy (16)  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: R

                                                        Comparison: Keith Yandle

McAvoy won’t jump into the NHL right away.  By the time he does, the Preds can ease him in.  Let’s say that’s in 2019.  McAvoy is a 3rd pairing guy who gets a bit of pp time.  By 2020 Shea Weber will be 35, and this team doesn’t have much coming on the blueline.  I’d do the Seth Jones deal again and again, but it still left a bit of a hole for the Preds down the line on D.  McAvoy can fill that hole.

Other Options: Kale Clague

 

 

Philadelphia Flyers18. Max Jones (17)  London  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Scott Mellanby

This is as Philly of a guy as it gets.  But Jones also fits a bit of a need for the Flyers as they don’t have much coming on the left side.  On the big club they are solid down the middle, but in the system they’re pretty thin so maybe that’s the way they go, but this team more than any other loves picking these types.  Last year they moved up to take Travis Konecny.  Hell, I even have Jones compared to a former Flyer pick in Scott Mellanby.  He plays mean, and as we have seen, he will go over the line.  I’d much rather take a kid like that who you have to reel in a bit rather than a kid who you have to teach to play that style.

Other Options: Luke Kunin

 

 

NY Islanders19. Luke Kunin (20)  Wisconsin  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 193  Shot: R

Comparison: Derek Stepan

If you look at the Islanders organizational depth chart, they are thin on the right side.  Now, some of this depends on the situation with Ryan Strome who had an awful season and currently looks like a disappointment.  So they could use something on the right side.  Well I believe Kunin will end up playing the middle in the pro’s, but if they did draft him then obviously one of him or Barzal could move to the right side.  You can never have too many centre’s.

Other Options: Kieffer Bellows

 

 

Arizona Coyotes20. Kale Clague (21)  Brandon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

This pick was acquired from the Rangers in the Keith Yandle trade.  They could use a RH shot D-man, but if they walk out of this draft with two D-men, not to mention that they could get another at 37.  Clague has shot up my rankings, and add to that there isn’t the depth of puck moving defencemen in this draft that last year’s draft had.  So teams may reach a bit on them when they can, though with the playoff run Clague had I sure don’t see it as a reach, he was awesome.

Other Options: Logan Stanley, Lucas Johansen

 

 

Carolina Hurricanes21. Kieffer Bellows (22)  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Brian Bellows

This pick was acquired from the Kings in the Andrej Sekera trade.  This would be a great haul for the Canes if they walk out with Keller and Bellows, instantly upgrading them on the wings.  Pascal Laberge might be more of a preference for them simply because they could walk out with a potential LW and RW, but I’m not so sure Keller or Bellows couldn’t play either wing.  Especially Bellows, with his game he might be better suited to play the off wing.

Other Options: Pascal Laberge, Riley Tufte

 

 

Winnipeg Jets22. Logan Stanley (24)  Windsor  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’7  Wt: 220  Shot: L

Comparison: Brooks Orpik

This pick was acquired from the Blackhawks in the Andrew Ladd trade.  It is insane how loaded this organization currently is.  Everyone mocked Kevin Cheveldayoff for never making trades.  Well this is the result.  This organization has everything, and they’re the next big thing in the Central division, if not the league.  The one thing I thought they could use is available in this spot and that is a big LH shot D-man, so Logan Stanley goes to them.  Stanley can slot right behind Morrissey on the left side, Trouba or perhaps what they trade Trouba for can slot on the right side, and they’re simply loaded for years to come.  Stanley is the type of player the Jets love.  Big and tough.

Other Options: Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek

 

 

Florida Panthers23. Pascal Laberge (25)  Victoriaville  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 162  Shot: R

                                                        Comparison: Ryan Strome

The lack of skill on this team got exposed in the playoffs.  They’re built exactly how I would build a team, but you still need at least a couple of high end skill players to finish plays.  Jonathan Huberdeau isn’t enough, so I like them taking  Laberge in this spot.  He isn’t their type of guy, but again they need to mix in some more skill to get to that next level.  This organization though is very much so on the right path.

Other Options: Riley Tufte

 

 

Anaheim Ducks24. Brett Howden (31)  Moose Jaw  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 193  Shot: L

Comparison: Shawn Horcoff

This is a reach, so perhaps they move back.  But then again they are likely going to get draft picks when they move one of their D-men this summer.  Still the point here is that they really need centres and while German Rubtsov has fallen to them, Bob Murray doesn’t take Russians.

Other Options: Cliff Pu

 

 

Dallas Stars25. Filip Gustavsson (28)  Lulea  SWE-J20

Pos: G  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 184  Glove: L

Comparison: Tuukka Rask

It is tough to find many holes in their system.  They don’t pick D-men high very often, yet all of a sudden thanks to Klingberg and Johns emerging and Esa Lindell developing nicely, they don’t have a need on the blueline.  So I went with the organizational weakness which is in net.  No, this has nothing to do with the Stars awful goaltending currently on the big club, it is horrible throughout the system.  Jack Campbell is a bust, he’s done.  Played this season in the ECHL.  And they have nothing else, so this is something which I’m sure will be addressed at some point in this draft, so why not snag the best tendy in the draft?

Other Options: German Rubtsov

 

 

Washington Capitals26. German Rubtsov (19)  Russia U-18  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 176  Shot: L

                                                        Comparison: Mikko Koivu

They don’t have much down the middle on the team or in the system.  Rubtsov falls into their lap in my opinion because of the scandal he was involved in with the Russian U18 team.  Some teams take Russians off the board because of the scare they won’t come to North America for a long time, some take them off the board because historically their kids are complete crapshoots, well put on top of that a doping scandal and I can’t see how Rubtsov doesn’t fall.  But we all know the Caps with Ovechkin have an ability to draw them like they did with Kuznetsov and Orlov.  Rubtsov would be a steal for them.

Other Options: Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek

 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning27. Riley Tufte (23)  Blaine  USHSW

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Chris Kreider

If Tufte goes to a team like Tampa, who can develop kids with the best of them, and play in the East which is better suited for a kid like Tufte, this project might turn out to be a freaking steal.

Other Options: Rasmus Asplund, Carl Grundstrom

 

 

Boston Bruins28. Will Bitten (26)  Flint  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 167  Shot: R

Comparison: Dave Bolland

This pick was acquired from the Sharks in the Martin Jones trade.  I just really feel like Bitten or Dillon Dube are going to be guys that the Bruins end up reaching a bit (though not according to my rankings) on like they did last year with Debrusk and Senyshyn.  I love Bitten a little more than most do, which is odd.  Midseason I was lower on him than most.  And I’m a “sizest”.  But Bitten will fill out, and once he gets up to around 185 he should be able to play that feisty game at the same speed he does now.

Other Options: Dillon Dube, Lucas Johansen

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs29. Cliff Pu (30)  London  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Frans Nielsen

This pick was acquired from the Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.  I might trade up if I’m the Leafs in this spot.  They could really use one of the RH shot D-men, and at 29 nor 31 are they anywhere close to getting one of those kids.  They could package 29, 31 a 2017 2nd and a 2018 3rd at maybe the Wings to jump up to 16 and do that.  Something along those lines would make sense for both teams in my opinion.  But maybe they have their eye on a kid later on who could fill that void like a Luke Green?  So that leaves a lot of options in this spot, and they pick again at 31 so who I have going here could just as easily go at 31.  I think they take a goaltender at some point, but I would bet with Mark Hunter in control of the draft that he wants to snag Tyler Parsons of the London Knights.  That was also the deciding factor in this pick being Pu is that Hunter won’t be able to resist his guy if he’s still around.

Other Options: Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek

 

 

St. Louis Blues30. Carl Grundstrom (37)  Modo  SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Patric Hornqvist

This might seem like a reach, but Grundstrom is their type of a kid.  Another team that really has no needs in the system, despite dealing their 1st round pick in 2 of the last 3 drafts.  But this is a total guess, as there are a lot of different directions the Blues could go at this point in the draft.

Other Options: Tyler Benson, Boris Katchouk

 

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2016 NHL Mock Draft 1.5

0118-draft16Hey, I actually did end up going 1.5!  Last time I asked off the top “why do I say 1.0, 2.0, etc.?”  Well this is the perfect time to do just that, because my official mock draft might not be ready for a week or so.  But with the draft lottery now wrapped up, I figured since I had a minute before beers with Harv and Bennett I would do a little top 14, limited write up version.  So here we go

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs1. Auston Matthews  Zurich  Suisse A

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Anze Kopitar

The big winners, but is it POSSIBLE they trade back?  The Arizona Coyotes could put together one hell of a package which would include Dylan Strome.  So if the Yotes offered Strome, Max Domi, 7, the Rangers 1st and their 2017 1st….would the Leafs brass consider that?  It would be tempting.  But an elite 1st line centre like Matthews is too tough to come by so I wouldn’t.  Take Matthews, take D-men with the Pens 1st and 31, not to mention the Stamkos odds just went up, things are looking pretty sweet in Leaf land all of a sudden.

 

 

Winnipeg Jets2. Patrik Laine  Tappara  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 206  Shot: R

Comparison: Ilya Kovalchuk

Every hockey fan is pumped for the Jets winning the 2nd overall pick, and let the Teemu Selanne comparisons begin!  Laine is a sniper, but as my Kovalchuk comparsion suggests he’s more of a power forward, bomb of a one timer type sniper.  Fits this team PERFECTLY, especially for a prospect like Kyle Connor.  Everyone is saying Scheifele, but Connor and Laine could be the Jets version of Backstrom and Ovechkin.  Please, I’m not saying Laine is Ovy like other knobs are going overboard saying, but just that Connor is an elite playmaker and Laine will be an elite finisher.

 

 

Columbus Blue Jackets3. Jesse Puljujarvi  Karpat  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 203  Shot: R

Comparison: Jakub Voracek

They’re ecstatic because Kekalainen is a Fin and Puljujarvi obviously is a Fin, but the Jackets really needed to win this lottery.  Now, they really look destined to be that team that is always good never great.  Maybe they get lucky next season, maybe someone emerges, you never know.  But I hated the Johansen trade for them, and another winger, as talented as Puljujarvi is, I don’t believe will do a whole lot for them.

 

 

Edmonton Oilers4. Pierre-Luc Dubois  Cape Breton  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 202  Shot: L

Comparison: Shane Doan

Trade proposal I came up with Oiler fans, what’d you think?  Taylor Hall, Oscar Klefbom, and this pick to Montreal for P.K. Subban (assuming the rumours are true that they would like to move him for the right price), prospect Jacob De La Rose, and the 9th pick.  You do that?  I think the Habs would…again assuming they would like to move Subban.  Habs get a local kid like Dubois who is not only francophone, but a perfect fit for what they’re trying to do up front.  Then Hall gives them a lot more speed and offence, Klefbom is obviously a downgrade on the blueline but is already close to a top pairing guy on a brand new 7 year deal.  Then for the Oilers you get your number 1 D-man, you get a RH shot with a bomb for the PP, you get a prospect in De La Rose who has size and is great in his own zone (likely a 3rd line centre), and at 9 you could still take one of the big 4 D-men to replace Klefbom down the line (not to mention they still have Nurse, Davidson and Reinhart).  Anyway that went LONG!  If they stay at 4 it’s either Dubois or Tkachuk.  Either guy would be an incredible add for what Peter Chiarelli is trying to do up front.

 

 

Vancouver Canucks5. Mikhail Sergachev  Windsor  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Dougie Hamilton

I think they’ll move back a few spots (again, maybe with Montreal) and look to take their D-man there.  But contrary to what Craig Button had on his mock draft, this team is DESPERATE for defencemen in their system.  And while I was higher on Logan Brown than most earlier in the year, Button is going overboard on him.  He’s not a better prospect than any of the 4 D-men, not to mention the Canucks are already have potential 2nd line centres in Bo Horvat and Jared McCann.  Learn from the Oilers, build that blueline!

 

 

Calgary Flames6. Matthew Tkachuk  London  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

This is a gift for Brian Burke.  His type of guy falling to 6th, this really would be the perfect scenario for the Flames.  Put him on the 2nd line (in 2018) next to Sam Bennett and as an Oiler fan I would probably hate it 5 times a year because man would they be hard to handle!  They have done 2 deals recently with the Canucks, so perhaps those 2 make a swap for 5 which would ensure the Flames of either Dubois or Tkachuk.

 

 

Arizona Coyotes7. Olli Juolevi  London  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

They don’t get Matthews and they don’t even get Tkachuk who nobody has talked about but would also have been a pretty marketable kid for them.  Again, they’ll push hard to trade up, but not likely.  So back to business as usual for the Yotes and that being the case they are pretty desperate all of a sudden to rebuild their blueline.  I like Chychrun, but of those big 4 D-men in this draft it is anyone’s guess the order they go and obviously I have Sergachev going to the Canucks already.  I’ll say the Coyotes take Juolevi but they can’t go wrong with any of them.

 

 

Buffalo Sabres8. Jakob Chychrun  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 215  Shot: L

Comparison: Rob Blake

The Sabres get my guy!  Buffalo much like the Canucks and Coyotes really need one of these big 4 D-men.  Chychrun just has everything to be a legit number 1 D-man at the next level, but I will say that while some have said he’s a really intelligent kid, the interview would be huge for a kid like him.  Because if he’s got a really high IQ why is he dropping?  Likely because scouts have fatigue on scouting him, but maybe there is something to it.  Still, the fit for him in Buffalo is perfect.

 

 

Montreal Canadiens9. Logan Brown  Windsor  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 222  Shot: L

Comparison: Nick Bjugstad

If it were me, I’d take Mike McLeod here.  But Marc Bergevin has been looking to make the Habs a lot bigger since he became GM, and they really need a centre as the idea of Galchenyuk becoming a centre in the NHL is looking less and less likely.  I love the idea of this if the Habs are picking at 9 and not reading my Subban to the Oilers trade proposal and saying “that Tyler Campbell, he should be our new GM that guy knows what the f*** he’s doing!”

 

 

Colorado Avalanche10. Jake Bean  Calgary  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 173  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyson Barrie

Ironic that my comparison on Bean has been Barrie since it looks like Barrie is on his way out of Denver.  I’ve harped on it for years now, the Avs need to build up their blueline.  Jeff Marek was adamant before last year’s draft that he was told the Avs were taking a D-man with the 10th pick no matter what (had the 10th pick last year as well).  Then they didn’t, and Nikita Zadorov is a project.  I did like taking Nicolas Meloche in the 2nd round, but it’s not enough.  Jake Bean might not be enough, but I’ll feel a lot better about the situation if they snag Bean or one of the other big 4 D-men in this 1st round.

 

 

NJ Devils11. Alexander Nylander  Mississuaga  OHL 

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Milan Hejduk

This is another team that might want to snag a D-man.  And for a few years now I’ve heard and read about how people love the talent they had on the back end and I always scratched my head.  Well, Eric Gelinas was ditched, people soured on Damon Severson this season, and Adam Larsson looks as though he’ll just be ok.  But the problem is at 11 is that the 4 best D-men are gone now.  So I went with the winger and what I love about this idea is that neither Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or incoming Pavel Zacha are guys who need the puck on their stick all the time.  Nylander does, which is one reason I’m not as high on him as most are, but he would likely fit perfectly with this squad.

 

 

Ottawa Senators12. Tyson Jost  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 191  Shot: L

Comparison: Claude Giroux

I don’t know where they’ll go now with Bryan Murray out of the picture.  I THINK a forward would be the preference because they don’t seem to be too happy with a lot of their forwards.  And Jost is the type of kid who would fit with the culture they’ve had in Ottawa the last few seasons.  Not a big team, but a lot of bite.  They’re the Eastern version of the Calgary Flames.  Jost is 100% this type of player, and I said it when doing my prospects list that Jost has potential to be a 1st line centre someday.  It’s a lot less likely than others because of his stature and his skill level though high is a little limited, but this kids has big time passion.  And again like Logan Brown, I would take Michael McLeod but I can’t ignore that others are down on him.

 

 

Carolina Hurricanes13. Clayton Keller  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau

Again I’ll say it, he’s not playing the middle in the pro’s.  He’s suited to play the wing which would free him up a bit more offensively.  I hate comparing him to Gaudreau because everyone is going to use that comparison, but I honestly can’t think of another guy like that right now.  Kane and Gaudreau, that’s all you’ll hear about this kid.  He’s not Kane, but he might be Gaudreau.  And Carolina is set on D, they’re OK down the middle for now, but they can use a highly skilled winger like Keller likely will be.

 

 

Boston Bruins14. Michael McLeod  Mississuaga  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Kesler

Craig Button had Charlie McAvoy here, and I gave that a ton of thought and was going to go with it.  But then I thought about it….they took 3 D-men in the top 52 last year.  What they didn’t do was take a centre, even though they likely should have taken local product Colin White over Zach Senyshyn.  So McLeod fits, and he’s the BPA at this point which is also what the Bruins like to do.  And if he has a chance to learn from a guy like Patrice Bergeron he could be the next Patrice Bergeron.

 

I’ll have a full mock draft and a new top 50 (not 20) prospects list out soon, hopefully within this next week.

 

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