Tha Sports Junkies 101

2016 NHL First Round Mock Draft

Jumpy News via


The NHL draft is set for tonight. Before the draft gets underway, here is a look at how it could play out:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs: C Auston Matthews

The Maple Leafs will most likely run to the podium to make their first selection, as there is almost no doubt that Auston Matthews will be the pick. Matthews had an outstanding season in the Swiss League, scoring 46 points in 36 games. In Matthews, the Maple Leafs are drafting a franchise center. He plays a very good possession game which will fi Mike Babcock’s coaching style. Matthews will contribute immediately on offense, and should play good enough defense to take on a teams top line.

2. Winnipeg Jets: W Patrik Laine

Laine started the season as the No. 3 ranked player in the draft, but after a strong showing in the World Juniors and World Championships, as well as lighting up the SM-Liiga playoffs, Laine challenged Matthews as the top player in this draft. Laine will end up going at 2, and the Jets will be very pleased making this pick. A big winger, standing at 6’4, he uses his size to protect the puck, yet has outstanding hands to set his teammates up. He also posses a very hard wrist shot that goalies will dread and defenseman will not want to get in front of. Laine has an opportunity to start on the Jets top line, and could be challenging Matthews for the Calder Trophy next June.

3. Columbus Blue Jackets: W Matthew Tkachuk

The Blue Jackets are in a very tough spot. The team is filled with young wingers, but their defense needs help. Unfortunately there are no defenseman worth this pick. They are rumored to be shopping their pick to add a defenseman, but in this mock they will not trade their pick. Instead they will take Matthew Tkachuk. The son of future hall of famer Keith Tkachuk, Matthew is easily one of the top players in this draft. Going into the season, many worried about Tkachuk’s skating ability, but heading into the draft teams seem much more comfortable with it. His shot is outstanding, and he is considered one of the smartest players in this draft, but his commitment to playing defense needs to improve if he wants to become one of the top players in the league.

4. Edmonton Oilers: W Jesse Puljujarvi

The Oilers are once again picking in the top 5, but not to their liking. After drafting Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl, and Conner McDavid with first round picks, the Oilers are looking to trade their 4th pick to acquire defesne, the same as the Blue Jackets in front of them. But since their are no trades in this draft, the Oilers stay at 4 and draft yet another forward. Puljijarvi is not considered to be as dynamic of a scorer as Matthews or Laine, some scouts say he is more consisten of a player than the top 2 picks. While Laine is a sniper, Puljuarvi is a great puck distributer and should fit nicely with last years top choice McDavid on the teams top line.

5. Vancouver Canaucks: F Pierre-Luc Dubois

Dubios has the potential to become one of the games best all around players. A wing by trade who has the ability to play center, Dubois can give the Canucks a very good top line player who can play any forward position. He has very good defensive abilities, but has put up offensive numbers at the junior level indicate he will become an above average offensive player. He isn’t at the level of the top guys in the league, and might need another year in the QMJHL before coming to the NHL, but can become a very reliable top line forward for the Canucks.

6. Calgary Flames: D Olli Juolevi

Juolevi is a very strong skater, and has the ability to carry the puck up the ice and ignite an offense. He is always looking to make a play and excels in the neutral zone. His passing ability is very advanced for his age and level, and his shot is accurate and hard. The concern for Juolevi is that he has struggled in his own zone against some of the top forwards in the OHL. To become successful, he will have to improve his ability to shut down forwards, or at least keep them away from the net until help arrives. Despite his defensive struggles, Juolevi’s offensive abilities make him worth drafting as he can become a top offensive forwards.

7. Arizona Coyotes: C Logan Brown

Brown is a big bodied center, measuring at 6’6, 200 lbs. Brown uses his massive size to push opposing centers off the puck and transition quickly to offense. Despite his size, he posses above average speed, using his long strides to send himself up the ice. An excellent passer, Brown has a very high hockey IQ that helps him see plays before they happen. He also has one of the best shots in the draft, and rarely takes a bad shot unless he is looking to create a rebound. Brown doesn’t excel in any one spot, but plays a very good all around game and paired with his size gives him number 1 center potential.

8. Buffalo Sabres: LW Alexander Nylander

Nylander is an excellent skater and has the potential to become one of the top offensive players in the draft. He posses one of the most deadly shots in this draft and has incredible hands that can pull a defenseman out of position or a goaltender out of the net. He is very hard to shut down, as he can beat you with his playmaking and stick handling ability, as well as his heavy shot. Nylander can play defense as well, making him much more than just a scoring wing. His biggest weakness is that he holds on to the puck to long, and can try to force plays, but he has the potential to become a very dangerous offensive weapon.

9. Montreal Canadians: C Tyson Jost

Jost is a very strong offensive player, with the ability to change speeds withing seconds, going from skating hard and fast into the zone to a dead stop, causing defenseman to struggle taking the puck from him. Jost is a very strong passer and can turn a broken play into a prime scoring chance for either his teammates or himself. His strong shot and top notch offensive moves make him very dangerous. His faceoff ability is strong, but scouts believe he needs to work on his defensive awareness, which is common for a young offensive player.

10. Colorado Avalanche: D Charlie McAvoy

McAvoy is a very confident when moving the puck, where he uses his elite speed to slip through defensive openings to create strong opportunities. He has a very strong and heavy shot, and has the ability to hit any players stick right on the tape with a pass. McAvoy is also very physical, which helps him push players off the puck. One area he will have to work on if he wants to succeed in the NHL is deciding when a hit is necessary.  When he makes the right decision, he can shut down a play with a bone crushing hit, but when he makes the wrong decision he can take himself out of the play, giving an advantage to the other team.

11. New Jersey Devils: C Clayton Keller

Keller is a very strong skater and shows very high hockey IQ. He can be a very flashy player, but is very hard nosed and plays a very strong two-way game. He will ignite an offense and can take over games, but can win faceoffs in the defensive zone and kill penalties as well. Some scouts do not feel he has franchise changing potential, and time will only tell if that is true, but either way he will be a very good top 6 forward in his future.

12. Ottawa Senators: D Jakob Chychrun

Chychrun has the ability to effect a game in all three zones, something that is difficult to find after the first few picks of a draft. His hockey IQ is through the roof, helping him with his strong play in the offensive zone. His biggest strength is his knowledge of when to keep pressure on the puck carrier and when to pull back and protect the net.

13. Carolina Hurricanes: D Logan Stanley

Stanley is a very large player, towering over opponents with his height, 6’7 210 lbs. He is very physical, which gives him an advantage along the boards. He has strong offensive awareness, which helps him position himself for big slap shots. He sometimes struggles with his skating, and struggles to move the puck, which may keep him from ever becoming a top pairing defenseman.

14. Boston Bruins: D Dante Fabbro

Fabbro plays a very up tempo game, and is a quick thinker who seems to think about the game at a higher level than others on the ice with him. He skates very well and has the ability to move the puck coast to coast. He projects as a top unit power play defenseman. He is very strong defensively, but has been labeled as soft and needs to learn to take a beating before he can become a top level defenseman.

15. Minnesota Wild: C Michael McLeod

McLeod is considered one of, if not the best skaters in this draft. He has great acceleration, which helps him get a jump on opposing defenders. He generates a lot of shots, but isn’t the best finisher. He is a very good defensive forward, and has shown leadership qualities.

16. Detroit Red Wings: C Luke Kunin

Kunin is a natural goal scorer, using his speed and strength to finish his plays. He has an excellent shot and great instincts, which helped him carry the Wisconsin Badgers on their top lines. He is an excellent skater and transitions quickly from skating to shooting.

17. Nashville Predators: D Jake Bean

Bean could be the top scoring defenseman in the draft, using his elite stick handling skills to create offense for himself and his teammates. He loves to dictate the tempo on the offensive side of the ice. He is a small defensman, which could keep him from becoming a top defenseman.

18. Philadelphia Flyers: LW Kieffer Bellows

Bellows is very well built, which helps him create many offensive opportunities. He plays with fire and has a great worth ethic, and is very difficult to move off of the puck. He keeps himself involved in every play and uses his size to take the puck from smaller players.

19. New York Islanders: LW Max Jones

Jones is a big bodied power forward who uses his size to score goals. Despite being so big, Jones skates very well, looking graceful and reaching his top speed fast. He uses his size to weigh down opponents and knock them off the puck.

20. Arizona Coyotes ( from New York Rangers): LW Riley Tufte

Tufte has excellent hands and and excellent skater. Another very large forward, he is considered a freakish combination of size and skill. He killed penalties for a portion of the season, but was removed once the teams top penalty killer returned. He can be undisciplined, but plays like a finesse player inside a power forwards body, while also using his size very well.

21. Carolina Hurricanes ( from Los Angeles Kings): RW Julian Gauthier

Gauthier is built very well, standing at 6’4, and has a great combination of size, speed and skill that makes him noticeable when he is on the ice. An injury could cause him to drop, as he was projected as a top 15 talent during the season.

22. Winnipeg Jets ( from Chicago Black Hawks): RW Alex DeBrincat

In a draft filled with tall forwards, DeBrincat is not that. Standing at just 5’7, he is the smallest forward in the draft. He has a great hockey sense and is a very skilled player, but his size may scare people off. His biggest struggle could be adapting to the size and power of some of the NHL level players.

23. Florida Panthers: C German Rubtsov

He is one of the top two-way forwards in the draft. He has a very good shot and has great playmaking ability. Despite playing in Russia, Rubtsov is said to play a very “North American” game, which should help him translate well to the NHL when that time comes.

24. Anaheim Ducks: C Rasmus Asplund

He spent most of last season as his teams 3rd line center, having the responsibility of shutting down opposing teams top forwards, which he exceeded at. But an injury put him into a top 6 role, where he used his speed and skating ability to set up his teammates and score himself.

25. Dallas Stars: C Pascal Laberge

Laberge can play both center and wing at a high level. He has the ability to elude defenders, and use his quick release to fire his lethal shot past goaltenders. He isn’t a very skilled playmaker, which means he will need a very good set up man to complement his great shot.

26. Washington Capitals: D Kale Clague

He is a very good two way defenseman, who uses his quickness and understanding of his position to not only help his team defensively, but also on the offensive side. He played big minutes in the WHL, which some feel his offensive numbers were inflated by those minutes. He needs to get bigger if he wants to succeed as a two way defenseman and his board play.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning: G Filip Gustavsson

He has great ability to stay square against shooters and has great poise when moving in the crease. He has great size and fills the net very well. He has played in big games for Sweeden, and projects as one of the most developmental ready goalies in the draft.

28. St. Louis Blues: C Tage Thompson

Another big bodied forward, Thompson is a monster on the powerplay, but he struggled to score 5-on-5. His size and skill is ideal of a top 6 center, but he will need to work on his offensive consistency to become a legitimate power forward in the NHL.

29. Boston Bruins ( from San Jose Sharks): C Sam Steel

Steel is an excellent scoring forward, and works very well around the net. He projects as a very good sniper, and should become a very reliable powerplay center. He didn’t use his shot enough in the WHL, and will need to not be afraid to shoot when he gets an open look.

30. Anaheim Ducks (from Toronto Maple Leafs via Pittsburgh Penguins): LW Karl Grundstrom

Grundstrom is a very energetic and fiery winger, which makes up for his average skill. He is considered more of a grinder, but skates very well and has very good balance, but lacks the acceleration to pull away from defenders. He works hard to make plays, and fights for the puck, combined with a great shot gives him the ability to become an above average role player in the NHL.