Skip to main content

Top 30 draft rankings for 2016: Laine and Puljujarvi ride golden wave

The two fantastic Finns are solidifying their positions in what is quickly becoming a very exciting pack up top. Another countryman is also making his way up the charts as our prospect expert breaks down the field at the midway point of the season.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The world juniors in Finland were almost unprecedented in terms of draft influence. Four of the six tournament all-stars (as chosen by the media) were 2016 prospects: Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Olli Juolevi and overall MVP Jesse Puljujarvi. The kids aren't supposed to dominate like that, but here we are. With Alexander Nylander and Matthew Tkachuk also having strong tournaments, the big question around the campfire right now is where to slot defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

The OHL Sarnia star did not make Team Canada, but he's the only defenseman in the top echelon right now - though Juolevi is seriously threatening that. One exec I spoke with believes Chychrun is in a positional class by himself, while another team scout told me Juolevi is pushing his way into the conversation.

So what happens on draft day? Top D-men are hard to find, but those elite forwards are awfully tempting. Since we're nowhere near knowing which teams will be selecting early, I'm keeping things conservative, as I generally do. Here's a look at my current top-30:

1. Auston Matthews, C – ZSC Lions (Swi.): Still the king. Finding a strong, talented center with Matthews' motor is near impossible and he is still lighting up Switzerland after a strong world juniors.

2. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW – Karpat Oulu (Fin.): He led the world juniors in scoring and when he wasn't putting up points, he was using his speed and strength to harass enemy puck carriers. It was a statement tournament.

3. Patrik Laine, RW – Tappara (Fin.): Depending on who is picking, Laine could go ahead of Puljujarvi thanks to his potential. In the here and now, he's already a deadly sniper thanks to his shot and a physical presence.

4. Matthew Tkachuk, LW – London Knights (OHL): I would be so comfortable picking Tkachuk if I was a GM. Smart, competitive, physical and creative, he does everything you need to be successful.

5. Jakob Chychrun, D – Sarnia Sting (OHL): Could easily go higher based on team needs, but either way Chychrun is an incredible defenseman with strength, skating, skill and a physical edge.

6. Alex Nylander, RW – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): Yes, Nylander is getting a WJC bump here for sure. He was electric for Sweden and has been just as deadly for 'Sauga thanks to his high-end hands and mind.

7. Mikey McLeod, C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): McLeod is a gift at No. 7. A big, strong, powerful skater in a game that craves such attributes, he's also a true center in a field heavy on wingers.

8. Olli Juolevi, D – London Knights (OHL): Tkachuk says Juolevi is London's best D-man and he showed it in Helsinki. Size, offensive skill and great skating ability that allows him to defend as well as produce.

9. Tyson Jost, C – Penticton Vees (BCHL): The North Dakota commit was MVP of the World Jr. A Challenge, where he captained Canada West to a title. Gets behind guys thanks to his powerful skating and can light up a scoreboard.

10. Dante Fabbro, D – Penticton Vees (BCHL): Projects as a two-way blueliner with shutdown abilities, Fabbro has an NHL-tailored game thanks to his quick processor. The Boston U. commit is also putting up big points for the Vees.

  1. Julien Gauthier, RW – Val'dOr Foreurs (QMJHL)
  2. Max Jones, LW – London Knights (OHL)
  3. Logan Brown, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  4. Clayton Keller, C – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
  5. Mikhail Sergachev, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  6. Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
  7. German Rubtsov, C – Russia J18 (Rus.)
  8. Jake Bean, D – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
  9. Rasmus Asplund, C – Farjestad (SHL)
  10. Riley Tufte, LW – Blaine Bengals (Minn. HS)
  11. Sam Steel, C – Regina Pats (WHL)
  12. Alex DeBrincat, RW – Erie Otters (OHL)
  13. Kieffer Bellows, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
  14. Charlie McAvoy, D – Boston U. Terriers (Hockey East)
  15. Nathan Bastian, C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
  16. Tyler Benson, LW – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
  17. Chad Krys, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
  18. Filip Gustavsson, G – Lulea (SHL)
  19. Luke Kunin, C – Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten)
  20. Brett Howden, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)



Panthers Advance to Second Round After Beating Capitals in Six Games

The Florida Panthers have won a playoff series for the first time since 1996 after beating the Washington Capitals in six games.


Screen Shots: Barry Trotz, Wild's Playoff Struggles and New Jersey's Future

From significant moves being made by non-playoff teams, to the fallout of first-round playoff matches, Adam Proteau is back with a deep Screen Shots column this week.

2022 IIHF World Championship

World Hockey Championship Roundup: Canada, Finland, Slovakia, USA Win on Day 1

Canada and the United States started off strong, while Slovakia and Finland continue on from their Olympic success to kick off the start of the 2022 World Hockey Championship.