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NHL.com Mock Draft: Mike Morreale weighs in

by Mike G. Morreale / Columbus Blue Jackets


NHL.com Staff Writer Mike G. Morreale projects the top 14 selections in the 2016 NHL Draft:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs - Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (SUI)

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound left-shot forward is a world-class two-way center in the mold of Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings. He had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games, won the Rising Star Award and was second in voting for MVP in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. He also led the United States to the bronze medal with seven goals and 11 points at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

2. Winnipeg Jets - Patrik Laine, RW, Tappara (FIN)

The 6-4, 206-pound forward, who might possess the best one-timer of anyone in the draft class, has a combination of size, skill, strength, vision and soft hands. He had 10 goals in 18 playoff games and was named postseason MVP while leading Tappara to the championship in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. His 17 goals and 33 points in 46 games led Liiga rookies. He tied Matthews for most goals at the WJC while helping Finland win the gold medal.

3. Columbus Blue Jackets - Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (FIN)

A powerful skater with good acceleration, balance and outstanding hockey sense, Puljujarvi (6-3, 203) has what it takes to play center but is better suited at right wing. He had 13 goals and 28 points in 50 games for Karpat in Liiga. The 17-year-old had 17 points in seven games for Finland at the WJC, one point shy of Jaromir Jagr's record for under-18 players at the tournament.

4. Edmonton Oilers - Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)

A gifted puck-handler, Chychrun (6-2, 215) is considered the best and most NHL-ready defenseman available on the draft board. He is an excellent skater with very good offensive instincts, has good defensive awareness and enjoys playing physical. He had 11 goals, 49 points and a plus-23 rating in 62 games.

5. Vancouver Canucks - Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL)

The son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk is too good to pass up at this point. He combines a gritty style with strength, skill and smarts. Tkachuk (6-1, 195), who might be the best player below the faceoff dots available in the draft, had 30 goals, 107 points and 42 power-play points in 57 games. He finished tied with Matthews in scoring for the U.S. at the WJC with 11 points.

View Morreale's complete mock draft on NHL.com.

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