Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (SWISS)
Dubbed “very worthy of being a top pick” by Zurich coach Marc Crawford, Matthews has been the top prospect for 2016 for well over a year. He’s a strong skater, has excellent puck possession skills, and an ability to create for himself and his linemates.
Patrik Laine, RW, Tappara (LIIGA)
The winner of the Jari Kurri Trophy as playoff MVP after helping Tappara to their first Liiga championship since 2003, Laine has been quickly trending towards the top pick and is a real threat to challenge Matthews’ spot. He’s got size, soft hands, and natural scoring talent.
Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (LIIGA)
The second Finn and third challenger to Matthews has had a very fruitful year, helping Finland to golden finishes at both the World Junior Championship and World Under-18 Championship. Puljujarvi’s heavy shot and high-end speed have him translating into a dynamic scorer.
Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL)
Considered by many to be the best defenceman available after an elite showing at the World Juniors, Juolevi finished third among OHL rookie rearguards with 42 points. He’s a smart, composed two-way blueliner that plays the game in a very mature, experience manner. He is calm and focused, and his ability to move the puck is elite for his age.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
One of the draft’s fastest risers, Dubois topped all North American skaters in Central Scouting’s ranking. He finished in the top-5 among QMJHL scorers in goals and points without sacrificing his 200-foot game, which excels regardless of which of the three forward positions he plays. He was named the CHL’s Top Prospect in late May.
Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL)
Tkachuk, the son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, blends a similar style of force and finesse in his game. He shredded the OHL on a powerhouse London team with 107 points in 57 games and was named the Western Conference's second smartest player in the annual Coaches Poll behind Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome. He also had two goals in the Memorial Cup final to clinch London’s second CHL title.
Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)
Widely regarded as the top defenceman available in the draft all season, Chychrun has developed well since being the top pick in the OHL Priority Selection in 2014. He’s an exceptional staightaway skater with the ability to haul the puck up ice or make the choice for a strong outlet pass. His size allows him to blend a physical brand of hockey with the elite skill he does possess.
Clayton Keller, C, USA Under-18 (USHL)
Keller is as much an offensive threat as anyone available on draft day. He led the U.S National Under-18 Team with 96 points in 56 games, 22 points more than the second place, and fellow draft eligible Kieffer Bellows. The centre, who can play all three forward positions, will be highly coveted because of his playmaking and scoring abilities.
Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL)
Sergachev, the fastest rising defenceman in the draft, has impressed greatly in his first season of hockey in North America. The Russian blueliner is a smooth skater and an elite rusher, pushing the pace up ice. He’s equally good at both ends of the ice, too.
10. Tyson Jost, RW, Penticton (BCHL)
The most dynamic player in the CJHL this season, Jost led Penticton to a 50-7-0-1 regular season record and was named the BCHL’s Vern Dye Memorial Trophy recipient as league MVP. He’s an agile, slippery skater who blends dangerous playmaking with a quick shot.
Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
McLeod has continued to build momentum through his draft year, starting with a gold medal finish at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August and a trip to the Under-18’s in April. He has excellent puck possession skills and a strong passing game that goes uncompromised when playing his developed two-way game down the middle. Grit and tenacity help round out his game.
12.Alexander Nylander, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
Nylander, the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, possesses similar talent to his sibling. He has a pinpoint shot and is poised with the puck, blending those skills with a strong skating ability. It’s evident in leading all OHL rookies in points this season with 75. He was a standout for Sweden at the World Juniors, too.
Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d’Or (QMJHL)
Gauthier, the nephew of longtime NHLer Denis Gauthier, was the lone NHL Draft eligible skater to represent Canada at the World Juniors earlier this season. He’s participated at every draft showcase this season, displaying his power-forward style with adept hockey sense, offensive instincts and playmaking skills.
Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL)
As dynamic a defenceman to roll through Calgary’s system in recent memory, Bean is a slick, pass first, puck moving blueliner who is absolutely deadly in transition. He has quick feet and a strong ability to scan developing plays up ice. He can find the back of the net himself, too, scoring 24 goals to set a new franchise record among defencemen.
Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL)
At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Brown is one of the draft’s biggest forwards. He’s also one of the draft’s best playmakers, and had 53 assists and 74 points in 59 games in his second season in the Ontario Hockey League. The son of former NHLer Jeff Brown finished seventh among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final ranking.
Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)
Fabbro was named the top defenceman in the British Columbia Hockey League after leading all blueliners with 67 points (14 goals, 53 assists) in 45 games. He won gold with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial, gold at the World Junior A Challenge with Canada West, and led all defencemen in scoring at the World Under-18 Championship.
Max Jones, LW, London (OHL)
Jones is a unique blend of size and top-end skill. The 6-foot-2, 203 pound forward had 28 goals and 52 points, and 106 minutes in penalties in 63 regular season games. The 18-year-old also had two goals and two assists to help the Knights to their second Memorial Cup championship. He finished 14th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s ranking.
Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine (USHS)
Tufte blends a good stride with an impressive frame. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, the high schooler won the Mr. Hockey award as top senior skater in Minnesota. He led the metro area this season with 49 goals, added 36 assists, and had 10 goals in 27 games against better competition with Fargo of the USHL.
Charles McAvoy, D, Boston University (NCAA)
As a freshman, McAvoy had a standout season with Boston University, recording 25 points in 37 games. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, too. Tufte, who represented the United States at the World Junior Championship, is the third-ranked North American defenceman by Central Scouting.
Samuel Girard, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
One of the most dynamic offensive defencemen in the 2016 draft class, Girard finished the regular season with 74 points in 67 games, and added 22 points in 21 playoff games. He was named the CHL’s sportsman of the year, and was named the QMJHL’s top defenceman. He also won gold with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
Luke Kunin, C, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
Kunin led the University of Wisconsin with 19 goals and had 32 points in 34 games as a freshman, and was named to the NCAA (B1G) All-Rookie Team. The 18-year-old forward is a crafty offensive player, and is a gifted goal-scorer with a strong release. He finished 11th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s ranking.
Kieffer Bellows, LW, NTDP U18 (USHL)
A 50-goal scorer with the National Team Development Program, Bellows is one of the draft’s most dynamic scorers. He has a natural scorer’s instinct and desire to score. Bellows, the son of former NHLer Brian Bellows, led the NTDP with 12 power-play goals and nine game-winning goals, and was second with 81 points in 62 games.
Vitali Abramov, LW, Gatineau (QMJHL)
What Abramov lacks in size he makes up for in skill. The 5-foot-9 forward led all QMJHL rookies with 38 goals and 93 points this season. Both totals also led the Olympiques. The well-rounded offensive forward finished 29th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final ranking.
24. Rasmus Asplund, C, Farjestad (SHL)
Asplund is Sweden’s top prospect for the NHL Draft, and with good cause. The centre was one of Sweden’s best players at the World Juniors, displaying his smarts and all-around game and despite being one of the youngest on the team. He had four goals and 12 points in 46 games with Farjestad this season, and finished fourth among European skaters in Central Scouting’s final ranking.
German Rubtsov, C, Russia U18 (MHL)
Rubtsov fifth in Central Scouting’s final ranking among European skaters, is a highly intelligent two-way centre with a high hockey IQ. He was a standout at the World Junior A Challenge in earning an all-star nod, and had 12 goals, 26 points and a plus-12 rating in 28 games this season with Russia’s Under-18 team.
Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL)
At 6-foot-6, Stanley is an imposing defenceman with a penchant for physical play and clearing the crease. His physical play is his most attractive quality, but he does possess some offensive upside, too, and had 17 points in 64 games with Windsor this season. He is 19th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final ranking.
Alex DeBrincat, RW, Erie (OHL)
Few draft eligibles were as productive as DeBrincat this season. The 5-foot-7, 163-pound forward has recorded 102 goals and 205 points in 128 games over the past two seasons, including back-to-back 51-goal seasons. The sniper helped Team USA to bronze at the World Juniors.
Pascal Laberge, C, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
Laberge is a tough and spirited two-way forward with a high level of hockey sense. He had 23 goals and 68 points in 56 games this season, and represented Canada at the World Under-18 Championship. The second overall pick in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft is 28th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final ranking.
Tyler Benson, LW, Vancouver (WHL)
Benson is a pro-style player who already possesses a two-way game. Injury problems have derailed his development somewhat, but there is still plenty of upside with his mix of power and agility. Benson finished 24th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s ranking.
Kale Clague, D, Brandon (WHL)
A calm and cool puck-rushing defenceman, Clague has plenty of upside as an offensive blueliner. He has crisp passes and hands that rival most top forwards. He has great awareness, and can be electric. He finished 27th among North American skaters, and 10th among defencemen, in Central Scouting’s final ranking.