Skip to main content
NHL Draft

Mock draft: Matthews to Maple Leafs at No. 1

Laine to Jets, Puljujarvi to Blue Jackets round out top three, according to's Adam Kimelman

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

1. Toronto Maple Leafs -- Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (SUI)
The Maple Leafs can end their search for a franchise center. Matthews (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) answered any lingering questions about who should go No. 1 with an outstanding performance at the 2016 IIHF World Championship (six goals, three assists).

2. Winnipeg Jets -- Patrik Laine, RW, Tappara (FIN)
Laine already has NHL-ready size (6-4, 206) and talent, which he again showed by winning MVP of the World Championship with seven goals and five assists in 10 games. He should step into a top-six role next season.

3. Columbus Blue Jackets -- Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (FIN)
The talented playmaker can drive the offense with great speed and puckhandling skill. But the 6-3, 203-pound forward also has shown himself to be a responsible player in the defensive zone, and knows how to use his size and strength to win battles along the wall.

4. Edmonton Oilers -- Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL)
The Oilers find the defenseman they need to help transition the puck to their talented group of forwards. Juolevi also can carry it himself to create offense. He had no problem adjusting to the smaller North American rinks, and has room to add strength to his 6-2, 182-pound frame.

5. Vancouver Canucks -- Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL)
General manager Jim Benning said he was looking for a top-line forward with the fifth pick, and Tkachuk has the skill to fill that role. The 6-1, 200-pound forward attacks the net in the offensive zone. He has the skill and strength to go there with the puck and the soft hands to tip shots and get to rebounds.

• Mike G. Morreale's mock draft

6. Calgary Flames -- Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
The Flames allowed the most goals in the League this season but would be hard-pressed to pass up a big (6-2, 201), skilled forward versatile enough to play all three forward spots. Dubois at left wing to clear room for Johnny Gaudreau must be an appealing thought to GM Brad Treliving.

7. Arizona Coyotes -- Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)
Chychrun has NHL size (6-2, 205) and an outstanding feel for the game. An all-around defenseman who can jump into the play or hang back and play strong in the defensive zone.

8. Buffalo Sabres -- Alexander Nylander, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
The Sabres are solid through the middle of the ice with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel. Now it's time to find them some scoring options on the wing, and that could start with Nylander (6-0, 180), a dynamic skater who excelled in his first OHL season.

9. Montreal Canadiens -- Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL)
Two of the biggest needs for the Canadiens are big forwards and depth through the middle. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Brown supplies both. He's a Joe Thornton-esque playmaker more than a goal scorer, but there's lots of room for him to grow his game, both skill-wise and strength-wise.

10. Colorado Avalanche -- Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL)
The Russian-born left-shot defender showed skill and snarl in his first North American season. He has NHL-ready size (6-2, 205), and scored 17 goals in 67 games. He could step right into the Avalanche lineup next season.  

11. New Jersey Devils -- Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
The Devils scored the fewest goals in the League last season, so an offensive upgrade is in order. McLeod (6-2, 188) has great speed and showed this season he can set up linemates or finish plays at the net.

12. Ottawa Senators -- Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL)
The offensive-minded left-shot defender led WHL defensemen with 24 goals in 68 games this season. At 6-1 and 172 pounds, he needs to get stronger, but his skating and offensive game would help energize the Senators offense.

13. Carolina Hurricanes -- Clayton Keller, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
Keller is the latest small-stature player (5-9, 168) to put up huge numbers entering his draft season; he had 107 points in 62 games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team. He's headed to Boston University next season and should get stronger. Eventually he could add high-end skill to the Hurricanes lineup.

14. Boston Bruins -- Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
The Bruins lack depth on the right side and Gauthier certainly supplies that. The 6-3, 225-pound forward had 41 goals in 54 games this season, and also was the only 2016 draft-eligible player to make Canada's roster for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship

15. Minnesota Wild -- Max Jones, LW, London (OHL)
Size and physicality up front is a need for the Wild, and the 6-2, 203-pound Jones supplies it, along with top-end skill that saw him score 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games. He needs to tame some of the wildness that got him 106 penalty minutes and a 12-game suspension in the OHL playoffs, but that should come with maturity.

16. Detroit Red Wings -- Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)
The Red Wings need to get some younger defensemen into the pipeline, but they will be able to wait for Fabbro (6-0, 189) to mature at Boston University. He had 67 points in 45 games, and scouts also like his defensive awareness and ability to read the play.

17. Nashville Predators -- Charles McAvoy, D, Boston University (H-EAST)
The Predators traded defenseman Seth Jones during the season and Shea Weber will turn 31 in August, so it makes sense for them to start building some depth at the position. McAvoy (6-0, 208) had a solid freshman season at Boston University with 25 points in 37 games and earned a spot with the United States at the World Junior Championship. Scouts like his skating, mobility and work ethic.

18. Philadelphia Flyers -- Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine (HIGH-MN)
Flyers GM Ron Hextall has said he wants to get bigger up front. Tufte will need time at the University of Minnesota Duluth to develop his game, but at 6-4 and 205 pounds he has what Philadelphia is looking for. A good skater with a hard shot, he also is good at winning board battles. He was Mr. Hockey in Minnesota and had 10 goals in 27 games against better competition with Fargo of the USHL.

19. New York Islanders -- Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL)
Some physicality on defense would help and at 6-7 and 225 pounds, Stanley brings that element. He skates well for a player his size and likely will continue to improve. He won't be a big offensive producer, but could look pretty solid as the defensive half of a future pairing with Ryan Pulock.

20. Arizona Coyotes (from New York Rangers) -- German Rubtsov, C, Team Russia U18 (RUS)
The 6-2, 178-pound forward had a solid offensive season with 26 points in 28 games, but scouts also like his hockey sense and defensive-zone play. Those two qualities that would make him a good fit on a Dave Tippett-coached team.

21. Carolina Hurricanes (from Los Angeles Kings) -- Tyson Jost, C, Penticton (BCHL)
The talented center had an outstanding season with 42 goals and 104 points in 48 games. Jost (6-0, 194) will face a higher level of play next season at the University of North Dakota, but he has the look of another building block for the Carolina offense.

22. Winnipeg Jets (from Chicago Blackhawks) -- Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack (BCHL)
Two of the Jets' top defensemen, Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom, are 31, so now is the time to start looking to the future. Cholowski (6-0, 170) is an excellent skater with top-end hockey sense. He'll look to get stronger next season at St. Cloud State.

23. Florida Panthers -- Alexander DeBrincat, RW, Erie (OHL)
DeBrincat has played alongside top-end centers Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome the past two seasons, but you still have to be pretty talented to score 102 goals in 128 games, especially with a 5-7, 163-pound frame. He anticipates the game well and has a quick release on an accurate shot.

24. Anaheim Ducks -- Kieffer Bellows, LW, USA U-18 (USHL)
A 50-goal scorer this season with the NTDP U-18 team, Bellows (6-0, 196) would bring some needed skill along the wing to the organizational pipeline. He'll spend next season developing his game at Boston University, but scouts already like his shot and his willingness to use it in all areas of the ice.

25. Dallas Stars -- Nathan Bastian, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
The 6-3, 205-pound power forward was the third skater on a line with Nylander and McLeod and did a lot of the grunt work along the walls and in front of the net. His skating needs to get better, but he has a strong, accurate shot and can get it off quickly.

26. Washington Capitals -- Lucas Johansen, D, Kelowna (WHL)
The Capitals need to add some young defensemen to their organization and there's no better place to find one than Kelowna, which has produced, among others, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber and Tyson Barrie. Johansen (6-1, 176), the younger brother of Nashville's Ryan Johansen, excels at using his skating to attack offensively and defend.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning -- Vitaly Abramov, RW, Gatineau (QMJHL)
In his first season in North America, Abramov led QMJHL rookies with 38 goals and 93 points. He's 5-9 and 175 pounds but is a highly competitive player with a quick, accurate shot.

28. St. Louis Blues -- Pascal Laberge, C, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
With David Backes a 32-year-old impending free agent and Paul Stastny (30), this could be a good time for the Blues to start building for the future through the middle. Laberge (6-1, 172) had 68 points in 56 games; he's a smart playmaker who is willing to work for pucks along the wall.

*29. Boston Bruins (from San Jose Sharks) -- Luke Kunin, C, Wisconsin (BIG 10)
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are 30 years old but should still be useful players when Kunin (5-11, 193) is ready to make an impact. He had 32 points in 34 games as a college freshman and will get top-end coaching next season from Tony Granato.

*30. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins) -- Boris Katchouk, LW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The 6-1, 192-pound forward had 24 goals and 51 points in 63 games, but also showed himself to be a versatile player who can kill penalties and be physical when needed.

 *- to be determined at end of Stanley Cup Final

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.