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NHL Draft

NHL Draft first-round analysis

Picks 1-30 from First Niagara Center in Buffalo

NHL.com @NHL

BUFFALO -- The first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on Friday marked the first step toward an NHL career for 30 young men.

NHL.com has the vital information and analysis for each selection here.

 

DATA TRACKER: PICK-BY-PICK

 

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

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 1

2015-16: 36 games, 24-22-46 

The first United States-born player selected No. 1 at the NHL draft since Patrick Kane by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound native of Scottsdale, Ariz., played against older, more experienced competition in Switzerland, some of whom had played in the NHL, and succeeded. He won the Rising Star award and finished second in voting the most valuable player award in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. Matthews helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, tying for the tournament lead with seven goals in seven games. He also led the U.S. with six goals in 10 games at 2016 IIHF World Championship. 

NHL.com quick hit: He's the big, powerful center the Maple Leafs have craved since Mats Sundin in 2007-08. A franchise player capable of playing a strong 200-foot game.

Video: Auston Matthews on joining the Maple Leafs

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

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 2

2015-16: 46 games, 17-16-33 

The 6-3, 201-pound forward can play right wing or left wing. He has excellent puck skills, quick hands and one of the best one-timers among players in the 2016 draft pool. Scouts have compared him to Hockey Hall of Fame member Brett Hull. Laine was named MVP of the playoffs in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, after he had 10 goals and 15 points in 18 games to help Tappara win the championship. He also was named the most valuable player and best forward at the 2016 IIHF World Championship; he had seven goals and 12 points in 10 games to help Finland win the silver medal. He'll play for Team Finland at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

NHL.com quick hit: Laine is the pure goal-scorer the Jets will be able to fit right into their top six. He has an NHL caliber shot and is extremely difficult to play against. He could fill a role alongside center Mark Scheifele.

Video: Jets draft F Patrik Laine No. 2

3. Columbus Blue Jackets - Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 1

2015-16: 62 games, 42-57-99 

A strong and deceptive skater who is capable of playing all three forward positions. Scouts compare him to Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn. Dubois quickly ascended the draft rankings this season, using his versatility and size (6-2, 201) to an advantage, as evidenced by his 112 penalty minutes. He also had 10 power-play goals, three shorthanded goals and won 50.4 percent of his faceoffs despite never playing center before December 2015.

NHL.com quick hit: The Blue Jackets love the versatility of Dubois, who celebrates his 18th birthday on Friday. He's a highly skilled power forward capable of playing all three forward positions. He excels using his size and he plays with an edge.

Video: Blue Jackets draft F Pierre-Luc Dubois No. 3

4. Edmonton Oilers - Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (FIN) 

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 3

2015-16: 50 games, 13-15-28 

A big, skilled all-around forward who can score and pass. He missed three weeks in March because of a lower-body injury but didn't miss a beat once he returned to the lineup. He had five goals and seven points in four games for Finland to help them win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. That followed the gold medal Puljujarvi helped Finland win at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. He had 17 points in seven games, tied for the second-most ever by an under-18 player in the tournament, one behind Jaromir Jagr's 18 points for Czechoslovakia in 1990.

NHL.com quick hit: The ultimate power forward with a solid 200-foot game, Could be the perfect complement to Connor McDavid.

5. Vancouver Canucks - Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 5

2015-16: 57 games, 9-33-42 

Juolevi had nine points, all assists, in seven games to help Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, and he had seven points, all assists, in four games to help London win the Memorial Cup. The 6-2, 188-pound left-shot defender exhibits excellent poise and composure with the puck, good instincts without the puck, is effective on special teams and is a fantastic skater.

NHL.com quick hit: Possibly the most offensively skilled defenseman in the draft. Juolevi is a superb skater who can carry the puck and lead the rush, or make a quick, smart pass out of the zone. The Canucks haven't had a player of his skill since Alexander Edler's peak seasons.

6. Calgary Flames - Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 2

2015-16: 57 games, 30-77-107 

Possesses elite hockey sense and vision that allows him to consistently find ways to contribute offensively and be impactful in many roles. Scouts have said Tkachuk reminds them of Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry. After his outstanding regular season, Tkachuk led the Ontario Hockey League with 20 goals in 18 playoff games, and then scored in overtime in the Memorial Cup championship game. He's the son of former NHL player and United States Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk.

NHL.com quick hit: Some scouts considered Tkachuk the best player in the draft class from the dots down in the offensive zone. The power forward showed he is fearless in getting to the net. Having a player with his skill set will make Calgary's other top forwards, like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, even better.

7. Arizona Coyotes - Clayton Keller, C, USA U-18 (USHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 9

2015-16: 62 games, 37-70-107 

The left-shot center (5-10, 164) led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team in assists, points, shorthanded goals (four) and a 1.73 points-per-game average. Keller models his game after NTDP alum Patrick Kane. Scouts like his playmaking ability, scoring touch, exceptional mobility, stickhandling and confidence. He saw extensive time on the power-play and penalty-killing units.

NHL.com quick hit: The offensive dynamo had a 100-point season with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team. His lack of size (5-foot-10, 164 pounds) is offset by his skating and hockey sense. Adding Keller to Dylan Strome, the No. 3 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, gives the Coyotes the making of impressive depth through the middle.

8. Buffalo Sabres - Alexander Nylander, LW, Mississauga (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 3

2015-16: 57 games, 28-47-75 

Nylander (6-0, 178) is a dynamic player with an elite skill set to complement his NHL-ready speed and quickness. He can make plays at full speed, is dangerous 1-on-1 and has high-end goal-scoring instincts. Scouts love that he's difficult to defend because he can create offense in so many ways. Nylander led Sweden with four goals and nine points in seven games at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. The pick also should elevate the rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have older brother William Nylander.

NHL.com quick hit: The talented, versatile forward can play center or left wing. He executes at top speed, and an eventual line combination with center Jack Eichel could cause problems for Buffalo opponents down the line.

9. Montreal Canadiens - Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 8

2015-16: 67 games, 17-40-57 

A solid two-way defenseman with good size (6-2, 221), deceptive speed and quickness, Sergachev was the youngest recipient of the Ontario Hockey League Most Outstanding Defenseman award. He led OHL defensemen in goals and was third in points. Sergachev also had 31 power-play points and a plus-15 rating.

NHL.com quick hit: The defenseman mixes high-end offensive skill with snarl. He made a seamless adjustment to North America, scoring 17 goals and being named the best defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. Some scouts think he could be NHL-ready this season.

10. Colorado Avalanche - Tyson Jost, C, Penticton (BCHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 16

2015-16: 48 games, 42-62-104 

The 5-11, 190-pound left-shot forward was named the most valuable player of British Columbia Hockey League after he led the league with 62 assists and was third with 104 points in 48 games. Jost also was named best forward at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship after leading the tournament with 15 points in seven games for Canada. He's committed to the University of North Dakota for 2016-17.

NHL.com quick hit: The highly talented center has earned comparisons to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. He's taking Toews' path to the University of North Dakota next season, and might not need much time there before he can join Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene as impressive center depth in Colorado.

Video: Avalanche draft F Tyson Jost No. 10

11. Ottawa Senators (from New Jersey Devils) - Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 7

2015-16: 59 games, 21-53-74 

A playmaking center with excellent size (6-6, 220) and presence down the middle. He had 29 points on the power play and was very effective on faceoffs, winning 53.0 percent. Brown had three goals and 12 points in seven games to help the United States win the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

NHL.com quick hit: A big center the Senators coveted enough to trade up one slot with the New Jersey Devils. He possesses great hands and is very difficult to contain 1-on-1. With further development, one day he could become the No. 1 center on the roster.

12. New Jersey Devils (from Ottawa Senators) - Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 13

2015-16: 57 games, 21-40-61 

McLeod is considered to be one of the fastest skaters in the 2016 draft class. He's a two-way forward with good size (6-2, 185), intelligence and the capability to play in all situations. He had six power-play goals, four shorthanded goals and won 58.0 percent of his faceoffs. McLeod is strong along the wall in battles for pucks and knows how to get to the net in the offensive zone. 

NHL.com quick hit: Devils coach John Hynes desperately needed a future center, and McLeod could be that player. He might be the fastest player of this year's draft class, and also is good on special teams.

13. Carolina Hurricanes - Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 15

2015-16: 68 games, 24-40-64 

Bean led Western Hockey League defensemen in goals. The 6-foot, 173-pound left-shot defender has a good shot and can defend well using his mobility and smarts. Bean is a great example of perseverance. He was passed over in the 2013 WHL draft but earned a tryout with Calgary. Bean went on to set a team record for rookie defensemen with 39 points in 2014-15, and his 24 goals this season were the most ever by a Calgary defenseman.

NHL.com quick hit: A great skater with excellent offensive skills. He needs to get bigger and stronger to handle big forwards in the defensive zone, but the Hurricanes have added another tremendous talent to what already is a highly skilled, young defense group.

14. Boston Bruins - Charles McAvoy, D, Boston University (H-EAST) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 6

2015-16: 37 games, 3-22-25 

Named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, McAvoy (6-0, 199) is one of the top right-shot defenders in the draft. He can process the game quickly in transition and contribute in all situations. Scouts believe he has a pro-style game even at this stage in his development. He won a bronze medal with the U.S. at the IIHF 2016 World Junior Championship.

NHL.com quick hit: Considered to be the best right-handed defenseman in this draft class, McAvoy has shown tremendous improvement under the tutelage of Boston University coach David Quinn. He has a pro-style game and can contribute offensively.

15. Minnesota Wild - Luke Kunin, C, Wisconsin (BIG10) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 11

2015-16: 34 games, 19-13-32 

Considered to be a lethal finisher capable of creating offense every shift. Kunin was named to the Big Ten Conference All-Freshman team, and led Wisconsin in goals and shots on goal (127), tied for first in power-play goals (five) and was second in points. He also had at least two points in eight of his 34 games. He ended the season on a seven-game point streak.

NHL.com quick hit: He had an outstanding freshman college season despite Wisconsin's poor record. He'll likely need another season in college to get stronger, but he has the skills to add top-end offense to the Wild lineup. A future top two-line center.

16. Arizona Coyotes (from Detroit Red Wings) - Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 4

2015-16: 62 games, 11-38-49 

The left-shot defender (6-2, 200) is considered an excellent skater with high-end hockey sense and passing ability. Eight of his 11 goals came on the power play, and he was a plus-23 in 62 games for Sarnia. Chychrun, the son of former NHL defenseman Jeff Chychrun, might be the most NHL-ready player at his position.

NHL.com quick hit: One of the finest skaters among defensemen in this draft class, he is a steady presence along the blue line. Chychrun was so well regarded by the Coyotes, they took on Pavel Datsyuk's contract in a trade with the Red Wings to move up and get him. He will fill a top-four role and is considered a leader in the locker room.

17. Nashville Predators - Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 18

2015-16: 45 games, 14-53-67 

Named the top defenseman of the British Columbia Hockey League, Fabbro led all players at his position in points and game-winning goals (four), and was second in goals and power-play goals (eight). The right-shot defender is committed to Boston University for 2016-17. Scouts liked how he usually was in position to break most plays and force opponents wide.

NHL.com quick hit: With Seth Jones traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Shea Weber 30 years old, it's a good time for the Predators to add depth to the defense pipeline. Fabbro has high-end offensive skills and was able to showcase them both in the British Columbia Hockey League at at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, where he played on the top pair.

18. Winnipeg Jets (from Philadelphia Flyers) - Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 19

2015-16: Windsor (OHL); Stats: 64 games, 5-12-17 

The left-shot defender was partnered with fellow top 2016 NHL Draft top prospect Mikhail Sergachev this season. He has enough mobility to handle speedy forwards. His size (6-7, 224) makes him very difficult to beat 1-on-1. Stanley plays with an edge, as evidenced by his 103 penalty minutes.

NHL.com quick hit: The Jets needed to replenish their defensive depth and they did that with the biggest defenseman in the draft. Stanley likely won't be a big point producer in the NHL but he skates well for a player his size, uses his long reach very well in the defensive zone and plays with an edge.

19. New York Islanders - Kieffer Bellows, LW, USA U-18 (USHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 10

2015-16: 62 games, 50-31-81 

The 6-foot, 197-pound forward is committed to Boston University for 2016-17. Bellows led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team in goals and was second in points. He's physical on the forecheck and looks to shoot whenever given the chance. Bellows has a knack for getting shots on goal from all angles. He is the son of former NHL right wing Brian Bellows, who was selected by the Minnesota North Stars with the second pick of the 1982 draft.

NHL.com quick hit: A pure goal scorer with a big shot. The Islanders need to stock up on offensively gifted forwards for the future, and the leading goal scorer of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program fits that bill.

20. Detroit Red Wings (from Arizona Coyotes via New York Rangers) - Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack (BCHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 23

2015-16: 50 games, 12-28-40 

A known commodity entering the season after having played in the British Columbia Hockey League as a 16-year-old, Cholowski (6-1, 177) had a strong second half of the season, with seven goals and 14 points in his final 15 games. He patiently thinks and processes the game exceptionally well, can elude pressure and takes what's given.

NHL.com quick hit: The smooth-skating defenseman had a strong second half of the season. The Red Wings have a number of young forwards and now are starting to add defensive depth to their prospect pool. And they'll allow Cholowski all the time he needs to develop at St. Cloud State.

Video: Hurricanes draft F Julien Gauthier No. 21

21. Carolina Hurricanes (from Los Angeles Kings) - Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 12

2015-16: 54 games, 41-16-57 

A skilled power forward with size (6-3, 231) and deceptive speed, he's regarded as a hard-working player in all three zones. He had 11 power-play goals, a plus-24 rating and 208 shots on goals. Gauthier was the only 2016 draft-eligible player on Canada's roster for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

NHL.com quick hit: A tremendously gifted power forward who can skate well, score and play with an edge. He will open up ice for linemates; is strong on the power play.

22. Philadelphia Flyers (from Winnipeg Jets via Chicago Blackhawks) - German Rubtsov, C, Team Russia U-18 (RUS-JR) 

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 5

2015-16: 28 games, 12-14-26 

A hard-working skater and competitor, Rubtsov (6-0, 178) plays an honest, two-way game, and is skilled and strong in high-traffic areas. He had a plus-12 rating and 78 shots on goal in the Russian junior league. Rubtsov makes good decisions with the puck, is an effective penalty killer, and is willing to battle and pay the price for a goal. 

NHL.com quick hit: Scouts like Rubtsov's commitment to the defensive part of his game while still being a strong offensive performer. The Flyers have added a number of strong defense prospects the past few years, and now are starting to focus on finding solid young forwards. He could move to North America next season, potentially to play in the Canadian Hockey League.

23. Florida Panthers - Henrik Borgstrom, C, HIFK Jr. (FIN-JR)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 9

2015-16: 40 games, 29-26-55 

The left-shot forward (6-3, 176) is one of the rising European prospects of the 2016 draft class. He has been compared to St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund. Borgstrom is committed to the University of Denver for 2016-17. He is a great playmaker with good puck skills. NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb called Borgstrom a "crowd pleaser."

NHL.com quick hit: A left-handed center who will fit in well for the much improved Panthers and really shot up the rankings over the second half of the season. He has great playmaking skills and terrific puck control. Considered a two-way center with a great set of skills.

24. Anaheim Ducks - Max Jones, LW, London (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 14

2015-16: 63 games, 28-24-52 

A prototypical power forward who enjoys hitting hard and playing with an edge. Jones (6-2, 206) proved to be a consistent scorer in his first OHL season. He has a good shot with a quick release, is good in tight spaces and is proficient killing penalties.

NHL.com quick hit: Ducks general manager Bob Murray said he hoped to find a left-shot left wing, and Jones is a skilled one who projects to be a top-six forward. He was a solid contributor to a Memorial Cup championship team and should get more playing time next season, when a few of London's top-line players graduate to professional hockey.

25. Dallas Stars - Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine (HIGH-MN) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 17

2015-16: 25 games, 47-31-78 

Tufte won the 2016 Mr. Hockey Award as the top high school senior in Minnesota. He led Blaine in goals, assists and game-winning goals (10). He also had 10 goals and 14 points in 27 games with Fargo of the United States Hockey League. Scouts see him as a good passer with good finish to his game, and compare him to Blaine alum and Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad. Tufte, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 11, committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2016-17.

NHL.com quick hit: The first high school player off the board has great size and mobility. He plays a skill game, can take the puck to the net with authority and is a good skater.

26. St. Louis Blues (from Washington Capitals) - Tage Thompson, C, Connecticut (H-EAST) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 20

2015-16: 36 games, 14-18-32 

A right-handed power forward, Thompson began the season on the fourth line but soon was playing top line minutes. He has a great shot and led the NCAA with 13 power-play goals. Thompson (6-5, 195) is tough to knock off the puck, and good at protecting it and taking it to the net.

NHL.com quick hit: The Blues needed a big, strong center and Thompson, at 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds, has a giant frame that can get even bigger. With David Backes' future in St. Louis uncertain and Paul Stastny turning 31 next season, the time was right for the Blues to start to search for a future No. 1 center.

27. Tampa Bay Lightning - Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw (WHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 22

2015-16: 68 games, 24-40-64 

Howden made major strides during the second half of the season. He's considered a valuable team player capable of aiding the power play and penalty kill with his size (6-2, 193), speed and ability to create turnovers. His brother, Quinton Howden, was a first-round pick (No. 25) of the Florida Panthers in the 2010 draft.

NHL.com quick hit: Big center who plays at both ends of the rink. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman believes Howden will be a solid two-center center with good hockey sense once he develops.

28. Washington Capitals (from St. Louis Blues) - Lucas Johansen, D, Kelowna (WHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 26

2015-16: 69 games, 10-39-49 

Johansen (6-1, 175) offers a complete game and is smooth in transition. He doesn't do one great thing, but a lot of things well and is considered as steady as they come. Kelowna assistant coach Kris Mallette said Johansen got better when his ice time increased. His brother, Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen, was the fourth pick of the 2010 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

NHL.com quick hit: The Capitals head to the defenseman factory of Kelowna of the Western Hockey League; Shea Weber and Duncan Keith are two of the more prominent alums, as is Capitals defense prospect Madison Bowey. Johansen has a high-end offensive game, but needs to get stronger. He got better as his ice time increased, and it's likely to rise higher next season.

29. Boston Bruins (from San Jose Sharks) - Trent Frederic, C, USA U-18 (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 47

2015-16: 61 games, 20-20-40

Committed to the University of Wisconsin in 2016-17, Frederic (6-2, 204) is strong on the puck, mobile and can play in many different situations. Frederic is smart and offers a great work ethic. He has the potential to become a complete player and should serve second- or third-line role.

NHL.com quick hit: A bit of a surprise at this point, but Ferderic is a solid two-way forward who could develop into a second- or third-line player. The Bruins have made good use of the stockpile of draft picks general manager Don Sweeney has put together the past two years.

30. Anaheim Ducks (from Pittsburgh Penguins via Toronto Maple Leafs) - Sam Steel, C, Regina (WHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 30

2015-16: 72 games, 23-47-70 

Steel (5-11, 178) is an excellent skater with breakaway speed. Scouts have been impressed by how far his game has grown since the start of the season. He can read and react to situations very quickly and can set up teammates as well as any playmaker in the Western Hockey League. Steel had eight goals and 22 assists on the power play, and was productive on the penalty kill. 

NHL.com quick hit: The Ducks upgrade their speed with Steel. Centers Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler each are 31, so there's going to be a need at that position eventually. Steel will have the time to develop and potentially move into a top two-line role down the road.

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