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NHL Draft

Mock draft: Maple Leafs land franchise center

NHL.com's Adam Kimelman projects the top 14 picks

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Shanahan on winning Draft Lottery

Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan on Lottery

Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan on winning the NHL Draft Lottery and the bright future of the team

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NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman projects the top 14 selections in the 2016 NHL Draft:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs - Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (SUI)
The Maple Leafs find the franchise center they've been looking for since Mats Sundin left in 2008. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound center played against older competition in Switzerland and excelled; he was second in voting for MVP in National League A.

2. Winnipeg Jets - Patrik Laine, RW, Tappara (FIN)
The Jets were in the bottom-third of the League in scoring this season and the 6-4, 206-pound forward likely can step right into their lineup and produce. Big and skilled with a lightning-quick release.

3. Columbus Blue Jackets - Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (FIN)
A talented playmaker who can drive the offense with great speed and puck-handling skill. The 6-3, 203-pound forward starred at all levels this season. He had 28 points in 50 games in Liiga, Finland's top pro league. He helped Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship and the World Under-18 Championship. At the WJC, his 17 points were one shy of Jaromir Jagr's WJC record for an under-18 player.

4. Edmonton Oilers - Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)
At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Chychrun has NHL-ready size, skills and smarts. A two-way defenseman who can skate well enough to lead the attack or step up to defuse the rush. The Oilers also need to add to their scoring, but can't pass on the best defenseman in the draft. 

5. Vancouver Canucks - Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL)
The Canucks spent recent first-round picks on centers Bo Horvat and Jared McCann, and now it's time to find some wings to play with them. The 6-1, 200-pound Tkachuk 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 pucks and get to rebounds.

• NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale projects the top 14 picks

6. Calgary Flames - Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL)
The 6-2, 208-pound Russian-born, left-shot defender has the offensive skills that can drive possession. He was named the best defenseman in OHL in his first season in North America. He's also strong enough to take on opposing forwards in the defensive zone. 

7. Arizona Coyotes - Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL)
Smart and skilled with a mature game. The 6-2, 182-pound left-shot defender has little risk and lots of reward in his game. He made the adjustment from Finland to the OHL look easy this season. Also was the best defenseman at the 2016 World Junior Championship. 

8. Buffalo Sabres - Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Smart and versatile enough to play all three forward spots. Dubois (6-2, 201) was in the top-six in the QMJHL in goals and points, showing he can set up plays and finish them. The Sabres have solid depth through the middle and Dubois adds another threat from the wing. 

9. Montreal Canadiens - Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL)
The Canadiens need a top-line center and more size up front, and the 6-6, 220-pound Brown supplies both. He's more of a playmaker than goal scorer, but is capable of using his size to hold off defenders in the offensive zone to create scoring chances for himself or his teammates. 

10. Colorado Avalanche - Jake Bean, D, Brandon (WHL)
The 6-foot, 173-pound left-shot defender fills a need for a talented, offensive-minded defenseman. Bean is an excellent skater who excels in transition. He makes smart, on-target passes, and is smart and poised with and without the puck. He needs to get stronger but is skilled at using his stick and good body positioning in the defensive zone.  

11. New Jersey Devils - Alexander Nylander, LW, Mississauga (OHL)
The Devils averaged a League-low 2.22 goals per game this season so an offensive upgrade is needed. Nylander, a 6-foot, 180-pound forward, is a dynamic skater and offensive talent that excelled for Sweden at the World Juniors, and led all OHL rookies in points. 

12. Ottawa Senators - Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)
The Senators allowed 2.94 goals per game this season. One way to lower that number is by finding players who can push the offense from the defensive zone, and the 6-foot, 189-pound right-shot defender can do that. He's committed to Boston University but his skill set makes him worth waiting for at least one college season. He also answered any questions about the level of competition he faced in the BCHL by playing on the top defense pair for Canada at the World Under-18 Championship, and finishing with eight points and a plus-5 rating in seven games.

13. Carolina Hurricanes - Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
Skating and speed are McLeod's best assets and the Hurricanes, who scored the fourth-fewest goals in the League this season (196), could use an injection of both. With the departure of Eric Staal, the Hurricanes need a franchise center to build around and McLeod could fill that role. 

14. Boston Bruins - Clayton Keller, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
The 5-9, 168-pound forward could be the latest smaller but highly skilled forward to make an impact in the NHL. Keller led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 70 assists and 107 points, and will continue maturing next season at Boston University. The Bruins top two centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, are 30, so adding some young blood to that group is a need.

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