Skip to main content
NHL Draft

Mock Draft: Matthews heads to Maple Leafs's Adam Kimelman projects top 30 picks

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman projects the top 30 selections in the 2016 NHL Draft:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs - Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (SUI)
The Maple Leafs can end their search for a franchise center. Matthews (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) answered any lingering questions about who should go No. 1 with an outstanding performance at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.

2. Winnipeg Jets - Patrik Laine, RW, Tappara (FIN)
Laine already has NHL-ready size (6-3, 201) and talent, which he again showed by winning MVP of the World Championship. 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 - Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)
Arguably the best all-around defenseman in the draft, Chychrun has NHL size (6-2, 199) and an outstanding feel for the game. His offensive numbers will be better when he gets with better talent. 

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. 

6. Calgary Flames - Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
The Flames allowed the most goals in the League last 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 - Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL)
Big, strong centers are a must in the Pacific Division so it would be hard to envision the Coyotes passing on this 6-6, 220-pound forward. 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.

8. Buffalo Sabres - Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL)
Juolevi said he was best the defenseman in the draft during the NHL Scouting Combine and a number of scouts agreed with him. His skating and offensive ability are top-notch, as is his hockey IQ. He showed little problem adjusting to the smaller North American rinks and has room to add strength to his 6-2, 182-pound frame.

9. Montreal Canadiens - Alexander Nylander, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
Nylander (6-0, 178) will add speed and top-six skill to a Canadiens offense that has ranked in the bottom-third of the League in scoring the past three seasons. Scouts also love his hockey sense and playmaking. And though he played on the wing this season, he also can play center. 

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's got NHL-ready size (6-2, 221), and was named the best defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League after he had 17 goals in 67 games. He could step right into the Avalanche lineup next season.  

11. New Jersey Devils - Clayton Keller, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
Devils general manager Ray Shero said he's looking to add skill to the organization and Keller (5-10, 163) is a great place to start. He had 107 points in 62 games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team this season. He'll continue to hone his skills next season at Boston University but it might not be too long before he adds his high-end ability to the Devils lineup.

12. Ottawa Senators - Charles McAvoy, D, Boston University (H-EAST)
The Senators allowed a League-high 32.8 shots per game this season. One way to cut that number down is by adding efficient, puck-moving defensemen like McAvoy. The 6-foot, 199-pound right-shot defender 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. 

13. Carolina Hurricanes - Tyson Jost, C, Penticton (BCHL)
The talented center had an outstanding season in the BCHL with 42 goals and 104 points in 48 games, and also led Canada in goals (six) and points (15) while being named the best forward at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Jost (5-11, 189) will face a higher level of play next season at the University of North Dakota, but he has the look of a building block for the Hurricanes offense.

14. Boston Bruins - Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are each 30 years old but should still be useful players when the speedy McLeod (6-2, 185) is ready to make an impact. With 21 goals in 57 games he showed he could finish plays, but his strength was using his skating to create time and space for his linemates. 

15. Minnesota Wild - Kieffer Bellows, LW, USA U-18 (USHL)
A 50-goal scorer this season with the NTDP U-18 team, Bellows (6-0, 197) would bring some needed skill and physicality 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.

16. Detroit Red Wings - Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL)
The offensive-minded left-shot defender led WHL defensemen with 24 goals in 68 games this season. At 6-0 and 173 pounds he needs to get stronger, but his skating and offensive skill would help raise the tempo and mesh well with their developing young forwards.

17. Nashville Predators - Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)
With the trade of Seth Jones this season and Shea Weber turning 31 on Aug. 14, it's a good time to start adding some organizational depth on defense. They'll be able to wait for Fabbro (6-0, 191) to mature at Boston University. He had 67 points in 45 games but scouts also like his defensive awareness and ability to read the play. 

18. Philadelphia Flyers - Max Jones, LW, London (OHL)
Flyers GM Ron Hextall has said he wants to get bigger up front, and at 6-2, 203 pounds Jones has the look of a future top-six power forward. He had 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games this season but needs to tame some of the wildness that got him 106 penalty minutes and a 12-game suspension in the OHL playoffs. That should come with maturity. 

19. New York Islanders - Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL)
Some physicality on defense would help and at 6-7, 224 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. He showcased his endurance at the combine by going 12:30 on the VO2 max bike test, the longest of any player. 

20. Arizona Coyotes (from New York Rangers) - Luke Kunin, C, Wisconsin (BIG10)
Wisconsin struggled last season but Kunin (5-11, 192) managed to stand out with 32 points in 34 games as a freshman. He'll likely return for at least one more college season and will get top-end coaching next season from new Wisconsin coach Tony Granato.

21. Carolina Hurricanes (from Los Angeles Kings) - Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine (HIGH-MN)
With two first-round picks the Hurricanes can afford to be patient with Tufte, a 6-5, 211-pound forward who will play next season at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He won the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award this season, when he had 47 goals and 78 points in 25 high school games. But just as impressive were his 10 goals in 27 games against better competition with Fargo of the United States Hockey League. 

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 (6-1, 177) 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, 165-pound frame. He anticipates the game well, has a quick release on an accurate shot and is fearless in getting to try to score from in close. 

24. Anaheim Ducks - Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
The Ducks lack skilled depth on the right side and Gauthier certainly supplies that. The 6-3, 230-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.

25. Dallas Stars - German Rubtsov, C, Team Russia U18 (RUS-JR)
The 6-0, 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 would make him a good fit on a Lindy Ruff-coached team. 

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, Weber and Tyson Barrie. Johansen (6-1, 177), the younger brother of Predators center Ryan Johansen, excels at using his skating to attack offensively and defend. 

27. Tampa Bay - 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 - Pascal Laberge, C, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
With David Backes, 32, an impending unrestricted free agent and Paul Stastny at 30, this could be a good time for the Blues to start building for the future through the middle. Laberge (6-1, 173) had 68 points in 56 games; he's a smart playmaker who is willing to work for pucks along the wall.

*29. Boston (from San Jose) - Tage Thompson, C, Connecticut (H-EAST)
The 6-5, 195-pound power forward had a strong freshman season, and scouts like his puck skills and accurate, quick-release shot. He also could boost the Bruins power play; his 13 goals on the man-advantage led the NCAA. 

*30. Toronto (from Pittsburgh) - Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)
The Maple Leafs could further bolster their depth down the middle with Howden, a strong two-way center. He had 24 goals and 64 points in 68 games but was just as well-regarded for his competitiveness and defensive reliability. And at 193 pounds on a 6-2 frame, there's room for him to get stronger.

*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.