Skip to main content
NHL Draft

Matthews consensus top pick in final mock draft

NHL.com experts project Laine to Jets at No. 2, Puljujarvi to Blue Jackets with third selection

NHL.com @NHL

The NHL will shift its focus to Buffalo for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center on June 24-25.

The 30 teams will continue to pore over their draft board heading into the event, which will start with the first round June 24 (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). Rounds 2-7 will be June 25 (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports 2, SN).

NHL.com draft experts, however, have made their decisions for the first round, and they're in agreement that the Toronto Maple Leafs will select center Auston Matthews with the first pick.

NHL.com Experts Mock Drafts: Kimelman | Morreale

The native of Scottsdale, Ariz., starred for Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's pro league, finishing second in voting for the league's most valuable player award. He followed that by leading the United States with six goals in 10 games at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. He also was named to Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which coincidentally will be played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

NHL.com writers also believe the Winnipeg Jets will select right wing Patrik Laine of Tappara in Finland with the second pick, and the Columbus Blue Jackets will take right wing Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat in Finland with the No. 3 choice.

Video: Potential impact of Auston Matthews in Toronto

Laine helped Tappara win the title in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, helped Finland win the silver medal at the World Championship, and he was MVP of the Liiga playoffs and the World Championship. His offensive game has been compared to Hockey Hall of Fame member Brett Hull.

Puljujarvi helped Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship with 17 points in seven games, tied for the second-most at the tournament by an under-18 player; Jaromir Jagr had 18 points for Czechoslovakia in 1990. Puljujarvi also helped Finland win the gold medal at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

After the third pick, however, the mock drafts take divergent paths. Adam Kimelman has the Edmonton Oilers selecting defenseman Jakob Chychrun of Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League at No. 4, and left wing Matthew Tkachuk of London of the OHL going fifth to the Vancouver Canucks.

Mike G. Morreale has the Oilers selecting Tkachuk at No. 4 and the Canucks taking left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the fifth pick.

Five teams have multiple first-round picks.

The Jets acquired the No. 22 pick from the Chicago Blackhawks in the trade for forward Andrew Ladd on Feb. 25.

The Arizona Coyotes have the No. 7 pick and the 20th pick, acquired from the New York Rangers in the trade for defenseman Keith Yandle on March 1, 2015.

The Carolina Hurricanes acquired the No. 21 pick from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade for defenseman Andrej Sekera on Feb. 25, 2015. They also have the No. 13 selection.

The Boston Bruins own the San Jose Sharks' pick at No. 29, acquired in the trade for goaltender Martin Jones on June 30, 2015. They also have the No. 14 pick.

The Anaheim Ducks have the 24th pick and acquired the No. 30 selection from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade for goaltender Frederik Andersen on Monday. The pick initially belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who traded it to the Maple Leafs for forward Phil Kessel on July 1, 2015.

View More