Here is my mock draft for the NHL draft that goes down June 24. I’ll only be doing a mock draft for the first 15 selections. Since the Avs are set to select at #10, I have only concentrated on a handful of prospects and my knowledge of prospects set to go late in the first round is lacking.
There is a lot of speculation that the Oilers and the Blue Jackets are going to trade their picks but since that is yet to happen (if it happens) I’ll make a pick that is best for the organization. This is the order that it is currently and I’m not taking into account the likelihood of a team trading their pick. (i.e. Oilers pick #4 and are likely to trade the pick however they have yet to trade said pick so I will pick a prospect that is best for them at said selection).
1st: The Toronto Maple Leafs select (C) Auston Matthews
This pick is set in stone. The rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had a true #1 center since Mats Sundin retired. After an expected bad season the Leafs will be gifted Auston Matthews, a player destined to be an elite point producer for many years.
2nd: The Winnipeg Jets select (RW) Patrick Laine
For awhile it was clear that Auston Matthews was the clear #1 prospect but after a monstrous year, winger Patrick Laine muddied the waters a bit. Drawing comparison to Alexander Ovechkin, Laine brings size as well as other worldly talent. Jets already have one of the best prospect pools and it’ll get even better with the addition of Laine.
3rd: The Columbus Blue Jackets select (RW) Jesse Puljujarvi
The Blue Jackets traded away center Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones in the season and in past weeks there has been speculation that the Blue Jackets are willing to trade the 3rd overall pick so they can draft a center. It’s very possible they will do that. It’s also possible they draft center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who is expected to go 4th or 5th, with this selection. But there’s a reason why all season people talk about the big three (Matthews, Laine, Puljujarvi) of the 2016 draft: they’re elite and game-changing prospects. Puljujarvi might not be as flashy as Laine but he’s just as potent as an offensive weapon and some say even more physical.
4th: The Edmonton Oilers select (LW) Matthew Tkachuk
After selecting 1st overall in four of the last six years, the Oilers get the 4th overall pick in 2016. Lots of speculation that the Oilers are dangling the 4th overall pick in a quest to acquire a top pairing or top 4 defenseman, an area that has plagued the team for several years. In the case they keep the pick, I could see the Oilers draft d-man Olli Juolevi but I think they will draft his teammate Matthew Tkachuk, the son of NHL legend Keith Tkachuk. Matthew Tkachuk had one hell of a year with the London Knights that was capped off by scoring the game winning goal to capture the Memorial Cup. With some promising young d-men in the Oilers’ system and loaded down the middle with McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl, I see the oilers drafting power forward Matt Tkachuk. He’ll add some talent and much needed size to the team’s top 6.
5th: The Vancouver Canucks select (C/LW) Pierre-Luc Dubois
I could see the Canucks trading down as well. The Vancouver Canucks don’t have a great prospect pool and they need to prepare themselves for a life without the Sedin brothers. So a possibility of them trading down to collect some extra picks to fill their bare cupboards might be the best thing for them. But if not, Pierre-Luc Dubois is a perfect player for them. The 6’3, 205 pound power-forward is versatile, can play center as well as the wing. His size and offensive upside should have the Canucks brass salivating.
6th: The Calgary Flames select (LW) Alexander Nylander
The Calgary Flames already have Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett down the middle. They also are blessed with a great top 4 on the blueline. They could still go for a d-man (you can never have too many good defenders) but they lack good wingers. Enter Alexander Nylander who would fit absolutely perfect somewhere in their top 6 alongside Monahan or Bennett.
7th: The Arizona Coyotes select (D) Olli Juolevi
The Arizona Coyotes have already made it clear their intention is to get a d-man (unless they can somehow get their hands on Arizona-born Auston Matthews). With their best young pieces being forwards, Arizona will look to get their hands on a d-man who can eventually play alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Instead of drafting the consensus top ranked d-man Jakob Chychrun (who has fallen in a lot of people’s eyes and no longer considered the top ranked d-man) they will draft London Knight sensation Olli Juolevi. Juolevi is great at pushing the play forward and getting the puck out of their zone and into the hands of Max Domi and Anthony Duclair should have the Coyotes giddy with excitement.
8th: The Buffalo Sabres select (D) Jakob Chychrun
The Sabres are already set down the middle with Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons and have other centerman who play the wings. With no other top end wingers worth taking at the 8th spot, the Sabres will look for a d-man, a position they should bolster. They will take Jakob Chychrun, a defenseman who has all the physical tools and offensive upside.
9th: The Montreal Canadiens select (C) Logan Brown
The Montreal Canadiens have been a team that has been criticized for years for having a lack of size. They have also been vocal in their desire and need for size. They have Alex Galchenyuk down the middle but with Tomas Plekanec getting up their in age, they’ll need someone who can step into a top 6 role, someone not named Lars Eller. So with that, they’ll draft Logan Brown, a hulking 6’6 220 pound centerman who uses his size effectively and has offensive upside.
10th: The Colorado Avalanche select (D) Mikhail Sergachev
What everyone says about the Colorado Avalanche is that they’re horrible defensively. “They need defense, so they should draft defense”. However, the Avs have a lot of very good defensive prospects and their prospect pool forward wise is very thin. The Avs have said publicly that they’ll draft the best prospect available, regardless of position. The Sakic-Roy regime has an almost anti-lack of size approach so the small centerman Clayton Keller might not be the guy for the Avs (although Avs chief of scouting Alan Hepple has expressed his love for Keller). But if Mikhail Sergachev is still on the board I just don’t see the Avs passing on this guy. Many scouts says Mikhail Sergachev can play in the NHL as early as next season. The 6’2, 220 pound blueliner can produce offensively as well as be a shutdown guy.
11th: The New Jersey Devils select (C) Clayton Keller
With the Devils already having a pretty youthful blueline and having the exact opposite up front, they will definitely look for a forward. Last year they drafted the hulking power-forward Pavel Zacha who can play wing and center. If the Devils in the future can put a line on the ice featuring Zacha and Clayton Keller, look out. Keller is a very small forward but his skill is other worldly. Clayton Keller has broken Jack Eichel and Patrick Kane records for the US national development team. If Keller wasn’t so small, he would most certainly be a top 5 pick this year.
12th: The Ottawa Senators select (D) Jake Bean
This was definitely a tough call here. The Sens are a pretty young team on the back end and up front. I could see them picking centerman Michael McLeod who has both size and speed. I could also see them picking centerman Tyson Jost, and although he’s small he has great speed and exceptional hands and offensive abilities. But I see them selecting defenseman Jake Bean, a player who has some size, can push the pace and deliver offensively. Jake Bean just feels like a typical Ottawa Senators pick.
13th: The Carolina Hurricanes select (C) Michael McLeod
The Hurricanes are building something good up front with Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm, and Victor Rask down the middle and having Jeff Skinner and Teuvo Teravainen on the wing. The Canes also have stud young d-men Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin bolstering the blue line. Although they don’t exactly need a centerman badly, Michael McLeod’s size and speed would be a perfect fit for the Canes in their top 6. The Hurricanes are slowly but surely and quietly building something really good.
14th: The Boston Bruins select (D) Charles McAvoy
It’s no big secret that the Bruins are looking to rebuild their blueline. With Chara and Seidenberg in their twilight of their careers and dealing young stud d-man Dougie Hamilton last year, Bruins will most certainly draft a d-man. They will select the highly touted 6’0, 200 pound d-man Charlie McAvoy from Boston University. He can play a physical brand of hockey but also tries to emulate his game after Colorado Avalanche’s offensive dynamo Tyson Barrie. Would a perfect fit and great pick for the Boston Bruins.
15th: The Minnesota Wild select (C) Tyson Jost
The Minnesota Wild have a solid and young blueline and a lot of their top forwards are getting up there in age. They will most likely select a forward and that forward will be Tyson Jost. Jost, although small, is a dynamic speedy forward with good vision and sweet set of hands. Jost has played 3 seasons in the BCHL, a league that is not seen as top tier as the CHL or the NCAA. Jost has committed to play for the University of North Dakota for the 2016-17 campaign. The Wild will be smiling if they can get their hands on Jost.