Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2016 Draft Articles Click here.
Now that the order of 26 of the first 30 picks have been determined, I will be releasing my 2016 NHL mock draft.
For those who haven’t read the LWOS mock before here are the rules.
1) No trades except for those that have already been made by NHL teams.
2) A two-round Mock draft will be done in four parts. The first two parts (ie the first round) will be done today. The next two parts (ie the second round) will be done tomorrow.
3) Clicking the Player’s name will bring you to a full scouting report.
4) For Picks 27-30, we will assume that the team with home ice advantage will win each of the three series. Mocks will be updated as each series end, if that changes the draft order.
So with that out of the way, I present.
2016 NHL Mock Draft: Part 1 (Picks 1-15)
1.) Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, Centre, ZSC Lions
While some analysts have Patrick Laine as the better prospect, LWOS does not. Matthews is the best prospect available this year, and there is no controversy here. The Leafs will take Matthews, giving the franchise the first true number one centreman since Mats Sundin. Matthews is an all around player with the ability to put up big time offence and to play well in his own end of the rink. He will be the centre piece of a Leafs rebuild that is already well underway.
2.) Winnipeg Jets: Patrik Laine, Left Wing, Tappara
Moving up via the draft lottery has made things very easy for Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. What could have been a choice between several prospects with similar potential, now becomes an obvious choice. Patrik Laine was already rising up draft boards early in the season, but a dominant performance at the World Juniors, great play in the second half of the SM-Liiga season, good performances in the playoffs, and now at the World Championships have solidified him in the top two. A big bodied sniper, he will join a talented group of prospects in Winnipeg.
3.) Columbus Blue Jackets: Jesse Puljujarvi, Right Wing, Karpat
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen made a big splash this year by trading Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones. He also has Ryan Murray and Zach Werenski in the fold. Adding a big, powerful forward would be great for the Jackets right now. Luckily enough, it just so happens that Jesse Puljujarvi is exactly that type of winger, and he’s the best player available when the Jackets take to the podium to make the third overall pick.
4.) Edmonton Oilers: Mikhail Sergachev, Defence, Windsor Spitfires
The first three picks in this year’s draft are easy to predict. When the Edmonton Oilers go on the clock at fourth overall, the draft starts to really open up and becomes a lot more interesting. The Oilers have a plethora of young talent at the forward positions, but continue to need help on the blue line. They do have Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse, both of whom play on the left side. Sergachev has a left-handed shot, but often plays on the right side for Windsor. He also brings a level of dynamic offence and will help quarterback the Oilers powerplay going forward.
5.) Vancouver Canucks: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Left Wing/Centre, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Canucks general manager Jim Benning has made it clear that he is looking to go with a forward at the fifth overall pick. In Pierre Luc-Dubois he takes a versatile power forward type who has a powerful skating stride and fights through checks as he takes the puck to the front of the net. Dubois also has excellent skill, including a great wrist shot. He fits the mould of the type of players that Benning has been trying to assemble since taking over in Vancouver.
6.) Calgary Flames: Matthew Tkachuk, Left Wing, London Knights
Brad Treliving has an excellent stable of young centres with Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett already making their mark at the NHL level. He adds a winger that can do it all in Matthew Tkachuk, whether its play a power game, score goals, or set up plays for his linemates. Despite having to overcome adversity during these playoffs, Tkachuk continues to put up huge numbers and has helped the London Knights win the OHL Title and advance to the Memorial Cup.
7.) Arizona Coyotes: Alexander Nylander, Right Wing, Mississauga Steelheads
This is the first draft for new Coyotes general manager John Chayka. The analytics wonder kid will look at the stats and narrow this pick down to Alex Nylander of the Steelheads and Clayton Keller of the US NTDP. He has said that he won’t make the pick alone though, and will rely on Dave Tippett, and the rest of the Coyotes scouts and management team in making major decisions. The Coyotes scouting staff has long been favorable to the sons of former NHLers, and they follow that trend here, taking Alex Nylander, the son of former NHLer Michael Nylander, and brother of Leafs prospect William Nylander.
8.) Buffalo Sabres: Olli Juolevi, Defence, London Knights
Over the last couple of years, Tim Murray has added a strong group of forwards to the Sabres including Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane and more. After building up the scoring depth, he now looks to add to his blue line group. The Sabres take Olli Juolevi, a strong two-way player who was the number one defenceman on the World Junior Championship winning Finnish squad in January and on the OHL Champion London Knights this spring. Taking on such big responsibilities on championship caliber squads as a 17-year-old is extremely rare, and shows Juolevi is ahead of the curve for a defensive prospect.
9.) Montreal Canadiens: Tyson Jost, Centre, Penticton Vees
After three years of waiting for Alex Galchenyuk to make his mark at the centre position, the third overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft finally arrived as a number one centre this season. However, with Tomas Plekanec getting older, and a lack of a sure fire top six centre in the Habs system, the Canadiens are pleased to take Tyson Jost with their first round pick. He will go to the University of North Dakota next season, but it shouldn’t be long before the young man who broke Connor McDavid’s record for most points by a Canadian at the Under 18s finds himself in the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge sweater of les Canadiens.
10.) Colorado Avalanche: Jakob Chychrun, Defence, Sarnia Sting
Once seen as the second best prospect behind Auston Matthews, Chychrun has taken a fall in this mock draft. The Colorado Avalanche step in and stop that fall. With a real lack of defensive depth beyond Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie, the Avalanche have a major need for a two-way defenceman like Chychrun and Joe Sakic would be extremely pleased to see him on the board at 10th overall.
11.) New Jersey Devils: Logan Brown, Centre, Windsor Spitfires
The Devils have a large stable of quality young defenders, but need to add some scoring punch in their prospect pool. They took Pavel Zacha last year to start that process. They get an even bigger centre this year, taking the 6’6″ tall Logan Brown. In addition to being a physical specimen, Brown has shown the ability to use his long reach, good vision and passing skills to be a play maker in junior. The Devils will hope this translates at the next level.
12.) Ottawa Senators: Clayton Keller, Centre, US NTDP
New general manager Pierre Dorion will oversee his first NHL Draft as the man in charge. Dorion’s drafting tendencies are very difficult to decipher at this point. As such the prediction is that he will go with the most purely skilled player on the board at this point. Clayton Keller may be undersized, but he’s got dynamic offensive ability, scoring at near record levels for the US National Team Development Program this season.
13.) Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Bean, Defence, Calgary Hitmen
The Hurricanes prospect system shows good depth at nearly every position. They also have two first round picks thanks to last year’s Andrej Sekera trade. As such they are also able to use a strategy of drafting the best player available at this pick. That player is dynamic offensive defenceman Jack Bean. There are areas of Bean’s game that will need to be developed, but he might be the best offensive defenceman in this draft class, and that’s too much talent for the Canes to pass up at 13.
14.) Boston Bruins: Charlie McAvoy, Defence, Boston University Terriers
Don Sweeney shocked the world last year when he took Jake Debrusk and Zach Senyshyn with consecutive picks in the first round. He doesn’t pull the same shocking “off the board” style of pick this year, instead choosing to go with Charlie McAvoy, a puck moving defenceman from Boston University. He won’t have to go far when he’s ready to go pro. McAvoy spent this season playing with Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk and Boston’s scouts will have plenty of viewings of the talented defender.
15.) Minnesota Wild: Michael McLeod, Centre, Mississauga Steelheads
Mikko Koivu isn’t getting any younger. The Wild draft the heir apparent to their long-time two way centre in Michael McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads. McLeod has good size, and off the charts skating ability. He is amongst the best skaters in the draft. McLeod plays a gritty 200 foot game, where he gets involved at both ends of the ice.