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”! The following is a complete listing of all our 2016 Draft Articles.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead we follow our yearly tradition and do our draft grades now.
LWOS 2016 NHL Draft Grades
Note: We include trades in the grades. The moves for players like Andrew Shaw, Brian Elliott, Anthony DeAngelo, Frederik Andersen, Kerby Rychel and others from the last week will be included in our draft grades.
A second note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean best player drafted. It means best value. For Example, Auston Matthews is the number one player in this draft in our rankings (and almost everyone else’s). However he is not our best value pick for the Maple Leafs. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A third note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.
Anaheim Ducks B
The Anaheim Ducks have a very good young blue line, and a number of defence prospects in the system. They went for a number of forwards in this draft, and added a lot of speed. They got excellent value with their first pick. Max Jones is a power forward who was the best player available at the time of the pick. He is strong on the forecheck and loves to take the puck to the front of the net. Sam Steel is a centre with very good skating, excellent vision, and strong play making ability. He could form a nice combination with Jones down the road.
Later in the draft the Ducks got Jack Kopacka. He is another great skater on the wing, who plays a strong two-way game. He wins battles on the boards and picks up loose pucks and gets them to the front of the net. Alex Dostie was passed over in the draft last year, but put up a solid season for Gatineau. He has good vision and passing skills. The Ducks added a defensive defencman in Josh Mahura, the only defenceman they took.
Arizona Coyotes A+
Picks: Clayton Keller, Jakob Chychrun, Cam Dineen, Patrick Kudla, Dean Stewart
Trade: Acquired Anthony DeAngelo from Tampa; Traded up in first and took Pavel Datsyuk‘s Contract.
Best Value: Jakob Chychrun
This was John Chayka’s first draft since being named general manager of the Coyotes. His analytics first philosophy is certainly evident, and he used it while also addressing the team’s organizational needs. Keller might be on the small side, but he has tremendous offensive skills. He put up one of the best offensive seasons in US NTDP history. Jakob Chychrun could have been a top ten pick, but inexplicably fell to the middle of the first round. Chayka took advantage and traded up (taking Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to do it). It was a brilliant move that got him a player who most saw as one of top three defencemen in the draft.
He also traded for Anthony DeAngelo; giving up a second round pick. DeAngelo was 2015 CHL Defenceman of the Year; and was excellent in the AHL as a rookie with 43 points. He is NHL ready.In the third round, Chayka took Dineen, the second highest scoring defenceman in the OHL. To recap; the Coyotes got a dynamic offensive centre, and three excellent young puck moving defencemen. Their defensive prospect depth, a weakness coming into the draft, was improved dramatically. All in all, a great start for Chayka.
Boston Bruins C- (Worst Draft)
Things started out strangely for the Bruins. Yes, they need an eventual replacement for Zdeno Chara; and taking a defenceman was a wise move. However, one has to question why they took McAvoy when Chychrun was still on the board. McAvoy is not a bad player; however, I question if he was the best defenceman available at the time, never mind best player available. In our viewings Juolevi, Sergachev, Chychrun, and Bean were four defencemen a clear cut above the rest.
If that wasn’t strange enough, the Bruins used their second first round pick on Trent Frederic. The centre from the US NTDP was ranked 58th by LWOS, 54th by Bob McKenzie of TSN, and 47th amongst North American Skaters by NHL CS. All other major scouting services had him outside their top 50; with HockeyProspect.com coming in at 85 and Future Considerations at 81. To pick him at 29th overall is inexplicable. The Bruins did get a solid two-way defence prospect in Ryan Lindgren at 49th overall. Overall though, this day has us scratching our heads.
Buffalo Sabres B+
Picks: Alexander Nylander, Rasmus Asplund, Cliff Pu, Casey Fitzgerald, Brett Murray, Philip Nyberg, Vojtek Budik, Brandon Hagel, Austin Osmanski, Vasili Glotov
Trade: Acquired Dmitry Kulikov, Acquired Jimmy Vesey
Best Value: Asplund
Once again, the Sabres had a plethora of picks. With the quickness of Tim Murray’s announcements; this sped up the draft overall. The Sabres get one of the most purely offensively talented players in Alex Nylander. He has it it all, skating, a lightning quick shot, the ability to stick handle in a phone booth, and great vision and passing skills. After his brother William was injured at the World Juniors, Rasmus Asplund took over as Alex Nylander’s centre on Team Sweden. He is another strong skater, and plays a strong game at both ends of the ice.
Cliff Pu was very good the second half of the OHL season, and in the playoffs. He is a playmaker who helped the London Knights to the Memorial Cup. Casey Fitzgerald is the son of former NHLer Tom Fitzgerald. The US NTDP product adds a two-way presence on the blue line. The Sabres also addressed the blue line of the NHL club; picking up Dmitry Kulikov from the Florida Panthers. He will immediately step in as a top four defender; and add talent and experience to an area where the Sabres needed help. The Sabres also acquired the rights to Jimmy Vesey. If they can convince him to sign a contract with the team, this rating moves to an A.
Calgary Flames A
Picks: Matthew Tkachuk, Tyler Parsons, Dillon Dube, Adam Fox, Linus Lindstrom, Mitchell Mattson, Eetu Tuulola, Matthew Phillips, Stepan Falkovsky,
Trades: Acquired Brian Elliott
Best Value: Matthew Tkachuk; with an HM to Dillon Dube
Flames fans were dreaming about the possibility of Matthew Tkachuk, who is a perfect fit for their team. It may not have seemed that likely pre-draft; but it ended up happening. They have to be very pleased with that. Brad Treliving also said that the Flames would leave Buffalo with a new goalie. They got the NHL’s save percentage leader in Brian Elliott. They also added a possible goalie of the future in Tyler Parsons. Mission accomplished.
The Flames continued to get excellent value later in the draft. Dillon Dube is a skilled centre, who plays the game with a real edge; and was real value late in the second round. Adam Fox is a diminutive defenceman; however, he is highly skilled and drives possession. Add to all of that a gamble on Lindstrom, a skilled playmaker; who can be a solid NHLer if he can add muscle to his frame and play less of a perimeter game. The Flames have really set themselves up for next year (Elliott, possibly Tkachuk) and for years to come.
Carolina Hurricanes A+ (Best Draft Week)
Picks: Jake Bean, Julien Gauthier, Janne Kuokkanen, Matt Filipe, Hudson Elyniuk, Jack Lafontaine, Max Zimmer, Jeremy Helvig, Noah Carroll,
Trade: Acquired Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell for picks
Best Value: Gauthier
The Hurricanes got their week started by giving up a pair of second round picks (2016 and 2017) for Teravainen and Bickell. Adding the young Finn for such a low price has to be seen as a clear win. Even after the move, Carolina still had six picks in the first three rounds. They made them count. Their first pick was Jake Bean, who might be the best offensive defenceman in the draft class. Adding him to a team that is already deep in blue line prospects, gives them one of the best groups of defence prospects in the NHL. With their second first rounder, the Hurricanes added a big winger in Julien Gauthier, who can score goals, and plays a responsible two way game. He addresses a real need for the Hurricanes.
In Janne Kuokkanen, the Hurricanes get a centre with good vision and passing skills. He also has a well rounded game. He needs to add some muscle though and could be a few years away. Filipe projects as a power winger at the next level. He has very good speed, agility and acceleration; especially for a big man. He is not afraid to get involved physically, and does so in all three zones. Elyniuk is also a big power forward, but one who profiles as a centre. He has an excellent shot, and a quick release. Jack Lafontaine adds a goaltending prospect to the pipeline. He’s headed to the University of Michigan next year. He has quick legs, and good reflexes. Overall a strong showing for Ron Francis and company.
Chicago Blackhawks B-
Picks: Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys, Artur Kayumov, Wouter Peeters, Lucas Carlsson, Nathan Noel, Mathias From, Blake Hillman, Jake Ryczek
Trades: Sent Andrew Shaw to Montreal, Sent Teravainen and Bickell to Carolina
Best Value: DeBrincat
The Blackhawks cap crunch took another bite out of the team this week. Clearing Bickell’s contract off the books was a good thing, but losing a highly skilled player in Teuvo Teravainen to make it happen wasn’t ideal. Andrew Shaw has also been an important complimentary piece in two cup runs. He is now in Montreal, and this is largely due to cap issues. These losses will be felt.
In terms of draftees, the Blackhawks went with a philosophy of skill over size. DeBrincat scored 50 goals and 100 points in the OHL, but is just 5’7″ tall. The Hawks looked at his elite skill as being worth the risk at 39th overall. In Chad Krys they take another small player. The US NTDP defenceman is a very good puck mover, and can quarterback the powerplay. Artur Kayumov is also undersized, and will really need to bulk up before playing against men. He is an outstanding skater, with tremendous speed and acceleration. Kayumov has great stick handling and a tremendous release on his wrist shot.
Norway’s Mathias From brings a physical game to the table. He finishes his checks and brings non-stop energy. Undrafted last year, Nathan Noel is a serious boom or bust prospect. He has the potential to be a solid second line centre or winger, but will need to make major improvements in his defensive play and commitment for him to become an NHLer. Overall the picks are decent, but the losses to the main club, and the lack of a first round pick hurts this grade.
Colorado Avalanche B-
Things started out well for the Avalanche. Tyson Jost is a tremendous pick. He’s a talented centre who broke the Canadian record for most points in an under-18 tournament. Strong at both ends of the ice, he also has great leadership and character. Cameron Morrison is another two-way centre, but plays more of a power game. His wrist shot and snap shot are both hard and accurate, and feature a quick release. He is willing to use his size to drive the net, and has the hands to pounce on rebounds and get deflections when he is there.
However, at this point things went awry. Josh Anderson is a big, stay-at-home defenceman. He fits the mould of the type of defender that is no longer in vogue in the NHL, with little in the way of possession skills. Adam Werner is a goaltender who went undrafted a year ago. He struggled in the 2014 Ivan Hlinka tournament. Travis Barron was good value in the last round. He is a gritty forward who battles in the corners and in front of the net. He has a non-stop motor and plays a strong physical game.
Columbus Blue Jackets C
This draft did not make a lot of sense. First the Blue Jackets took Pierre-Luc Dubois over Jesse Puljujarvi. We are going to mark that one down as a mistake. While we are very high on Dubois, Puljujarvi is just a better player and better pick. If the Jackets were set on Dubois, they should have worked harder to trade down with Edmonton or Vancouver.
The Jackets would make another strange pick early in the second round, reaching on Andrew Peeke. He is another big, lumbering defencemen; who doesn’t offer a lot of offensive ability. There were better defenders on the board early in the second round. Vitaly Abramov is a talented, but undersized winger. He was the best of Columbus’ picks.
The Jackets capped off the day by trading Kerby Rychel to Toronto. This trade does not look good for Columbus as Scott Harrington is struggling to make the NHL, and may top out as an AHL journeyman. For all his struggles, Rychel appears to cleary be the better player here.
Dallas Stars C+
Riley Tufte has a great frame. He is 6’5″ tall, and skates very well for a big man. He also has very good stick handling, and a wide array of shots. He could stand to put some muscle on his frame though. The stars didn’t pick again until the 90th selection of the draft. They went off the board with Frederik Karlstrom. He is a good skater, and can use his good stickhandling to make plays. Gardner is a 20-year-old forward who was passed over in the draft, twice, and put up 18 points in 40 games for North Dakota. This also looks like a reach.
Colton Point is a fast rising goalie prospect. He has ideal size at 6’4″ and covers the net well with a sound butterfly tehnique. Caamano is a very good skater. He has good speed and acceleration. He can get to the outside on defenders off the rush and cut to the net. He needs to work on his shot. Outside of Tufte, it is difficult to find players with high end potential in this year’s Dallas draft class.