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5/16/2016 7:51 pm  #1


2016 CHL 1st Round Mock Draft

1. Carolina Hurricanes (via St. Louis Blues)
C Auston Matthews (ZSC Lions, SUI)The hockey gods rewarded Carolina’s tortured fan base with the opportunity to bask in the glee from receiving the club’s first top pick ever. That pick should be Matthews, a dynamic, franchise-changing pivot who nearly won the Swiss League’s MVP award as an 18-year-old. A dominant player whether he’s shooting it or dishing it out, he’s ready for the rigors of the CHL.
 
2. Vancouver Canucks
LW Patrik Laine (Tappara, Liiga): Laine is not only the best pure goal scorer in his draft class, but is the most lethal draft-eligible sniper since that guy named Alex Ovechkin back in 2004. A big-bodied winger with a deadly shot, Laine was a catalyst behind Finland’s WJC gold medal and was recently named the Liiga playoff MVP. He gives Vancouver a brand-name star, but Laine’s impact on the city will be similar to what Pavel Bure did for the fan base in the 1990’s.
 
3. Florida Panthers
RW Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat, Liiga): The Panthers are always tough to play against regardless of record, but Puljujarvi’s enthusiasm and high-end skill adds a dimension they’ve been searching for. He had a record-setting performance en route to gold for Finland at the WJC and followed it up with both an excellent postseason and another gold for his country at last month’s U18 tournament. Big, strong, yet flashy and graceful, Puljujarvi is ready to contribute soon.
 
4. Detroit Red Wings
LHD Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting, OHL): There’s simply no reason for the Wings to do anything else but answer the nagging question about their defensive prospect depth with the draft’s best defenseman. No draft-eligible blueliner embodies what a top-pairing workhorse should be than Chychrun, who has the size, shot, speed and smarts to offset the problems plaguing Edmonton’s backline. He played close to 30 minutes a night for a tightly-run Sarnia squad and has exceptional recovery time between shifts.
 
5.  Philadelphia Flyers
C/LW Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton, QMJHL): The Flyers may have missed out on the draft’s big names, but this bruising power forward may very well make the others a footnote in hockey history. Dubois is a fierce competitor with a linebacker’s build (6’2/210) and the hands of a magician. He’s a nightmare to match up against, and his freakish size is a result of a tremendous off-ice work ethic. Dubois’ good at forcing opponents into catastrophic mistakes. A real leader with star potential.
 
6. Chicago Blackhawks (via Anaheim Ducks)
 LW Matt Tkachuk (London Knights, OHL): The Hawks go for the draft’s best playmaking big man, who’s not a bad goal scorer either. In Matt Tkachuk — son of Keith Tkachuk — the apple did not fall far from the tree. He is a menacing, low-maintence power wing whose zone entries are a thing of beauty. Patient, smart and freakishly strong, he should make money with the young group of studs being assembled in Chitown.
 
7. Boston Bruins (via Winnipeg Jets)
LHD Olli Juolevi (London Knights, OHL): The Bruins could go for a blueliner with more offensive upside like Mikhail Sergachev or Jake Bean, but Juolevi is a calming presence their collection of skill forwards will need without the worry of the ship’s stern side sinking after every rush. He was outstanding for Finland at the WJC’s, and he’s anchored an inexperienced back end for London which will challenge for a Memorial Cup.
 
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
RW/LW Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL): The Leafs could use the blue line depth, but Alex Nylander is a silky-smooth sniper with world-class finishing skills. The OHL Rookie of the Year in 2016, he scored big goals for Sweden at Hlinka, and followed that up with top-line production at both the WJC and the U18’s. Nylander is patient with the puck, but he’s decisive and makes the right choices.
 
9. Buffalo Sabres (via New Jersey Devils)
LHD Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires, OHL): A thick-bodied defender with a howitzer for a shot and outstanding offensive instincts, Sergachev led OHL rearguards with 17 goals and finished third in scoring with 57 points. His transition from Russia to the North American style was seamless, and he was the Spits’ top option for both the power play and penalty kill. He can be physical, but what makes him special is how quickly he transitions from defense to offense, and make momentum-shifting plays in all three zones.
 
10. San Jose Sharks
C Michael McLeod (Mississauge Steelheads, OHL): Mississauga was loaded with draft-eligible talent this year, but the one guy who drove the proverbial engine was this lightning-quick playmaker who gelled with Alex Nylander to form one of the OHL’s lethal duos. McLeod has size and a soft set of hands, but he won close to 60% of his draws and is used in critical situations. The Sharks’s could use winger help, but the gritty McLeod adds a dimension this draft is lacking.
 
11. Los Angeles Kings
C Clayton Keller (U.S. NTDP): A razor-sharp finesse pivot with off-the-charts vision and a predator’s mindset, Keller’s now part of a short but elite list of talented NTDP’ers who crushed the competition before moving on to face tougher challenges. Not that it will matter to Keller, who this season centered the top line and was Team USA’s top player at every international event he participated in. He’s a fiery competitor who refuses to take a shift off and his nonstop motor allows him to perform at a high level regardless of how long his shifts are.
 
12. Boston Bruins
C Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires, OHL): There are a lot of things to like about the 6’6 center from North Carolina: he’s got sick playmaking abilities and a deadly shot (when he uses it), as well as CHL bloodlines (his father Jeff was a defenseman for the the Nordiques and Blues, among others). Nobody questions his God-given talents, and the Sens could sure use some size up the middle. They could go for a pure goal scorer like Luke Kunin, Kieffer Bellows or Julien Gauthier, but Brown offers up the most upside with the shortest path to the CHL.
 
13. Edmonton Oilers
RW Luke Kunin (Wisconsin, Big-10): An arsenal of playmakers within their system will  require some serious finishers, and who better than the Badgers’ top goal scorer, who led his team in goals as a freshman after dazzling at the 2015 U18’s and the All-American Top Prospects Game. Kunin is a three-zone thoroughbred with a blistering shot and excellent skating ability who battled through diabetes to produce one of the nation’s finest freshman campaigns. This kid can score goals, and will do so in bunches.
 
14. Carolina Hurricanes
LW Max Jones (London Knights, OHL): It’s tough to tell whether the Canes’ management viewed 2016 as a failure or a success. Nevertheless, the Canes’s weren’t that tough to play against in the playoffs, and Max Jones certainly addresses that need. Somewhat buried behind London’s bevy of talent, Jones is a freight train on skates with overlooked smarts and a deadly shot. He’s posterized the best the OHL has to offer, and did so while playing limited minutes. He tows that line between rugged and downright dirty, but he can kill penalties and carry a team on his back if the situation warrants it.

15. Boston Bruins (via New York Rangers)
C Tyson Jost (Penticton Vees, BCHL): Tremendous puck distributor with finishing abilities who shattered Canada’s scoring mark at the U18’s. Jost was one of the WHL’s top picks in 2013 but spurned the CHL for North Dakota, where he’ll suit up for the defending NCAA champs this fall. The Bruins seem set at center, but Jost could be the one who leads them to greener pastures. He can play wing or up the middle, and is used in every situation imaginable. This kind of versatility from a polished youngster is rare, and an argument can be made that if Boston wants him, it may have to trade up to nab him.
 
16. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Dallas Stars)
C German Rubtsov (Russia U18, MHL): Torontos’s playoff train kept on rolling for a 3rd straight season, but it’s failed to reach the third round every year since 2012. Rubtsov is strong as an ox and slick as a sidewinder. Rubtsov was banned from the U18’s for a team-wide doping scandal but remains the draft’s top two-way center.
 
17. Calgary Flames
LW Kieffer Bellows (U.S. NTDP): Being mean and ridiculously skilled at the same time can have its perks, as Bellows can be one intimidating presence to defend against. He’s one of a handful of NTDP’ers to score 50 goals (Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews), and comes from good stock — father Brian scored close to 500 goals over 17 NHL seasons. His heavy-hitting style and quick-strike mentality will serve him well as he transitions to the NCAA for Boston University.
 
18. Carolina Hurricanes (via Buffalo Sabres)
RW Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL): The Hurricanes could use some help on the wing, and this beastly two-way sniper with an array of ways to fill the net could end up being a steal this late. He was the only draft-eligible to make Canada’s WJC team, and made the most of his limited minutes. His Christy Mathewson-esque stat-line for Val-d’Or (41g, 16a) may emit the skill set of a one-dimensional winger, but Gauthier can sure dish the puck with precision when he wants to. He finished sixth in the QMJHL with 41 goals — 30 scored at even strength or shorthanded, and tied for third in the league with eight “first goals”.

19. Colorado Avalanche
RHD Charlie McAvoy (Boston University, Hockey East): McAvoy is a slick puck moving defender who sees the ice with elite vision and makes passes with soft touch. He is a very strong skater with outstanding pivots and edge work; able to skate with the puck out of pressure and start the rush. He drives deep into the offensive zone and glides around with his head up looking for his best options. He is a deadly in transition and a real weapon on the power play. Has a heavy shot and has the potential to be a big CHL point producer.

20. Chicago Blackhawks (via Montreal Canadians)
RHD Dante Fabbro (Penticton Vees, BCHL): Chicago's talent pool is overflowing with forwards so drafting a defenseman is not a bad idea. Fabbro is a righty blueliner who was named the BCHL’s top defenseman before putting on quite a show at the U18’s in April. He is mobile and versatile with the ability log big minutes, running both the power play and the penalty kill in the process. Fabbro will join likely first rounders Kieffer Bellows, Charlie McAvoy and Clayton Keller, and 2016 draft prospect Chad Krys at Boston University in the fall, but it’ll be interesting to see how coach David Quinn divvies up ice time and responsibilities.

21. Detroit Red WIngs (via Chicago Blackhawks)
C/LW Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL): There’s a chance Cody Hall goes off the board here, but Laberge is too disciplined and mature a player to pass up. He’s versatile and heady, blessed with a laser of a shot and a deft touch. Laberge isn’t a mountain of a man at this stage (6’1, 175), but you have to figure he’ll bulk up and become an even bigger nuisance to play against. His instincts are solid and he can be counted on for late-game situations, but he’ll probably stay on the wing.

22.Chicago BlackHawks (via Washington Capitals)
LHD Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen, WHL): The Hawks likely miss the chance to draft one of the right-handed defensemen their prospect pool could use, but Bean’s offensive prowess and ability to run a power play makes this an easy choice. He’s got a lot to work on defensively, but the Hawks should be willing to gamble that he eventually does so. He owns a heck of a shot and sees the ice like a seasoned veteran, and the way he handled, at times led Calgary’s youthful group says a lot about this late bloomer’s make up. Bean skates with excellent agility and mobility with pro-level pivoting. He can stickhandle out of trouble, which is the recommended option since he’s prone to throw the puck into the middle of the ice regardless of whether or not he’s being harassed by a forechecker. Bean plays with confidence, but it can get him into trouble.

 

Last edited by HurricaneWarning (6/20/2016 4:26 pm)

 

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