What would change if the NHL's 30 GMs were given a second shot at the 2016 draft? According to a panel of scouts for our Future Watch issue, here's the outlook on last year's draft class.
Springtime at The Hockey News means it’s time to re-do the first round of the 2016 NHL draft using the prospect-progress information a panel of scouts gave us in our annual Future Watch issue, which just came out this month.
It's important to note these are the blended opinions of 10 scouts, directors of player personnel and GMs and in many cases won't be the same thought processes as individual teams.
We asked these scouts to assess a list of 300 NHL prospects (the top 10s from each of the 30 teams) and to establish their own top 60 list, based on a five to 10-year projection window of NHL upside. Most of the NHL-affiliated players on this list of 300 were from drafts prior to 2016 or free agents. But 86 of them – almost 30 percent – were selected last June.
With this information culled from our scouting panel, we can redux the 2016 draft if it were to be held again today. Four players from the 2016 draft made the immediate jump to the NHL. Toronto's Auston Matthews, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk and Arizona's Jakob Chychrun fast-tracked this Future Watch rating exercise. For the sake of argument, we’ll rank them one, two, three and four even though there's a good chance 2016 draftees returned to junior, college or Europe may surpass one or more of them in coming seasons.
Here’s how the remainder of the first round would play out, based on the scouting committee's evaluation of their progression so far in 2016-17. Of course, this exercise doesn’t take into consideration individual team preferences. Though we’ll never know for sure publicly, maybe Columbus would still take Pierre-Luc Dubois third overall even though the scouting community at large wouldn’t select him until the No. 10 slot.
1-4. Four NHLers
5. Clayton Keller, C (taken 7th by Arizona)
6. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW (taken 4th by Edmonton)
7. Charlie McAvoy, D (taken 14th by Boston)
8. Alexander Nylander, RW (taken 8th by Buffalo)
9. Mikhail Sergachev, D (taken 9th by Montreal)
10. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C (taken 3rd by Columbus)
11. Tyson Jost, C (taken 10th by Colorado)
12. Logan Brown, C (taken 11th by Ottawa)
13. Olli Juolevi, D (taken 5th by Vancouver)
14. Luke Kunin, C (taken 15th by Minnesota)
15. Tage Thompson, C (taken 26th by St. Louis)
16. Julien Gauthier, RW (taken 21st by Carolina)
17. Michael McLeod, C (taken 12th by New Jersey)
18. Max Jones, LW (taken 24th by Anaheim)
19. Henrik Borgstrom, C (taken 23rd by Florida)
20. Tyler Parsons, G (taken 54th by Calgary)
21. Dante Fabbro, D (taken 17th by Nashville)
22. Jake Bean, D (taken 13th by Carolina)
23. German Rubtsov, C (taken 22nd by Philadelphia)
24. Rasmus Asplund, C (taken 33rd by Buffalo)
25. Sam Steel, C (taken 30th by Anaheim)
26. Dennis Cholowski, D (taken 20th by Detroit)
27. Riley Tufe, LW (taken 25th by Dallas)
28. Alex DeBrincat, RW (taken 39th by Chicago)
29. Kieffer Bellows, LW (taken 19th by NY Islanders)
30. Logan Stanley, D, (taken 18th by Winnipeg)
Early second round
31. Givani Smith, RW (taken 46th by Detroit)
32. Carl Grundstrom, RW (taken 57th by Toronto)
33. Libor Hajek, D (taken 37th by Tampa Bay)
34. Janne Kuokkanen, LW (taken 43rd by Carolina)
35. Vitaly Abramov, RW (taken 65th by Columbus)
36. Ryan Lindgren, D (taken 49th by Boston)
37. Kale Clague, D (taken 51st by Los Angeles)
38. Jordan Kyrou, C (taken 35th by St. Louis)
39. Taylor Raddysh, RW (taken 58th by Tampa Bay)
So actual first-rounders from 2016 who wouldn’t go in the first round if it were re-held today are: 27. Brett Howden, C, Tampa Bay; 28. Lucas Johansen, D, Washington; and 29. Trent Frederic, C, Boston. The 31st pick (Yegor Korshkov, Toronto) and 32nd pick (Tyler Benson, Edmonton) would have dropped as well in a redux.
When we did this exercise last year, Boston stood out from the crowd because it's draft list varied greatly from the scouting community at large. Each of the Bruins' three first-rounders from 2015 (Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn) tumbled in a redux, while two of Boston's second-rounders (Brandon Carlo and Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson) would have moved up from their actual draft slots. This year, scouts are telling us the Bruins did very well to get McAvoy at No. 14 (he’d be No. 7 today) and Lindgren at No. 49 (he’d be No. 36 today).
The biggest drops within the first round were Juolevi (from 5th to 13th), Bean (from 13th to 22nd), Bellows (from 19th to 29th) and Stanley (from 18th to 30th). Three players taken in the second round would be first-rounders today. The biggest jump was goalie Parsons, a London prospect drafted in the late second round by Calgary. He'd be a mid-to-late first-rounder today.
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