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Top 30 draft rankings for 2016: Matthews leads the pack

Ryan Kennedy
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Auston Matthews (Photo by Sparta Prague/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Top 30 draft rankings for 2016: Matthews leads the pack

Ryan Kennedy
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The Arizona native's grand experiment in Switzerland has paid off handsomely so far, but who else has the attention of scouts for 2016? There's another player who is expected to be a sure thing – find out about him and 28 others.

It's about that time, folks. What follows is my first take on the 2016 draft class, one of course highlighted by American center Auston Matthews. The incredibly talented pivot is currently trailblazing a path in Switzerland (and may be on the shelf for the short-term, but no matter) and he is at the top of the pile. But there are more top talents available, including my No. 2 selection, who is also seen as a sure-fire NHLer, who in another year could have been first overall himself. Since the season is so young, expect this ranking to change, perhaps radically, by the time my next installment comes out after the world juniors. By then, scouts will have a better handle on the field and the resulting input will paint a more specific picture. Let's get to the rankings:  
  1. Auston Matthews, C – ZSC Lions (Swi.): He's got size, smarts and great offensive production. The fact he's leading a major European league in goals at 18 is stunning.
  2. Jakob Chychrun, D – Sarnia Sting (OHL): The big blueliner has it all. He skates well, plays in all situations and has a nice edge to his game.
  3. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW – Karpat Oulu (Fin.): With his speed, size and goal-scoring ability, he has been called one of the most terrifying Euro prospects in years.
  4. Matthew Tkachuk, LW – London Knights (OHL): Great hockey sense, hands and a big frame have led the OHL rookie to huge points so far.
  5. Patrik Laine, RW – Tappara (Fin.): Finland has its own Taylor vs. Tyler debate with Laine and Puljujarvi. Like the latter, Laine has size and great scoring punch.
  6. Mikey McLeod, C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): You just can't catch this kid when he has the puck. Speed, great hands and faceoff acumen.
  7. Alexander Nylander, RW – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): McLeod's running mate has wicked hands and creativity. William's younger bro has quickness, too.
  8. Dante Fabbro, D – Penticton Vees (BCHL): The recent Boston U. commit is a two-way force who is racking up points in Jr. A.
  9. Sam Steel, C – Regina Pats (WHL): All-situations player with speed and leadership qualities also puts up numbers.
  10. Max Jones, LW – London Knights (OHL): Power forward with speed and skill is starting to get on track with his new team.
  11. Tyson Jost, C – Penticton Vees (BCHL)
  12. Kieffer Bellows, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
  13. Tyler Benson, C – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
  14. Mikhail Sergachev, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  15. Clayton Keller, C – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
  16. Logan Brown, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  17. Alex DeBrincat, RW – Erie Otters (OHL)
  18. Chad Krys, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
  19. Kale Clague, D – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
  20. Olli Juolevi, D – London Knights (OHL)
  21. Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
  22. Brett Howden, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
  23. Jake Bean, D – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
  24. Carl Grundstrom, RW – Modo (SHL)
  25. Victor Mete, D – London Knights (OHL)
  26. Julien Gauthier, RW – Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
  27. Tage Thompson, C – Connecticut Huskies (Hockey East)
  28. Luke Kunin, C – Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten)
  29. Rasmus Asplund, C – Farjestad (SHL)
  30. Charlie McAvoy, D – Boston University (Hockey East)
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Top 30 draft rankings for 2016: Matthews leads the pack