This morning, Jon threw up his list of the top-30 prospects in this June’s NHL Entry Draft. As the controversial figure that he is, Jon just couldn’t help but put Sean Day on the list and you know what? It’s not THAT absurd. Day is in the 35 range of my list because for a team that can take a big risk, he has the potential to pay huge dividends.
Now that the lottery has been done, we know the order of the team’s picking in the top-14 of this June’s draft. Not only do we have our order but with the CHL playoffs winding down and the IIHF U18 tournament as well as the USHL and NCAA seasons complete, we are getting a much clearer view of where the top prospects stand.
Matthews and Laine are going to be playing in the World Championships this month and a few of the top prospects like Tkachuk and Juolevi are still participating in the OHL playoffs but for the most part the season is over for the guys who will be hoping to hear their name called in the first round.
Some thoughts behind my list:
- I REALLY wanted to rank Puljujarvi ahead of Laine. I know that the conversation has turned from Laine vs Puljujarvi to Laine vs Matthews but should it have? Auston Matthews is going to be the first pick at the draft and any speculation to the contrary is nothing more than draft hype. That said it’s an almost certainty that Laine will be drafted second, but should he be? He’s a dynamic scorer that plays a game that has been compared to Alex Ovechkin. The fact is that Laine can’t skate like Ovi and to compare the two is doing a disservice to the Finn. While the potential for Laine is through the roof, I can’t help but feel that recency bias has a lot to do with his status as the second-best prospect in the draft. Laine’s incredible playoff run may be overshadowing just how good Puljujarvi is. At the World Juniors this year, the two young Finns were paired on the top line and Puljujarvi came out as the better of the two. Laine is the better scorer, there’s no doubt about that but Puljujarvi is the better skater and brings more to an all around game. The decision comes down to would you rather have the all around player or the elite sniper, Kopitar or Stamkos? i guess that’s a pretty nice dilemma to have.
- Everyone knows that after the top-3 there is a bit of a drop-off. Teams drafting in the 4-14 range could have very different draft boards and best-player-available will be very subjective. Since the prospects are so similar in value, I put a premium on the center position which leads to Keller, McLeod and Jost being ranked higher than Tkachuk and Nylander.
- While his name is being thrown out as potentially the best defender in the draft, following the OHL closely, I am not as sold on Sergachyov as many are. He is a great talent and definitely doesn’t benefit from Windsor’s somewhat chaotic system but I still think his potential as a prospect sites lower than Juolevi and Chychrun.
- There will be a run on defenders in the middle of the first round. Guys like McAvoy and Bean aren’t necessarily getting the type of hype as others, but they are very solid prospects that some teams could have ranked a lot higher than the consensus. As the defensemen start to fall off the board, I would not at all be surprised to see a team try to trade up to the 15 range to grab one.
- Speaking of trading into the mid-first, the Islanders did just that last year when they saw Mathew Barzal falling and Garth Snow looks like a genius as a result. This year I could see one of McLeod or Keller taking that sort of tumble and if that were to happen one savvy GM is going to do what Snow did last year and grab a prospect they thought they would have not chance of getting.
- I have Alex DeBrincat lower than most, and I have maintained all season that looking at his goal totals is a dangerous thing and could get a team into trouble. Some people will say that he DeBrincat is being undervalued because he’s so small and that’s not the case. DeBrincat doesn’t play the game like the Jeremy Bracco’s of the world that while small are incredibly quick and great wit the puck. Sure Alex DeBrincat can score, and that’s a very good skill to have, but he doesn’t necessarily have the game that allows that skill to be as potent in the NHL. He does not drive offense for his line and in the faster NHL game, he won’t have nearly the same time and space as he does now.
Here’s the thing about the 2016 draft, after the top-3 the whole thing is a huge crap shoot. This year more than ever you have to trust your scouts. In a draft that has so many players so closely grouped together, it will come down to who can identify the long-term potential best. As a result of the parity, it may look more like teams are reaching for a player by drafting them higher than most had them ranked. There are a number of very high risk/high reward players at the bottom end of this year’s first round and teams with multiple picks or very deep prospect pools may be able to take advantage of that risk.
Don’t forget to check out Jon’s top-30 list from earlier today and let us know your thoughts on both. Keep an eye out for our larger consolidated draft rankings we will put up sometime later this month.