Re-Drafting the First Round of the 2016 NHL Draft

Ok, before you yell at me (again), I’m going to start off by saying that I know how silly it is to evaluate a draft after 11 months. It takes years to really know how a team fared in a draft and even then, evaluation is subjective. We won’t know who the winner and losers are from last June’s draft for a long while – aside from the Toronto Maple Leafs. That being said, as silly as it is, I’m going to evaluate last year’s NHL Entry draft over 11 months because sometimes it’s fun to just have fun.

That being said, as silly as it is, I’m going to evaluate last year’s NHL Entry draft over 11 months because sometimes it’s fun to just have fun.

To remind everyone, this is how the first round played out last year.

Looking back, the fact that anyone thought the Maple Leafs would be drafting anyone other than Auston Matthews is simply ludicrous. He’s the best player in the draft by a wide margin and is well on his way to being one of the best players in the NHL. After that is when things change.

Here is my list. It’s worth noting that I am not taking into consideration which teams are picking – mostly because it’s impossible to envision a world in which the Vancouver Canucks don’t over-draft with the fifth overall pick.

1. Auston Matthews (1)

2. Clayton Keller (7)

3. Patrik Laine (2)

4. Matthew Tkachuk (6)

5. Jesse Puljujarvi (4)

Right off the bat, I’m going to catch heat. “blah blah blah elite winger…blah blah 36 goals as a rookie”. I get it, Patrik Laine is really good. The problem is, Clayton Keller is really good and plays a premium position – even if he ends up at wing in the pros, he has the potential to be a better version of Mitch Marner. Last year, I was told by three different scouts that Keller would have been in the conversation with Matthews had he been three inches taller and weighed 10 lbs more. He obviously dropped in the draft thanks to concerns about his size. He has spent the next 11 months proving that teams made a mistake. He’s going to be a legitimate #1 scoring center in the NHL – maybe as early as next year – and will go down as the second best player from this year’s draft.

6. Mikhail Sergachev (9)

7. Jakob Chychrun (16)

8. Sam Steel (30)

9. Charles McAvoy (14)

10. Tyson Jost (10)

Jakob Chychrun played the entire season in the NHL after tumbling out of the top-15 on draft day. He’s already proved that he is an NHL defender, now we just need to see how much he can develop and if he can turn into the top pairing defender the Coyotes are hoping for.

Sam Steel fell all the way to the end of the first round and spent this season showing scouts how foolish they were. He was the best player on the best team in the WHL and is looking like he’ll be a steal (pun totally intended) for the Ducks.

11. Alex DeBrincat (39)

12.  Brett Howden (27)

13. Trent Frederic (29)

14. Henrick Borgstrom (23)

15. Olli Juolevi (5)

When the Bruins selected Trent Frederic in the first round last June, people made fun of them. He was a reach, they blew another pick, the takes were running wild. Frederic went on to spend the season proving that maybe the Bruins are actually good at drafting.

16. Michael McLeod (12)

17. Janne Kuokkanen (43)

18. Jake Bean (13)

19. Pierre-Luc Dubois (3)

20. Alex Nylander (8)

During the 2015-16 OHL season, it was hard to watch the Mississauga Steelheads and not be dazzled by both Michael McLeod and Alex Nylander. They were the team’s two best players and took turns driving the offense for a young team. That said, it’s weird to me that scouts would watch the games and think Nylander was the better NHL prospect. Time will tell, but it really seems as though Buffalo reached a little too high for the lesser Nylander brother.

21. Dante Fabbro (17)

22. Luke Kunin (15)

23. Logan Brown (11)

24. Max Jones (24)

25. Taylor Raddysh (58)

It feels wrong dropping Fabbro down from his original draft spot, if for no other reason than we should never question the Nashville Predators when it comes to drafting defensemen. If Max Jones can keep his dirty play under wraps – something that is easier said than done – I think 24 might still be a little low for him, but for now, that’s where he’ll stay until he can prove he can stay in the lineup.

26. Julian Gauthier (21)

27. Tyler Parsons (54)

28. Vitaly Abramov (65)

29. Dmitry Sokolov (196)

30. Adam Fox (66)

It was absolutely ridiculous that Dmitry Sokolov fell as far as he did in last year’s draft. After finally being selected in the 7th round, Sokolov went on to be one of the best goal scorers in junior hockey. He’s an incredible talent that when he has his mind right can be as dynamic as anyone on the ice.

I’m on record as not being the biggest Tyler Parsons fan. He’s incredibly quick and athletic, and as a result, he lets his technique slip. With that said, he was the best goalie in the OHL this season and will likely end up being the best one from this draft class.

Who fell out of the first round?

Logan Stanley (18)

Keiffer Bellows (19)

Dennis Cholowski (20)

German Rubstov (22)

Riley Tufte (25)

Tage Thompson (26)

Lucas Johansen (28)

Is it a coincidence that most of the guys that were over-drafted were among the tallest first rounders?

For a team that normally drafts well, it is absolutely mind-blowing that Winnipeg not only drafted Logan Stanley, but they traded up to do so. Who knows, maybe Stanley will surprise us all, but that looked like a really bad pick then and still does now.





  1. Laine is by far better than Keller, despite Keller playing at BU this year. Other than that, I think Sebastion Aho is a name that should of been in the top-15. He was phenomenal this year for the Hurricanes, despite being a second rounder. It’s early to tell, but I enjoy hearing other peoples opinions on certain players. Nice read!


  2. Should be a 19 year old draft considering all these supposed changes in the rankings. Only a three-four players play in the show the first year anyway


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