Scouts' takes and comparable players for all 30 likely first round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Auston Matthews slipping a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater over his head is the only sure thing about the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on Friday night at Buffalo's First Niagara Center (7 p.m. Eastern, NBCSN).
Beyond that lies chaos.
A class deep with scoring forwards and mobile, transition-minded defenders has teams jockeying for position both up and down the board. Columbus, Calgary, Buffalo and Arizona are waiting by the phone and Edmonton is at least willing to listen to offers, setting the stage for some blockbuster deals. And with the spectre of an impending expansion draft looming over the proceedings, there could several big-name veterans on the move as well.
While we can't predict those trades, we can give you some insight into the players your team might select. We weighed the best players available up against drafting trends and organizational needs to create our annual mock draft.
We've also included thoughts from scouts to give you an insider's look at how players are perceived, along with NHL comparables for each player—just keep in mind these are intended as a broad indication of a player's style, not a projection of what these prospects will become.
With that important caveat in mind, here's how things might play out on Friday night.
Five to Watch
Riley Tufte, Tri City Storm (USHL): Massive winger tore up Minnesota high school hockey, but struggled to score in USHL. Very raw talent.
Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Physical winger oozes skill, but injuries could knock him out of first round.
Rasmus Asplund, Farjestad BK (Sweden): Versatile forward lacks size, but no one questions his speed and smarts.
Vitali Abramov, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): Forward is just 5' 9", but highly skilled and willing to work down low to generate scoring opportunities.
Will Bitten, Flint Firebirds (OHL): Center carried the Firebirds while the team was undergoing upheaval on and off the ice. Scouts wonder what he might have done in a stable situation.