2016 NHL mock draft: first round

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Maple Leafs take top pick at NHL Draft Lottery
Thursday June 23rd, 2016

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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.

Matthews blazed own unique path to NHL  

• Top forward prospects | defensemen | goalies

•​ Each team's best active drafted player

 All-time worst picks by Eastern teams | Western teams

 Notable draft busts | Late round gems | Greatest by slot

VAULT: Connor McDavid (2014) | Jack Eichel (2014) | Sidney Crosby (2003) | Eric Lindros (1991) | Mario Lemieux (1984) | Wayne Gretzky (1978) | Guy Lafleur (1971) | Bobby Orr (1966)

1
toronto maple leafs
auston matthews, C
zurich SC (Switzerland) |<br> 6' 2", 216

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Anze Kopitar

2
winnipeg Jets
patrik laine, rw
tappara tempere (finland) | 6' 4", 201

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Alex Ovechkin

3
columbus blue jackets
jesse puljujarvi, rw
karpat (finland) | 6' 3", 208

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Blake Wheeler

4
edmonton oilers
Matthew Tkachuk, lw
London (OHL) | 6' 1", 202

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Keith Tkachuk (his dad)

5
vancouver canucks
pierre-luc dubois, c/lw
cape breton (QMJHL) | 6' 2", 205

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Jamie Benn

6
calgary flames
logan brown, c
windsor (OHL) | 6' 6", 222

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan Johansen

7
arizona coyotes
Mikhail Sergachev, d
windsor (ohl) | 6' 2", 221

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

8
buffalo sabres
olli juolevi, d
london (OHL) | 6' 2", 188

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Roman Josi

9
montreal canadiens
Alexander Nylander​, LW/rw
mississauga (ohl) | 6', 178

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Artemi Panarin

10
colorado avalanche
Jakob Chychrun, D
sarnia (ohl) | 6' 2", 200

 

11
new jersey devils
Clayton Keller​, c
usa ntdp (ushl) | 5' 10", 164

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Joe Sakic

12
ottawa senatorS
Tyson jost, c
penticton (bcHL) | 5' 11", 190

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Kyle Turris

13
carolina hurricanes
michael McLeod, C
mississauga (oHL) | 6' 2", 185

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Darren Helm

14
boston bruins
kieffer bellows, lw
us ntdp (ushL) | 6', 197

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Corey Perry

15
minnesota wild
Julien Gauthier, rw
Val D'or Foreurs (QMJHL) | 6' 3", 231

 

16
detroit red wings
Charlie McAvoy, d
boston univ. (NCAA) | 6', 199

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan McDonagh

17
nashville predators
Jake Bean​, d
calgary (whl) | 6' 1", 173

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Justin Faulk

18
philadelphia flyers
Max Jones, lw
london (oHL) | 6' 2", 206

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Scott Hartnell

19
new york islanders
dante fabbro, d
penticton (bcHL) | 6', 192

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan Ellis

20
arizona coyotes
german rubtsov, c 
Russia u-18 (mhl) | 6', 178

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Alex Steen

21
luke kunin, C/rw
wisconsin (ncaa) | 5' 11", 193

• SCOUT SAYS: “Multi-purpose forward who can chip in with big plays in all three zones. Plays with intensity and focus.”

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan O'Reilly  

22
winnipeg jets
logan stanley, d
windsor (ohl) | 6' 7", 224

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Tyler Myers

23
florida panthers
tage thompson, c
connecticut (ncaa) | 6' 5", 195

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Martin Hanzal

24
anaheim ducks
brett howden, c
moose jaw (whl) | 6' 2", 193

 

25
dallas stars
alex debrincat, c/rw
erie (oHL) | 5' 7", 165

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Tyler Toffoli

26
washington capitals
Libor Hajek, d
Saskatoon (whl) | 6' 1", 205

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Dennis Seidenberg

27
tampa bay lightning
Dennis Cholowski​, d
chilliwack (bcHL) | 6' 1", 177

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Alex Goligoski

28
st. louis blues
Lucas Johansen​, d
kelowna (whl) | 6' 2", 175

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Dan Hamhuis

29
boston bruins
wade allison, rw
tri city (ushl) | 6' 1", 205

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Andrew Ladd

30
Anaheim ducks
Boris Katchouk, lw
Sault Ste. Marie (oHL) | 6' 1", 190

• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Boone Jenner

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.

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