Scouts' takes and comparable players for all 30 likely first round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft.

By Allan Muir
June 23, 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
zurich SC (Switzerland) |<br> 6' 2", 216
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Anze Kopitar
2
winnipeg Jets
tapparatempere (finland) | 6' 4", 201
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Alex Ovechkin
3
columbus blue jackets
karpat(finland) | 6' 3", 208
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Blake Wheeler
4
edmonton oilers
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Keith Tkachuk (his dad)
5
vancouver canucks
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Jamie Benn
6
calgary flames
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan Johansen
7
arizona coyotes
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
8
buffalo sabres
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Roman Josi
9
montreal canadiens
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Artemi Panarin
10
colorado avalanche
 
11
new jersey devils
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Joe Sakic
12
ottawa senatorS
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Kyle Turris
13
carolina hurricanes
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Darren Helm
14
boston bruins
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Corey Perry
15
minnesota wild
Val D'or Foreurs (QMJHL) | 6' 3", 231
 
16
detroit red wings
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan McDonagh
17
nashville predators
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Justin Faulk
18
philadelphia flyers
london (oHL) | 6' 2", 206
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Scott Hartnell
19
new york islanders
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Ryan Ellis
20
arizona coyotes
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Alex Steen
21
• 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
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Tyler Myers
23
florida panthers
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Martin Hanzal
24
anaheim ducks
 
25
dallas stars
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Tyler Toffoli
26
washington capitals
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Dennis Seidenberg
27
tampa bay lightning
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Alex Goligoski
28
st. louis blues
kelowna (whl)| 6' 2", 175
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Dan Hamhuis
29
boston bruins
tri city (ushl) | 6' 1", 205
• COMPARABLE NHL PLAYER: Andrew Ladd
30
Anaheim ducks
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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