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Mid-Season Mock Draft

With the 2016 NHL draft only 4 1/2 months away and only 30 games left for most teams, it’s time to start talking draft speculations. A draft class led by Auston Matthews will not fail to impress this year.

This years draft is quite odd at least from a Canadian stand point. Arguably the three best players to headline this draft are C Auston Matthews (USA), RW Jesse Puljujarvi (FIN) and RW Patrik Laine (FIN). So this could potentially be the first draft since 1999 where a Canadian born player was not chosen in the Top 3.

So with that being said, lets get to it. These team rankings are based off of the NHL standings as of February 9th, 2016 12:54ET

(Sources: TSN.ca, hockeydb.com, hockeysfuture.com, NHL.com)

  1. Edmonton Oilers – C Auston Matthews (USA) 6’1 194LBS Zurich (Swiss-A)

31GP 24G 16A 40PTS 6PIM +10

I can only shake my head as the Oilers currently hold the best odds for the 2016 Draft Lottery, but this is a mock draft so that’s a bit of a relief. I think it’s no question that whoever gets the first overall selection will take Auston Matthews. It’s not usual for a player of this talent to go overseas and play in his draft year but never the less he’s and 18 year old that is playing pro hockey in Switzerland and is tied for the league lead in goals with 24. Even in Switzerland that’s an accomplishment. Definitely the clear cut number 1. NHL Comparable: Anze Kopitar

2. Columbus Blue Jackets – RW Patrik Laine (FIN) 6’4 206LBS Tappara (SM-Liiga)

35GP 13G 14A 27PTS 0PIM +3

Another sad story in the NHL is the Blue Jackets. Things were looking bright when they snuck into the playoffs in 2014, but they finished 23rd last year and currently are tied for last in the league. I guess it can be seen as a positive though since they will have a Top 3 pick. To me this is another clear choice not only skill wise, but need wise for the Jackets. Another prospect playing pro hockey is Laine. Laine who turns 18 in April is tied for 6th in Tappara Tampere scoring. He brings size, skill and smarts. Without a penalty this year, Laine looks to be an elite winger soon. NHL Comparable: Vladimir Tarasenko

3. Toronto Maple Leafs – RW Jesse Puljujarvi (FIN) 6’3 203LBS Karpat (SM-Liiga)

41GP 8G 12A 20PTS 20PIM +6

Coming into this years draft the Leafs look to add to the prospect pool that includes the likes of Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Puljujarvi and Laine were arguably the two best players at this years world juniors because they complimented each other so well. The Leafs have lots of talent up front but do lack size. Puljujarvi is one of the best North/South players in this draft and could fit in great alongside Nylander’s elite offence and Marner’s playmaking ability. NHL Comparable: Jamie Benn

      4. Buffalo Sabres – LW Matthew Tkachuk (USA) 6’1 195LBS London (OHL)

41GP 20G 57A 77PTS 63PIM +29

After losing the first overall pick and choosing Jack Eichel in 2015, the Sabres were still more than happy with what they got in Eichel. They currently sit 27th in the NHL and will probably stay their come draft day. So I see them taking Tkachuk with no questions asked. Son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, was said by TSN Head Scout Craig Button to have the biggest heart in this draft. He brings a gritty style game and knows where to put the puck and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. NHL Comparable: Keith Tkachuk

       5. Winnipeg Jets – LW Alexander Nylander (SWE) 6’0 179LBS Mississauga (OHL)

44GP 26G 35A 61PTS 6PIM +8

After making the playoffs in 2015 and the Winnipeg White Out in full force, things only looked up in the ‘Peg. But with a bad start in 2015-2016, the Jets playoff hopes have dwindled down to nothing. A bright side of the season is locking up D Dustin Byfuglien and with that, all signs point to LW Andrew Ladd being traded. And with a team weak down the left side Nylander fits perfect. Son of former NHLer Michael Nylander and brother of Leafs prospect William Nylander. He showed at the 2016 World Juniors his amazing hand set and skill level from a respected hockey family. NHL Comparable: Joe Pavelski

       6. Calgary Flames – RW Pierre-Luc Dubois (CAN) 6’3 203LBS Cape Breton (QMJHL)

50GP 30G 42A 72PTS 77PIM +22

Like the Jets, the C of Red was rocking in last years playoffs, but a slow start as taken Calgary out of playoff contention. At last years draft the Flames added D Dougie Hamilton, and selected two defenseman with their 2nd round picks. So, with Hudler set to become a UFA and Calgary missing a true number one RW, Dubois fits that need perfectly. The first Canadian “taken” so far is a big kid and has a good skill set and hockey mind. He plays a North/South game that could fit well with Gaudreau’s offensive prowess. Could Dubois be the next Iginla for the Flames? NHL Comparable: Alexander Steen

      7. Vancouver Canucks – D Olli Juolevi (FIN) 6’2 179LBS London (OHL)

39GP 5G 23A 28PTS 12PIM +31

With a rebuild looming in Vancouver, it’s time for the Canucks to start drafting smart and why not with a promising defenseman. Juolevi who was apart of the gold winning World Junior team this year is a smooth skater and can move the puck well. A good two way defender with a good hockey IQ and is getting better on a nightly basis. NHL Comparable: TJ Brodie

       8. Arizona Coyotes – D Jakob Chychrun (CAN) 6’2 215LBS Sarnia (OHL)

47GP 9G 25A 34PTS 30PIM +14

Argued by many scouts to be a better choice than Olli Juolevi, Chychrun is still a solid defenseman with a great skill set and an amazing skating and puck moving defenseman. But after playing inconsistently this year, it raises questions to whether he can a game changer year round. None the less, with a Coyotes team lacking in defensive depth Chychrun is a good choice. NHL Comparable: Zach Bogosian

        9. Minnesota Wild – RW Julien Gauthier (CAN) 6’3 225LBS Val d’Or (QMJHL)

38GP 36G 10A 46PTS 20PIM +23

With a solid blue line and lacking a pure goal scorer in Minnesota, Gauthier could be the perfect fit for the Wild. He has the size and power to be a prolific power forward and goal scorer in the league. He’s also a high end skater and can use his size to get to the net and score goals. NHL Comparable: James Neal

       10. Philadelphia Flyers – C Michael McLeod (CAN) 6’2 188LBS Mississauga (OHL)

50GP 19G 37A 56PTS 55PIM +8

A great two way centre who can dominate games with his possession play and hard driving style. Has good numbers with the Steelheads and wouldn’t be surprised if he went up to maybe as high as 7th overall. May not fit the Flyers needs particularly well but his play may change their minds on that. NHL Comparable: Dylan Larkin

        11. Ottawa Senators – D Jake Bean (CAN) 6’1 173LBS Calgary (WHL)

52GP 20G 27A 47PTS 24PIM +4

The Calgary native Bean was undrafted into Major Junior but quickly proved he wasn’t just lucky and climbed the NHL draft ranks. He is a quarterback on the power play and has great vision to set up teammates as well as a great hockey sense. NHL Comparable: Justin Faulk

        12. Carolina Hurricanes – LW Max Jones (USA) 6’3 205LBS London (OHL)

45GP 21G 18A 39PTS 90PIM +16

Big, fast power forward who is close to NHL ready but mentally still has some work to do. Big hitter and willing to go to the net to make a play and skill too. A good fit for Carolina with a weak depth down the wings. NHL Comparable: Kyle Okposo

        13. Montreal Canadiens – C Tyson Jost (CAN) 5’11 191LBS Penticton (BCHL)

41GP 34G 52A 86PTS 37PIM +/- unavailable

This speedy centre playing in Penticton is praised for his amazing speed which is effective in 1 on 1 situations. Along with his skill he plays a good defensive game as well. A good pick for the Canadiens who don’t have a high end centre prospect. NHL Comparable: Tomas Plekanec

        14. New Jersey Devils – D Mikhail Sergachev (RUS) 6’2 206LBS Windsor (OHL)

50GP 14G 27A 41PTS 40PIM +8

Big defenseman with lots of offensive capability. Defensive game still needs some work but could become a solid, consistent Top 4 two way defenseman. Something the Devils are in need of. NHL Comparable: Rasmus Ristolainen

This list is based off of current league standings and team needs. These aren’t necessarily the order of these prospects skill wise. Definitely a deep forward group in the first half of round one. The 2016 NHL Entry Draft is June 24-25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.

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