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2016 NHL DRAFT: PROJECTED TOP PICKS

By: Bob Mills
Photo By Greg Hamil
06/24/2016 12:58 PM -

Rockford, Ill. – The first round of the 2016 NHL Draft starts tonight at 6 p.m. central time, and rounds two through seven are scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, June 25. Prospects from around the globe are gathered in Buffalo, New York, in the hopes of being selected by an NHL club.

Below is a look at the top five North American and European skaters, and the top two North American and European goaltenders (based on 2015-16 team) as ranked by NHL.com. Players are categorized based on the location of the team for which they played, not their nation of birth.

North American skaters:
Left winger Pierre-Luc Dubois is the top ranked North American skater. He competed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) last season, notching 99 points (42g-57a) in 62 games    to finish third in the league in points. He was awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league’s Best Professional Prospect. Dubois helped Team Canada take home the Gold Medal in the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, posting two goals and three assists in five games.

Scouting Report

Ranked at number two on the North American list is left wing Matthew Tkachuk. The son of former NHL forward Keith Tkachuk, Matthew finished fifth in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with 107 points (30g-77a) in 57 games in 2015-16. He led the league with 20 goals in the playoffs while guiding his club to the OHL Championship. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native put up two goals and 10 assists for 12 points for Team USA in the 2015 World Junior Championships.

Scouting Report

The third-ranked skater is left wing Alexander Nylander, son of former NHL forward Michael Nylander and brother of William Nylander (#8 overall, 2014, Toronto Maple Leafs). Hailing from Stockholm, Swe., Nylander was named the OHL Rookie of the Year in 2015-16 after skating in 57 games for Mississauga and racking up 75 points (28g-47a). He represented Sweden on the international stage three times in 2015-16. Nylander earned a silver medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament with six points in five games, led Sweden with nine points in seven games in a fourth place finish at the 2016 World Junior Championship, and helped Sweden to a silver medal in the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship with 11 points in seven games.

Scouting Report

At number four is defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He served as an alternate captain with the Sarnia Sting (OHL) last season, and posted 11 goals and 38 assists for 49 points in 62 games. He also picked up two goals and six assists in seven playoff games. Chychrun was named to the OHL All-Rookie Team and Third All-Star Team in 2014-15 after registering 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 42 games.

Scouting Report

Rounding out the top five North American skaters is defenseman Olli Juolevi. Juolevi finished third among all rookie defensemen in the OHL with 42 points (9g-33a) in 57 games for the London Knights. He was selected to the Second All-Rookie Team and Third All-Star Team for his efforts. The Helskini, Finland, native went on to post three goals and 11 assists in 18 playoff contests to help London take home the OHL Championship. On the international stage, he led all defensemen with nine assists in seven games at the 2016 World Junior Championship as Finland won the gold medal. Juolevi was named to the Tournament All-Star Team.

Scouting Report

European skaters:
The number-one ranked European skater is U.S.-born center Auston Matthews. He skated for Zurich in the Swiss Hockey League in 2015-16, his first professional season, and averaged more than a point-per-game with 24 goals and 22 assists in 36 games. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native has helped the U.S. take home the gold medal two times in the U18 World Championship (2014 and 2015), and was named the Tournament MVP in 2015 while leading all players in goals (8) and points (15).

Scouting Report

Right winger Patrik Laine ranks second on the list. He had 33 points (17g-16a) in 46 games for Tappara in the Finnish league last season, helping his club collect the league championship. Laine exploded for 10 goals in 18 playoff games to lead all players and earned the Jari Kurri Award as the top postseason player. The product of Tempere, Finland, won a silver medal with Finland at the 2016 World Championship and tied for the tournament lead with seven goals. Laine helped Finland take home the gold at the 2016 World Junior Championship, and tied with Auston Matthews for the most tournament goals (7).

Scouting Report

Another Finnish right wing, Jesse Puljujarvi, shows up as the third-ranked skater on the list. He notched 28 points (13g-15a) in 50 games with Karpat in the Finnish Elite League and also collected a gold medal with Finland in the 2016 World Junior Championship. He was named the Most Valuable Player and Best Forward while leading all players in assists (12) and points (17) during the seven tournament games.

Scouting Report

The fourth-ranked skater is center Rasmus Asplund, from Filipstad, Sweden. He led all junior-age players on Farjestad BK (Swedish League) with eight assists in 2015-16. Asplund represented Sweden in the 2016 World Junior Championship and had two goals and three assists in seven games as the youngest player on his team.

Scouting Report

Center German Rubtsov closes out the top five European skaters. He played for Russia’s U18 team in 2015-16, putting up 26 points (12g-14a) in 28 games to finish second on the team in scoring. The Chekhov, Russia, forward played five games for Russia in the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, scoring one goal and adding three assists as Russia earned a bronze medal.

Scouting Report

North American goaltenders:
Canadian-born goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick comes in at the top spot for North American netminders. He played 54 games for Sherbrooke (QMJHL) last season, and became the club’s all-time wins leader with 31 in his two-year tenure. He was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team in 2014-15, and earned the first shutout by a rookie goalie in Sherbrooke history with a 26 save performance against Drummondville.

Scouting Report

Carter Hart ranks second on the North American list. The Sherwood Park, Alta. native was named the Western Hockey League (WHL) Goaltender of the Year last year after leading the WHL in wins (35) and placing second in goals-against average (2.14) and minutes played (3,693). He finished tied for second with six shutouts. Hart started two games for Canada in the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, winning both contests and posting a 1.50 GAA.

Scouting Report

European goaltenders:
Filip Gustavsson is the number-one ranked netminder from the European leagues, and was one of only three junior-aged goalies to play in the Swedish Elite League in 2015-16. He played in six games for Lulea, earning wins in four of those appearances. He also played in 20 games for Lulea’s junior club, posting a 3.22 GAA and .893 save percentage. Hailing from Skelleftea, Swe., Gustavsson guided Team Sweden to a silver medal at the 2016 U18 World Championship and was named the Top Goaltender with a 2.70 GAA and .905 save percentage.

Scouting Report

The second-ranked European goalie is Daniel Marmenlind. He played 33 games for Orebro Jr. in 2015-16, posting a 2.93 GAA and .920 save percentage. Marmenlind also made one appearance in the top Swedish league for Orebro. He was named the Top Goaltender in Sweden’s junior league in 2014-15, finishing the season with a 2.26 GAA and .923 save percentage in 26 games for Orebro Jr.

Scouting Report

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