2016 NHL Draft Final Alternate Rankings – Pike’s Picks

The 2015-16 hockey season is complete, as the London Knights triumphed in the Memorial Cup to cap things off. With everything over except for the 2016 NHL Draft, it’s time to share my final rankings for the 2016 draft class. This is the fifth and final update of The Hockey Writers’ Alternate Draft Rankings for the 2015-16 hockey season. Developed as a complementary device to Chris Ralph’s long-standing The Next One Rankings and Eldon MacDonald’s War Room rankings, my approach is fairly straight-forward and simple: if I were drafting a team from scratch, which players would I choose (and in what order).

Some disclaimers: I’m based in Western Canada and see most Western Hockey League teams and occasionally see Canadian prospects at Hockey Canada events. Most likely I’m a bit biased both towards and against WHL players because I see them often and have more information about their play than I do about other players. I’ve also found that compared to other consensus rankings, I’m a bit tougher on defensemen and goalies.

Players are listed with their May War Room ranking in brackets. As you can see, Eldon and I had a difference of opinion on many of these young hockey players.

The First Round

There’s a bit of a drop-off in talent and NHL-readiness after the top five, though Nylander and Juolevi can make arguments for being grouped in with the upper guys in terms of talent level. From there, the first round is a bit of a mixed bag of everything. It’s really OHL heavy this year, and features a mixture of smaller, speedy players with offensive talent and larger, more mature players with fewer peaks and valleys in their games. I rank based on a combination of skill level, ceiling and likelihood of NHL success, and so there are some trade-offs made in the first round group between those areas.

For the curious, the top three player seem very good bets to be NHLers in 2016-17, while Dubois and Brown are physically mature enough to probably make the transition as well. Tkachuk, Nylander and Juolevi definitely have the skills needed to make the jump, though they could have some trouble with the physicality.

Rank Pos. Player Team
1 [1]  C Auston Matthews ZSC Lions (NLA)
2 [2]  RW Patrik Laine Tappara (SM-Liiga)
3 [3]  RW Jesse Puljujarvi Karpat (SM-Liiga)
4 [4]  LW Matthew Tkachuk London Knights (OHL)
5 [7]  RW Pierre-Luc Dubois Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
6 [8]  RW Alexander Nylander Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
7 [10]  D Olli Juolevi London Knights (OHL)
8 [6]  C Logan Brown Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
9 [9]  D Mikhail Sergachev Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
10 [16]  C Clayton Keller U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
11 [11]  D Jakob Chychrun Sarnia Sting (OHL)
12 [5]  C Tyson Jost Penticton Vees (BCHL)
13 [12]  C Michael McLeod Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
14 [15] D Jake Bean Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
15 [21] D Charlie McAvoy Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
16 [14]  C Kieffer Bellows U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
17 [19]  LW Max Jones London Knights (OHL)
18 [18]  C German Rubtsov Team Russia U18 (MHL)
19 [17]  D Dante Fabbro Penticton Vees (BCHL)
20 [20]  C Luke Kunin University of Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)
21 [25]  RW Alex Debrincat Erie Otters (OHL)
22 [40]  C Pascal Laberge Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
23 [35]  C Rasmus Asplund Farjestads BK (SHL)
24 [27]  LW Vitali Abramov Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
25 [78]  D Samuel Girard Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
26 [24]  C Brett Howden Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
27 [13]  RW Julien Gauthier Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
28 [43]  RW Tage Thompson University of Connecticut Huskies (NCAA)
29 [22]  LW Riley Tufte Blaine High School (USHS)
30 [26]  LW Tyler Benson Vancouver Giants (WHL)

The Second Round

There’s a lot less variation in skill level among the second round grouping, which means decisions over who gets ranked where were insanely difficult (and there is a lot of divergence from Eldon’s rankings as a result). Mascherin is small but has immense offensive skill (as does Raddysh), so they lead the pack here. Everett’s Carter Hart is my top-ranked netminder, though I could see a team taking a chance on Gustavsson earlier on based on his success in international tournaments. There’s also a chance that both of the London players could creep up higher on draft weekend based on a bit of recency bias, as both Mete and Pu were really impressive at the Memorial Cup tournament. The same goes for Clague, who was mature and poised while his team faced some absolute powerhouse opponents.

Rank Pos. Player Team
31 [34]  C Adam Mascherin Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
32 [57]  RW Taylor Raddysh Erie Otters (OHL)
33 [49]  C Dillon Dube Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
34 [46]  D Frederic Allard Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
35 [23]  D Logan Stanley Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
36 [58]  D Adam Fox U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
37 [48]  C Sam Steel Regina Pats (WHL)
38 [31]  RW Nathan Bastian Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
39 [41]  C William Bitten Flint Firebirds (OHL)
40 [63]  D Victor Mete London Knights (OHL)
41 [28]  D Lucas Johansen Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
42 [37]  C Boris Katchouk Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
43 [29]  D Kale Clague Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
44 [33]  D Libor Hajek Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
45 [45]  C Jordan Kyrou Sarnia Sting (OHL)
46 [36]  RW Cliff Pu London Knights (OHL)
47 [30]  C Jonathan Dahlen Timra (Allsvanskan)
48 [72]  C Janne Kuokkanen Karpat (Jr. SM-Liiga)
49 [75]  D Chad Krys U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
50 [55]  D Ryan Lindgren U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
51 [32]  D Cam Dineen North Bay Battalion (OHL)
52 [50]  G Carter Hart Everett Silvertips (OHL)
53 [39]  LW Carl Grundstrom MODO (SHL)
54 [94]  C Linus Lindstrom Skelleftea AIK (Sweden Jr.)
55 [42]  C Dmitri Sokolov Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
56 [200]  C Jonathan Ang Peterborough Petes (OHL)
57 [86]  D Jacob Moverare HV71 (Sweden Jr.)
58 [80]  LW Simon Stransky Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
59 [51]  G Tyler Parsons London Knights (OHL)
60 [81]  G Zach Sawchenko Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

The Third Round

Finally, this grouping includes some really interesting project players. Day’s physically mature beyond his years but has some catching up to do in terms of mobility. Mahura is very talented but missed much of this season due to injury. Gregor and Quenneville are quite small, even for junior, but have been very impressive.

Rank Pos. Player Team
61 [89]  D David Quenneville Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
62 [65]  C Noah Gregor Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
64 [66]  LW Givani Smith Guelph Storm (OHL)
65 [82]  D Luke Green Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
66 [79]  D Max Lajoie Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
67 [74]  D Dennis Cholowski Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
68 [180]  RW William Knierim Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
69 [54]  C Cameron Morrison Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
70 [69]  D Jacob Cederholm HV71 (Sweden Jr.)
71 [52]  D Sean Day Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
72 [60]  G Filip Gustavsson Lulea HF (Sweden Jr.)
73 [194]  D Joshua Mahura Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
74 [119]  D Griffin Luce U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
75 [147]  C Carsen Twarynski Calgary Hitmen (WHL)