2016 NHL Draft Team Grades and Top Prospects: Metropolitan Division

by Eldon MacDonald (edited by Chris Ralph)

The Metropolitan Division

The Metropolitan Division: Draft and Prospect Table

Hurricanes Blue Jackets Devils Islanders Rangers Flyers Penguins Capitals
Draft Ranking
B+ A B+ B C- B+ C+ B-
Prospect Ranking
B- B+ B+ B D B+ B B
3 Impact Prospects
Bean Dubois Zacha Barzal Bushnevich Provorov Murray Vrana
Gauthier Werenski McLeod Bellows Shesterkin Sanheim Pouliot Samsonov
Aho Milano Santini Sorokin Day Konecny Sprong Johansen
Sleeper Impact
Elynuik Abramov Maltsev Quenneville Reunanen Allison Hall Jonsson Fjallaby

Outliers in this Draft

In reviewing most of the ranking services lists plus Bob McKenzie’s  ten scout average and comparing them to the actual draft, here are the biggest outliers by round:

1st Round

23rd Florida – Henrik Borgstrom

29th Boston – Trent Frederic

30th Anaheim – Sam Steel


2nd Round

31st Toronto – Yegor Korshkov

34th Columbus – Andrew Peeke

45th Chicago – Chris Krys

60th San Jose – Dylan Gambrell

61st Pittsburgh – Kasper Bjorkqvist


3rd Round and Beyond

By the 3rd round, there were too many outliers to bother tracking.


2016 NHL Draft Team Grades

Carolina Hurricanes: B+

The Top Pick: Jake Bean – D – 6’1, 173 lbs

Wow, I like how the Canes reacted to their 1st round draft positions. It was like it was the bottom of the ninth in the World Series and they were swinging for the defences. First, they had a terrific at bat and long ball when they seized the top offensive defenceman in the draft in Bean. They quickly followed that up with their solid second hit in the first round with Julien Gauthier, the son of Mr. Canada and the grandson of, you guessed it, Mr. Canada. Bean is a great offensive talent. He led the CHL defensemen with 24 goals. He will likely be the guy who ends up being the main cog in the Canes powerplay. He is still a bean pole so Canes fans are likely to have to wait for a few years before being able to see how the cog really works.

Julien Gauthier  21st – RW – 6’3, 231 lbs

Yes, if everybody in the family is named Mr. Canada, you would think that Gauthier would be one of the strongest and most buffed guys in this draft class. He is. In addition, Gauthier also possesses impressive speed, a big league shot, an overwheliming type of drive to the net and an excellent finish (41 goals in just 54 games). He slowed down in the second half of the season but I think that was fortunate for the Canes because it allowed them to select the big guy (he was ranked top 10 in the first half of the season). I am confident he will rebound to his early season performance next year.

After the first round the Canes followed with a prospect with a lot of upside in the second round (Janne Juokkanen) and then followed that up by two big boys who can skate in the third (Matt Filipe and Hudson Elnyuik). To top it off, they added a couple of goalies with potential (Jack Lafontaine and Jeremy Helvig) that I like.

Janne Kuokkanen – 43rd – C – 6’1, 179 – Kuokkanen is a prospect with potential. He still must fill out and shoot more but the basic frame and skills are there. He excelled at the IIHF U18 Tournament where he won gold with Team Finland. His tool bag includes high-end passing, vision, defense and a willingness to compete. I don’t think he is as far down the development road as most of his peers are so there is likely to be more upside yet to come.

Matt Filipe – 67th – LW – 6’2, 196 – There is a lot in Filipe that make you think there could be a place for him in the NHL. Size, skating, defense, willingness to be physical, drive to the net, good in close. While his results last year could be considered modest (0.6 points per game in the USHL), I don’t think we have heard the last from Matt Filipe. By the way, he excelled down the stretch and probably had one of the biggest turnarounds of any player during last season. I had him ranked 93rd.

Hudson Elynuik – 74th – LW – 6’5, 201 – Huge at 6’5 with decent skating. Stop right there and I am already intrigued. Add some defense, a nice shot and soft hands and the fact that your Dad (Pat Elynuik) played 506 games in the NHL and I believe you have a decent 3rd round prospect. Elynuik had 0.8 points per game with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL last season. I had him ranked 113rd.


Columbus Blue Jackets: A

The Top Pick: Pierre-Luc Dubois  3rd overall – C – 6’2, 205 lbs

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen created quite a stir when he sent Columbus Head Scout,  Ville Siren to the podium to  select Pierre-Luc Dubois, rated 4th or 5th by most, over  Jesse Puljujarvi, rated 3rd by almost everyone else. I will not get into the pros and cons of the two since it could be a long article in itself. Craig Button, I think, got it correct when he commented on the TV Show accompanying the draft that Dubois showed a Jamie Benn big-man game with Jamie Benn versatility. The most telling characteristic of Dubois is his pro style work ethic and willingness to improve. He spent the summer before last season away from home in Montréal training with Mark Lambert who may be the top personal trainer in the game today. Mark is currently the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The results: close to 20 pounds in added weight with the additional strength to go with it – talk about a difference, a boy to man transition. If he continues that type of transformational training this summer, you could very well see him in the Columbus next fall. Here is my Pierre-Luc profile – link here.

Here are my thoughts on some of the other draftees:

Andrew Peeke – 34th – D – 6’2, 205 – Peeke is a player with the defensive vision, hockey sense and steadiness that you are looking for in a defenseman. However, he is not overly physical and needs to bring up that part of his game if he wants to make it in the NHL. I would not consider him an offensive defenseman but he does make an excellent breakout pass and has a big shot from the point. I had him 3rd round.

Vitali Abramov – 65th – RW – 5’9, 175 – I had Abramov in the first round so I was surprised when he didn’t go until the third. Obviously, part of the reason was his 5’9 size. The other reason that you heard was that his skating was not elite. Personally, I didn’t see that and just about every defenseman in the QMJHL backed me up on that by the space they were giving him. Abramov possesses the drive, the physical skills other than size and the vision to potentially play on the first line in the NHL. His size does not deter him from excelling and doing what is necessary to win. He still needs to work on his strength and his defense to be ready for the NHL. I like this pick a lot. He looked very impressive in the Blue Jackets summer development camp.

Peter Thome – 155th – G – 6’3, 194 –Thome is a goaltender with a good frame, great results (.929 save percentage in the NAHL), excellent athletic ability and the ability to make that spectacular unorthodox save like Dominik Hasek. He is still very much a long-term project. He plans to go to the University of North Dakota starting the 17-18 season. I had him ranked 156th.

Calvin Thurkauf – 185th – LW – 6’1, 203 – Thurkauf is a Swiss forward who played in the WHL last season and played a very North American style of game. He loves to dominate along the boards and drive the net. His offensive skills are good but not high-end. There is always a chance for a guy like Thurkauf even it is down the line-up because he does possess the necessary compete level and will to win.


New Jersey Devils: B+

The Top Pick: Michael McLeod 12th – C – 6’2, 185

McLeod ended up calling himself, “The Wildcard”. Michael is the wildcard because there are two schools of thought on his offensive ability or, more to the point, lack of it to date. One school has him finding that big-time offensive ability that has eluded him so far. The other school of thought is closer to the opinion that you are seeing the level of offense that he is capable of right now. Whatever school is correct, all think he is a Coach’s dream prospect in many ways. He has the frame (6’2), the leadership (Captain of the Mississauga Steelheads next season), the attention to detail and the work ethic and compete level that serve as a role model to all his teammates. He is also close to being the best skater in the draft – first steps, acceleration, and top speed. When you watch a game, he is almost always the first player your eyes will focus on because of his compete and speed. Here is the long version of my McLeod story – link here.

Among the others are:

Nathan Bastian – 41st – C/W – 6’3, 206 –Bastian is that big guy that you want on your line to create time and space for the scorers. Last year Bastian did just that playing on Mississauga’s top line with his fellow New Jersey draftee, Michael McLeod, and another first rounder, Alexander Nylander who went to the Buffalo Sabres. He has a good drive to the net and possesses a good passing and shooting game. He is also responsible on defense. The main thing holding him back is his skating – acceleration and top speed. If he can improve the skating, the Devils have a hockey player here.

Joey Anderson – 73rd – RW – 5’10, 194 – I love goal scorers and Anderson is a guy who can score goals. He has a great shot but it is those stuff them in the net goals in close that is his real money in the bank.  Last year he played with two first rounders, Clayton Keller (7th to the Coyotes) and Kieffer Bellows (19th to the Islanders), on the USA U18 Team. I think Joey Anderson has a future in the NHL and it is because he has such a high motor and he competes really hard. I don’t have much of a problem with his 5’10 height as he has such a stocky, hard to move off the puck build. I had him at 67th.

Brandon Gignac – 80th – C – 5’11, 173 – It is the speed that catches your eye with Gignac. It is electrifying. He is a playmaker first but has been working very hard to improve the velocity and frequency of his shot. His defensive play is very good. This could turn out to be a good pick because of the skating, near the best in the QMJHL. However, Gignac will have to significantly improve his weight and strength as well as putting himself more into the dirty areas for him to pan out in the NHL. I had him 5th round.

Mikhail Maltsev – 102nd – F – 6’3, 198 – Mikhail Maltsev is a big guy who excels in puck possession due to his speed and soft hands. He also has an excellent net presence and is prepared to win the battles. He has played with first rounder German Rubtsov in international tournaments. In the MHL, his results are almost as good as Rubtsov’s, 0.8 points per game to 0.9 for Rubtsov. This is a 4th round pick with NHL potential as his skating is excellent and not just for a big guy. I had him at 110th.

New York Islanders: B

The Top Pick: Kieffer Bellows 19th – LW – 6’0, 197

The Islanders got the real deal at 19. They got a gifted goal scorer in Bellows. Kieffer is the son of big-time NHL goal scorer, Brian Bellows, who finished his career with 485 goals. What sets Kieffer apart from most is his shot, and his ability to get in place to make the shot. He lives to score goals and that is what he does well (50 goals in 62 games with the USA U18 Team last season). He skating is very good and is prepared to be physical especially if it means that he will that he will get the puck to shoot. His game without the puck still needs improvement but it will come with a little work. A very nice pick at 19; I had him at 14.

Other Islander picks included:

Anatoli Golyshev – 95th – W – 5’8, 178 – He scored two more goals in the KHL last year than Alexander Radulov who is going to get paid 5.75M by the Montreal Canadiens next year. Does that get your attention? Don’t get too excited though. Golyshev has signed an extension to his contract with his KHL club, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, until 2019. He gets most of his goals in close and has a great shot as well. However, he is very small at 5’8, his skating is very good but not the elite that you might want in a small player and he is likely to be unavailable until the 2019-20 season, at best. He is a gamble but a gamble that may payoff big time.

Otto Koivula – 120th – LW – 6’4, 219 –Koivula is a huge guy with very good offensive skills and very good results (1.2 points per game in the Finnish U20 league) but has a lot of work to do on his skating. If he improves his skating substantially, those very good offensive skills could blossom to make him a very good player indeed. I had him at 137.

Collin Adams – 170th – LW – 5’8, 172 – He is very small but he did have success last year (1.0 points per game) playing on the top line in the entire USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He played on a line with Rem Pitlick (2016 – 76 – Nashville) and Matej Paulovic (2013 – 149 – Dallas) and they had the sort of chemistry that players dream about but rarely achieve. He has the speed to achieve success but is still very much a longshot because of his size.

Nick Pastujov – 193rd – LW – 6’0, 194 – Nick Pastulov is a fairly skilled guy who was dealt a bad hand last year by being stuck with playing with the very bottom of the lineup most of the time on the USA U18 team. He will be joining the University of Michigan next year (along with his brother Michael) where he will hopefully have better cards to play with. Here is the family story, a story about his parents meeting while being part of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

New York Rangers: C-

The Top Pick: Sean Day – 81st – D – 6’2, 230

Day is a player that was afforded exceptional player status to play in the OHL one year earlier than everyone else. He received that status because of his exceptional skating and great size and strength. However, he didn’t have the superstar skills that most of the previous kids granted exceptional status had such as John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, and Connor McDavid. He was also had the mental anguish on his shoulders of having his brother being sent to prison for a drunk driving conviction resulting in a fatality.  I thought much of this weight would have been lifted when he revealed to the media the cause of his mental anguish around the time of the Top Prospects Game. His play did seem to pick up a bit after that but his combine work didn’t reinstall much confidence in many teams. His work at the Rangers Development Camp has been mixed. He was excellent the last day of camp but showed a lot of the same-old lack of concentration prior to that. There is a fairly high-end hockey player in there somewhere in Sean Day. For that player to come out, he must dedicate his life to hockey like a Sidney Crosby or a John Tavares. Like everyone else, I have no idea whether that hockey player will ever come out. Here is my profile on Day – link here.

The Rangers generally do a very good job of drafting. However, by the time they get to draft, the pickings generally have been pretty slim over the last number of years. Here are the Rangers remaining 2016 draft choices. There is also Ty Ronning (Cliff Ronning’s son) selected in the 7th round.

Tarmo Reunanen – 98th – D – 6’0, 194 – Here is a player that was good enough in the 2014-15 season for Craig Button to rank him 13th overall early onfor the 2016 draft. However, Reunanen was unable to meet his full potential in 2015-16 because he missed half the season due to injuries. The Rangers are hoping that they got at least a 2nd round choice in the 4th and that other teams missed on him due to his lack of exposure. The Rangers are hoping to end-up with a high-end offensive defenseman who likes to run the game with excellent transition play and high-end shots from the point. His defensive play still is very much a work-in-progress but that can come later. I like this pick at 98. I had him 5th round.

Tim Gettinger – 141st – LW – 6’6, 200 –Gettinger was a player that I was very big on early in the season. He had a very good Ivan Hlinka so I was expecting big things of him. He had that enormous size, decent skating and hands, a nice drive to the net, a good net front presence, could work the cycle and had a very good shot. What could go wrong? Well, he struggled with the ability to put a consistent level of effort into the game; he did not exhibit a high-end hockey sense and he seemed to lack strength for such a big guy. He also seemed to be just a bit behind the play in general. He is a good project pick for the Rangers in the 5th round because he possesses so many of the basic skills a team is looking for. Yes, I still had him in the 2nd round because a 6’6 guy with skills is not generally available any time or round.

Gabriel Fontaine – 171st – C – 6’1, 187 – Gabriel Fontaine is a prospect who picked up scouts interest late in the season with an excellent QMJHL playoff run plus some noticeable work in the Memorial Cup Tournament where Rouyn-Noranda came so close to being the winner. He is not a prospect with high-end skills but he does provide the energy, compete and skating that coaches want in a player. What makes him special is that he carries the team on his back. He is the warrior player for your team – not by being overly physical but by showing that game intensity that brings out the will to win in your team. He is also a very versatile player who the coach can count on in all situations on offense and on defense. He will not be on your team’s top line but he could be on one of your bottom two as one who brings energy and defense and a bit of life to your team.

Tyler Wall –  174th – G – 6’2, 190  – Tyler Wall is a decent-sized goalie at 6’2 who had an outstanding season last year with the Leamington Flyers of the GOJHL. He ended up an outstanding .940 save percentage in 31 games. While his numbers may have been inflated a tad to the fact that the Flyers were a powerhouse team, he still had a great year even it was in one of the lesser leagues. For all his success, he still is very much a project-in-progress. He will further that progress next season at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He is a prospect that is early in the development process – how far that process takes him has still to be determined.

Philadelphia Flyers: B+

The Top Pick: German Rubtsov – 22nd – C – 6’1, 190

I particularly liked the selection of Rubtsov from a Flyer fan point of view. Team management was selecting the best player available to them regardless of where he was from. In Rubstov, the Flyers are getting a player who already plays a North American style of game. He plays a strong puck possession game and has enough offensive skills to be in consideration for a top 6 job. What makes him even more attractive is that he plays a good defensive game as well and he has the work ethic that coaches are looking for. I approve of this pick big time; I had him at 18.

The Flyers had three second round picks and seemed to make the most of them:

  • A potential top six winger who was one of the top players in the BMO NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game, Pascal Laberge
  • The top goalie in the draft by many, Carter Hart
  • A great North-South winger and MVP of the USHL playoffs, Wade Allison

Here are the post draft interviews of most of the Flyers draftees – link here.

Pascal Laberge – 36th – RW – 6’1, 174 Laberge has big league offensive skills and began to show them on a regular basis after he was moved to the wing partway during the season as well as putting some family tragedies behind him. He was named Team MVP for Team Orr at the BMO NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game where he and Columbus draft pick, Pierre-Luc Dubois stole the show. He still has major work in the weight and strength area plus his defensive work. He also needs to be more involved in the play and improve his decision-making at times. He is still a work-in-progress but the basic offensive skills are there. I had him at 40.

Carter Hart – 48th – G – 6’1, 180 Carter Hart was the top goalie in the draft for many. He had a .918 save percentage last year for the Everett Silvertips. He brings together almost everything you want in a goalie except for size and maybe puck handling skills. I had him at 50.

Wade Allison – 52 – RW – 6’2, 205 – Here is what Western Michigan’s Head Coach Andy Murray said about his future player at WMUBroncos.com, “It’s his combination of size, power and hockey sense. The one thing he really showed this year that allowed him to rise up the charts was his passion for the game. It really showed. You could sense his passion for the game. He’s a quiet guy but he really expresses himself by his play. He had the most dominant second-half of a season in that league that I’ve seen in a long time.” He is a player that I had at 53 and probably would have him higher if I had to do a redo. I like this pick a lot.

Carsen Twarnynski – 82nd – RW – 6’2, 198 Twarnynski is a good-sized winger who brings energy and compete to the table. He skates well and has a decent shot but his offense has not developed. For me, there were better options available at 82. I had him at 147.

Pittsburgh Penguins: C+

The Top Pick: Filip Gustavsson – 55th – G 6’2, 190

Let me preface this selection by stating that this was an off-year for goalies. Gustavsson was almost the unanimous choice as the top European goalie (I had him as my first European goalie as well at 60). However, let’s face it, Filip did not put the numbers expected of a number one goalie in Europe or anywhere else. His overall save percentage in the Swedish J20 league was only .893. Yet, most say that he is the most pro ready goalie in the draft – excellent positioning, the Carey Price like calmness, good rebound control, tracks the game and not just the puck well. In short, he looks like a goalie in the NHL. Why then is there such a discrepancy between the look and the results. The three reasons that stand out for me are:

  • He stands deep in the net far too often. It is something that can be corrected with proper coaching.
  • He sometimes over commits when going side to side – again coachable.
  • He lacks consistency. This is a struggle most junior goaltenders have and takes time and patience and lots of coaching to overcome. It is probably the prime reason that goalies do not reach their prime until significantly later than positional players. For Gustavsson, it means there is likely to be a lot of work and time before he is ready for the NHL.

In summary, Gustavsson is a goalie with a good base but there is much more work to do before he puts on a Pittsburgh Penguin uniform for good.

Pittsburgh did not have any high-end wow-you picks this year. However, the Penguins did win the Stanley Cup and did return most of the Stanley Cup nucleus so life is not all bad. Sidney Crosby is bringing the Cup back here to Nova Scotia and there is going to be a parade in his home town of Cole Harbour, a Halifax suburb. There is a controversy though. Some want to name a street after him and others say it should only be done after he retires or post-mortem. Personally, I like “The Sidney Crosby Way”; they should raise the speed limit.

Here are the Pens other picks. They also include Joe Masonius in the 7th round, an excellent late round selection.

Kasper Bjorkqvist – 61st – RW – 6’1, 198 – Bjorkqvist is a guy with decent size and decent speed who had a breakout year in the Finnish U20 league. As an overager, he rang up 1.5 points per game. His high output came as much from overpowering his opponents as from sheer offensive skills. What makes Kasper particularly attractive is his willingness to play a heavy game both on offense and defense. He is a behemoth on the PK and was particularly effective there in helping Finland win the gold medal in last year’s IIHF U20 Tournament. I had him at 97 but was not surprised when he went quite a bit higher. He has the potential to be an effective third liner – size, speed, physicality, defense, work ethic.

Connor Hall – 77th – D – 6’2, 192 – Hall is a prospect that I had at 85 that I like a lot. He just has that NHL defenseman vibe. The vibe comes from having the size, compete level and defensive hockey sense to be a shutdown defenseman. He is also very good one-on-one and shows a punishing style of physicality that makes him hard to play against. While he has very good puck moving ability he will never be known for his offense. I approve of this pick.

Ryan Jones – 121st – D – 6’3, 201 – Jones is a defensive defenseman of good size who played for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL last season. He was their ironman, not having missed a game in the last two seasons. Next year he will suit up for the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Niclas Almari – 151st – D – 6’1, 167 – Niclas Almari is a 6th round project pick for the Penguins from Finland. He is typical of the 6th round project picks from one of the Scandinavian countries – skates well, has not spent much time in the gym so is under-weight and under-strength – has potential but could learn a thing or two about defense; hope that your scouting staff knows what it is doing. One of these types of picks could turn out to be the next Nicklas Lidstrom (or not).

Washington Capitals: B-

The Top Pick: Lucas Johansen – 28th – D – 6’2, 175

Today’s game is about quickness – physical and mental. Defensemen with those abilities demand a premium price. Johansen has those abilities. He has the physical ability to transition from defense to offense (or vice versa) because of his skating agility and edge work, and the mental ability to know when to join the rush or make that nice, crisp outlet pass. He still needs to fill out like most guys his age. His main question mark (it is one that also has plagued his brother, Ryan Johansen of the Nashville Predators) is “Will he be physical enough when he matures?” Right now, he plays more of an active stick defense. Here is my full Johansen profile – link here. I had him at 28 as well.

Let me be blunt. I really didn’t like the Caps third and fourth round selections – Garrett Pilon and Damien Riat.  There were just too many better prospects available for me. Some of the later round selections were better though – Beck Malenstyn and Axel Jonsson Fjallby in the 5th and Chase Priskie in the 6th.

Garrett Pilon – 67th – C – 5’10, 175 – This was not a selection that I liked for the third round. He is an under-sized slender centre who does have offensive skills but does not have the elite skating necessary to be a successful  centre in the NHL level. He also has a tendency to stay out of the dirty areas. He does, however, have NHL bloodlines as his father, Rich Pilon, played 631 games in the NHL, mainly for the Islanders. He produced 0.7 points per game last year in the WHL. I had him 6th round.

Damien Riat – 117th – LW – 6’0, 172 – Damien Riat was a little bit off the board for me as the 4th round selection of a Swiss overager. He does not possess not a top six offense. He did show well at the summer development camp so let’s hope that I am off the mark with this guy. He could possibly provide a third line option with further development. He possesses strong skating and passing skills and will finish his checks. Last year, he produced at 0.5 points per game in the top Swiss professional league, the NLA.

Beck Malenstyn – 145th – LW – 6’2, 192 – Beck Malenstyn is never going to wow with his offensive skills. He will, however, provide you with that bottom six physicality, energy and defense that make your team hard to play against. When I put Beck at 109, I said to myself, “there are so few guys that play as tough as you want them to that when you finally see one that does; you should be willing to pay a pretty good price.”

Axel Jonsson Fjallby – 147th – LW – 6’1, 176 – In the 5th round, the selection of a 3rd or 4th line grinder is not a bad thing. In fact, it is lot better than swinging for the fences with a 5’0 scoring whiz from anywheresistan who likely will never make it. Axel Jonsson Fjallby is a player with a chance to make it. He plays a game that makes your team hard to play against. He competes with energy; he is a disruptive force of havoc in the making as he uses his speed, body and stick to impede the opposition in any way possible. He is also excellent on the forecheck. He is no slam dunk but you can see enough potential in him to warrant the selection. He produced at 0.7 points per game in Swedish junior – improving to 1.1 points per game in the playoffs.

2016 NHL Draft Results By Pick, By Team

Plus: Top Prospects by Team

Focus: Atlantic Division

Note: This is a massive spreadsheet. Click on the various worksheets to sort picks and prospects by team.

*Click bottom right hand corner to view fullscreen

In this Series:

2016 NHL Draft Team Grades and Top Prospects: Atlantic Division