2016 NHL Draft: Who is the Top Defenceman?

With the 2016 NHL Draft quickly approaching, prospect rankings are virtually set. However, there is one remaining unknown. Who is the consensus number one defenceman?

At the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Jakob Chychrun of the Sarnia Sting (OHL) looked like the runaway number one defenceman, with a possibility of becoming the first overall selection. However, as the year grew on, scouts and fans alike became wary of his offensive numbers, which failed to make a great improvement.

At the turn of the new year, Olli Juolevi of the London Knights (OHL) seemed to take over as the best available defenceman as a result of a spectacular World Junior Championship performance. It was there that he led Finland to a gold medal on home soil, adding nine assists in seven games.

As we transition through the CHL playoffs, Mikhail Sergachev of the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) has emerged into the elite group of NHL Draft eligible defencemen. He has excellent offensive instincts and is growing stronger defensively each night.

So, who should be the number one defenceman drafted at this year’s draft?

Jakob Chychrun – Sarnia Sting:


Here are the latest draft rankings from seven respected sources. Ranking is among defencemen only, with overall ranking in parenthesis.

  • 1st by Future Considerations (4)
  • 1st by Bob McKenzie (5)
  • 1st by ISS (6)
  • 2nd by McKeen’s Hockey (7)
  • 2nd by Damien Cox (7)
  • 2nd by Craig Button (9)
  • 3rd by Hockeyprospect.com (9)

Chychrun began the year as the runaway consensus number one defenceman, but opinions have altered after being cut from Team Canada at the 2016 World Juniors, combined with the inability to meet unrealistic expectations set for the Florida native. However, he remains an elite level defender who not only shuts down the opposition’s forecheck, but often jumps into the offensive zone to create scoring chances whenever possible.

2015-16 Statistics:

Team (League) – Games Played – Goals – Assists – Points – PIM – Plus/Minus

  • Sarnia Sting (OHL) – 62 GP – 11 G – 38 A – 49 P – 51 PIM – +23


Scouting Report:

Jakob Chychrun is a solid all-around defnceman who excels at taking away the opposition’s time and space, while creating plenty of it for his teammates. The 6’2, 194 pound man-child defends one step ahead of the play, using his stick and body positioning to force opposing players into mistakes. He uses his lower-body strength to not only hold opponents to the outside, but lay booming body checks when the time is right. Offensively, Chychrun is able to responsibly break the puck out with a good first pass. He quarterbacks the Sting power play with great vision, as well as a dynamic shot from the point, which he prides on getting through the screens.


  • Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning

Olli Juolevi – London Knights:


Here are the latest draft rankings from seven respected sources. Ranking is among defencemen only, with overall ranking in parenthesis.

  • 1st by McKeen’s Hockey (5)
  • 1st by Damien Cox (6)
  • 1st by Craig Button (7)
  • 1st by Hockeyprospect.com (7)
  • 2nd by Bob McKenzie (7)
  • 3rd by Future Considerations (12)
  • 3rd by ISS (12)

Obviously, Juolevi is respected as an elite defensive prospect among all scouts and analysts. His play in not only the OHL, but on the World Junior stage as well, has provided more than enough evidence for GM’s around the league to take notice. It was at the WJC’s where he made some separation between himself and the rest of the defencemen, by leading Finland to a gold medal with responsible defensive play, as well as tremendous offensive awareness.

2015-16 Statistics:

Team (League) – Games Played – Goals – Assists – Points – PIM – Plus/Minus

  • London Knights (OHL) – 57 GP – 9 G – 33 A – 42 P – 16 PIM – +38
  • Finland U20 (WJC) – 7 GP – 0 G – 9 A – 9 P – 4 PIM – +6


Scouting Report:

Olli Juolevi is a complete defencemen with very little flaws in his game. He can be trusted to play in all situations, and has the hockey sense to acknowledge when to pinch in a play, and when to hold tight on the back-check. At 6’2, 183 pounds, Juolevi is never afraid to engage physically, and uses his lower-body strength well to separate player from puck. He is aware of developing plays, and uses his stick effectively to take away passing lanes. Offensively, he can break the puck out with simplicity and has the vision needed to set up an effective power play. He is also good at finding the lanes through traffic to create scoring chances.


  • Olli Maatta – Pittsburgh Penguins

Mikhail Sergachev – Windsor Spitfires


Here are the latest draft rankings from seven respected sources. Ranking is among defencemen only, with overall ranking in parenthesis.

  • 2nd by Future Considerations (8)
  • 2nd by Hockeyprospect.com (8)
  • 2nd by ISS (9)
  • 3rd by Craig Button (10)
  • 3rd by Damien Cox (10)
  • 4th by McKeen’s Hockey (11)
  • 4th by Bob McKenzie (12)

While Sergachev may be a little bit behind both Chychrun and Juolevi in terms of these rankings, you can expect him to close that gap as final rankings begin to pour in. Sergachev has had a very impressive second half of 2015-16 and has positioned himself into the group of elite three defencemen at this year’s draft. Despite being snubbed by Team Russia at the World Juniors, Sergachev has improved his defensive game drastically in Windsor, offering scouts a more complete package.

2015-16 Statistics:

Team (League) – Games Played – Goals – Assists – Points – PIM – Plus/Minus

  • Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – 67 GP – 17 G – 40 A – 57 P – 56 PIM – +15


Scouting Report:

Mikhail Sergachev is known as a two-way defenceman for a reason, he is always looking to join the rush and contribute offensively. The 6’2, 205 pound Russian has excellent offensive instincts and can read when it is beneficiary to pinch. He comes with an above average shot from the point, as well as poise and imagination with the puck. Defensively, Sergachev has made great strides this season, becoming more responsible in his own end without the puck. His positioning, stick work, and decision-making have all improved, making him an all-around defenceman and vaulting him into the top group.


  • Rasmus Ristolainen – Buffalo Sabres

Secondary Group of Defencemen:

Jake Bean – Calgary Hitmen

  • 3rd by McKeen’s Hockey (10)
  • 3rd by Bob McKenzie (11)
  • 4th by Craig Button (11)
  • 4th by Damien Cox (15)
  • 5th by Future Considerations (16)
  • 5th by ISS (21)

Charlie McAvoy – Boston University

  • 4th by Future Considerations (15)
  • 4th by ISS (20)
  • 5th by McKeen’s Hockey (12)
  • 5th by Bob McKenzie (14)
  • 5th by Hockeyprospect.com (14)
  • 5th by Damien Cox (16)

Dante Fabbro – Penticton Vees

  • 4th by Hockeyprospect.com (13)
  • 5th by Craig Button (12)

Among the secondary group, Jake Bean seems to stand out, largely due to his offensive numbers, scoring 24 goals and 64 points for the Hitmen this season. Charlie McAvoy has had a very promising freshman year at Boston University, adding another tier to his offensive game, while solidifying the defensive aspect as well. Dante Fabbro remains more of an unknown, as he spent the season in the BCHL, but put up an impressive 67 points in 45 games. He is committed to Boston University for 2016-17. Regardless, these three all seem to be a step behind the elite group in the conversation for the best defenceman at the 2016 NHL Draft.

Personal Rankings:

Here is how the 2016 NHL Draft should go down, in my opinion. Overall rankings are in parenthesis.

  1. Jakob Chychrun (4-6)
  2. Mikhail Sergachev (7-9)
  3. Olli Juolevi (8-11)
  4. Jake Bean (15-18)
  5. Charlie McAvoy (18-20)

Who do you think is the best defenceman at the 2016 NHL Draft? Let us know in the comments below!