Every single summer, the NHL gets wrapped up in a few big events. One of the biggest and most important is the NHL Entry Draft, where teams are able to select players that will in turn help their franchise in the near or immediate future. This past season the hockey world was infatuated with Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the top prospects who ended up going first and second overall.
Next year’s draft will also feature some prominent names. These players are all but guaranteed to be selected high to help a rebuilding club turn their fortunes around. Each of these three is an extremely different player, but all are valuable in their own way.
Auston Matthews, Forward
Widely considered the number one pick for the upcoming draft, Matthews has all the talents to succeed in the NHL one day. The 6-foot-2, 194 pound forward skates like the wind and has immense talent. The young American is tenacious with and without the puck and his vision always allows him to make dynamic and incredible plays.
Matthews has also been in the news for a different reason lately. He made the unique decision to spend his draft year playing for Zurich in the Swiss National League. There was talk that the Arizona native might play for the Everett Silvertips, who own his WHL rights, or for a top hockey college in the States.
It is a very interesting opportunity for the young prospect, as he will get the chance to play against men and will also be able to learn from Marc Crawford who will serve as his head coach.
Jakob Chychrun, Defenseman
There are numerous words that can be used to describe Jakob Chychrun and his playing style. Imposing, poised and dynamic are the three that tossed around most often. The big defender is often able to make and impact at both ends of the ice. He’s a great skater who loves to start the rush but is also able to diffuse any threats that come his way.
Playing for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL this past year, he had 16 goals and and 33 points in 42 games. The NHL is in his blood because he is the son of former NHLer Jeff Chychrun, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins throughout his career.
With all the skills and leadership that Chychrun possesses, it’s no wonder he’s projecting as a top NHL defenseman.
Jesse Puljujärvi, Forward
Puljujarvi is a hugely hyped 2016 prospect hailing from Finland. He’s a winger with size at 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds that nicely compliments his swift skating and tremendous scoring instincts. He’s also no slouch in his own zone, despite being more offensive minded.
He spent this past year with Karpat Oulu in Finland’s top hockey league. He was able to put up four goals and 11 points in 21 games. Puljujarvi was also the youngest player to participate in the World Junior Championships for Finland. He’s currently projecting as the top European prospect in the upcoming draft.
Next year is an important one for the young Finn. He will continue to play against men and hone his skills. The aim should be on getting bigger and stronger while staying as a consistent performer. If he continues to improve, he could give Matthews a solid run for his money and the top draft spot.