1. Auston Matthews (Zurich-Switzerland League) – Elite Franchise center who is a goal scorer first. First year could see 30 goals and 30 assists given he is a year older then McDavid and Eichel which you can see in his body already. At 6’2″, 216 lbs he already is a bigger size for a rookie which should help him a lot in his first year. He plays like Mike Modano which I think could be a long-term a fair comparison if he truly hits his peak.
Notables: effortless skater, strong shot sniper like when he releases, constantly creating opportunities around the net and finding different ways to open up space, hands like Datsyuk with ability to navigate through anything, drives offensive play
2. Patrick Laine (SM-Liiga-Finland) – A warrior who constantly fights for every inch, but he has the pure talent to overwhelm opponents at the same time. Comparisons have been made to Teemu Selanne which I can see with his talent, although his willingness to use his size reminded me of Jamie Benn’s offensive prowless. Make no mistake though he is a true 200ft skater and won’t be a liability in his own end.
Notables: basically looks like Stamkos his first few years in the league as a winger, incredibly strong shot like a rifle stronger then Matthews, offensive acumen is sensational to find his teammates all over, always skating his feet never stop moving throughout
3. Jesse Puljujarvi (SM-Liiga-Finland) – Where Patrick Laine is a rockstar like Ovechkin, Puljujarvi is the quieter more analytical type forward like the Sedin twins. He has incredible presence for knowing where to be and how to approach each play. He seems to use his size a little better then Laine. Overall he has that Henrik Zetterberg type composition that he can play both ends supremely well, while quietly scoring 60-75 pts a year and 30 goals.
Notables: soft hands and smooth skater, excellent hockey IQ, hard to knock off puck, good size that helps him create space
4. Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) – If you’re a Sabres fan reading this I want you to think of Tim Connolly in 2005-06. A player that can dominate both ends, but is incredibly gifted with the puck. That is what Dubois reminded me of. Excellent two way play with hands that could deke out a jack rabbit. Watching him player gave me the expectations of Tim Connolly when he was healthy or more recently Mark Scheifele from Winnipeg.
Notables: soft hands, pure dangler, excellent hockey IQ, great on ice vision
5. Alex Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads) – Nylander is my favorite player in this draft. He always is skating and is incredibly dynamic on the ice. He has excellent hands and an explosive wrist shot. His hockey IQ is off the charts. When I watched his highlights I felt like I was watching Marian Hossa’s clone offensively, he has that type of potential. Defensively he is raw and talent wise the Top 3 probably have a little more natural skill. That said he certainly can make a name for himself if he works for it.
Notables: dynamic moves, excellent hands and explosive wrist shot, constantly making plays all over the ice
6. Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights) – Tkachuk is the son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk and a power forward just like his father. A lot of mock drafts have him more in the Top 4 range, but I feel he doesn’t have the explosiveness or two game the other players above do. Don’t get me wrong he his the pedigree of a power forward and the offensive prowess is there. Power forwards are hard to judge which makes ranking him harder then any other player. He is extremely crafty creating space and can finish with the best of them in this draft. But the comparisons to Ryan Smyth seem a little early until he polishes out his two way game.
Notables: creates space on ice very well, good finisher on plays, good sense of when to drive to the net
7. Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires) – Logan comes off as a natural play making center, but he has a very good two way ability with him and his size at 6-6 lets him dominate players all over. Watching him play I actually thought of Tyler Johnsons creativity in his play just in the body of a guy like Logan Couture. He may need a little time to polish off his craft in the minors, but he has all physical features you would want in a top prospect.
Notables: good setup man and good passing finding holes all over, decent shot not as strong as five above but he can shot well, despite size finds ways to keep moving
8. Clayton Keller (US National Development Team) – Keller has quickly become a favorite of many scouts over the last year. He is not the biggest player, but he is incredibly gritty with a good mind that can read the ice. He does a lot of his scoring and passing down low, but he has a decent shot that can get some goals from afar. If he develops successfully he reminds me of a smaller Dylan Larkin or Derek Roy in his prime with a bit more sandpaper to his resume.
Notables: smooth skating, not dynamic but not liability, good vision to find lanes for shot, works down low a lot for opportunities, gritty player makes up for size, Derek Roy/smaller Dylan Larkin type scoring skill
9. Tyson Jost (Penticton Vees) – I honestly wonder if Jost was 2 inches taller (5-11 frame) would he be in the talks as a Top 5 pick. He skates a 200ft game being strong in both areas of the ice. He is incredibly creative with the puck which allows him time to find his teammates all over the ice. I couldn’t help but think I was watching a young Danny Briere when he touched the puck.
Notables: tremendous 200 ft skater, great offensive IQ to know where his teammates are, very soft hands, very creative with puck, reminds me of Danny Briere
10. Kiefer Bellows (US National Development Team) – Another son of a former hockey star, Brian Bellows song Kiefer Bellows is a prototypical two way power forward. He is rugged and loves contact and constantly is in front of the net looking for the puck. But the kid can skate also and his acceleration was very impressive to pull away from opposing players. His potential came off as a faster Scotty Hartnell on the ice
Notables: strong wrist shot, rugged as hell on the ice, likes contact, ton of energy on ice and skating has great acceleration, finds the front of the net constantly