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Craig Button

TSN Director of Scouting

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Entering last season all the draft talk was about 'McEichel.' 

Auston Matthews just missed the 2015 draft – he was born Sept. 17, 1997, two days after the cut-off date - and there is no question that if he were eligible, he would have been in the conversation with Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Matthews begins this season with every bit as much promise. He has taken the unprecedented step of playing in Zurich for Marc Crawford, who was the coach in Cornwall when Owen Nolan was selected first overall in 1990.

Keeping Matthews company at the top of TSN's first 2016 NHL draft ranking is Jesse Puljujarvi, who played last season in the SM Liiga, Finland's premier league. A gifted scorer, he showed his considerable promise on the international stage, playing in the World Junior Championship at 16.

There isn't one Canadian-born player among the top five but No. 3 Jakob Chychrun of the Sarnia Sting -  born in Boca Raton, Fla., and playing in the U.S. until 15 – is now playing for the maple leaf as the son of Canadian ex-NHLer Jeff. Jakob is an elite skating defenseman who can impact the game in multiple ways. No. 4 Matthew Tkachuk chose to play in London rather than the NCAA ranks. He's the son of long-time NHL player Keith, a 500-goal scorer, and displays similar traits of skill and power. Rounding out the top five is another Finn, Patrik Laine who will play in the SM Liiga also and is another big, strong scoring winger.

Julien Gauthier of the Val D'or Foreurs is the first Canadian at No. 6; he's a big, powerful scoring winger who draws comparisons to Nolan. The 2014 draft saw William Nylander drafted eighth overall by Toronto, and his brother Alexander could find himself going in the top 10 in 2016. Similar in skill level, Alex is playing in Mississauga where his father Michael, also an ex-NHLer, is an assistant coach. 

Another player to keep an eye on is No. 15-ranked Kieffer Bellows, a gifted scorer and the son of longtime NHL player Brian. Kieffer was the rookie of the year in the USHL in 2014-15, playing for the champion Sioux Falls Stampede.

 

Craig's List - September Ranking

 
RK NAME TEAM POS HT WT
1  Auston Matthews Zurich (Suisse A) C 6'1 194
2 Jesse Puljujärvi Karpat (FIN-SM-Liiga) RW 6'3 198
3  Jakob Chychrun Sarnia (OHL) D 6'2 195
4  Matthew Tkachuk London (OHL) LW 6'0 188
5  Patrik Laine Tappara (FIN-SM-Liiga) RW 6'4 209
6  Julien Gauthier Val d'Or (QMJHL) RW 6'4 212
7  Clayton Keller USA NTDP (USHL) C 5'9 165
8  Alexander Nylander Mississuaga (OHL) RW 6'0 172
9  Dmitri Sokolov Sudbury (OHL) C 6'0 203
10  Dante Fabbro Penticton (BCHL) D 6'0  189
11  Kale Clague Brandon (WHL) D 5'11  177
12  Mikhail Sergachyov Windsor (OHL) D 6'2  198
13 Vojtěch Budík  Prince Albert (WHL) D 6'0 190
14  Tyson Jost Penticton (BCHL) RW 5'11 191
15  Kieffer Bellows USA NTDP (USHL) C 5'10  189
16  Samuel Girard Shawinigan (QMJHL) D 5'9  160
17  Charlie McAvoy Boston U (NCAA-HE) D 6'0 206
18  James Greenway USA NTDP (USHL) D 6'4  204
19  German Rubtsov Russia U-18 (MHL) C 6'0  179
20  Tyler Benson Vancouver (WHL) LW 5'11  201
21  Pierre-Luc Dubois Cape Breton (QMJHL) LW 6'2  201
22  Michael McLeod Mississuaga (OHL) C 6'2  188
23  Libor Hájek Saskatoon (WHL) D 6'1 196
24  Brett Howden Moose Jaw (WHL) C 6'2  193
25  Sam Steel Regina (WHL) C 5'11 177
26  Jake Bean Calgary (WHL) D 5'11  173
27  Filip Gustafsson Lulea (Sweden - J20) G 6'1  185
28  Olli Juolevi London (OHL) D 6'2 185
29  Markus Niemeläinen Saginaw (OHL) D 6'4 183
30  Luke Green Saint John (QMJHL) D 6'0 180
31  Dillon Dube Kelowna (WHL) LW 5'10  180
32  Chad Krys USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'10  182
33  Rasmus Asplund Farjestad (Sweden-SHL) C 5'10  176
34  Logan Brown Windsor (OHL) C 6'5 215
35  Otto Mäkinen Tappara Jr. (FIN - Jr) C 6'0  176
36  Riley Tufte Fargo Force (USHL) LW 6'4  205
37  Tye Felhaber Saginaw (OHL) C 5'11 182
38  Max Jones London (OHL) LW 6'1  189
39  Keaton Middleton Saginaw (OHL) D 6'5  218
40  Dylan Wells Peterborough (OHL) G 6'1  187
41  Carter Hart Everett (WHL) G 6'0  177