2016 NHL Draft Youtube Scout

Here I will rank the top 30 North Americans skaters rated by Central Scouting, and their top 5 ranked European skaters, in the order I would rank them based on “scouting” them through youtube videos. As always, defense rankings are less reliable with this method than forward rankings. Additionally, Tage Thompson, Charles McAvoy, Luke Kunin, and Vitaly Abramov had limited amounts of footage available on youtube.

1. Patrick Laine, RW

Austen Matthews is a little more polished at this point, and may have more reliable hands at this point by a hair, but Laine’s comparable skill, greater size, and standout shot may make him the better player eventually. Closest NHL comparables I can think of are Blake Wheeler and Brent Burns, but he is a better pure goal scorer than either.

2. Austen Matthews, C

Big, fast, skilled, he does it all, and is the most polished, complete package in the draft. NHL comparable: Ryan Johansen.

3. Mikhail Sergachev, D

Big, powerful, skilled, and poised, he looks like Hampus Lindholm with more natural offensive instincts and moves with the puck.

4. Logan Brown, C

Huge center with great body control for his size, and excellent skill. A poor man’s Evgeni Malkin in the making but that’s still an elite player.

5. Clayton Keller, C

He’s undersized but he’s the most purely skilled forward in the draft, and unlike Alex Debrincat, he’s a great skater and very dynamic in open ice, not just around the net. He’s another Johnny Gaudreau in the making and I don’t think you can miss with him.

6. Olli Julevi, D

Good size, elite skating, excellent skill, and a nice wrist shot. Looks like a 55 point puck-moving defenseman. NHL comparable: Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

7. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW

Great size, pretty good speed and skating, and a good shot. His hands and agility are a little overrated, but he could still be better than I’m ranking him. A very safe pick with a floor of a 2nd line power winger in the NHL once he gets acclimated. I just think the skaters ranked higher are more likely to hit higher ceilings of either top line star forwards or top-pairing star defensemen. NHL comparable: Corey Perry vs. Mark Scheifele vs. Milan Michalek.

8. Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW

I have questions about his skating and top-end skill, but he has good skill, very good size, good hockey sense and two-way abilities, and a scintillating shot. I’m conflicted about him but we’ll see how his skating and skill react to the pace top-six players in the NHL have to react with. NHL comparable: Jonathan Huberdeau vs. Scott Hartnell vs. Brayden Schenn.

9. Alexander Nylander, LW

Not as fast or dynamic as his brother William Nylander, but he still has excellent skill, edge control, body control, and hockey sense, and he has a nice release on his wrist shot. He slows the game down better than his brother and plays a reliable two-way game. His ceiling may not be a top line star but he looks like a safe top-six forward with excellent skill. NHL comparable: David Krejci.

10. German Rubtsov, C

Has size, speed, elite skill, and a good two-way game. May end up being even better than 10th overall. NHL comparable: Jonathan Toews vs. Filip Forsberg.

11. Charles McAvoy, D

Reminds me a lot of Jacob Trouba. Near-elite skater with very good, not elite, hands. Average height but already 208 lbs. Guaranteed top-four defenseman with #2 potential.

12. Matthew Ktachuk, LW

He has that bee buzzing around look when he skates sometimes like Nail Yakupov does, but is bigger and plays a more gritty game. Good speed, good not elite skill, and not necessarily the hardest shot either. Quick release though and can one-time the puck. A complete power winger who can play with pace, though I worry about the control in his game. Can he slow it down and make plays, or is just going to be the bee buzzing around wildly driving the net hard but not offering the complete package in terms of skill? Still, he should be a 2nd line winger in the NHL. NHL comparable: Rich man’s Nino Niederreiter.

13. Lucas Johansen, D

Good size at 6’2, pretty good skater and very well balanced though he lacks elite speed. Lacks elite puck-handling ability in terms of quick wrists but he has good hands in terms of dependable control. Hockey sense, poise, and passing ability are all elite for a defense prospect from what I can tell. Good shot accuracy as well. NHL comparable: less physically talented Ryan Suter but with better offensive instincts.

14. Dante Fabbro, D

Good skater with good base of balance, very good hands, release, and shooting ability from the back end. Average size but projects as a good offensive, possession defenseman similar to Anton Stralman, but with more scoring ability.

15. Jake Bean, D

Excellent skating defenseman, better than Fabbro or Johansen in that regard, with low center of gravity and excellent balance. Quick release and accurate wrist shot, but good, not great hands keep him behind Fabbro for me, although I nearly flipped a coin, and Johansen’s greater size and his hockey sense put him ahead as well, although I also nearly flipped a coin. I saw Bean get pushed wide too much when rushing the puck, similar to Cam Fowler, which is a tell when defenseman are better at skating than they are at controlling the puck with a threatening posture that keeps opposing defensemen from cutting off the center of the ice on them. Fowler does this a lot and I saw perhaps the same offensive flaw in Bean. However, his skating is excellent, if not quite Fowler levels, and his release and shot accuracy surpass Cam Fowler. And there is an elite defenseman by the name of Duncan Keith who doesn’t rely on elite puck-handling, so it’s not always a necessity for defensemen. I still see Bean a surefire top 3/4 defenseman with a great shot to become a #2. NHL comparable: Nick Leddy but not quite as fast, and with a better shot and release.

16. Vitaly Abramov, C

There wasn’t a lot of footage on this guy. At a skinny 5’9 I’m not sure he’s big enough to ever play center in the NHL, and he uses a very long stick for his size which makes it hard to judge his skill because everything he does looks so unconventional as a result, but my gut feeling after watching like 10 plays worth of footage on him is that the skill is a step above guys like Matthew Ktachuk, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The only forward more skilled than him in the draft is probably Clayton Keller. He also skates very well, so if he can get stronger and overcome his lack of size, he projects as an elite player with a very high ceiling. NHL comparable: Andreas Athanasiou with a longer stick.

17. Julien Gauthier, RW

At 6’4 he has elite size, and he has very good hands and excellent body control. His skating is pretty good too. I’m concerned that he put up almost no assists in the QMJHL, but maybe his teammates just weren’t any good. I haven’t looked into it that much, but to be that skilled at 6’4 usually means you’re going to be a top-six NHL forward. It would not surprise me to see Gauthier have an NHL career like Kyle Okposo’s if not better.

18. Jakub Chygrun, D

This year’s overrated gritty Canadian defenseman, I’m tempted to file Chygrun in the Griffin Reinhart camp except for the fact he can skate like the wind. His skill, positioning, and hockey sense are all highly overrated from what I’ve seen, but his skill still isn’t bad, it’s above average for NHL defenseman because the NHL still employs so many unskilled defenseman, it’s just overrated. He has the size and skating though so you could end up with a Ryan McDonaugh type of player with less skill, or perhaps even someone approaching Mcdonaugh himself if Chygrun keeps improving.

19. Tyson Jost, C

A slightly undersized, quick, talented two-way center. Skill is very good not elite, but he does everything well. If he keeps developing he will be a 2nd line center, perhaps a more dynamic Mikael Backlund.

20. Michael Mcleod, C

Good size, very good skating and balance, and good not great hands. At worst a 3rd line forward, most likely a top-six guy, but a very safe pick. Smaller Mika Zinanejad/Jeff Carter vs. more offensive Ryan Kesler vs. faster Travis Zajac.

21. Luke Kunin, C

6’0 center who skates well with good speed, good hands, and a very nice release on his shot. Rangier than Tyson Jost but not as agile with the puck. Probably a better finisher than Jost from what I could tell. Game is maybe a little bit like Joe Pavelski’s, but probably more speed and skill focused, not necessarily as strong along the boards. Probably projects as a 2nd line center. NHL comparable: Patrice Bergeron type.

22. Keiffer Bellows, LW

Average height at 6’0″ but good strength. Good skating and body control, good hands, decent shot. A two-way power guy who might not be tall enough to become a top-six NHL forward on power alone. He will need to do it by being good at everything, which is he is, even if he’s not necessarily great at anything that I can see either. Definitely more in the Brayden Schenn mold than Patrick Kane mold, but a very well-rounded prospect who does have skill that can project as top-six in the NHL much more so than the likes of Brett Howden or Boris Katchouk who have the well-rounded games in junior but don’t have as much skill in their games at this point as Bellows does. NHL comparable: smaller Alex Galchenyuk.

23. Tage Thompson, C

At 6’5″, 185, Thompson is a bit of a project who already has a lot to work with between his size, pretty good hands from what I could tell in the little footage I saw, and an excellent, powerful one-timer. Has good body control for his size and quick coordination tracking rebounds with his stick, but doesn’t appear to have many moves with the puck in open ice mostly, it appears, due to his skating. He has a good base but seems to lack acceleration, agility, and top speed at this point. If he can improve his skill and skating, he could become a top-line center in the NHL. Depending on how much he improves these areas, or does not, hee could become anything from an AHL player to a 2nd line center. NHL comparable: slower Nick Bjugstad.

24. Tyler Benson, LW

Average size at 6’0″, good skating, good skill, very good vision and hockey sense. Compares to Alex Steen or Jaden Schwartz, potentially. Most likely upside if he keeps improving is a 2nd line winger.

25. Max Jones, LW

Excellent size (at 6’2″) and speed, plays extremely hard, and made some very nice plays in junior, though he also looks like the type that loses the puck just as often as he pulls it off. His skill game is kind of wild at times, but he still attempts skill plays and as I said, pulls them off a fair amount as well. If his skill game really comes into its own, he could be a 1st line power forward, a Milan Lucic with more skill and dynamism, but he could just as easily be a 3rd line banger in the NHL if his skill doesn’t translate. I’m kind of in the middle on him, but he’s a safe pick in the sense that I think he will help an NHL team no matter what, even if he’s just a good 3rd liner. NHL comparable: bigger, faster, less polished Leo Komarov?

26. Pascal Laberge, C

Good size at 6’2″, though he has to get stronger as most the prospects due. He’s only 172 lbs. Has very quick hands that sometimes deliver what he tries to do with the puck, and sometimes don’t. If he puts it together he be ranked higher than 25, if he doesn’t he could underwhelm. He’s very quick on his skates as well, and agile. Shot did not stand out to me, but overall there are a lot of tools here. I’m just not totally sold. NHL comparable: bigger Sam Gagner.

27. Sam Steel, C

A polished skill center at 5’11”, he’s not really explosive but his reliable skill with the puck, and balance and agility on his skates, still stands out above the likes of Brett Howden, Boris Katchouk, or Rasmus Asplund. His hands are not as quick as Pascal Laberge but the result is he can keep up with them better than Laberge sometimes, they are more solid. Could become a 2nd line center. NHL comparable: smaller Alex Steen.

28. Logan Stanley, D

This year’s resident “next Zdeno Chara” hopeful, Stanley is 6’7″ and skates very well for his size. His skill does not compare to Chara’s, so I’m skeptical, but his combination of size and skating could make him a very good NHL defenseman if his skill game continues to improve. Prospects this big sometimes need more time for their coordination to catch up. He wouldn’t be my pick but the potential is there for GMs that want to hope again like Charles Xavier. NHL comparable: there really isn’t one.

29. Riley Tufte, LW

He’s a 6’5″ LW who still plays in high school, so it’s pretty hard to judge. I think when he gets to the NHL scouts will discover he’s not as fast or skilled as they thought, and therefore a pretty big project with limited offensive upside unless he can significantly improve those two major traits. But he’s 6’5″ so he has long strides, which should improve his speed drastically as he becomes more powerful. And his skill isn’t bad, just average. There is potential here, and the potential upside is always great when talking about huge players like this, which is the only reason he’s ranked as high as he is, but the likelihood of it being realized is not high enough for him to be my pick. My NHL comparable is Nick Ritchie, but if he puts it together, Brock Nelson or Boone Jenner are technically possible.

30. Alex Debrincat, RW

A smaller, poor man’s Danny Briere who I’m worried will probably end up closer to Cody Hodgson in the NHL. He has precision hands, particularly the release on his shot and the accuracy he puts on it. At 5’7″ he has short strides and will struggle to gain separation in the NHL in open ice. He does have excellent balance and agility though, so he can find the soft spots in the defense near the net and dart in and out. I don’t see him becoming a Johnny Gaudreau type player in the NHL, but I do think he can be a quick strike threat in the offensive zone with quick precision moves and finishes around the net if the puck comes to him there. Skating it through the neutral zone or protecting it along the boards regularly will be a tougher ask unless he improves drastically. The skill and finish are there though. Just usually small players like this succeed because they’re very fast and very skilled. Debrincat is very skilled but not fast or big, and those two strikes against him will be a lot to overcome unless he improves his speed.

31. Dennis Cholowski, D

Smooth-skating defenseman with average size who plays in the BCHL. Above average hands but what little footage I saw on him did not entirely convince me. Has the raw tools though, so if the polish comes, he could be a steal. NHL comparable: smaller Dmitry Orlov.

32. Kate Clague, D

Smooth-skating defenseman with good, not great, overall skating, and good, not great, skill. Very limited footage on this guy and he looks like a decent player. Reminded me a little of Christian Ehrhoff who also wore #10.

33. Brett Howden, C

Good length at 6’2, average speed, above average hands, very good hockey sense and two-way game. Overall, not enough flash or skill at the junior level for me to think he projects as a top-six forward in the NHL. NHL comparable: poor man’s Christian Dvorak (he’ll be in the NHL eventually).

34. Boris Katchouk, LW

Has a wider frame than most 6’1″ forwards, and uses it well to protect the puck. Shows good feel with the puck at times similar to Brett Howden, but doesn’t demonstrate much elite skill by junior standards. Like Howden could be a good 3rd line forward in the NHL or perhaps a top 9 tweener, but not enough top skill shown in the limited footage I saw to convince me he’s worth a 1st round pick.

35. Rasmus Asplund, RW

A 5’11” center playing in the Swedish Elite League whose game looks much better suited to the Swedish Elite League than it does to the NHL game, to my eyes. Looks to have the trademark Swedish hockey sense and vision perfected playing on big ice, and above average hands, but there is nothing about offensive his offensive game that stands out to me.