2016 NHL Draft

Mock Draft: Picks 31-60

Power forwards highlight strong second round
Steve Kournianos  |  02/08/2016 |  New York  |  [hupso]

Photo courtesy of the Guelph Storm

Round 1Round 2 / Round 3 / Round 4 / Round 5 / Round 6 / Round 7

293px-Columbus_BlueJackets31. C/RW Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville, QMJHL): Crafty forward who has proven his worth at both the wing and center ice positions. He’s a mature kid who earned praise for his performance at the recent CHL Top Prospects Game, but he’s played that well all season long. Laberge has slick moves and a very good shot, but he can provide leadership and versatility as well.
32. RW Alex DeBrincat (Erie, OHL): Easily near the top of a very talented group of wingers, the Michigan-born sniper shook off the label that he’s a product of his centers by blasting away at OHL opponents to a tune of an OHL-best 38 goals in 41 games. He’s quick and has a soft set of hands, which come in handy when he’s corralling hard cross-ice or stretch passes.
33. G Carter Hart (Everett, WHL): The Leafs haven’t picked a goalie this high since plucking Tukka Rask late in the first round of 2005 – two signs that maybe it’s time to rethink their tactics. Hart is a plus-plus technician and the cream of a decent crop of draft-eligible netminders, with outstanding post-to-post quickness and pro-level reset ability.
34. G Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke, QMJHL): The lack of a significant or trustworthy support system has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for this 6’4 Newfoundlander, whose used the high amount of rubber faced to hone his butterfly game to game. Fitzpatrick isn’t as polished as Carter Hart from a technical standpoint, but he’s fiery and will venture outside the blue paint to challenge long shots without losing track of his angles.
35. LHD Jake Bean (Calgary, WHL): Nothing compliments a stockpile of offensive forwards better than a pure playmaker from the blueline, and who better to choose to handle that responsibility than Calgary’s producer from the point. Bean has some issues in his own end – we get that. But it’s nothing that cannot be fixed, albeit with some time and painstaking patience. Bean is a very good skater with good balance, but his shot taking and home run-pass making sets him apart from the bulk of available rearguards.
36. RW Carl Grundstrom (MoDo, SHL): Disciplined two-way powder keg who’s an outstanding forechecker with an uncanny ability to steal and dish in a hurry. Grundstrom has been a fixture on Team Sweden for several U20 tournaments, and he’s seen a spike in both production and ice time for MoDo since returning from the WJC. He’s quick and has a good shot, and the Flames get first-round quality here in the second.
37. RW Riley Tufte (Blaine, HS-MN): Tufte is one of several high-profile power forwards who receive mixed reviews due to dings on their pre-draft resume. He’s a towering specimen with a hard wrist shot and good mobility, and an underrated ability to elevate shots with the puck at or near his feet. Fargo made him the USHL’s top pick in 2014, but he hightailed it out of there for high school, where he’s expectedly clubbing the competition.
38. LHD Kale Clague (Brandon, WHL): Heady two-way defender who is clean in all areas of defending his position, which means something when you’re talking about a somewhat lanky kid who may not have the strength to consistently outmuscle forwards in battles along the wall. But Clague is smart on his feet and uses his active stick appropriately, which helps him quickly transition up the ice with either a quick, hard pass or a quick dash into an opening.
39. LW Givani Smith (Guelph, OHL): Undervalued goal-scoring machine who has been carrying a struggling club with timely goals and a lead-by-example demeanor. Smith is a classic power forward who is too thick for defenders to lean on, but he has good speed and quick with transitioning the puck from skate to stick. Like most power forwards, however, he goes through periods where he’s a nonfactor. Still, he’s the kind of player the Habs are beginning to lean towards.
40. C Brett Howden (Moose Jaw, WHL): Heady playmaker with good size who plays on Moose Jaw’s top line thanks to a combination of quick thinking and tenacity. One thing we noticed is how good a passer he is off his backhand, and across long distances no less. Howden isn’t as fast as his brother (and 2010 first rounder) Quinton, but he makes up for it with the kind of no-quit attitude the Canes will require as they build towards relevance.
41. RW Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau, QMJHL): An electrifying winger who can dazzle and discombobulate at a high rate of speed, Abramov is a tiny (generously listed as 5’9) yet sturdy offensive force who has torn the competition to pieces in his rookie QMJHL season. Some have him pegged for the first round, but he’s far from a complete player, and the amount of skilled power forwards available likely drops him a few spots, where the Flyers will gladly accept him.
42. LW Adam Mascherin (Kitchener, OHL): We’ve identified Mascherin as one of a handful of overlooked prospects who are not only good enough for the first round, but a candidate for a rise into the middle of the first round. He’s not fast or big (5’9 but a solid 202), but his vision, playmaking skills and decision making are already at an elite level, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since he was the second overall pick of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection.
*43. C Otto Makinen (Tappara U20, Liiga Jrs): Makinen is part of Finland’s bumper crop of high end forwards who we think will drop many North American prospects into the lower rounds. He’s a playmaking center with big-game experience who has been Finland’s top dog at the last handful of U18 tournaments, anchoring the top line and top power play unit. Makinen can thread the needle and get pucks through passing lanes with accuracy, and will dig into the trenches to win puck battles.
*44. LHD Logan Stanley (Windsor, OHL): There are times when we see Stanley as the kind of two-way defender any team would covet, and covet early in the draft. He’s big and strong, and quick to move the puck, and the Leafs are begging for a defender with top-pairing potential who they can count on in every critical situation. His upside is pretty high – some have compared him to Zdeno Chara – but there are times where he rushes and can collapse under pressure.
*45. LW Nathan Bastian (Mississauga, OHL): Bastian is what we call a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. He’s a gritty, grind-it-out winger who can also play the pivot, and when you combine his work ethic with an opportunistic approach, the results come in bunches. He’s the perfect compliment to a finesse player or nigh-volume shot taker, as he knows how to position himself for slam dunks.
46. LHD Sean Day (Mississauga, OHL) : We felt a strong CHL Top Prospects Game would spark a second-half surge that would restore the pre-draft reputation of a star in the making. Unfortunately for Day, it just isn’t coming together, as issues with puck management continue to exacerbate his paltry production. In all likelihood, Day will be a long-term project who will need all the pieces to fall into place to carve out a solid NHL career, and what better team than the Predators to squeeze it out of him.
*47. LHD Luke Green (Saint John, QMJHL): Confident puck mover who should blend in well with Colorado’s group of dynamic forwards. Green plays on a deep Saint John’s club so he hasn’t been given the kind of responsibility we think he’s capable of handling. He can skate very well and his passes are quick and accurate, but don’t sleep on his defense – he’s shown a steady improvement since he was the QMJHL’s first overall pick in 2014.
48. RW Vladimir Kuznetsov (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL): Another big-bodied goal scorer from the flank, only Kuznetsov, sometimes referred to as “the Russian Tank”, skates very well for a kid who is listed as 6’2, 215 pounds. He was the top pick in last year’s CHL Import Draft, and the major junior community is beginning to see why — he’s 5th in QMJHL rookie scoring with 48 points in 51 games.
49. C Cam Morrison (Youngstown, USHL): A powerful skill center with a great touch who has been one of the USHL’s top point producers since the start of the season. He plays like a bull in a china shop, but it’s generally done while under control and with his head up at all times. He’s headed to Notre Dame in the fall, but he’s a lot closer to the NHL than most of his peers. He won’t be in college for too long, which is exactly what the Devils want.
*50. C Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw, WHL): Gregor has been as consistent as you could ask out of a draft-eligible CHL’er, providing the Warriors with sound two-way play and using his speed and vision to create plays seemingly every shift. He’s got good size and a tireless work ethic, but he can also adapt to the ever-changing nature of a game. He was picked for the CHL Top Prospects Game, where he quietly played an all-around game.
51. RW Tage Thompson (Connecticut, HE): The Sharks love tapping into New England for their prospects, and Thompson is one of the region’s better ones. He’s a power forward with a quick release who likes to position himself in the circles for right-handed hammer blows, but he’s most dangerous on the power play, where he’s been one of UConn’s few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season. We’re starting to get the impression that Thompson is getting some well-deserved respect from opponents, as they seem like they don’t know how to defend against him.
*52. LHD Victor Mete (London, OHL): The poor kid gets lost on London’s brightly-lit roster of stars, but he’s been consistently good by staying within himself and not trying to do too much. Mete has natural offensive instincts and has shown end-to-end explosiveness, so we won’t rush to say his production (31 points in 50 games) is simply because he plays with stars.
53. RHD Frederic Allard (Chicoutimi, QMJHL): It was shocking to see this on-ice commander miss the cut for the CHL Top Prospects Game, and we’re still trying to figure out why – he’s one of the QMJHL’s top point producers among defenseman, plays sound defense and can unleash a howitzer from the point. He logs big minutes for Chicoutimi, but what’s important about that is how quickly he can recover from lengthy shifts. It’s a thin draft in terms of talented righty blueliners, and the Bolts realize that by grabbing one of the best.
54. C/LW Matt Filipe (Cedar Rapids, USHL): You have to go all the way back to the depths of the 2007 draft when the Rangers drafted a non-NTDP forward out of USHL (Danny Hobbs), but the Northeastern-bound crease crasher gives the organization the power-skill combination it’s been gunning for the last few drafts. Filipe has adapted to the speed and skill of a tougher league by providing Cedar Rapids with timely goals and winning his puck battles.
55. RW Willie Knierim (Dubuque, USHL): Knierim is turning his season around after a dreadful start, and playing a 200-foot game while punishing his opponents with brute strength helps erase the bad memories. He plays a lot like David Backes, to include the pugilism, and has underrated playmaking abilities both in traffic and off the rush. He’s been climbing our rankings, and while we can’t dub him a first round talent, he’s got the skill set and upside to take a flier on as early as the second round.
56. G Stephen Dhillon (Niagara, OHL): Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi isn’t shy about taking a goalie early (he took Jonathan Bernier in the first round in 2006), but the Kings haven’t done well in their plight to develop Jonathan Quick’s heir apparent. Dhillon would be a good start, as the 6’2 native Buffalonian has been exceptional as Alex Nedeljkovic’s backup in Niagara. He’s a calm customer between the pipes, and a late 1998 birthday makes him the perfect candidate to develop as the Kings’ goalie of the future.
57. RW Janne Kuokkanen (Karpat U20, Liiga Jrs.): The Panthers like their Finnish forwards, and they wouldn’t be wrong in grabbing one of their better teenagers not named Puljujarvi or Laine. Kuokkanen is an opportunistic and crafty offensive forward who wore out Finland’s Under-21 junior circuit before being promoted to their premier junior league. He can fire accurate passes from either his forehand or backhand, and will hang onto the puck rather than dump it away at the first sign of pressure. He’s a bit of an off-the-board pick here, but we think scouts will properly rank him as the season continues.
58. RHD Filip Hronek (HK Mountfield, Extraliga): Blossoming two-way defender who earned a spot on the Czech Republic’s WJC squad and some time in the elite Extraliga. Hronek is a playmaker with accuracy, and he makes up for being undersized with a strong leg drive and smart positioning. Hronek is reliable when anticipating plays behind his own net, and he can be counted to protect the puck while being mugged. His signature skill is the breakout pass, but he can also make subtle leads to beat a forecheck.
*59. C/LW Jonathan Dahlen (Timra, Allsvenskan): The Flyers have a proclivity for Swedes – they’ve taken at least one in each of the last four drafts. They won’t buck the trend in 2016, especially if this goal scorer is available. Dahlen leads all Allsvenskan youngsters with 14 goals in 45 games, and if the name sounds familiar, it should – his father Ulf was a first round pick of the Rangers in 1985. His game is not built on strength and board work like his father’s, but he’s got a great shot and doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas to complete a play.
60. LW Artur Kayumov (Russia U18, MHL): We’re not slotting him to Washington because he’s Russian. We’re doing so because we think he’ll be overlooked and the Capitals take the available player with the most ridiculous skill. Kayumov is a sick puck magician with soft hands and strong balance – he’s a load to handle for a 5’10 skill forward.

*Montreal owns Buffalo’s 2016 2nd round pick via Minnesota from the Josh Gorges trade. The Sabres previously acquired this pick from the Wild in the Matt Moulson trade.

*Toronto owns Pittsburgh’s 2016 2nd round pick from the Daniel Winnik trade. Pittsburgh would reacquire this pick from Toronto as a condition in the Phil Kessel trade if they qualified for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

*Pittsburgh owns Anaheim’s 2016 2nd round pick via Vancouver via the Brandon Sutter trade. The Canucks previously acquired this pick from the Ducks in the Kevin Bieksa trade.

*Colorado reacquired their 2016 2nd round pick from San Jose in a 2015 Draft Day trade in which the Sharks traded a 2015 2nd round pick (39th overall — A.J. Greer), this pick and a 2017 6th round pick to the Avalanche in exchange for a 2015 2nd round pick (31st overall — Jeremy Roy).  San Jose previously acquired this pick from Colorado in the Brad Stuart trade.

*Boston owns the New York Islanders’ 2016 2nd round pick from the Johnny Boychuk trade.

*Tampa Bay owns Boston’s 2016 2nd round pick from the Brett Connolly trade.

*Philadelphia owns Chicago’s 2016 2nd round pick from Kimmo Timonen trade.