Dylan Strome of the OHL's Erie Otters and the crown jewel in the Arizona Coyotes' pipeline is the top-ranked prospect in the 2016 Future Watch.
If your favorite NHL team hasn’t made the playoffs for awhile and shows no inclination to do so, Future Watch might cheer you up with its annual update of NHL prospects.
The Hockey News polls scouts (one from each NHL team) right after the world junior championship to supply their top-10 prospects. From the resulting master list of 300 players, scouts rank their top 50, which results in a top-75 list.
Future Watch’s soft cutoff of 50 NHL games helps to separate prospects from NHLers and it further graduates young players who are established NHLers before then. Connor McDavid comes to mind.
Eight of the 2016 top 10 are new to the list, led by center Dylan Strome. The younger brother of New York Islanders’ forward Ryan Strome stars for the OHL’s Erie Otters.
Fellow center and fellow Arizona Coyotes’ draftee Christian Dvorak of the OHL’s London Knights is 10th. He shot up from 48th last year.
The reconstructing Toronto Maple Leafs are the only other NHL team with two prospects in the Future Watch top 10.
William Nylander, who looks like he’s going to stay with the NHL club for the rest of its season, is No. 2. Fellow first-round pick Mitch Marner of the Knights is ranked third as Toronto’s single-minded mission to resurrect its proud tradition continues via the draft.
The Future Watch 2016 top 10 is completed by defenseman Ivan Provorov (Flyers), right winger Mikko Rantanen (Avalanche), defenseman Zach Werenski (Blue Jackets), goalie Ilya Samsonov (Capitals), center Pavel Zacha (Devils) and LW Kyle Connor (Jets).
Besides Dvorak, other prominent risers from a year ago include defenseman Travis Sanheim (36th to 16th, Flyers), LW Adrian Kempe (45th to 19th, Kings) and center Vladislav Kamenev (52nd to 21st, Predators).
Conversely, LW Anthony Mantha (Red Wings) plunged from sixth to 27th, defenseman Haydn Fleury (Hurricanes) dropped from 41st to 28th, RW Alex Tuch (Wild) plummeted from 21st to 45th, LW Michael Dal Colle (Islanders) tumbled from 12th to 46th and former Islander first-round blueliner Griffin Reinhart stumbled from 13th to 49th.
Counting 21-and-younger NHLers, Arizona’s prospects top all other 29 NHL teams. The top 10 are completed by (in descending order) Buffalo, Columbus, Carolina, Winnipeg (first last year), Toronto, Edmonton, Florida, Philadelphia and Dallas.
On Santa’s naughty prospect list (ascending from 30th) are the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, San Jose, Ottawa, Montreal, Minnesota and Chicago.
While Future Watch comes out once a year, DobberHockey keeps the prospect updates coming in every calendar month, so keep coming back.
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The NHL playoffs haven’t even begun but fans of some teams are already looking wistfully past the post-season to the NHL entry draft.
The best odds of picking first overall are one in five under a new weighted system announced by the league in August 2014 and phased in over two drafts to discourage teams from tanking late in a season to draft the next Mario Lemieux.
That’s down from one in four in previous years.
Beginning with this year’s draft, the draft lottery will assign the top three drafting positions. That’s a change from previous years when the lottery determined only the first team to draft.
As a result, the team with the fewest points during the regular season will no longer be guaranteed, at worst, the second overall pick. The annual runt of the NHL litter can now fall as low as fourth overall.
For a change, each of the 14 teams that fall short of the playoffs will have a shot at the prized first pick. The teams with the worst records still have the best odds, though, which could pay off for the league’s seven north-of-the-49th members.
In the current annus horribilis for the NHL’s Canadian-based franchises, the Leafs (20 per cent), Oilers (13.5 per cent) and Jets (11.5 per cent) have the best shot of choosing sensational center Auston Mathews, who is curiously playing for Zurich in the top men’s league in Switzerland.
Auston Mathews is the prohibitive favorite to be chosen first overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft. Unlike previous drafts, all 14 non-playoff teams will have a shot at the top pick, although the ones with the worst records have the best odds, meaning Mathews could be headed to Canada:
Fans in every market outside Edmonton (and perhaps some in Edmonton) hope the Oilers do not land their fifth No. 1 overall draft pick in seven years. Let’s face it, previous Edmonton first overall picks have not resulted in any playoff berths.
The 54th draft itself will happen June 24 and 25 in Buffalo. Even more Canadians than usual will pay attention, and might even travel to the draft considering how close it will be to the border.