A panel of experts predicts Russian center German Rubtsov will be drafted 16th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
Welcome back to my weekly Prospect Ramblings column!
This week, I have decided to post the second-half results of the first round of a mock draft of the upcoming NHL entry draft. To do this, I enlisted the services of fellow Sport Management students at Brock University – the same program that produced Kyle Dubas, assistant general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
We are also all members of an organically, student-driven Hockey Performance & Development Group, meeting weekly to discuss issues around the sport, review tape on select teams and prospects, and discuss the state of the game. Before I get into the results, some introductions are in order.
To check out the first half of the first round, some background information on the contributors to this draft, and to follow them on Twitter, check out the link to last week’s column here.
16th Overall: The Detroit Red Wings select, from Vityaz Podolsk HC of the Russian Juniors, center German Rubtsov.
DF: Rubtsov is regarded by many to be one of if not the top prospect coming out of Russia and the top player for the Russian U18 team in the MHL. Many have even called him Datsyuk 2.0. Rubtsov plays a complete two-way game, which has him playing top minutes night in and night out, as he's just that reliable. Great skating, playmaking, and shooting abilities make him an all-around offensive threat, though he plays a defense-first game. He plays bigger than his size suggests, frustrating opponents with his strength on the puck and the way he can control the play with his great skating and shifty puck protection. He's also known to control the faceoff dot, making him a vital pivot to any team.
17th Overall: The Nashville Predators select, from the Val D'Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, right wing Julien Gauthier.
DM: Though the Q has a habit of inflating scoring stats, Gauthier possesses both offensive awareness and considerable size. While many will cite Anthony Mantha to illustrate that size doesn't equate to scoring, Gauthier has a great release and the mentality of a hard-nosed grinder. In my mind, he is a future 30-goal scorer in the NHL for his willingness to get dirty to ply his trade. The Predators would be thrilled to add his size and scoring touch to a prospect pool that is weak on the right side.
18th Overall: The Philadelphia Flyers select, from Boston University (committed), left wing Kieffer Bellows.
DF: The kid’s a natural goal scorer. Plays a hard game and shows his passion for the game on every shift. Possesses respectable size and a ton of skill, using both to stay strong on the puck and make plays. The Flyers hope to plug Bellows into the lineup in the near future as his goal-scoring abilities would add a much-needed touch to the offense of the Flyers, who just barely slipped into the playoffs this season. Bellows needs to play more physically, as many say it would help complete his game, but the Flyers should have no problem influencing this change on him in the City of Brotherly Love.
19th Overall: The New York Islanders select, from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, left wing Max Jones.
NT: Tough forward uses his size to his advantage every chance he gets. He shows flashes of high-end offensive upside. Given the question marks that surrounded Dal Colle and Ho-Sang, and Beauvillier being a smaller forward, Jones adds size and a solid insurance policy to the Islanders' pool of prospects
20th Overall: The Arizona Coyotes select, from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, defenseman Samuel Girard.
NT: After selecting a more rugged defender with their first pick, the Coyotes turn their sights to this offensive dynamo. Girard uses his shot every chance he gets, moves the puck out of his zone accurately, safely, and quickly, and is a gifted quarterback on the power play.
21st Overall: The Carolina Hurricanes select, from the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, defenseman Jake Bean.
CM: Bean's bread and butter is his offensive game, led by a quick release and high-end skating ability. However, Bean is more than competent in his own end, with an incredible knowledge of the game that allows him to step in and break up plays from the opposition, leading to chances for his own team. The Hurricanes are already loaded with future stars on the backend, but are still in asset-collection mode and feel that Bean is the best player available at this pick.
22nd Overall: The Winnipeg Jets select, from the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, left wing Vitali Abramov.
MA: Abramov's dynamic offensive game is one that the Jets once expected out of Alexander Burmistrov, but Abramov possesses an overall better skill set with a proven history of racking up points in junior. Abramov's electric speed, stickhandling, and overall offensive creativity would be too hard to pass on for a team that has great prospect depth at all positions. The Jets would be taking a player with a very high ceiling, who could become a dynamic offensive threat at the NHL level.
Vitali Abramov shows off his speed and moves while scoring:
23rd Overall: The Florida Panthers select, from the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, left wing Boris Katchouk.
NT: Even this young, he is already playing a pro-style game and should succeed in the transition to the next level. Outworks any other player in games and in practice, and he keeps the game simple and plays hard, racking up the dirtier goals. Will be a 20-goal scorer in the league, capable of playing up and down the lineup in all situations.
24th Overall: The Anaheim Ducks select, from the University of Wisconsin, center Luke Kunin.
MA: While there are several enticing defensemen available at this selection, the Ducks have a fantastic top four group moving forward (Lindholm, Vatanen, Fowler, Theodore) with several other prospects on the way. Instead, the Ducks look at Kunin's natural scoring ability and look for him to turn into the player that Nick Ritchie already looks like he might fail to be. Kunin's development will be helped out by the prospect of playing on the same line as Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf, who have routinely helped turn young wingers into noted scorers since they arrived in the NHL. Kunin has the potential to score 30 goals if he can translate his game, and in particular his elite shot, to the next level.
25th Overall: The Dallas Stars select, from the Sudbury Wolves, center Dmitri Sokolov.
CM: Sokolov has always held a high pedigree, as was proven when Sudbury made him the third pick in the 2015 CHL import draft. He possesses all of the tools to be a successful power forward in the NHL, including an accurate wrist shot, powerful stride, and a naturally large frame that he uses effectively to shield the puck. The Greyhound product has been criticized based on his level of commitment. That said, the Stars are willing to take this risk considering their current group of young, talented NHL forwards. If he reaches his ceiling, Sokolov would be a steal at 25th overall.
26th Overall: The Washington Capitals select, from the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, defenseman Dante Fabbro.
MA: What's not to love? Fabbro has a complete all-around game and is a QB specialist on the blueline, especially on the power play. Great in all three zones, the New Westminster native combines great skating, passing, vision, and a high hockey IQ to carry out his responsible play and put the pressure on opposing teams. It would be a steal for the Caps to land Fabbro at No. 26, adding a great defensive prospect to their already strong organization. Look for him to be in the NHL sooner rather than later.
27th Overall: The Tampa Bay Lightning select, from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, defenseman Kale Clague.
DM: Touted as a top-15 pick early in the season, Clague's stock didn't fall as much as others merely rose around him. Possessing excellent offensive instincts and a crisp outlet pass, this young man's bread and butter are in transition where he looks to create scoring opportunities while remaining solid in his own zone. Though his size at 5-11 will give concerns, this shouldn't be a long-term issue, as he brings so much else to the table. Joins Anthony DeAngelo as a legitimate offensive defender in their system.
28th Overall: The Boston Bruins select, from the University of Minnesota-Duluth (committed), left wing Riley Tufte.
DM: Committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for next season, Tufte is a massive prospect at nearly 6-5 and 210 pounds. The deceiving thing about his size is how well he skates – reminiscent of a much smaller young man, with surprising acceleration. While his complete game remains very much a project, his natural attributes are more than enough to preach patience with what this man may become at the pro level. If he hits his potential, Tufte may be the next Lucic – something Bruins fans would be more than happy to have in their system.
29th Overall: The Toronto Maple Leafs select, from the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, left wing Alex DeBrincat.
DM: Simply put, if DeBrincat were three inches taller and 15 pounds heavier, he would be a top-10 pick. We believe he could still grow, but there is no denying his elite skill. With sublime playmaking and finishing ability, Alex has been one of the CHL's most dangerous forwards. His competitiveness and willingness to play a physical game despite his size differential is something that you can't find every day. While the Leafs may have other needs, they deem Alex to be the best player available and hope to address other issues later in the draft. Even if he doesn't grow as much as hoped, he's one of the few small forwards whom I feel elicits visions of Theo Fleury and Martin St. Louis.
30th Overall: The St. Louis Blues select, from Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League, center Rasmus Asplund.
MA: Asplund's two-way game and slick skill set fits in perfectly with a St. Louis forward group that puts a lot of attention on the defensive side of the game. He also has some of the better stickhandling abilities amongst draft eligible players, which helps for a player that has great awareness at both ends of the rink. St. Louis would be excited to get a player of Asplund's caliber this late in the first round.
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Thanks for reading! Stay tuned next week for when I unveil the first half of the second round of my 2016 NHL mock draft! And feel free to give me a follow on Twitter!