So the Draft Lottery is done and the 2016 draft will see Toronto #1, Winnipeg #2, and Columbus #3 – while Buffalo stays at #8.
The Oilers and Canucks fell 2 spots and the Flames fell 1.
Getting into the top 3 in this draft is huge, so Winnipeg is obviously happy. For me, I still have no confidence in their entire organization, so until they prove they can be good I will be skeptical. The moves they have made and the players they have committed to leave me scratching my head. They will pick up Patrick Laine at #2 and he certainly has some maturing to do, but should be a fine player. The Jets still need a center, so they have work to do. Perhaps Trouba for the The Nuge?
In my opinion, the big winner is Columbus. During this past season they came to believe that Johansen was trouble for them and they had to move him. They turned that into Seth Jones, who can anchor their blueline for the next decade, and now they will replace the impact forward they lost in this very next draft. I will keep banging the drum that Jesse Puljujarvi is my #1, but most lists have him at 3, which would work out great for Columbus’ Finn GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
Toronto will likely take Auston Matthews first overall and that is probably the best place for him in that Mike Babcock will not relent on teaching him the finer points of the game. Based on everything I have seen, calling Matthews a deadly sniper is definitely true. However, a lot of the other adjectives I have read to describe him I have never seen in person or on video. I believe he has a lot to learn about the rest of the game and it will take some time.
Edmonton now falls to #4 and some have already suggested they need to trade it. I would say that Matthew Tkachuk has a lot more jam than any of their forwards, especially anyone with skill, so perhaps they should take him and move others. Regardless, the Oil should be pondering many moves this offseason, not just regarding this pick. I also see many are upset with their latest management team, but I think they need a bit more time to right the ship. This pick will neither make or break the Edmonton ‘rebuild’ so a little more patience is required. If the only roster difference on October 1 is whoever they get at 4, then complain all you want.
Moving through the Canucks, Flames, and Coyotes we will see Tkachuk, Dubois, and Nylander in the mix and the defensemen will enter the fray at some point.
Getting to #8 and the Sabres I am setting my sights on the defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He has fallen in the rankings, but still has all the physical tools. Juolevi definitely thinks offense first and Buffalo already has Ristolainen. Sergachev is a late riser and I would go with Chychrun’s pedigree over those 2. I have no problem with the the ‘best player available’ philosophy, however at this point I don’t see the top 6 forwards falling to 8, so nabbing a much needed D-man out of the highly thought of group up for top 10 seems wise.
Having said all that, while teams need to hit on these top 10 selections, they also need to mine the later rounds for stars. If you can supplement a top 10 blue chip prospect with a 2nd rounder like Shea Webber or Duncan Keith then you are building championship caliber depth. Hopefully Brendan Guhle is on that track for Buffalo, he had a great camp and then a fine debut for Rochester after his junior season ended.