Auston Matthews remains the consensus favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on June 24th in Buffalo. The NHL Central Scouting Mid Season rankings have the 6-1, 210 pound center from Scottsdale, Arizona at number one among European skaters.
Matthews is playing for Marc Crawford and Zurich of the Swiss Pro League where he is averaging better than a point a game with 19 goals and 13 assists for 32 points in 26 games played. Matthews also led all goal scorers in the World Junior Tournament with 7 to go along with 4 assists for 11 points in helping Team USA win the bronze medal.
Right behind Matthews are the Team Finland duo of Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine. Puljuarvi is playing for Karpat of the Finnish Elite League and has 6-8-14 in 34 games played. The 6-3, 203 pound right winger from Tornio, Finland was the Best Forward and MVP of the World Junior Tournament while leading all scorers with 5-12-17 for the Gold Medal Champions.
Laine also combines speed, skill, and size at 6-4 and 206 pounds. The native of Tampere is playing for Tappara in the Finnish Elite League and has scored 8 goals and added 10 assists in 28 games. Laine tied Matthews for the World Junior Tournament goal scoring lead with 7 and also had 6 assists for 13 points in the 7 games his country played enroute to winning the Gold Medal.
All three top ranked North American Skaters are from the Ontario Hockey League. In the number one spot is London Knights Left Winger Matthew Tkachuk. And he is the son of former Winnipeg Jet 1.0 Keith Tkachuk. The 18 year old 6-1, 195 pound forward from Scottsdale, Arizona is 5th in OHL scoring with 15-48-63 in just 33 games and plays with Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak and future Toronto Maple Leaf hopeful Mitch Marner on one of the best lines in all of the CHL.
Defenceman Jakob Chychrun of the Sarnia Sting is the number two ranked North American Skater while the #3 ranking goes to Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads. Both of those players fathers are also former NHLers. Jeff Chychrun played 262 games on the blueline of the Philly Flyers, LA Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers. William Nylander played 920 games for seven different NHL teams.
The top rated goalies are Carter Hart of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips and Filip Gustavson of the Swedish Junior League team in Lulea.
Brandon Wheat Kings Defenceman Kale Clague is ranked #22 among North American Skaters while Oakbank, Manitoba’s Brett Howden of the Moose Jaw Warriors is 27th.