The 2016 NHL Draft might not be as exciting from the perspective of the Philadelphia Flyers perspective as last year's event. After all, the team's qualification for the postseason this past year means that they'll pick 18th overall instead of No. 7 overall as they did last year, and it's unlikely that they make a big splash and move up.
But that doesn't make this draft any less important for the Flyers. They'll have a chance to build on the successful drafts of the last four years with an important first round pick at No. 18, and there will be much debate on which direction Ron Hextall and his scouting department should go.
Before we get there, though, we're going to walk through the rest of the first round in the second-annual edition of the BSH Community NHL Draft Board. Over the next few weeks as we prepare for the draft, we will crowdsource what we think the Philadelphia Flyers' draft board should look like. We will run down the board and hold a daily vote, and you can cast your ballot for who you think should be the next guy on the board.
Here are the results of last year's board, which we stopped at No. 16 overall. We'll obviously go beyond that this year. Kind of cool looking back on last year's and knowing that two of these players are now blossoming in the Flyers prospect pool.
So let's get started with the 2016 edition, shall we?
Just as we knew the top two picks last year, we know that Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi are going in the top three this year. So we'll start our board at No. 4 in 2016.
The 2016 BSH Community NHL Draft Board
- Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (Switzerland)
- Patrick Laine, LW, Tampere (Finland)
- Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (Finland)
Scouting reports on candidates who could be selected at No. 4 can be found below. Read over them and vote in the poll. It will close at midnight tonight and we'll have results and voting for the No. 5 spot on our board up in the morning.
Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL) -- 107 points in 57 games
Stylistically, he plays with both power and finesse despite not being an elite skater. He handles the puck well in tight and in stride and can score as well as he pass. His strength as one of the best defensive wingers in the OHL as well as his physicality make him an even more dynamic option at left wing. Defensively, he's relentless on loose pucks and does an excellent job lifting them off defenders to create turnovers. His maturity, and strength in both ends as a powerful offensive threat both lend well to transferring into an NHL-ready game sooner rather than later.
And he hasn't just become this player with the Knights. Tkachuk excelled offensively with the United States at this year's World Juniors as one of the team's best players and has widely been credited as one of the development program's top prospects since he was 16.
Alexander Nylander, LW, Mississauga (OHL) -- 75 points in 57 games
With 28/47/75 in 57 games in the OHL this season after deciding to come over to North America prior to his draft year, Alexander looks to be cut from the same cloth as his slightly older brother (though William played in Sweden prior to being drafted, so there isn't a "numbers" comparison to be made). As his numbers show, he clearly didn't have any trouble making the adjustment.
Nylander, much like his older brother, can skate at a world-class level, and has the hands and stick creativity to be an offensive threat as he matures. I've seen multiple sources cite his skating as "explosive" and his offensive creativity has stuck out in various write-ups as well. He finished as the #3 North American skater in the final Central Scouting rankings, and slots in fourth behind the Big Three in the April ISS Top 30.
Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL) -- 49 points in 62 games
An unyielding two-way defen[s]eman, Jakob Chychrun is a rising star with a toolbox bursting at the seams. Consistently displays elite four-way skating ability and is not afraid to throw his weight around physically. Plays with poise and composure through high pressure situations and, with the puck on his stick, can direct the play up-ice. Exhibits a particularly potent shot that works its magic on the power play and on the forecheck. Excellent first pass and uses his vision and awareness to keep the puck moving in the direction of the opposition's tail or to a teammate with more time and space. Defensively adept at tracking the puck and staying a step ahead of the opposition. Proactive with his stick and body, exerting pressure on the opposition and forcing them to make hurried decisions.
All-in-all, a well-rounded two-way defender that competes with pro-level drive and makes his authoritative presence felt at both ends of the ice.
Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL) -- 42 points in 57 games
Going into this season, Jakob Chychrun was considered the best defenseman available in the draft. Yet in his stellar rookie season with the Knights, Juolevi has rocketed up the draft boards to the Top 10.
After starting his development in Finland, Juolevi really turned heads with an excellent performance at the World Junior Championship, as the backbone of a defensive corps that carried the Finns to the Gold Medal.
It's easy to see why. Juolevi is a smooth skater with a powerful shot and a keen sense of where to be on both ends of the ice. He's at home on defense, and can jump into the play on offense. His light touch and ability to fire off a quick wrister mid-stride should remind Coyotes fans quite a bit of Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Pierre-Luc DuBois, F, Cape Breton (QMJHL) -- 99 points in 62 games
It is very hard to find a deficiency in his game. He is an excellent skater, very physical in puck battles, and has an uncanny nose for the net. He also has a very solid 200-foot game, playing just as well in his own end as he does at the other end of the ice. He is as complete a player as you could possibly ask an 18-year-old to be.
His ceiling is that of an elite defensive forward who also has a ton of offensive upside. He could even be a future Selke candidate, although that's a lofty expectation for any prospect, so we're best off tempering our projections.
Clayton Keller, C, US National Team U18-- 107 points in 62 games
Immediately, you can see the appeal. Whether it was midget hockey, USHL play with the USNTDP, or the U-17 and U-18 teams playing their season or abroad, Keller has been at least a point per game player. The USHL and USA Hockey sites do not list shot totals, but the consistent PPG-plus rates makes me feel reasonably confident that his production is not a case of being hot for a season.
The international tourneys may be the most impressive part of his track record. According to Elite Prospects' profile, Keller led the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge tournament in points as the US took silver; he was key member of the U-18 team that won it all in the 2015 U-18 World Championships; and while US took bronze in the recent 2016 U-18 World Championships, Keller was still named MVP of the tournament. That latter piece is rather impressive as Tyson Jost edged him for the tourney's leader in scoring and that the US didn't win the whole thing. What it also means is that Keller has been excellent when going up against the best of his peers in the world as opposed to just being a beast on the USNTDP.
Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL) -- 57 points in 67 games
A dominant two-way defenceman whose tenacity and competitiveness characterize his style of play. Plays with a poise and confidence that facilitates his creativity with the puck as well as split-second decision making. Naturally fluid skater who is always looking to be engaged, if not the center, of each unfolding play. All-in-all, a diligent two-way defenceman who excels at finding ways to be a difference-maker in games.