Because the 2016 NHL Draft approached, there have been questions on how this class can be remembered. In contrast to 2015, which featured expertise and depth that you simply sometimes solely see as soon as in a decade, there was rather less certainty about simply how nice this group might be.
Now with 5 seasons beneath their belt, the top-ten picks of the 2016 NHL Draft have been in a position to present whether or not or not they’ll change into the subsequent faces of the league. So, how have these gamers developed their sport to this point?
The 2016 NHL Draft was held on June 24-25 on the First Niagara Heart in Buffalo, New York.
1. Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 2015-16 season felt like a managed burn. Whereas they wouldn’t admit to brazenly tanking, the franchise was dangerous in a deliberate means, promoting off veteran gamers whereas calling upon their youth to begin proving that they might be starters. This led Toronto to the league’s worst document in 2016, and finally the primary total decide. As a staff experiencing a deep rebuild, this decide was important to their future success, as lacking a range like this might set their rebuild again years.
After a lot debate, the Maple Leafs chosen offensive phenom Auston Matthews in hopes that he might be one of many ultimate items of their rebuild. After incomes his spot on Toronto’s beginning roster out of coaching camp, Matthews demolished all expectations by scoring 4 targets in his first NHL sport.
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Following this unbelievable effort, he simply stored scoring, posting 40 targets and 69 factors as a 19-year-old, whereas successful the Calder Trophy within the course of. Since his rookie season, Matthews has posted no less than 30 targets and 60 factors each season and was on tempo to interrupt 50 targets scored in 2019-20 earlier than the season was paused. He would additionally go on to attain 60 targets and win the 2022 Hart Trophy as probably the most useful participant, an indication that he was amongst the perfect gamers within the NHL.
To place it merely, Matthews has been all the pieces that the Maple Leafs may have hoped for in a prime draft decide. He’s a real game-breaking offensive expertise that has helped reshape their lineup, and he’ll proceed to be a fixture of the group for years to come back.
2. Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
With regards to uncooked offensive expertise, few prospects on the 2016 Draft may match Patrik Laine and his lethal scoring capability. Enjoying in opposition to males in Finland, he nonetheless posted 17 targets and 33 factors as a 17-year-old, making him appear to be a real ca n’t-miss prospect.
This potential led the Winnipeg Jets to pick out Laine second-overall and instantly carry him onto their beginning line-up for the 2016-17 season. Regardless of solely being 18 years outdated, he scored like a veteran, posting 36 targets and 64 factors in his rookie season.
Whereas on the ice, there was little doubt that Laine had particular goal-scoring capability. In his first 4 seasons, he was on tempo to interrupt 30 targets scored and 50 factors, a feat few gamers obtain so early of their careers. He additionally completed second within the goal-scoring race in 2017-18, posting 44 targets in 82 video games.
Off the ice, nevertheless, there have been rumblings that issues weren’t excellent between Laine and Winnipeg. Throughout the 2020 offseason, he requested a commerce, which turned a real blockbuster that despatched himself and Jack Roslovic to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois (who we’ll talk about shortly) and a 2022 third-round decide.
Since becoming a member of Columbus, issues haven’t gone effectively for Laine. His scoring totals are far beneath his profession averages, and he hasn’t discovered a rhythm with the staff on account of accidents. Given his age and skill, although, there’s no purpose to imagine that Laine’s finest years aren’t nonetheless in entrance of him. Ought to he proceed to develop his sport, he might be a real offensive power regardless of which staff he finally ends up enjoying for.
3. Pierre-Luc Dubois – Columbus Blue Jackets
At third total, the Columbus Blue Jackets chosen big-bodied ahead Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was seen as one of many prime North American skaters heading into the draft. Whereas there have been some questions on if there have been higher choices nonetheless on the board for Columbus, as quickly as Dubois made his debut for the staff, he proved that he was one thing particular on the ice.
In 2017-18, his rookie season, Dubois scored a stable 20 targets and 48 factors. The place he made his mark on the staff, although, was together with his bodily, defensive play. At 6-foot-3, he was that big-bodied ahead that would bully his means across the ice, posting a formidable 127 hits together with a Corsi For % (CF%) above 55 and a Fenwick For % (FF%) close to 57.
In 4 seasons with Columbus, this turned the fashion of play Dubois was identified for. He was that elite two-way participant who may chip in 50 factors, 100 hits, and regular defensive play every season.
Whereas issues had been going effectively on-ice for Dubois, off it there was turmoil between him and the Blue Jackets. This led to an eventual commerce request, which was granted when he was despatched to the Jets within the blockbuster Laine deal.
Since becoming a member of the Jets, Dubois has continued to play effectively, adjusting his fashion to a totally different function with the staff. He’s nonetheless a dominant defensive ahead, however his offense hasn’t bloomed with the franchise simply but. Nonetheless, so long as he stays with the franchise, he might be an essential participant for them to lean on.
4. Jesse Puljujarvi – Edmonton Oilers
Heading into the draft, many noticed Finnish ahead Jesse Puljujarvi as, at minimal, the third-best participant out there. After a dominant efficiency on the World Junior Championships, the place he was the highest scorer, received MVP, and helped carry Workforce Finland to a Gold Medal, he noticed his inventory soar, with some arguing that he may change into the first-overall decide.
Whereas he didn’t make it that top on draft day, the Edmonton Oilers didn’t wait once they noticed Puljujarvi slip to them at fourth-overall, choosing him to enhance their already expert core of younger expertise.
Believing they’d an affect participant, Edmonton introduced Puljujarvi over to the NHL instantly, the place he began in simply 28 video games whereas splitting a number of the season with their AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. By 2018-19, he continued splitting enjoying time with each the Oilers and Condors, by no means actually managing to determine himself as a full-time beginning ahead.
Finally, this led Puljujarvi to return dwelling to Finland for the 2019-20 season, the place he performed for Karpat of Liiga, posting 24 targets and 53 factors in 56 video games. Regaining some confidence in his sport, he returned to the NHL for the 2020-21 shortened season, and went on to publish roughly 15-goal, 30-point campaigns in back-to-back seasons.
If he wasn’t chosen so early on within the draft, these totals can be nice. As such a hyped offensive participant on one of the vital gifted offensive groups within the NHL, it’s arduous to not have a look at his profession to this point with out some disappointment. There may be nonetheless loads of time for the younger Finnish ahead to blossom right into a dominant participant, it didn’t occur in Edmonton. In Feb. 2023, the Oilers dealt him to the Carolina Hurricanes.
5. Olli Juolevi – Vancouver Canucks
As the primary defenseman chosen in 2016, the Vancouver Canucks had excessive hopes that Olli Juolevi was going to be a future stud on their blue line. At 6-foot-3, he had the scale of a dominant NHL defender who additionally skated with talent and beauty, giving him the toolkit of an entire all-around participant.
Sadly for Juolevi and the Canucks, damage has slowed his profession trajectory. After becoming a member of Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in 2018-19, he suffered an damage after simply 18 that price him the remainder of the season. Following this, he struggled with a hip challenge that stored him out of the lineup for many of the 2019-20 season.
Lastly, in 2020-21, he made his regular-season debut for the Canucks, enjoying 15 video games whereas posting one objective. Following this debut, he was traded to the Florida Panthers and has bounced across the American Hockey League (AHL). As of now, it appears unlikely that Juolevi will discover a everlasting function within the NHL.
6. Matthew Tkachuk – Calgary Flames
When you’ve gotten the identify Tkachuk, there’s a sure expectation of the form of participant you’ll change into. For Matthew Tkachuk, he has managed to reside as much as his father’s legacy as a tough-as-nails ahead who’s simply as prepared to get right into a scrap on the ice as he’s to contribute on the scoresheet.
Since being chosen by the Calgary Flames, Tkachuk has left his mark on the franchise, enjoying in over 300 video games and posting over 100 targets whereas laying down over 450 hits. To place it merely, he’s the precise form of participant that you simply despise enjoying in opposition to, however love having in your aspect of the ice.
Nonetheless, issues drastically modified for the Flames through the 2022 offseason. After years of hypothesis, Tkachuk requested a commerce, which materialized right into a true blockbuster with the Panthers, the place he went on to signal an eight-year extension. Now he is likely one of the faces of hockey within the Sunshine State and can look to reside as much as his large expectations for a staff that needs to be able to win all of it.
7. Clayton Keller – Arizona Coyotes
As a staff in want of high-end offensive expertise, the Arizona Coyotes guess on Clayton Keller to change into the brand new face of their offense once they chosen him seventh total. As a gifted ahead, he gave the impression to be the fitting participant to tackle this function.
It didn’t take lengthy for Keller to make his affect on Arizona, both. As a rookie through the 2017-18 season, he scored 23 targets and 65 factors, whereas incomes a nomination for the 2018 Calder Trophy. After that unbelievable season, he adopted it up with a extra subdued 14-goal, 47-point marketing campaign, which nonetheless led the staff in scoring.
Regardless of this setback in manufacturing, the Coyotes wasted no time locking down Keller to a long-term deal. In Sept. 2019, they signed him to an eight-year, $57.2 million deal, making him one of many premier forwards for the franchise.
Since this signing, Keller has been a stable, if not underwhelming contributor for Arizona. He hasn’t performed poorly by any means, however his offense hasn’t taken that subsequent step both. He has leveled off round 15 targets and 40 factors, which isn’t what the Coyotes had hoped for when he inked that extension. The excellent news, although, is he nonetheless is an extremely proficient ahead who’s rising his sport. Given extra time, he ought to change into that dominant scorer within the desert.
8. Alexander Nylander – Buffalo Sabres
For the Buffalo Sabres, getting the prospect to draft one other top-10 prospect one yr after they added Jack Eichel to their roster was a possibility to set the tone of the franchise for years to come back. In the event that they nailed this decide, they may have a one-two punch down the center that you simply construct a championship contender round.
Seeking to seize upon this chance, the Sabres chosen Alexander Nylander, a Swiss-born ahead and brother of William Nylander, who was named OHL rookie of the yr in 2015-16, elevating his pre-draft inventory into the highest ten. Regardless of having a toolkit that would dominate the league, he was anticipated to want a while to translate his sport to the NHL.
Now, wanting again at this decide, we are able to say that it was a bust for Buffalo. In three seasons with the franchise, he began in simply 19 video games, posting six factors. Whereas he noticed some success within the AHL, it wasn’t practically what was anticipated from a top-ten decide, resulting in him being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Henri Jokiharju.
Since becoming a member of Chicago, Nylander has been okay, however not distinctive. In 2019-20, he posted 10 targets and 26 factors in 65 video games however has been pressured to sit out the 2020-21 common season on account of a knee damage he suffered within the playoffs.
So, whereas there may be nonetheless an opportunity he may set up himself within the league, this may get arduous and more durable as he works by means of severe damage and again into constant ice time. For now, because of this Nylander might want to work arduous within the AHL to show that he’s able to get again to common NHL ice time.
9. Mikhail Sergachev – Montreal Canadiens
For the Montreal Canadiens, Mikhail Sergachev will ceaselessly be a top-ten decide that they appear again on and suppose… what may have been? It wasn’t that Sergachev did not develop right into a full-time NHL starter, however the truth that they selected to commerce the younger Russian defenseman to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a package deal for Jonathan Drouin.
In his first season with the Lightning, Sergachev scored 9 targets and 40 factors, probably the most for a rookie defenseman in franchise historical past. Whereas he hasn’t fairly reached those self same scoring heights once more, Sergachev has developed into one in all Tampa Bay’s finest younger gamers.
Now in his sixth full season, Sergachev is precisely what Tampa Bay wants on their blue line. He can tackle 20-plus minutes of ice time every night time whereas contributing to the scoresheet and enjoying a sound defensive sport. Because the Lightning proceed to push for championships proper now, he’ll issue into their future and be a key contributor to their success. Plus, he’s already etched his identify onto the Stanley Cup, making him the one participant to take action within the 2016 prime ten to this point.
10. Tyson Jost – Colorado Avalanche
While you have a look at how the Colorado Avalanche constructed themselves right into a Stanley Cup winner, one main issue was by making probably the most out of their top-ten picks once they had the chance. The franchise added famous person expertise like Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen by means of the draft, getting hit after hit after hit with their picks.
Regardless of discovering a lot excellent expertise this fashion, even the Avalanche aren’t excellent on draft day. This may be seen with their first decide of the 2016 draft, Tyson Jost, who was anticipated to change into that subsequent offensive star for the franchise. As an alternative, he has been simply good, but in addition largely buried of their line-up. In 5 years with the Avalanche, he has scored simply 35 targets and 84 factors, whereas taking over a comparatively small function with the franchise.
Following this incapability to achieve his full potential, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild, the place he took on a restricted bottom-six function with the franchise. In Nov. 2022, the Buffalo Sabres claimed him off waivers, and in 59 video games, he collected 22 factors.
2016 High-10 Featured Hits and Misses
Because the 2016 top-10 picks proceed to determine themselves within the NHL, this group has been a little bit of a blended bag. Whereas some gamers nonetheless want time to develop into their sport, others have change into true stars. Given the category they needed to comply with up, this group has nonetheless been spectacular to this point.