The Leafs are just one point ahead of the 30th
placed team in the league, the supposed #1 goaltender is in the AHL on a
conditioning stint, and Toronto was just shutout by the Wild last night. Now
seems like as good a time as any to revisit the 2016 Draft where the Leafs own
two first round picks, and eleven picks total.
It’s also a good time to start looking at the draft rankings
since December provides a pretty good baseline for what are about to be
significant changes to everyone’s draft order. With the World Juniors and Top
Prospect games coming up, the players at the top of the draft are about to
shift significantly. Even those who won’t be attending may be impacted by
having teammates in the tournament and could be playing a larger role over the
In short, now is the time to start daydreaming about how the
Leafs find away to end June with Auston Matthews and Alex DeBrincat in their
If the image at the top wasn’t particularly clear, hopefully
this table is a bit friendlier when it comes to determining what the current
consensus is for upcoming draft. Using the
rankings from ISS Hockey, Future Considerations, MyNHLDraft, HockeyProspect.com,
Craig Button and Sportsnet I’ve come up with a consensus ranking.
I have excluded Bob McKenzie’s rankings because it was only
a top ten list with some honourable mentions at this point, but will add his
January rankings when they happen.
Corey Pronman’s rankings have also been excluded because
they were completed in September, and as you will see below, two months of
draft year hockey can cause a lot of movement in where a player is ranked.
There are a few things worth noting from the consensus
The obvious thing that sticks out immediately is that there
aren’t any takists willing to absurdly rank anyone other than Auston Matthews
first overall. That’s disappointing in a way, but makes good sense.
The interesting thing that sticks out is that after Matthews
there are four other players who are all being considered for the second
overall spot, 3 wingers and a defenseman. While personally I would lean towards
Chynchrun because of the importance of a defenseman compared to the wing,
Chynchrun is a player who seems to be sliding in the rankings, though no one is
willing to bump him from the top five.
Other than what looks like a consensus top five, Michael
McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads was the only player to receive top five considerations.
He’s been one of the fast climbing
players in the rankings over the past couple of months and could have a strong
December when Erie and London see their rosters depleted for the World Juniors.
In total, 17 players received some consideration as a top 10
pick with Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfires sitting the lowest of them in
consensus at number 20. This is incredibly good news for a team like the Leafs
that there is this level of depth in the draft, as the Penguins pick at this
point doesn’t look like it will be particularly late in the first round. The
idea of walking away with a top five pick and someone who could have easily
gone in the top ten would be a tremendous win for the organization.
There are 19 players who are consensus top thirty. Charlie
McAvoy while ranked out of the top 20 is the last one to sneak onto the list.
The encouraging thing about this is that there were 44 players in total that
received top 30 consideration from these six scouting outlets, and that
certainly increases the value of the Leafs high second round pick. Someone like
Sean Day or Dmitri Sokolov who has seen their stock fall since the start of the
season would easily be available when the Leafs pick in the second, and it’s
highly likely that someone like Brett Howden or Chad Krys could slide as well.
The most interesting thing about draft rankings is the
constant movement. Last season I did some googling back to see how different
rankings were at the start of the season, the midpoint of the season, and
compared them to the final rankings from the couple of outlets I thought to do
this for. This season I’m attempting to be more proactive, as it’s interesting
to see how things change to more that is seen of each of these players.
It still shocks me that Alex DeBrincat hasn’t found his way
into the top ten lists of any scouting services, but you can see where he’s
slowly but surely climbing up the lists.
The Mississauga forwards Nylander and McLeod have certainly
benefited from exposure this season, while players like Asplund, Sokolov, and
Mattson have had scouts slowly fall out of love with them.
Here are a few of the changes we’ve seen so far this year…
So far this season nobody has published more rankings than
Hockeyprospect.com and it’s resulted in having ten new names on their list
since August, their new second overall moving up from the initial 8th
overall ranking, and DeBrincat going from unranked to 16th overall.
Nylander and McLeod were also initially out of their rankings but have moved up
to 13th and 14th overall respectively.
Max Jones who was initially a top five selection has slide
to 18th, and at one point Logan Brown dropped 23 spots in a month
before stabilizing at the bottom of the list.
None of this is a knock on the Hockeyprospect.com rankings,
which are actually the ones I most indentify with, but the monthly variance is
important to note as people often get accused of inflating value post World
Juniors, when it’s clear that these lists are in a constant state of evolution
throughout the year.
It also will help make sense of seemingly bizarre picks in
June, when someone on who looked to be a potential 3rd rounder goes
in the late first round, this monthly records will help identify that at one
point that player may have been considered much higher, and the team may have
done additional due diligence on that player to make them worth the risk over a
more consensus player.
Craig Button gets a lot of guff over his rankings, but I’ve
come to appreciate them a great deal. The fact that this is just one guy going
out and building a list himself while watching a ton of games is a unique
resource that TSN provides us with. The fact that Button also values puck
movement and scoring chances over grit and character also speaks to me.
The fact that Button’s list seems to be stabilizing rather
early is quite interesting, and makes me wonder what kind of impact the Canada
vs. Russia Series and World Junior announcements will have on his December
rankings, as these can often be significant modifiers.
Button was one of the first to buy in on Patrik Laine, and
Alexander Nylander, and he often goes against the grain on blue chip defensemen
so it’s not surprising to see that he’s losing interest in Chychrun and is one
of the biggest fans of Samuel Girard. He’s also the one of the first to include
Taylor Raddysh in his top 30, which may make him look rather smart in June as
it’s becoming clear that Erie is great at building offensive talent, and not
every point generated is because of Dylan Strome, or in last year’s case,
In September Future Considerations had a couple of names we
didn’t really see anywhere else. Nick Pastujov and Ryan Lindgren were quick to
fall off, but gave us some new names to keep an eye as not all of us devote the
same effort into tracking junior players.
October’s rankings gave us a few more familiar names, and November’s
list offers no real surprises, and the most consistent group with the previous
month with only DeBrincat replacing Brett Howden on the list.
ISS went the opposite route of Future Considerations, and
after being very consistent between their October and November rankings, their
December rankings added a number of new names at the bottom of the list,
completely reshuffled their top five, and had their most significant mover in
As one of the longer term independent scouting services, it’s
not surprising that the list has some significant differences, and commits
itself to less radical movement.
It’s also interesting that they have included Nathan
Bastian, who previously I had only seen touted as a potential first rounder by Tom
Hunter of Today’s Slapshot having said this about him…
“If Bastian continues to play the way he has through the
opening six games, we will likely see his name creep up the mid-season draft
rankings. The Steelheads are going to be an exciting team to watch this season
and Bastian is going to be a big part of it. Being led by four dynamic draft
eligible players you can bet the Hershey Centre is going to be crawling with
scouts all year.”
While he could be benefitting from scouts in Mississauga
there to watch McLeod, Nylander, and Day, Bastian was predicted by Hunter to be
a climber, and that’s exactly what’s starting to happen.
While not really a scouting service, MyNHLDraft.com has done
an excellent job of compiling draft data and turning it into something fun and
meaningful. They are already heavily influenced by consensus, and often
interpret team need when making their lists, but aren’t afraid to go against
the grain either.
You can see that in their higher than most ranking of
MyNHLDraft had a month of radical shifts with Gauthier,
Sergachyov, McLeod, Benson, Asplund, Steel, and DeBrincat all making
significant movement. It seems likely of all the groups used in the consensus
that MyNHLDraft is the most likely to be influenced by larger events like the
World Juniors and Top Prospect Game.
Anytime there’s something associated with Damien Cox you can
always expect a hot take or two. Sergachyov coming out of the honourable mentions
to jump into 8th spot is certainly one of them, the top five order
is somewhat unique as well, and the names Pascal Laberge and Simon Stransky
only appear on this list.
Since it’s only the second month of rankings, you can’t
really identify any trends forming, but Kieffer Bellows at 6th
overall is certainly something to keep an eye on as it’s entirely possible that
he could become much more of a high profile prospect following the World Junior
While criticizing something with Cox’s name on it seems apropos,
I’ve got a soft spot for any list that includes a higher number of WHL players
Now we wait for the marquee events to happen. We can expect
a sudden influx of European talent to start creeping into these lists, and awareness
for some of the Russians that truly fly under the radar.
We can expect a Bob McKenzie list, and probably a midterm
Corey Pronman list coming soon which will be added to the consensus rankings
and since those two lists are arguably the best ones out there, we can expect
the consensus to hold a lot of merit in the New Year.
We can also expect that there will be an increasing desire
in Leafs fans to know what’s going on with prospects. Right now, using the
standings and not factoring in any changes from the lottery or playoffs, the
Leafs would be picking 5th and 19th. Using the consensus
rankings that would give them Patrik Laine, and Kale Clague, so a talented
forward with size, and skilled defenseman. Not a bad outcome.