NHL Draft 2016: First round picks and trade grades

Here’s a recap of all of the action that went on in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft on Friday in Buffalo.

A ton of action went on at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo for the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. There were a lot of unexpected moves as teams reached to hopefully make their futures a little bit brighter. Trades were made and picks were called.

Listed below are the draft picks and their grades.


Auston Matthews

Center, ZSA Lions

Toronto gets an excellent center who should be the face of the franchise. GRADE: A+

Patrik Laine

Wing, Finland

Winnipeg finally has a very skilled wing to put alongside one of their underrated centers. Laine is arguably the best goal scorer in the draft. GRADE: A+

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Center/Wing, Canada

Yes, Columbus needs to replace Ryan Johansen. But Dubois was an off the board pick. Jesse Puljujarvi is a much better prospect. GRADE: D+

Jesse Puljujarvi

Wing, Finland

Oilers were very wise here. Easy to go after a defenseman, but the Oilers went with logic and got another extremely skilled forward. Should make trading for a defenseman much easier. GRADE: A

Olli Juolevi

Defenseman, London Knights

Matthew Tkachuk would have been a better pick, but the Canucks have many needs. Their blue line is one of them. Juolevi could be something special, so it’s a very justifiable decision. GRADE: B 

Matthew Tkachuk

Wing, London Knights

Oh man is it going to be fun to watch Johnny Gaudreau and Tkachuk share the ice. GRADE: A

Clayton Keller

Center/Wing, USA

Keller is a very skilled forward who put up impressive totals with the USA NDTP. He should benefit from going to Boston University. There were some safer picks here, but Arizona went for upside. GRADE: B+

Alexander Nylander

Wing, Sweden

Tad bit surprising to see Buffalo not get a defenseman here, but it’s hard to argue with drafting a guy as skilled as Alexander Nylander. With his brother William playing for the Maple Leafs, the Buffalo-Toronto rivalry just heated up. GRADE: A-

Mikhail Sergachev

Defenseman, Russia

Sergachev goes a tad bit higher than expected, but he has a ton of upside. GRADE: B-

Tyson Jost

Center, Canada

Dominated in the BCHL, which isn’t quite the OHL, WHL, or even QMJHL, but still, an impressive player. GRADE: B+

Logan Brown

Center, USA

A huge center who has excellent hands. His skill is still developing, but he should be at worst a decent NHL center even in a worst case scenario. Points get docked for trading up a spot to get him. Likely still would’ve been there. GRADE: B

Michael McLeod

Center, USA

McLeod is a bit of a reach here judging by draft rankings, but he has a lot of offensive upside. Love this pick for the Devils because they need to add a lot of skill to their lineup. McLeod should do that. GRADE: A-

Jake Bean

Defenseman, Canada

Carolina was expected to go with a forward here, but with the run at forwards, there were a number of better blue line prospects available. GRADE: B+

Charles McAvoy

Defenseman, USA

Bruins needed to draft a defenseman and they lucked out a bit by that run of forwards earlier. McAvoy’s unique skill set should be one coveted by other teams. GRADE: B+

Luke Kunin

Center, USA

Bit of a reach here with the talented young defensemen still available, but Kunin has the kind of skill set that Bruce Boudreau should love. Much more of a need pick than a best player available pick. GRADE: C+

Jakob Chychrun

Defenseman, Canada

Could be the steal of the first round, as many believed him to be a top 10 pick. Arizona is quickly building an impressive blue line over the past few weeks. GRADE: A

Dante Fabbro

Defenseman, Canada

A very nice get for the Predators, who replace Seth Jones with a very talented offensive defenseman who draws comparisons to Duncan Keith. GRADE: B+

Logan Stanley

Defenseman, Canada

Quite a reach here. Stanley is a huge defenseman and has potential, but he should take a while to pan out and there were wiser picks to be made here. And they traded up to do it. GRADE: F

Kieffer Bellows

Forward, United States

After a run of forwards earlier, there was a run of defensemen. Islanders benefit from that, grabbing a power forward who probably should have gone in the top 20. GRADE: A-

Dennis Cholowski

Defenseman, Canada

Detroit’s pipeline really needed a defenseman and they got a unique one in Cholowski. Excellent puck mover who is confident in his own zone. Defensive positioning still needs work and he’ll have to fill out his frame. That said, definitely a reach without question. GRADE: C- 

Julien Gauthier

Defenseman, Canada

Gauthier gives the Hurricanes a potential future 20 to 30 goal scorer. Huge body who is physical and knows where to go to score: the net. Should be a great fit in Carolina. GRADE: B+

German Rubstov

Center, Russia

The Russian center fell a bit in the draft and the Flyers are the beneficiaries. Good two-way player with offensive upside. Bit weird to see them not grab Max Jones here, but fine pick. GRADE: B

Henrik Borgstrom

Forward, Finland

Huge off the board pick here. Panthers get a very solid two-way forward who shot up draft rankings. Time will tell if this was the right pick, but with so many good players available, this is a questionable at best pick. GRADE: D+

Max Jones

Wing, USA

Jones was thought by many to be a borderline top 15 pick and at least a top 20 pick. Ducks get a huge physical wing who is a well-rounded scorer and a better player than his 52 points in 64 games suggests because he played behind Matthew Tkachuk. GRADE: A 

Riley Tufte

Wing, USA

Tufte is a nice blend of size and skill. He is a project, but his upside is sky high. Of course, he also has a very low floor and could be a bust. GRADE: B

Tage Thompson

Center, USA

Thompson is a big forward and certainly has skill. What is concerning is that most of his production came on the power play at the University of Connecticut. GRADE: D

Brett Howden

Center, Canada

Versatile forward who has nice size (6’2″). Has potential to be 20 goal scorer in the NHL, but defense needs work. GRADE: B- 

Lucas Johansen

Defenseman, Canada

Brother of Ryan Johansen of the Nashville Predators. Caps love Kelowna Rockets defensemen. Johansen had 49 points in 69 games. Great skater for his size (6’2″) GRADE: B  

Trent Frederic

Center, USA

Definitely a reach pick here. Was barely a top 40 prospect. A project player. Don Sweeney with another head scratcher. That’s becoming a concerning trend. GRADE: D+

Sam Steel

Forward, Canada

Raw player but he is an excellent skater. Above average playmaker who is very shifty. GRADE: C+

Several trades were made. They are listed and graded below.

Capitals Get
F Lars Eller
Canadiens Get
2017 2nd round pick
2018 second round pick

Both teams get what they want. Capitals get a skilled center/wing and the Canadiens get two second round picks for a player that was never a fit under Habs head coach Michel Therrien.

Blackhawks Get
2016 39th pick
2016 45th pick
Canadiens Get
F Andrew Shaw

Montreal did well in the Eller trade, but this one makes little sense. Two second round picks for a player who struggled to produce alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa? That’s bad. Meanwhile, Chicago gets much desired cap space and draft picks.

Blues Get
2016 35th pick
Flames Get
G Brian Elliott

Blues sold a bit low on Elliott and the Flames fixed their biggest need for a reasonable price considering that everyone knew that they wanted a goaltender. Take a bow, Calgary.

Ottawa really liked Logan Brown, but the Devils likely weren’t going to go after him. Still, a third round pick isn’t that terrible of a thing to lose if you get the player that you want.

Without a doubt the biggest surprise of the night. Red Wings didn’t have to give up much to get rid of Datsyuk’s cap hit. Might Detroit make a run at Steven Stamkos now?

The Jets traded up to draft defenseman Logan Stanley. A bit baffling considering how many didn’t have Stanley as a top 20 draft pick or even a top 25. Flyers did well in this trade.

Capitals pick up a third round pick, which helps them replenish the third rounder they gave up for T.J. Oshie last offseason. The Blues selected Tage Thompson with this pick. Capitals selected defenseman Lucas Johansen.

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