2016 NHL Draft: Improved Rankings

Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Most of the talk surrounding the 2016 NHL Draft next month is concerning the top players in the draft; rightfully so. The names Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujärvi, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Jakob Chychrun just to name a few, have been mentioned so commonly over the past few months that it feels like we have truly known them for a lot longer than that.

Every year in the later rounds, a few random teams get lucky and draft a real stud. Whether somebody was just underrated at the time, or the franchise has a superior development system, these steals do happen. For example, the 5th round of the 2010 draft saw Brendan Gallagher, Petr Mrazek and John Klingberg.

This article is designed to more or less look at players that probably won’t be drafted until the middle rounds, or even the late rounds, but nonetheless evidently are on the eyes of scouts all over the NHL. The NHL Central Scouting Services release rankings of the upcoming NHL draft prospects all over the hockey world throughout the year. The two most popular ones are the midterm rankings which came out in January, and the final rankings which came out in April.

Amazingly, in only a few months there are several players who jumped and fell from anywhere from a single digit number of spots to tens of spots to over a hundred spots. For a player to jump 130 spots in the rankings (which is an example that will be shown below) in only a few months, that goes to show that the scouts are watching. These are players that are important to watch for the years to come, to see if it’s a false alarm or if there is actually a promising reason that their NHL draft stock jumped so high.

To make the article more clear for those who are not aware, the NHL Central Scouting rankings are broken down into four main categories – North American Skaters, European Skaters, North American Goalies, and European Goalies. The continent-designated category isn’t where the players were born, but rather where they are currently playing. For example, Olli Juolevi (Born: Finland / Playing for: London Knights, OHL) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (Born: Canada / Playing for: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, QMJHL) would both be listed under North American Skaters. Meanwhile, Auston Matthews (Born: USA / Playing for: ZSC Lions, Switzerland) and Patrik Laine (Born: Finland / Playing for: Tappara) would both be listed under European skaters.

Below are five prospects for the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, NY, that didn’t necessarily have the five biggest ranking jumps of everyone, but more so five significant ones.

Photo: WHL.ca

Photo: WHL.ca

Matthew Phillips
Position: Centre
Age: 18
Birthplace: Calgary, AB, Canada
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 161lbs
Current Team: Victoria Royals (WHL)
Midterm Ranking: Unranked
Final Ranking: 81 - North American Skaters (130+ spot jump)



Matthew Phillips is a really interesting case. As seen every single year, legitimately
talented junior hockey players get passed over in their NHL draft year simply because of their
size. Having said that, it wouldn't be a surprise if all 30 teams were to pass on the 5'7"
forward.

Not being ranked in the top 210 North American Skaters could be related to size. But his game
has to have truly impressed enough scouts to have earned not only a rank, but a double digit
ranking. 

In the last 3 drafts, let's take a look at where the 81st ranked North American Skater was
selected:

2015: Chris Martenet (4th Round - 103rd Overall)
2014: Mitchel Slattery (Undrafted)
2013: Blake Heinrich (5th Round - 144th Overall)

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

For what it’s worth, Phillips had 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points in 26 games during the timespan between the Central Scouting’s midterm rankings where he wasn’t ranked in the top 210, and the final rankings where he was listed 81st in the category. With players in that area typically being middle round picks, it’s interesting to see how much of a factor his size will make. Being an offensive contributor at every level he’s played, let’s see how far Phillips can take this.


Photo: Stormhockey.com

Photo: Stormhockey.com

Wade Allison
Position: Right Wing
Age: 18
Birthplace: Carman, MB, Canada
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205
Current Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Midterm Ranking: 192 - North American Skaters
Final Ranking: 62 - North American Skaters (130 spot jump)

Wade Phillips, in only a week short of three months jumped up 130 spots from his midterm
ranking to his final ranking among North American Skaters.

Allison played for the Tri-City Storm this year, who won the Clark Cup Championship for the
United States Hockey League (USHL) 2015-16 season. With 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points
in 56 games played, Allison finished 2nd on the team in points and tied for 26th in the league
in points. More impressively, Allison was 2nd among all players in the USHL in points in the
playoffs with 9 goals and 7 assists for 16 points in 11 playoff games.

In the last 3 drafts, let's take a look at where the 62nd ranked North American Skater was
selected:

2015: David Cotton (6th Round - 169th Overall)
2014: Julien Pelletier (4th Round - 107th Overall)
2013: Sean Malone (6th Round - 159th Overall)

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

In the 12 weeks between the release of the midterm and final rankings, Allison recorded 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 22 games, while only being held to no points in a game five times in that same span. The most likely reason for his low midterm ranking was the fact that he only tallied 19 points in his first 34 games of the season.

At time of midterm ranking: 19 points in 34 games (0.56 Points per Game)
Between midterm and final rankings released: 28 points in 22 games (1.27 Points per Game)
After final rankings released: 16 points in 11 games (1.45 Points per Game)

Not to suggest that Allison would be an immediate impact for an NHL team on upcoming night this October, but whichever team that chooses to use one of their middle of the draft picks on Allison would be taking a chance on one of the most improved prospects of the 2016 NHL draft.


NHL Draft

Photo: Ontariohockeyleague.com

Cam Dineen
Position: Defence
Age:
17
Birthplace: Toms River, NJ, USA
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 183
Current Team: North Bay Battalion (OHL)
Midterm Ranking: 117 – North American Skaters
Final Ranking: 39 – North American Skaters (78 spot jump)

 

 

Cam Dineen might be the one with the most promising future to cover here. He continues to
prove any doubters wrong, and he’s been working hard to get where he is – but quietly.

Dineen actually isn’t a name that many people have heard often regarding the draft unless they
follow the North Bay Battalion. But did you know that in the regular season, he was ranked
2nd in points among all OHL defencemen? Or that among all OHL rookies regardless of position,
he finished 2nd in points only behind Alexander Nylander?

The blue liner was drafted 214th overall – in the 11th round of the 2014 Ontario Hockey League
priority selection (draft). For the 2014-15 season where he wouldn’t have made the North Bay
roster, he spent most of the season with the New Jersey Rockets (EHL) and some time with
the Tri-City Storm (USHL).

For the 2015-16 season, he made North Bay and quietly turned the heads of scouts. Offensive
ability is only one fraction of being a defenceman, so this isn’t suggesting that
he could stand with the “big 3” defenceman in the draft, but let’s take a look at how they
statistically compare:

NHL Draft
Lastwordsports believes that should Dineen continue to work on the holes in his defensive game such as improving his skating (speed and acceleration) and adding on some muscle, he has potential to become a top 4 blue liner on an NHL team. Here’s what they have to say about his game:

“The more you watch of Cam Dineen, the more you realize he thinks a game at a very high level.  He handles the puck with great poise, and sees openings in the defence to thread a pass to a teammate. Dineen quarterbacks things from the point on the powerplay, showing the ability to walk the line and to create passing and shooting lanes. He makes smart plays with the puck. In addition to being an excellent playmaker, Dineen has an absolute rocket of a shot, which he keeps low, and gets it on net providing opportunities for tip-ins and rebounds.” – Ben Kerr / Cam Dineen Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #48

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Dineen, who initially committed to go play college hockey at Yale University, decided that he felt it would be best for his development to go play for Stan Butler and his troops in the Ontario Hockey League.

In the last 3 drafts, let's take a look at where the 39th ranked North American Skater was
selected:

2015: Jack Roslovic (1st Round - 25th Overall)
2014: Hunter Smith (2nd Round - 54th Overall)
2013: Emile Poirier (1st Round - 22nd Overall)

After being ranked 117th among North American skaters, a position which would have a real possibility of seeing him be passed over in the draft, or taken very late at best, he scored 8 of his 13 regular season goals before the final rankings were published, which saw him shoot up to 39. In a best case scenario, he could actually hear his name called in the latter part of the first round. Otherwise, he would likely be a second round player which is still a giant improvement.


NHL Draft

Photo: CCHL

Colton Point
Position: Goalie
Age: 18
Birthplace: North Bay, ON, Canada
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220
Current Team: Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL)
Midterm Ranking: 17th - North American Goalies
Final Ranking: 4th - North American Goalies (13 spot jump)

Colton Point was the starting goaltender for the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central
Canada Hockey League (CCHL). For those of you who don't know, the CCHL is a Junior A league
which comprises of teams in Eastern Ontario. The CCHL, which was founded in 1961, last saw
a player of theirs drafted into the NHL in the 7th round of the 2014 draft (which was Kelly
Summers, also playing for Carleton Place). Having said that, they do have NHL alumni that once
played in the CCHL or under their former name - CJHL, including Steve Yzerman, Wayne Simmonds,
Martin St. Louis, and Larry Robinson.

Well this year, the CCHL is likely to see another player of theirs hear his name called on
draft day - Colton Point.

The 6'4" goaltender started in 33 of 62 regular season games for Carleton Place, who finished
the season 43-16-3, as well as in all 16 playoff games on route to their 2016 championship.

Point finished his rookie season with an impressive 2.16 GAA and .915 Save Percentage in the
regular season, and an even better 1.82 GAA and .933 Save Percentage in the playoffs. The
Canadians then went on to represent the CCHL in the Fred Page Cup, where they defeated the
Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League to be titled Canadian Junior Hockey
League champions. Starting in all four tournament games, Point finished with a 4-0-0 record,
2.00 GAA and .902 Save Percentage.
Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Despite some very impressive statistics, the concern for many would likely be his level of competition this year. Having said that, there is something about him that blew the minds of scouts that took him from a likely passed on goalie to the consensus fourth best draft prospect goalie playing in this continent.

In the last 3 drafts, let's take a look at where the 4th ranked North American Goalie was
selected:

2015: Adin Hill (3rd Round - 76th Overall)
2014: Alex Nedeljkovic (2nd Round - 37th Overall)
2013: Calvin Petersen (5th Round - 129th Overall)

As you can see from the numbers, the draft spot of a goaltender ranked at the same position
can definitely vary several rounds based on the need of goaltenders in a specific year. I
would expect Point to be towards the lower end based on competition this year, but i'm
curious to see how the scouts value him in the draft after shooting his draft stock up so high.
Point is committed to play college hockey at Colgate University starting this fall.

Photo: mhl.khl.ru

Photo: mhl.khl.ru

Artur Kayumov
Position: Left Wing
Age: 18
Birthplace: Podgorny, Russia
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 154
Current Team: Team Russia U-18 (MHL)
Midterm Ranking: 49 - European Skaters
Final Ranking: 14 - European Skaters (35 spot jump)



Artur Kayumov is ranked by the NHL Central Scouting as the 14th best draft prospect that
has played in Europe this year behind notable names like Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and
Jesse Puljujarvi. While NHL teams will hope Kayumov still has some room to grow, he will also
definitely be pushed to add some muscle, only standing at 5'10" and 154lbs. 

Through 40 games played, the Russian U-18 team sits atop the Center Division of the Western
Conference in the 2015-16 MHL season with a 25-1-1-2-2-9 record (W, OTW, SOW, SOL, OTL, L).

In the regular season, Kayumov's 31 points in 39 games was good enough to lead his team in
points.

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

Photo: Eliteprospects.com

It will be interesting to see how much of an impact this will make, but Kayumov was set to head to Grand Forks for the 2016 IIHF World U-18 Championships, when the entire team had to be replaced as roughly 80% of the team tested positive for meldonium. According to The Globe and Mail, it’s not a drug that the NHL tests for yet, and it’s believed to say in a persons’ system for a few months, so it is possible that they stopped giving players this drug before the ban was put in place.

In the last 3 drafts, let's take a look at where the 14th ranked European Skater was
selected:

2015: Roope Hintz (2nd Round - 49th Overall)
2014: Juho Lammikko (3rd Round - 65th Overall)
2013: Viktor Rydberg (5th Round - 136th Overall)

Kayumov is not the only European skater who drastically improved in the rankings. Aapeli
Rasanen (Tappara Jr./Finland) rose from the 85th spot to 21, Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr./Finland)
rose from unranked to ranked 31.

These are only five of many players who worked hard to improve their rankings in only a matter
of a few months. It can't be said which players are a "steal" until several years after the
draft takes place, but should these players continue to improve at a high rate... some teams
may be lucky in a few years.

The National Hockey League's 54th Entry Draft will take place from June 24th to June 25th,
2016. The home of the Buffalo Sabres, the First Niagara Centre in Buffalo, NY, USA will be the
host venue. The first pick in the draft belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and barring any
trades, your Montreal Canadiens will be selecting 9th overall.

Ticket information: 2016 NHL Draft - First Niagara Center
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