2016 NHL Draft: 20 Potential Gems

Cole Candella emerged as Hamilton's #1 defender. With 20 points in 37, he's on the cusp of an offensive breakout | Photo: Brandon Taylor, Hamilton Bulldogs

Cole Candella emerged as Hamilton’s #1 defender. With 20 points in 37, he’s on the cusp of an offensive breakout. | Photo: Brandon Taylor, Hamilton Bulldogs

The 2016 NHL Draft begins tonight! Beyond the 9th, 39th, and 45th overall selections, the Montreal Canadiens also possess the 70th, 100th, 126th, and 160th picks in the draft.

This article covers 20 potential gems that could be available after the second round. All of these picks are some of my favourite prospects in the draft class.

My draft board for the 9th overall pick: Click here.
Potential options for the 39th and 45th overall picks: Click here.

Prospect Profiles

J.D. Greenway
LD | 6’5″ 205 | USNTDP
USHL: 25G 2G 8A 10P | USNTDP Total: 64GP 5G 23A 28P

Playing on a pair with Adam Fox, and usually sharing the ice with Joey Anderson, Clayton Keller, and Kieffer Bellows, Greenway spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. Despite the beneficial situation and the flashes of high-end skill, Greenway failed to make a mark on the scoresheet. At 6’5″, Greenway is an imposing figure on the ice and he makes sure the opposition knows it. The highly mobile defender has decent defensive fundamentals, but has a tendency for making crippling mistakes.

Just as common as these defensive mistakes are flashes of brilliance. Greenway has a nifty set of hands, a decently powerful shot, and occasionally good vision. If these tools can come together more consistently, Greenway could be a tremendous pick.

Matthew Phillips
C | 5’7″ 161 | Victoria Royals (WHL)
Regular Season: 72GP 37G 39A 76P | Playoffs: 13G 5G 3A 8P

The WHL’s Rookie of the Year this season was top-20 in league scoring. He’s a constantly noticeable player thanks to his high-end puck skills and elite edge work. He’s a tremendous goalscorer who competes for every inch that he gets, and an equally deadly playmaker who makes high-difficulty passes look easy. Dynamic is the first word that comes to mind when describing Phillips.

Unfortunately Phillips’s height could see him slip out of the draft altogether.

Brinson Pasichnuk
LD | 5’10” 185 | Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL)
Regular Season: 52GP 20G 45A 65P | Playoffs: 4GP 1G 2A 3P

This year’s AJHL Defenceman of the Year put up an outstanding season. A high-end offensive threat, Pasichnuk often plays his offside so he can unload his absolute rocket for a shot. Possessing separation speed and rapid acceleration, Pasichnuk explodes up the ice, which he loves to do as often as possible. He’s a great puck mover, with a set of hands akin to a playmaking forward. Furthermore, Pasichnuk is a big-time open-ice hitter, but must become more disciplined.

There two concerns with Pasichnuk: (1) Defensive play, as his aggressive style can cause him to be out of position, and (2) development, as he’s committed the new Arizona State University hockey team. For some team, surely his high-end offensive game will be enough to outweigh the drawbacks.

Oskar Steen
RW/C | 5’9″ 188 | Farjestad J20 (SuperElit)
Regular Season: 33GP 8G 24A 32P

A highly-talented, intelligent player, Steen played 17 games in the SHL, racking up 6 points in the process. He’s not explosive or particularly fast, but he always appears one step ahead of the play. He does a great job finding open ice and exploiting it. Steen is a legitimate medium-range threat due to his sniper’s shot, but is even better playmaker. He recognizes lanes with ease.

Steen is a solid defensive player who excels during forecheck and backcheck, although he can have some problems with his positioning. Overall, a solid complimentary player with room to grow.

Will Lockwood
RW | 5’11” 172 | USNTDP
USHL: 20GP 3G 3A 6P | USNTDP: 59GP 13G 20A 33P

The statistics certainly aren’t impressive, but Lockwood’s long-term potential could be decently high. A true speedster with a relentless motor, Lockwood is constantly involved in the action. He loves to engage physically, throwing crushing hits and hunting down the puck. Around the net, he’s a decent finisher, who wrapped up the year in excellent fashion at the U18s. Lockwood has a good level of playmaking ability, too. Every now and then, Lockwood will complete a flashy deke. If he can get improve his stickhandling slightly, he could take his game to the next level.

Lockwood has a tendency to force plays. Although solid defensively, as a player who projects as a third-liner, improvements there are needed.

Alan Lyszczarczyk
C | 5’10” 184 | Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Regular Season: 67GP 17G 33A 50P

A dual US-Polish citizen who played his minor hockey in the Czech Republic before signing with the Sudbury Wolves, Lyszczarczyk is a a truly unique story. A powerful skater with a grinder’s mentality, Lyszczarczyk loves to play in the tough areas of the ice. Not a true high-skill player, but certainly an intelligent player who managed to thrive in the offensive wasteland that is Sudbury. Lyszczarczyk is best as a playmaker, where he’s able to utilize his strong support play and excellent puck protection ability to maintain possession until spotting a lane.

Lyszczarczyk is average in quite a few facets–size, defensive play, goalscoring ability–but he’s player who I see as becoming a solid professional player.

Dmitry Sokolov
LW/C | 5’11” 205 | Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Regular Season: 68GP 30G 22A 52P

Once seen as a potential top-10 pick, Sokolov is this year’s biggest faller. Sokolov is a high-end, perhaps elite-level shooter with a deceptive release that begins with his blade facing perpendicular to net, and overwhelming power. He owns a flashy set of hands, although he likes to keep the puck tight to his body instead of putting it through defenders. An underrated playmaker, Sokolov can complete difficult passes fairly often.

Sokolov showed great progression this year, improving his skating, defensive game, and intensity substantially. And he did this while playing the entire season with a continually dislocated shoulder. There were initially concerns about his conditioning, but he worked hard to shed nearly 15 pounds over the course of the season. A true high-risk, high-reward pick.

Linus Weissbach
LW/C/RW | 5’9″ 154 | Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit)
Regular Season: 44GP 17G 31A 48P | Playoffs: 3GP 1G 1A 2P

One of the top players in the J20 SuperElit this season, Weissbach brings a high-energy and high-skill game. After an injury late in the season, Weissbach missed his opportunity to return to the International stage. He’s one of the fastest players in the draft class, with ridiculous acceleration. Combining his feet with quick hands, Weissbach is able to dangle and maneuver around the ice. Don’t be fooled by his size, Weissbach is a physical player with a tendency to launch himself into players. He’s a slippery playmaker and a decent goalscorer.

Weissbach has options for next season. He could return to the Frölunda’s system, but there’s a good chance he might end up in the J20 again. However, he was also selected by the Tri-City Storm in  the USHL Phase II Draft.

Maxime Fortier
RW/C | 5’10” 176 | Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Regular Season: 68GP 31G 46A 77P

One of the top scoring CHL first-time draft-eligibles this season, and Fortier did it without much help. A well-rounded offensive threat, Fortier owns a quick shot, scorer’s mentality around the net, and decent vision. Fortier’s skating in open ice looks clumsy, but he always finds another gear to suddenly blow past the opposition. He does have a tendency to make turnovers and waste possession. His intensity and scoring ability will be what get him drafted.

Artur Kayumov
LW | 5’10” 154 | Team Russia U18 (MHL)
Regular Season: 39GP 12G 19A 31P | Playoffs: 3GP 0G 1A 1P

A high-skill winger with a dynamic game. Kayumov is a flashy stickhandler with a choppy stride and strong edges. His shiftiness allows him to maintain possession for extended periods of time. Armed with a nasty set of one-on-one moves, Kayumov dances through and around defenders with ease. He might not be a particularly great shooter, but he does a good job finishing in tight. At his best as a distributor, Kayumov locates his targets and usually connects with them, not matter the density of the traffic in between.

Improving the little details, such as positioning, getting his stick in the right lanes, timing shots are all in need of improvement, but the puck magician clearly one of the most skilled options outside the top-30.

Patrick Bajkov
LW/RW | 6’0″ 181 | Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Regular Season: 71GP 18G 28A 46P | Playoffs: 9GP 2G 2A 4P

Once glance at this late-’97’s statistics and he probably doesn’t even look draft-worthy. However, Bajkov has managed to combine his high-skill game with Everett’s rigid system to become one of their top players. A breakout out wizard, Bajkov loves to carry the puck from his own all the way to the opposition’s net. Although he’s doesn’t create his own space as well as he could, he’s a master of exploiting little areas. With nasty hands and an accurate shot, Bajkov is a decent sniper who can really score at the top of the hashmarks. He has improved his playmaking to the point where it might be as good as his goalscoring.

Bajkov lacks a separation gear, but did improve his defensive game. Previously a tad apprehensive in the corners, Bajkov is now consistently winning battles.

Riley Stillman
LD | 6’0″ 181 | Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Regular Season: 62GP 6G 15A 21P | Playoffs: 5GP 0G 0A 0P

Stillman was one of the OHL’s most improved players from start to finish this season. Stillman is a relatively good skater with great lateral movement and decent top-end speed. He was initially known for a his massive open-ice hits and aggressive physical play, but has since significantly improved his stick work and positional play. He makes life miserable for the opposition.

The offensive side of Stillman’s game is still growing. He’s excellent on the breakout, but his in-zone offence needs a bit of work. He has the tools though, possessing excellent vision on the powerplay and booming shot that he does a decent job getting on net.

Nicholas Caamano
RW | 6’1″ 183 | Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Regular Season: 64GP 20G 17A 37P

Perhaps on a different team Caamano’s season would’ve been far more successful. After a slow start, Caamano’s skating improved significantly. Now he’s fairly explosive with good agility despite an awkward stride. Caamano is a strong positional player who does a great job finding open ice. He’s not a noteworthy playmaker, but his shot and down-low finishing are above-average. In his own zone, Caamano does a great job cutting out lanes.

The biggest problem with Caamano is confidence. Currently, Caamano might not be a draft pick, but given time he could become an NHL forward. He’s the type of player that could become a big junior scorer as soon as next season.

Jesper Bratt
LW | 5’10” 171 | AIK (Allsvenskan)
Regular Season: 48GP 8G 9A 17P

One of the most impressive prospects to come out of the Allsvenskan in recent years. With explosive acceleration and soft hands, Bratt can change the game in one shift. He’s a highly elusive player with a deft playmaking ability. Although he’s a decent scorer, he will have to improve his shot to score from the same areas in the NHL. A solid defensive player, Bratt picks up his assignments and diligently backchecks.

Tim Gettinger
LW | 6’5″ 200 | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Regular Season: 60GP 17G 22A 39P | Playoffs: 12G 1G 3A 4P

One of the perplexing players in the draft class, Gettinger is a 6’5″ with legitimately good puck skills. With soft hands and improving edge work, Gettinger can deke around defenders, often in highlight-reel fashion. He’s an excellent penalty killer, who was often the first 5-on-3 option.

Despite having great hands, Gettinger doesn’t have much in the way of a standout offensive ability. He’s not a great finisher, nor a great playmaker. He shows flashes, but it’s clear that Gettinger is a long-term investment.

Nikolak Krag Christensen
C/LW | 6’3″ 201 | Rødovre Mighty Bulls (Denmark)
Regular Season: 30GP 2G 2A 4P

Impressive at international tournaments, Christensen also played 30 games in the top-tier of Danish hockey. He plays an aggressive, puck-hounding game that is complimented by his hockey sense and anticipation. He’s a flashy stickhandler with a knack for distributing in tight areas. He’s a decent shooter, with a deceptive release. Defensive game is consistently good, but he does have a tendency to puck chase.

He strikes me as a player who, if he adds a bit more speed, could become exponentially better.

Lucas Carlsson
LD | 6’0″ 190 | Brynäs IF (SHL)
Regular Season: 35GP 4G 5A 9P | Playoffs: 3GP 0G 2A 2P

A draft re-entry, Carlsson should hear his name called this season. He was a luxury bottom-pairing defender for Brynäs IF this season. A great transitional player, Carlsson is a more than capable puck mover and rusher. He shows no hesitation with the puck. In the offensive zone, he’s a pinpoint passer with a hard shot. His in-zone play is complimented with a set of soft hands that allow him to evade pressure.

He has some improvements to make in his own zone, but he’s always competing for every inch of ice. Will never be a bruiser, but does a solid job getting his stick in lanes.

Ben Gleason
LD | 6’0″ 165 | Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Regular Season: 66GP 7G 26A 33P

An early trade from London to Hamilton set the stage for Gleason’s breakout season. Once known for his defensive prowess, Gleason has since become an offensive defender. He is a smooth skater with a great top-end gear. He loves to carry the puck out himself, and will actually challenge players instead of heading to open ice. Once in possession, Gleason’s playmaking ability and shooting give him plenty of options for distribution.

Defensive play will need some improvement, but he doesn’t play poor defence. The majority of his trouble comes from trying to do too much. He is good at angling out forwards and getting his stick in lanes.

Cole Candella
LD | 6’1″ 185 | Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Regular Season: 37GP 4G 16A 20P

When Justin Lemcke went down with injury, Candella became the de facto #1 on Hamilton, before succumbing to injury himself. He’s well-rounded defender who is on the cusp of an offensive breakout. With a booming shot and the evasive ability to activate off the blue line, with a little bit more selfishness, he could be a scorer. He’s also a quality passer from his own zone and an impressive puck rusher.

He’s no-nonsense defender who shuts down lanes with ease, has good positioning, and tracks the puck well. He also has a physical side to his game, as he loves the catching forwards with their head down along the left wall at the blue line. While he might not have any standout trait, he’s on the verge of taking every element to the next level.

Axel Jonsson Fjallby
LW | 6’0″ 170 | Djurgärdens IF J20 (SuperElit)
Regular Season: 39GP 13G 16A 29P | Playoffs: 7GP 4G 4A 8P

A high-energy winger for Djurgärdens IF J20, Jonsson Fjallby really impressed late in the season. He’s a speedster with occasional bursts of separation speed. He forechecks with intensity and physicality, but also does a good job stealing pucks and intercepting passes. Jonsson Fjallby is a quality support player a sneaky playmaker at full speed.

Not a true space creator, Jonsson Fjallby instead thrives when space is given to him. This makes his projection as a complimentary player.

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