2016 NHL Draft: Matthews begins season as top prospect in ISS Hockey rankings

By ISS
Jakob Chychrun - Sarnia Sting

Photo: Sarnia Sting defenseman and 2016 prospect Jakob Chychrun is considered to be the top defensive prospect available for the 2016 NHL Draft (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

 

 

He missed being eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft by two days, but that may have been to Auston Matthews benefit as he enters the 2015-16 season as the top-ranked prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft according to ISS Hockey.

After competing for the U.S National Team Development Program the past two seasons, the Arizona-born Matthews took the unusual step of heading to Europe to play for the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s top league, the National League A, this season. The move looks like a wise one so far for the talented forward, with Matthews posting four goals and two assists in six games in the early going.

ISS Hockey Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis didn’t hold back in his praise of Matthews at this early juncture.

“Matthews never slows down”, said MacInnis. “This kid is magic. His hockey sense and the way he can react on developing game situations is advanced. He has exceptional overall skills.”

The race to the top of the 2015 rankings was a two-horse race, with forwards Connor McDavid, the eventual first overall pick, and Jack Eichel sharing the limelight from start to finish last season. It remains to be seen if that scenario will play out this time around, but Sarnia Sting defenseman Jakob Chychrun hopes to make the choice a difficult one for whichever team ends up with the first selection overall.

The 6’2″, 214-pound Chychrun had his season shortened by injury in 2014-15, but he is off to a healthy start this season for the Sting. In five games for that OHL club, Chychrun has posted a goal and three assists in early action.

The OHL is the home of the third-ranked prospect in ISS Hockey’s October rankings, one of two consecutive prospects from the perennially contending London Knights. Forward Max Jones impressed at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game last month, displaying a combination of skill and power forward capabilities that should make him a very intriguing prospect over the course of this season. Offensively, it has been a slow start for Jones, who has posted one assist in four games, but it should only be a matter of time until his output matches his effort.

One Knights player who is off to a strong start in 2015-16, and the fourth-ranked player on this list, is forward Matthew Tkachuk. The 6’1″, 195-pound Tkachuk is currently leading the OHL in scoring with two goals and 10 points in four games, and seems primed to produce a strong first season in the OHL.

A couple of large forwards from Finland fill the next two spots in the ISS draft rankings. Karpat winger Jesse Puljujarvi began the 2015-16 season with Karpat’s Liiga squad after splitting time between that team, Mestis club Hokki, and Karpat’s U20 squad last season. Puljujarvi has scored two goals and registered three points in nine games this season.

Another Finn beginning the season in Liiga after getting a taste of life in his country’s top league last season is forward Patrik Laine. The 6’4″, 209-pound Laine plays for Tappara, where he seems to have fit in nicely to start the season. In nine games for that club, Laine has posted four goals and six points, placing him among the top 5 scorers in Liiga in early action. Laine is ranked sixth by ISS.

The first QMJHL player to appear among the top 2016 prospects, and the seventh-ranked prospect per ISS, is Julien Gauthier of the Val d’Or Foreurs. The 6’4″, 225-pound Gauthier is another of the big bodies that populate this Top 10, but there is also some skill to go along with the size. Gauthier has potted seven goals in eight games, tying him for third in the leqgue that category.

The BCHL doesn’t often place players among the top 10, but they may well have a prospect this season that will go the distance in the upper echelon of the 2016 crop. Penticton Vees defenseman Dante Fabbro is ranked eighth to start the season, and he is in fact one of two Vees to make this first Top 30 list (forward Tyson Jost is the other, at #18). Fabbro isn’t quite the behemoth that some of the other top prospects are, but he has enough size and skill to be considered one of the top defenders in this year’s draft. In eight games for the Vees, Fabbro has netted three goals and totaled 10 points to start the season.

The OHL gobbles up the final two slots in the October Top 10 (as well as the two slots after that), with Mississauga Steelheads forward Michael McLeod holding down the ninth position. The skilled center, the first pivot on this list, has scored a goal and added five assists in five games after a rookie season in which he produced 29 points in 63 games.

Sitting in the tenth slot is Windsor Spitfires center Logan Brown. The 6’6″, 222-pound Brown is off to a good start this season, having posted one goal and five assists in three games. Brown had a solid OHL rookie season in 2014-15, posting 17 goals and 43 points in 56 games for the Spitfires.

The top-ranked goaltender according to ISS is Evan Sarthou of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. Sarthou was the goaltender for Team USA’s gold medal squad at the 2015 U18 World Championship. He has posted a 1-1-1-0 record in early WHL action this season, posting a 4.97 goals-against average and a .819 save percentage.

Below are the Top 30 prospects for the 2016 NHL Draft as ranked by ISS Hockey for October, 2015.

 

Rank

Player

Position

Birth

Shot

Height

Weight

Team

League

1

Matthews, Auston

RW

9/17/1997

L

6.01.5

194

Zurich ZSC

SuiA

2

Chychrun, Jakob

LD

3/31/1998

L

6.02

215

Sarnia

OHL

3

Jones, Max

LW

2/17/1998

L

6.03

205

London

OHL

4

Tkachuk, Matthew

LW

12/11/1997

L

6.01.25

195

London

OHL

5

Puljujarvi, Jesse

RW

5/7/1998

R

6.03

198

Karpat

FinE

6

Laine, Patrik

LW

4/19/1998

R

6.04

209

Tappara

FinE

7

Gauthier, Julien

RW

10/15/1997

R

6.03.5

225

Val-d’Or

QMJHL

8

Fabbro, Dante

RD

6/20/1998

R

6.00.25

189

Penticton

BCHL

9

McLeod, Michael

C

2/3/1998

R

6.02.25

188

Mississauga

OHL

10

Brown, Logan

C

3/5/1998

L

6.06

222

Windsor

OHL

11

Nylander, Alexander

RW

3/2/1998

R

6.00.5

179

Mississauga

OHL

12

Sergachev, Mikhail

RD

6/25/1998

L

6.02.5

206

Windsor

OHL

13

Dubois, Pierre-Luc

LW

6/24/1998

L

6.02.5

202

Cape Breton

QMJHL

14

Sokolov, Dmitry

LW

4/14/1998

L

5.11.25

220

Sudbury

OHL

15

Juolevi, Olli

LD

5/5/1998

L

6.02.5

179

London

OHL

16

Clague, Kale

LD

6/5/1998

L

5.11.75

177

Brandon

WHL

17

Benson, Tyler

LW

3/15/1998

L

5.11.75

201

Vancouver

WHL

18

Jost, Tyson

RW

3/14/1998

L

5.11

191

Penticton

BCHL

19

Bellows, Kieffer

C

6/10/1998

L

6.00

196

NTDP USA Under-18

USHL

20

Steel, Sam

C

2/3/1998

L

5.11

177

Regina

WHL

21

Keller, Clayton

C

7/29/1998

L

5.09.5

168

NTDP USA Under-18

USHL

22

Knierim, William

RW

1/22/1998

R

6.02.5

207

Dubuque

USHL

23

Abramov, Vitalii

LW

5/8/1998

L

5.08.75

172

Gatineau

QMJHL

24

Makinen, Otto

C

5/21/1998

L

6.00.5

178

Tappara

FinJrA

25

Krys, Chad

LD

4/10/1998

L

5.11

185

NTDP USA Under-18

USHL

26

Howden, Brett

LW

3/29/1998

L

6.02.25

193

Moose Jaw

WHL

27

Kunin, Luke

RW

12/4/1997

R

5.10.75

188

Wisconsin

BigTen

28

Asplund, Rasmus

C

12/3/1997

L

5.10.5

176

Farjestad

SweJE

29

Hajek, Libor

LD

2/4/1998

L

6.02

185

Saskatoon

WHL

30

Malenstyn, Beck

C

2/4/1998

L

6.01.75

191

Calgary

WHL

         
         

Goalies

        
         

1

Sarthou, Evan

G

9/24/1997

L

6.01

186

Tri-City

WHL

2

Fitzpatrick, Evan

G

1/28/1998

L

6.02.5

222

Sherbrooke

QMJHL