21. Carolina Hurricanes (from LAK) (Cory Lavalette) – Julien Gauthier, RW, Val d’Or Foreurs
The Carolina Hurricanes already have Michael McLeod in the fold with their first pick, so they may look to use this pick as collateral for an NHL player. But if they decide to make the selection, Julien Gauthier would give them more size and skill up front. Gauthier is, plainly put, a monster on the wing. Some have concerns based on his lack of assists this past season (just 16), but his 41 goals should ease their worries. He won’t be a physical, Milan Lucic-type, but he will put the puck in the net and be a handful for defenders.
22. Winnipeg Jets (from CHI) (Devin Slawson) – Samuel Girard, D, Shawinigan Cataractes
While this pick could be viewed as a reach given the fact that Samuel Girard seems to be ranked solidly as a second round choice, he was one of the top offensive defensemen in his age group during the 2015-16 season. Girard doesn’t possess ideal size for an NHL defenseman, but neither did Pittsburgh defensive stalwart Kris Letang when he was drafted in 2005. Girard has a good two-way game, but he is particularly effective on offense due to above-average skating ability and a strong hockey IQ. The Jets arent blessed with great organizational depth at defense, so Girard will add a potential power play QB to the mix.
23. Florida Panthers (Chris Roberts) – Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw Warriors
With an impressive group of young defensemen (despite dealing Erik Gudbranson), the Florida Panthers opt to improve their depth down the middle, taking center Brett Howden with the 23rd pick overall. Florida has plenty of center prospects, but none are sure things and Howden would immediately become their best forward prospect outside of Lawson Crouse. Howden, whose brother Quinton is with the Panthers organization, opened a few eyes with both a solid second half and a good showing at the U18 World Championship.
24. Anaheim Ducks (Jason Lewis) – Rasmus Asplund, C, Farjestad
One could simply say “Because Sweden“, and that would probably suffice. The Anaheim Ducks love their Swedes. But the choice of Rasmus Asplund has more to do with the Ducks current lack of a real creative offensive center behind Ryan Getzlaf. With an aging Ryan Kesler and a very thin center group in the pipeline, the Ducks have to start looking for a potential 2C replacement down the line. Asplund is an offensive catalyst, and is easily the most talented center left on the board.
25. Dallas Stars (Sean Shapiro) – Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine High School
The Dallas Stars have good depth down the middle already, while the defensive pool is filled with young prospects. It is the perfect opportunity for the Stars to take a chance on a powerful winger with great size, two attributes that are already in abundance for the 6’5″, 190-pound Riley Tufte. When all is said and done, Tufte could end up as the top power forward from this draft class should his development continue on an upward path. For now, Tufte will develop his game at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
26. Washington Capitals (Sean Shapiro) – Logan Stanley, D, Windsor Spitfires
The Washington Capitals have an exciting prospect base at forward and in goal, but could use a towering defenseman like 6’7″ Logan Stanley in the system. Stanley is more of a defensive stalwart than an offensive force at this stage of his career, but his defensive game is very impressive given his size and skating ability. Stanley should be a force for what could be a very strong Windsor team in 2016-17.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning (Chris Roberts) – Kale Clague, D, Brandon Wheat Kings
Given their NHL success in recent years, the Tampa Bay Lightning still have surprising prospect depth, particularly on defense. Kale Clague, a strong skater, improved his draft stock toward the end of the year and into the playoffs after a disappointing first half of the season. He rates strongly in terms of possession numbers, as well.
28. St. Louis Blues (Suraj Skumar) – Tage Thompson, C/W, University of Connecticut
Despite the holes at left wing, it would be hard for the St. Louis Blues to pass up a player like Tage Thompson. He is big, skates well, and has become a go-to player at the University of Connecticut. He embodies everything the Blues like and comes with impressive versatility. Even though he lines up on the right, he is an improving center with solid abilities in the faceoff circle. Pegged as a power forward, Thompson is still very disciplined despite the physical side of his game and could become even stronger once he fills out his frame.
29. Boston Bruins (from SJS) (Pat O’Rourke) – Vitali Abramov, LW, Gatineau Olympiques
While undersized, Vitali Abramov has plus skill and brings a huge dose of speed from the right side, two areas the Boston Bruins are in need of at the moment. In his rookie year in the QMJHL this past season, Abramov was fifth in the league with 93 points (38-55), running away with the rookie scoring title. The next closest on the scoring leaderboard among rookies was Toronto prospect Martins Dzierkals, who had 67 for league champion Rouyn-Noranda.
30. Anaheim Ducks (from PIT by way of TOR) (Jason Lewis) – Wade Allison, RW, Tri-City Storm
The Anaheim Ducks make a splash by going with one of the most improved and dangerous forwards in the USHL this season. They also love the collegiate route in terms of development, and Wade Allison is committed to Western Michigan University beginning this Fall. He is a big power forward who simply goes hard to the net. While he may seem like a reach, teams would be wise to cash in on his meteoric rise in the draft rankings, and the Ducks have the opportunity to do just that with Allison still on the board at 30.
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