2016 NHL Draft Prep: Dougherty's Top 30 Prospects

With the NHL draft later this month and the combine underway, we figured it was a good time to take an in-depth look at the top 30 prospects available in this year's draft.

The Flyers have one pick in the first round this year — 18th overall.

This list is built off "best player available" — not team needs — gathered from NHL Central Scouting, International Scouting Services and other draft resources. Next week, we'll break down the draft by position and in a few weeks, we'll have our only mock draft.

Let's dig in.

1. Auston Matthews, C, 6-1/194, Zurich (NLA)
Matthews has been the top prospect in this year's crop for a long time and rightfully so. He has the making of a franchise building block and is the clear-cut No. 1 pick. Matthews played professionally in Switzerland rather than junior or NCAA and shined (24 goals, 22 assists, 36 games). He excelled, too, playing for Team USA in both the U-20 world junior hockey championship and the world ice hockey championship. Toronto will get a franchise changer.

Highlights

2. Patrik Laine, RW, 6-4/210, Tappara (Liiga)
There's not much to dislike about Laine's game. He's a big, skilled winger with a deadly wrist shot and a natural knack for scoring. Maturity issues seem to have subsided, as he's played good soldier since flipping off his head coach as a 17-year-old while playing for Team Finland. His skillset was on display during the world championships this year, in which he recorded seven goals and 12 points for silver-medal winning Finland.

Highlights

3. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, 6-3/201, Karpat (Liiga)
Some have Puljujarvi interchangeable with his fellow Finn, Laine. The 6-foot-3 winger is drawing comparisons to NHL legend Teemu Selanne. Puljujarvi (17 points) was the highest scoring under-18 player in the U-18 world junior championships since Jaromir Jagr — yes, he's still active — in 1990. He helped Finland capture its second gold in three years, and was named the tournament's MVP, Best Forward and an All-Star.

Highlights

4. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, 6-1/195, London (OHL)
The son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk, Matthew was a member of one of the most explosive lines in junior hockey on the London Knights with Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak — combined 344 points. Tkachuk isn't an elite skater, but he's tough as nails with a high hockey IQ. He admitted after the Memorial Cup he had been playing on a sprained ankle since the OHL final. The 18-year-old finished with 30 goals and 107 points in 57 regular-season games for the Knights and added 20 points in 18 playoff games.

Highlights

5. Alexander Nylander, LW, 6-0/176, Mississauga (OHL)
The son of Michael Nylander (920 career NHL games) and the brother of William Nylander (Maple Leafs), Alexander finished third in Central Scouting's final North American skaters rankings. The Canadian-born Swede posted 75 points in 57 games with Mississauga and 20 points in 14 combined games for Team Sweden in the U-18 and U-20 junior championships.

Highlights

6. Olli Juolevi, D, 6-2/183, London (OHL)
Juolevi's climb has seen him jump up draft boards as the class' best defenseman, overtaking Sarnia's Jakob Chychrun. The smooth skating Finn can lead a rush and get back in time to backcheck. He's not overly physical but knows how to use his 6-foot-2 frame. A strong puckhandler, Juolevi scored nine goals and 33 points in 57 games with London. 

Highlights

7. Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW/C, 6-3/203, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Another climber, Dubois jumped Tkachuk on Central Scouting's N.A. rankings. He doesn't have as much flare as the players above, but his versatility sets him apart. Can play all three forward positions and prides himself on his two-way game. Dubois' production doubled in his 17-year-old season (99 points-62 games) from his 16-year-old campaign (45-54 games). Arguably the most complete forward prospect in terms of all-around ability in the draft.

Highlights

8. Jakob Chychrun, D, 6-2/214, Sarnia (OHL)
Chychrun entered the season as the presumed top blueliner, but Juolevi's ascent has bumped the 6-foot-2 defender to No. 2 in a decent class of defensemen. It's a close call, though. Chychrun, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 OHL draft, faced some adversity with Sarnia this season, including a coaching change, but still posted impressive numbers — 11 goals and 49 points in 62 games. A strong athlete and a good skater with a bright future ahead of him.

Highlights

9. Logan Brown, C, 6-6/218, Windsor (OHL)
An enormous pivot who knows how to use his body, Brown finished more than a point-per-game player for the Spitfires in his second season in the OHL. The 6-foot-6 centerman recorded 74 points in 59 games and earned himself an appearance at the CHL Top Prospects game. A dual citizen, Brown opted to play for the U.S. instead of Canada in U-18 junior championships and finished with 12 points, fourth most in the tournament.

Highlights

10. Tyson Jost, C, 5-11/192, Penticton (BCHL)
Jost, a small Canadian center playing for Penticton in the British Columbia Hockey League, proved himself capable of being a top-10 prospect in the junior championships with seven goals and 15 points in seven games for Team Canada against better competition than he faced with the Vees. He's a leader — captaining both the Vees and Canada — and an offensively-gifted player who will play college hockey at North Dakota next season.

Highlights

11. Mikhail Sergachev, D, 6-3/195, Windsor (OHL)
Sergachev was a finalist for the CHL's Defenseman of the Year, but Flyers prospect Ivan Provorov stood in his way. The blueliner posted an eye-opening 57 points in 60 games for Windsor in his first season in North America. A difference-maker, Sergachev can dominate in all three zones. Should only get better as he adapts to the smaller rink.

Highlights

12. Charlie McAvoy, D, 6-0/206, Boston University (NCAA)
A right-handed shot, McAvoy had a strong freshman season at Boston U and also impressed at the world juniors. The Long Beach, New York, native posted 25 points in 37 games for the Terriers in 2015-16, finishing as a plus-10 and with 56 penalty minutes. He's been on scouts' radar since his time in the USNTDP and is an A-rated skater by Central Scouting. An offensive-minded defender by nature, McAvoy doesn't avoid the defensive game. One of just two A-rated collegian skaters by Central Scouting in the draft.

Highlights

13. Clayton Keller, C, 5-10/170, USNTDP (USHL)
Keller has the making of the next great U.S. hockey player. He's small but elusive with and without the puck, which seems to never be the case. The Swansea, Illinois, native's 70 assists this season were a single-season record and his 107 points moved him ahead of Patrick Kane and five points shy of Phil Kessel on the single-season all-time points list. Had 14 points for the U.S. in the U-18s. Smart player with high-end skill, vision and playmaking ability. He's set to play at Boston University in the fall.

Highlights

14. Jake Bean, D, 6-0/165, Calgary (WHL)
Frequently partnered with Flyers prospect Travis Sanheim, Bean finished third on the Hitmen in scoring with 64 points behind Flyers prospect Radel Fazleev (71) and Sanheim (68). A bit scrawny, Bean is a creative puck-mover with good offensive instincts. He's more positional than physical and competes hard. The Calgary native broke his foot during the Hitmen's playoff series with Red Deer and was forced to miss the U-18s.

Highlights

15. Michael McLeod, C, 6-2/187, Mississauga (OHL)
A combination of size and elite speed, McLeod has a high compete level and is tough to play against. With Mississauga, McLeod often centered Alexander Nylander this season and recorded 61 points in 57 games. One scout told SportsNet in April, "You have to like McLeod's drive and skating. He gives you the same effort every time." McLeod, however, didn't impress much for Canada in the U-18s (four points in seven games).

Highlights

16. Julien Gauthier, RW, 6-4/225, Val d'Or (QMHJL)
A big, strong, powerful winger and a natural goal scorer, Gauthier finished this season with an estimated 2.319 goals per 60 minutes, according to the website, prospects-stats.com. Gauthier recorded 41 goals and 57 points for Val d'Or. A Buffalo Sabres scout called him a "man-child" and TSN's Craig Button labeled him a "pure goal scorer." Doesn't pass a lot, but he doesn't need to. He's said to model his game after Rangers winger Rick Nash and Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, both accurate comparisons.

Highlights

17. Dante Fabbro, D, 6-1/185, Penticton (BCHL)
Like Jost — his Penticton teammate — Fabbro legitimized his draft stock during the world juniors. Playing with Chychrun, Fabbro made a lot of noise at the U-18s with eight helpers. Fabbro, who sees himself as a two-way defenseman, is an underrated prospect who could turn into a steal for his drafting team. A scout said Fabbro is more of a "complementary defenseman, a play starter, rather than a kid who jumps into the rush." The same scout also said "you’d think he could make more plays by himself than he does" playing in the BCHL. A right-handed shot, Fabbro finished 67 points in 45 games with the Vees. He's committed to play at Boston University in the fall.

Highlights

18. Kieffer Bellows, LW, 6-1/194, USNTDP (USHL)
Played on the wing of Keller for the USNTDP, Bellows netted 50 goals and 81 points in 62 games. He, too, is committed to play for Boston University in the fall. A physical winger who wins puck battles, Bellows is a strong forechecker with plus puckhandling ability. He has an accurate shot and plays a power forward game. He sees himself as a goal scorer who creates time and space for his linemates, but admits he needs to improve his defensive coverage, which he plans to do at Boston.

Highlights

19. Luke Kunin, C, 6-0/196, Wisconsin (NCAA)
Kunin flew under the radar playing for the Badgers this season, mostly because of Wisconsin's program going through turmoil. Kunin will have a better opportunity to show off his game this season under former Avalanche head coach Tony Granato. Kunin potted 19 goals and 32 points in 34 games in his freshman season at Wisconsin. Gifted offensively and often finds himself scoring chances. A strong finisher, too. The only other A-rated collegian skater by Central Scouting.

Highlights

20. Logan Stanley, D, 6-7/210, Windsor (OHL)
A giant, bruising, nasty defenseman, Stanley finished 19th among Central Scouting's N.A. skaters. The 6-foot-7 blueliner improved drastically in his second season with Windsor, finishing as a plus-7 — was a minus-25 his first year — and scored 17 points. He's a consistent force who likes to clear the porch. Can chip in offensively, too.

Highlights

21. Max Jones, LW, 6-2/189, London (OHL)
Jones has made a name for himself as a hard-nosed, hard-working winger who's not afraid to throw his body around. He was suspended 12 games for this hit earlier this season. London head coach Dale Hunter said in February Jones' opponents don't like him "because he works too hard." Jones makes an impact on nearly every shift and is strong on the puck. His in-your-face playing style and size allow him to score the greasy goals and be a force in front of the net. Jones had 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games this season for the Knights.

Highlights

22. Riley Tufte, LW, 6-5/205, Blaine High School (Minnesota)
Tufte spent part of the season playing for Fargo in the USHL and Blaine High School. With Fargo, Tufte played in 27 games — 12 to start the season and then the final 15 — and registered 10 goals and 14 points. In high school, he potted 47 goals in 25 games. He'll play college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the fall. Big winger who tends to be more of a skilled player than a power forward. Still learning to use his size.

Highlights

23. German Rubtsov, C, 6-1/174, Russia U-18 (MHL)
Unlike the common perception of Russian forwards, Rubtsov is a strong two-way center. His game is geared more toward the North American game than most Europeans. Rubtsov is unselfish and likes to pass, which sometimes gets in his way. He scored 12 goals to go with 14 assists in 28 games for Team Russia U-18 in the MHL.

Highlights

24. Brett Howden, C, 6-2/193, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Howden jumped up from 27 on Central Scouting's mid-term rankings to 22 in its final. The Moose Jaw centerman doesn't own elite skill, but is a tireless worker and a respected leader. He was four points shy from being a point-per-game player for the Warriors — 64 points, 68 games.

Highlights

25. Alex Debrincat, RW, 5-7/163, Erie (OHL)
A pure sniper, Debrincat's size has him lower on the rankings, but it shouldn't. He had back-to-back 51-goal seasons with Erie. He's a good skater and doesn't shy away from contact. Debrincat will look to become the next small guy to overcome his size and dominate the NHL. He's offensive instincts and skillset should offset size.

Highlights

26. Tage Thompson, C, 6-5/185, Connecticut (NCAA)
Thompson, whose father, Brent, played with the Kings and Coyotes, is a big collegian center who opened eyes during his freshman season at Connecticut. He tallied 14 goals and 32 points in 36 games his first season with the Huskies.

Highlights

27. Pascal Laberge, C, 6-1/175, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
The MVP of the Top Prospects Game in January, the Victoriaville Tiger is a safe bet at this portion of the rankings. A solid, two-way center, Laberge has good hands and high hockey IQ. Scored 23 goals and tallied 68 points in 56 games for Victoriaville this season.

Highlights

28. Jacob Moverare, D, 6-2/198, HV71 (SHL)
Moverare, a Swedish defenseman, had 21 points in 41 games playing for HV71's J20 team. In 19 games during the U-18s, Moverare scored a goal and had eight assists. He finished ninth on Central Scouting's European skaters rankings.

Highlights

29. Rasmus Asplund, C, 5-11/176, Farjestads (SHL)
Had a big role for Team Sweden in the U-20s, finishing with five goals and nine points in 16 games. In 46 games with Farjestads this season, Asplund, a shifty center, had 12 points. Finished fourth on Central Scouting's European skaters.

Highlights

30. Kale Clague, D, 6-0/179, Brandon (WHL)
Clague is known for breaking Dion Phaneuf's bantam scoring record for a defenseman — 77 points in 33 games in 2012-13, outscoring Phaneuf by 12 points. Struggled in the first half with Brandon, but finished strong. Had 43 points in 71 games with the Wheat Kings. He was often paired with Flyers prospect and CHL Defenseman of the Year Provorov.

Highlights

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