Some Draft Prospects for the Future
Struggling teams will vie for the top young hockey players in the world this week in the NHL draft. Most players will hardly make a mark in the NHL to begin with. But there are a few who should make their teams right off.
American Player is Tops
AUSTON MATTHEWS hasn't quite caused the stir that Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel did this time last year. But he has been the top-ranked prospect all year, and it will be surprising if the Toronto Maple Leafs pass on this center with their first pick. Matthews, an American, played for the top Swiss league this past season and had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games. He also had a plus 16 rating. He excelled on the international stage, leading the U.S. team with six goals in the World Championships.
PATRICK LAINE made his impression in the Finnish Elite league last season, putting up 17 goals and 33 points in 46 games for his team. A left winger with an explosive shot, he also had a good showing in the league playoffs and in World Championships play.
MIKHAIL SERGECHEV is a good prospect to consider for defense. He was one of the top defensemen in the Ontario League last year. He earned a reputation as a strong two-way player, logging 57 points in 67 games.
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS had 42 goals and 99 points in 66 games of the Quebec junior league last year. A winger, he plays a versatile game suited for all situations.
JESSE PULJUJARVI is considered another winger who can contribute in the big league right off. He played in Switzerland with Laine and had 23 goals and 28 points in 50 games.
MATTHEW TKACHUK is the son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, and is known as an agitator, just like his dad. More than that, he had 107 points in 57 games in the Ontario league last year, and is rated for his skating and nose for the net.
Don't start considering the Stanley Cup Finals betting line right away with any of this draft group. None of them will make enough of an impact on a team to turn things around right away. But if Toronto gets Matthews and makes a couple of good off-season trades, the Maple Leafs could be on the verge of a turnaround. And Edmonton has the fourth pick in the draft, so picking up another top prospect to pair with Connor McDavid could spell a nice future for the Oilers.
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