2016 NHL Draft Preview


It seems to be a yearly tradition that when the NHL draft ends a new prospect gets shoved into the limelight.

It wasn’t so long ago that the NHL draft was barely an event as teams took players that nobody would see for years.

They were simply taking players to come in when their veterans left the team.

It was a time to take the future of the team but when that future was literally years in the future.

That has all changed though as the NHL draft is where teams can find the future of their team with future meaning the next year.

That is now the norm as many of the first round players will see time in their first years as an NHL player.

That new norm has put tremendous pressure on the NHL Draft for both the teams and the players available.

For the teams, it is all about making the right decision rather than finding top talent that simply doesn’t fit.

Bad draft picks can be an easy way to lose a job for a general manager while getting the right ones can win a Stanley Cup.

For the players once they are drafted the expectations are there and they don’t go away.

That is especially true of top picks who are seen as the saviours of an entire franchise but still need to develop into a true NHL player.

That has become somewhat tougher over the last decade as it seems like every year a new player takes all of the focus in the draft.

It all started with Sidney Crosby who came into the league as a player many assumed could challenge Wayne Gretzky for the title of the best ever.

So far he has not met those expectations but he is still the best player in the NHL right now.

The Penguins now have two Stanley Cups championships because they were able to draft Crosby in 2005.

Since that time every team has been looking for their Crosby and it seems like every year there is another player with sky high expectations.hockey-sidebar

Not all have come through like Crosby as the Edmonton Oilers are full of these great talents and yet none has seen the playoffs.

Last year it was all about Connor McDavid who looked like the best player since Crosby which made the choice easy for the Oilers who took him with the top pick in the draft.

So far he has looked great and if he continues to improve as he matures he could be the next Crosby in the league.

Once McDavid was drafted though the focus turned to a young American that took a stranger route to being the top pick.

Instead of playing in the CHL or going to the NCAA, Auston Matthews went to Switzerland to play professionally and develop among older players.

It is not the common path but it did nothing to hurt his chances of going as the top pick in the draft.

It seems almost sure that Matthews will be drafted #1 despite the recent surge of Patrik Laine as a top pick in the draft.

Laine is certainly a great player who can score almost at will but Matthews is a more well-rounded player who looks like he could be a more consistent player at the next level.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the top pick and for both the team and Matthews it is going to be a big day.

The team has been looking to rebuild for years now as they have struggled to make the playoffs for years and haven’t seen a Stanley Cup since 1943.

The new regime led by Brendan Shanahan have done a lot right so far even if they finished at the bottom of the league last year.

Taking Matthews could be the final piece they need to begin competing but if they take him and he doesn’t work out the latest rebuild could be a failure.

For Matthews, he goes from relative anonymity in Zurich to the biggest hockey market in the world.

The media is relentless in Toronto and will be scrutinising every move Matthews makes if he is selected by the Leafs.

It is common now in the NHL as every year the pressure shifts to a new player but for now, it will be on this new set of prospects especially Matthews who will go to the centre of the hockey world with high expectations.


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