Photo: Derek Leung
The first round of the 2016 NHL Draft begins tonight at 7:00 PM on NBCSN. Before then, we want to be able to provide our readers with an idea of who the Caps could select with the 26th pick they currently own. These are profiles of some of the players generally ranked around that area.
I went ahead and split up these prospects by their height and then later by whether their stock is going up or down as I realize almost no one knows who these people are.
Alex DeBrincat – Wing, Erie OHL – Debrincat may be small, but he plays with snarl and flash. He is not afraid to drive the net and has the skill to beat people one-on one. His skill level is tantalizing, but at 5’7” he is even smaller than Gaudreau. He could be a risk, but small players are somewhat in vogue these days in the NHL. Debrincat trailed only Matt Tkachuk in scoring among draft eligibles in the OHL this year.
Vitali Abramov – Wing, Gatineau QMJHL – Abramov is a very skilled puck handler who plays with speed. He has great playmaking abilities and shot too. Offensively, he has a lot of potential. As with many young wingers, he needs to show more commitment in the defensive end. His size (5’9″) may be a problem if he has trouble with the physicality of the NHL, but otherwise his game does not need size.
Adam Mascherin – Wing, Kitchener OHL – Mascherin has a rifle of a shot. Some scouts have questioned his skating ability a bit though. While he is not exactly agile or quick, he is not slow. As a small player speed is usually needed, so that is something to keep an eye on. He is only 5’9″ tall, but he is not slight, weighing close to 200 pounds. He is generally rated lower than when the Capitals pick, but he could be a trade-back or reach candidate.
Samuel Girard – Defense, Shawinigan QMJHL – At 5’9”, his size may pose a physical problem in his own end, but his playmaking ability at the other end is nearly elite. He is a very good skater that can skate or pass out of his own end. He doesn’t yet have a great shot, but it could get better with added muscle. He led all CHL defensemen in scoring. A 5’9” defenseman is not unheard of in the NHL, so he shouldn’t be off anyone’s board.
Riley Tufte – Wing, Fargo USHL – The 6’5” Tufte dominated Minnesota High School hockey but struggled to score a bit in the USHL at times. He is not the physical force that a Tom Wilson is, but he uses his size in front of the net and on the boards to win battles. Think more Eric Fehr than Tom Wilson as style of play goes. He has a very good shot, and his reach allows for him to protect the puck well. He has good speed for his size but is not a burner.
Tage Thompson – Wing, UCONN Hockey East – Thompson is another big American winger at 6’6″. Like Tufte, he does not play with the same edge that Wilson does. His shot is lethal however. His skating is certainly not his best attribute, but he isn’t a plodder either. His scoring ability is a little more projectable than Tufte as he performed against better competition, but the team that picks him may have to wait a few years for the rest of his game to catch up.
Logan Stanley – Defense, Windsor OHL – Stanley is a behemoth at 6’7” and well over 200 pounds. He does not shy away from the rough stuff and even produces on the offensive end. He does not have bad puck skills and is a fine playmaker with a good pass out of the zone. His foot speed is not ideal, but at his size improving in that area even a little will go a long way for him. He also happens to be cousins with Washington Capitals Forward Michael Latta.
Cliff Pu – Center, London OHL – Pu was barely thought of as a first three round prospect heading into the season with the London Knights. Buried on a team featuring top prospects like Mitch Marner and Matt Tkachuk didn’t help his chances of overcoming that either. He has to some degree. Though mostly buried on the Knights roster his skills and never give up attitude have been able to turn some heads. Though still ranked below the First Round, Pu could be a trade back or reach candidate.
Cam Dineen – Defense, North Bay OHL – Dineen’s meteoric rise up Central Scouting’s rankings from 117 at midterm to 39 at year’s end had a lot to do with his leading the OHL in scoring among draft eligible defensemen. His abilities in the offensive end have less to do with skills, though his skating is good and his shot and passing are strengths, and more to do with his quick superb decision making with the puck. Dineen is the kind of guy that can be counted on to make the right play.
Dennis Cholowski – Defense, Chilliwack BCHL – Cholowski was ranked 48th in the Midterm Central Scouting Rankings but saw his stock rise to 23rd by the end of the year. He is a smooth skating two way defenseman that is a good playmaker. At 6’1” he has the prototypical size scouts look for when compared to some of the other puck movers rated around and below him. He is committed to St. Cloud State in the NCAA for next year, so any team that picks him will get a few years of college hockey to watch him develop.
German Rubtsov – Center, Russia U18 – Rubtsov was on the Russian U18 squad that was replaced heading into the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championships due to a doping scandal. That along with the “Russian factor” may cause him to fall from his general ranking in the high teens or low twenties. If the Caps do decide to take him at 26, they may receive one of the better two-way centers in the draft. His defensive abilities should not overshadow his offensive ones. His skill, premium decision making and puck protection are easily seen as well.
Charlie McAvoy – Defense, Boston Univ. Hockey East – Charlie McAvoy is not on this list because he is a faller necessarily but because rankings of him are a bit uneven. Many experts place him firmly in the teens, but some including Corey Pronman at ESPN and the International Scouting Services (ISS) have him in the twenties. If he falls to the Caps, they should scoop him up. McAvoy is slated to be a fantastic offensive defenseman. Skating, passing, and shooting are all strengths. He does not shy away from physical play either, though he needs to pick his spots better.
Julien Gauthier – Wing, Val-d’Or QMJHL – Gauthier went from being ranked 4th in Central Scouting’s Midterm Ranking to 12th in their final ranking. Some have him ranked in the teens, but most have settled on an early twenties ranking for him. A big player at 6’4”, Gauthier uses his size well. He has a very good accurate shot and loves to play in traffic. His assists numbers actually regressed this season from last showing a shoot-first mentality. He wasn’t much of a shot creator relying on linemates to set him up.
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