The Journey – NHL Draft – First-Round Fantasy Bargains

Kevin LeBlanc


Jesse Puljujarvi - USA TODAY Sports Images


The Journey examines which first-round picks of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft are fantasy values based on their drafted position and team.  Next week, The Journey will look at players outside the first round that could be fantasy bargains down the road.


Jesse Puljujarvi –  Drafted 4th Overall – Edmonton Oilers 

Puljujarvi’s fantasy value took a significant jump after Columbus passed on the Finnish forward in favor of center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Obviously, Puljujarvi was always going to be a strong fantasy player, but the potential chance to play alongside Connor McDavid at even-strength and on the power-play moves his value up a notch.

There were some questions about where the 6’4”, 205 pound forward would slot in positionally, but with McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl holding down the first-, second- and third-line center spots for the near future, it appears Puljujarvi will play on the wing.

Puljujarvi would have a high ceiling regardless of who drafted him, but Edmonton just might be perfect team to help him reach his immense offensive potential the fastest.


Matthew Tkachuk – Drafted 6th Overall – Calgary Flames

The situation Tkachuk fell into in Calgary could be terrific. Team aside; Tkachuk was likely to be one of the better multi-category options to come out of this draft. He will provide hits, shot blocks, and penalty minutes to go along with his high point totals.

Playing in a top-six forward group that includes Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and the newly signed Troy Brouwer, Tkachuk’s point production sees an uptick due to his potential linemates. The Sixth selection should be a perennial 60-plus point scorer who excels both at even strength and on the power-play due to his vision and willingness to play hard along the boards and in front of the net.

Don't be surprised to see him return to London and dominate the OHL for a second straight year, as Mitch Marner did last season, but Tkachuk is not long from being penciled into the Flames lineup.


Jake Bean – Drafted 13th Overall – Carolina Hurricanes

Although Bean was the third defenseman drafted, he could have the highest fantasy upside of all the blueliners from the draft class when it comes to point production. The Calgary native joins a stacked defensive system in Carolina existing of Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown – all of which are under 25 years old.

Bean has the potential to be an dynamic power-play quarterback who makes good decisions, distributing from the point and setting himself up in pockets of space where he can get his accurate shot through to the net. As a terrific skater and accurate passer, Bean helps his team breakout of the defensive zone and transitions the puck at an elite level.

Although his peripheral stats are a bit of an unknown at this point, he will have time to develop as an all-around player over the next few seasons. As he grows as a defender, he should put up decent shot block and hits numbers.


Jakob Chychrun – Drafted 16th Overall – Arizona Coyotes

Chychrun’s fall down draft boards was chronicled in the weeks leading up to the draft and allowed Arizona to get good value for the defenseman in the second half of the first round.

Although still raw, Chychrun has all the tools to be a well-rounded, two-way defenseman both in the NHL and for fantasy purposes. He will be used in all situations at the NHL level and should grow into a multi-category defenseman that is above average at all things, but not necessarily elite at any.

He has good vision, both when carrying the puck and distributing it, and Chychrun possesses a hard shot that will be a useful tool with the man advantage. The potential to play alongside perennial all-star Oliver Ekman-Larsson when he does make the jump to the NHL only helps his fantasy value.


Kieffer Bellows – Drafted 19th Overall – New York Islanders

Any player with the potential to play on John Tavares' wing deserves an uptick in fantasy potential. Bellows is a great fit for the Islanders considering his calling card is goal scoring. 

As one of the purest snipers in the draft, Bellows is a shoot-first player that isn’t afraid to mix it up on the boards. He is at his best when playing with linemates who can distribute the puck to him in high-danger areas, as Tavares is known to do for his teammates.

Although Bellows is a few years away from making his NHL debut, he will develop at Boston University and should make the jump to the NHL as a more polished power forward than he is today. He projects as a multi-category contributor who can help fantasy teams with hits and penalty minutes while putting up solid goal scoring numbers.


Max Jones – Drafted 24th Overall – Anaheim Ducks

Jones was drafted into a position that fits his skill set perfectly. For many years, Anaheim has coveted power forwards with scoring ability, and Jones is no exception.

The London Knights product produced 52 points in 63 games while tacking on 106 penalty minutes. He projects as a powerful, middle-six forward with strength and speed that is not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice.

As an elite finisher, Jones has the ability to pile up the points if he plays with linemates who can get him the puck in areas that best benefit his skill set. Although he a player who might not be able to drive his own offense, Jones will provide fantasy owners with multi-category value and a low cap-hit given his late first-round draft slot.


Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings. 



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