Looking back at picks 20 through 11 of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft
In this week’s Journey, we continue a three-part series looking back on the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Part Two outlines the 20th-11th selections, and recaps each prospect’s post draft seasons and where they are on the developmental arc. Look back at Part One (30-21) here.
20th: Detroit Red Wings – Dennis Cholowski – St. Cloud State (NCAA)
2016-17 Stats: 36 GP, 1G, 11A, 12 Points
After spending his draft season in the BCHL in order to keep his NCAA eligibility, Cholowski was taken in the first round along with other BCHL alumni Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro. The rearguard was lauded by scouting departments for his offensive feel for the game, rising up draft boards throughout the season before landing firmly in the middle-late first round.
Playing college hockey, especially on the blue line can be overwhelming for a true freshman, but Cholowski handled it well. St. Cloud had a disappointing season by record, finishing with 16-19-1 but they were incredibly young, rostering just three seniors on the team. With such a young team, the Huskies should bounce back with a strong 2017-18. Cholowski is in the mix for Canada’s World Junior roster, which would be another step forward in his development. Detroit will likely take their time moving him through the organization.
19th: New York Islanders – Kieffer Bellows – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
2016-17 Stats (Boston University): 34 GP, 7G, 7A, 14 Points
Drafted in what many thought was a terrific organizational fit in New York, Bellows was seen as one of the 2016 draft’s top snipers. No better place for him then on John Tavares’s wing in the future, right? Well, Bellows is pretty far away from making an impact, and there may be no John Tavares in an Islanders sweater when he does eventually arrive.
The big change for the Minnesota-native is that he will be leaving Boston University and going back to junior this season, playing with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. I personally think the change will be a good one, and we will see a significant breakout by Bellows offensively this season. Doesn’t hurt that Cody Glass will be feeding him pucks likely at even strength and with the man advantage all season. If you need goals and shots from a prospect, Bellows is a good option to look closely at.
18th: Winnipeg Jets – Logan Stanley – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 35 GP, 4G, 13A, 17 Points
Stanley is the type of prospect that brings value to his organization but may not be a relevant fantasy player, especially in points leagues. He’s more of a hulking, stay-at-home defender, who will get secondary points by partnering on a pairing with a more offensive option and providing transitional passes to his forwards.
In multi-category leagues however, Stanley should provide good to great value in the hits, blocks and penalty minutes departments. If he decides to carry his mean streak over to the NHL game, he could be a rare near 100-plus guy in all three categories. There aren’t too many players who fall in the 100 PIM range anymore, but even if he’s between 60 and 80, there is value. For reference there were only five defensemen in 2016-17 who had over 80 penalty minutes, 100 blocks and 100 hits. They were Luke Schenn, Deryk Engelland, Radko Gudas, Dion Phaneuf and Dustin Byfuglien. With big defensemen the offensive side is usually the slowest to come around, so there’s certainly more development to come in Stanley’s game.
17th: Nashville Predators – Dante Fabbro – Boston University (NCAA)
2016-17 Stats: 36 GP, 6G, 12A, 18 Points
Another draft, another Predators defenseman to add to the fold. Fabbro joins arguably the deepest organizational depth chart in the league as far as defensemen, who continue to draft the best player available regardless of position. As above mentioned, Fabbro is a BCHL product who started his collegiate career at Boston University as a member of the prized 2016 draft class and suited up for Team Canada at the U20’s.
With the loss of Charlie McAvoy to the NHL, expect Fabbro to take on more responsibility in his sophomore year for the Terriers. In his freshman season he led BU with six goals, 10 power-play points and 79 blocked shots and was second to McAvoy in assists (12) and shots on goal (75). If you can jump on him now when a fantasy owner may not be wowed by his numbers, you can get great value before his breakout campaign.
16th: Arizona Coyotes – Jakob Chychrun – Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
2016-17 Stats: 68 GP, 7G, 13A, 20 Points
The rumors of Jakub Chychrun’s demise were greatly exaggerated. After a draft day slide that allowed him to fall into Arizona’s lap in the middle of the first round, the former Sarnia standout was one of a handful of 2016 draftees to play actual minutes at the NHL level as an 18-year-old. In 68 games for the Coyotes, Chychrun posted 20 points in just under 17 minutes per game.
Unfortunately, news broke this week that the young defenseman would be out indefinitely after having surgery for a knee injury suffered while training in the offseason. Arizona made strides in the offseason to improve their roster, but Chychrun likely will still fill in on the second pairing when he returns from injury. Watch his ice time and his power-play time, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see spike a bit in his sophomore season.
15th: Minnesota Wild – Luke Kunin – Iowa Wild (AHL)
2016-17 Stats (U. of Wisconsin): 35 GP, 22G, 16A, 38 Points
In the pre-draft process, Kunin was viewed as a safe prospect, and one that brought a number of intangibles to the table. His ceiling may not have been as high as some other top-15 selections, but his chances of making the NHL and sticking certainly are.
Kunin started his freshman season at Wisconsin as a 17-year-old, and posted 32 points in 34 games. In his pre-draft campaign as a sophomore he captained both the Badgers and Team USA’s gold medal winning World Juniors team. At the completion of his season, the young forward joined the AHL’s Iowa Wild in a 12-game trial where he scored five times and added three assists. Kunin should start the season back in Iowa, but don’t be too surprised if he doesn’t stay there too long.
14th: Boston Bruins – Charlie McAvoy – Boston Bruins (NHL)
2016-17 Stats (Boston University): 38 GP, 5G, 21A, 26 Points
Nothing like getting thrown into the fire for your NHL debut. Due to the injury-plagued blueline that Boston had in the playoffs, McAvoy’s first NHL minutes were in a top pairing role in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In their round one series versus Ottawa, the 19-year-old logged over 26 minutes per night, with nearly three minutes of that time per game coming with the man advantage. In six games, McAvoy posted three assists, blocked nine shots and recorded 12 hits.
This season I expect him to have a huge start to his NHL career, creating a solid top four for the Bruins with Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. My personal projections have him somewhere around 25-30 points and others (including Dobber) think he could have even more of an impact. The blue chipper is one of the best prospects joining the NHL this fall and should be a good, if not great two-way threat for years to come.
13rd: Carolina Hurricanes – Jake Bean – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
2016-17 Stats: 43 GP, 8G, 37A, 45 Points
Bean, who was the third defenseman selected in the first round behind Olli Juolevi and Mikhail Sergachev, had eye-popping numbers for Calgary in his draft year with 64 points in 68 games and a points-per-game average of .94. A broken finger caused him to miss much of the first half of his WHL season, but when he was healed, he continued his offensive mastery, finishing with 45 points in 43 games. He also got back just in time to join his Team Canada teammates at the World Juniors.
Carolina has a great young defense group even without Bean, which could make him expendable if they want to add a top-six piece this offseason or in the future. If they decide to keep him, the Canes are getting a top power-play option that is continually developing on the defensive side of the puck. I expect him to be back in Calgary in the fall, where he hopefully can play a full, injury-free season. After that, expect some AHL time as he continues to develop.
12nd: New Jersey Devils – Michael McLeod – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 57 GP, 27G, 46A, 73 Points
McLeod has similarities to Kunin, listed above. His leadership quotient is off the charts and his offensive ceiling is certainly worthy of a top-15 pick. He’s another prospect who when drafted was thought of as at worst a long-time NHL player who would have a role in a team’s top nine. Although there were others who may have higher ceiling, McLeod’s floor was nothing to scoff at.
He kept plugging along in his post draft season, increasing his point total from 61 in 57 games to 73 in 57 games, while increasing his points-per-game rate from 1.07 to 1.28. He helped lead Mississauga to the OHL championship against the eventual champion Erie Otters with 27 points in 20 games, playing his best hockey when his team’s season was on the line. McLeod is an absolute burner, who has the drive and competitiveness to succeed at the NHL level in whatever role his organization needs. He’s a winner, who can play in any situation. How he is deployed, whether it be as a driver of offense or a shutdown asset, will go a long way towards how valuable he is in fantasy leagues.
11st: Ottawa Senators – Logan Brown – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 35 GP, 14G, 26A, 40 Points
Despite being one of the fastest risers in the 2016 draft, there is a stigma among fantasy owners in what Brown will eventually be at the NHL level. He is a playmaker, which is rare at his size of 6’6” and nearly 220 pounds, but due to injuries, his post-draft season was not nearly what many expected, given that his points-per-game rate dropped from 1.25 to 1.14. His ice time was cut by how good 2017 draftee Gabe Vilardi was, coupled with the big center’s inability to stay healthy.
It’s the perfect time to buy low on Brown. He has been playing alongside 2017 draftees Casey Mittelstadt and Kailer Yamamoto at the Team USA World Juniors Summer Showcase, which all but guarantees that he will make the red, white and blue squad for the WJC after being a surprise exclusion a season ago. Guys who have the type of game that Brown does are a rare breed, so don’t put too much stock into his pedestrian stats from his post draft season. He still has plenty of upside moving forward.
Stay tuned next week for Part Three, which will take a closer look at the progress of prospects selected 10th-1st at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
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