With the 2016 NHL draft just a few days away(!), it’s time we turn our attention to one of the more cruel annual traditions of the first round and beyond: draft day slides.
We see it every year: Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley, Emerson Etem, Hunter Shinkaruk, Travis Konecny. The list goes on.
Let’s take a look at some of the top-ranked players from this year’s draft, and see which ones are candidates to continue the tradition.
Size is the big concern here. He’s incredibly productive, having notched at least 50 goals and 50 assists each of his last three seasons (across two leagues). But being 5″7′ just doesn’t bode well for your draft stock. In fact, since 2005, only ONE player below 5″10′ has been taken in the first round (5″9′ Tyler Ennis).
Rocco Grimaldi serves as a good example. Grimaldi was lauded for his extremely high skill level leading up to the 2011 draft, and was ranked 23rd in Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings. He fell all the way out of the first round though, before finally being scooped up by the Florida Panthers with the 33rd overall pick.
If history is any indication, it’s not even possible, but in fact likely, that DeBrincat suffers the same fate.
Gauthier is a very polarizing player. He’s 6″4′ and scored 41 goals in the QMJHL this year, but concerns about his ability as a playmaker have led many to question whether or not he’s likely to reach his top-six upside.
Even among those rankings we see polarity: in December people had him ranked anywhere from 6th to 16th on their lists. Today he’s being ranked as high as 16th and as low as outside the first round.
So, with his stock falling more and more, Gauthier represents another player that has a chance at sliding well past where people have him pegged to go.
It seems like the tide is turning on this, but the NHL’s hesitancy to draft players from Russia due to the “Russian factor” is still a bit of a thing. So, Rubtsov’s passport could be one reason he slides in the draft.
There are also concerns about his history. In April, the entire Russian U-18 team was barred from the tournament after each and every player tested positive for meldonium, which is banned by the WADA.
And I’m not sure how much this might factor into a potential slide, but it’s possible people just haven’t seen as much of him, so their certainty on him as a player isn’t as strong as it might be for players from, say, North America.
So in Rubtsov’s case, a myriad of factors might do him in. And there are already rumors he could fall outside the first round.
Abramov is a highly-skilled 5″9′ Russian winger with a lack of a defensive game. Doesn’t that just scream draft slide in every way? Do I even need to say anything else on this?
Currently the consensus 26th pick, Abramov should be considered a prime candidate to fall outside of the first round.
Like Gauthier, Chychrun is a player who’s stock has been falling all year long. A consensus top five pick as late as February, Chychrun’s stock has taken a hard turn for the worst, with him now the consensus 12th overall pick.
It’s bizarre too, since Chychrun seems to me like the sort of player NHL teams would love. He’s big, strong, physical, mobile, highly polished, and loaded with intangibles. Not only that, he got more productive as the season went on.
In any event, Chychrun’s falling stock makes him a candidate to continue his slide come draft day.