NHL Draft 2016 Preview
It’s today that the young bright hockey stars of tomorrow will finally see their childhood dream become a reality. It’s the NHL draft 2016 happening in Buffalo. The first name being called out tonight at the First Niagara Center is a toss up between American Austin Matthews and Finnish Patrik Laine.
Matthews is not born in your conventional hockey district, he was raised under the scorching sun of Arizona. He grew up cheering for his hometown team Phoenix Coyotes. What’s even more unlikely is the fact that he didn’t go through the U.S. collegiate ranks, he actually played his junior hockey in Switzerland. In 36 games there, he scored 24 goals and 22 helpers. If he goes first tonight, he will become the first American since Patrick Kane in 2007 to be the number one pick.
In 46 games last season, Laine collected 17 goals and 16 assist with Tampere from the Finnish league. What makes him standout though is the performance he displayed at the last World Champioship hockey tournament where he helped bring his team to the gold medal game. In ten games, he gathered 7 goals and 5 assists. Laine finished in fourth place for most points in this tourney.
The Maple Leafs will be first to choose tonight. Who ever they select, the number one overall pick will be at the forefront of the rebuilding process in Toronto. The Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967.
Fellow Laine countryman Jesse Puljujarvi is the likely candidate to round up the top three picks of the evening. The Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets and the Columbus Blue Jackets will be the first three NHL teams to make their selection.
In other NHL news, commissioner Gary Bettman announced yesterday that a new franchise will be added to the league. Las Vegas will be inaugurated in the fold of NHL hockey starting in the 2017/18 season. It’s bright light, big city for this new franchise.
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