The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is going back to California as the San Jose Sharks staved off elimination in Game 5 on Thursday night with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That means the NHL’s offseason hasn’t officially begun, and it won’t until at least Sunday. But we still can look forward to this month’s draft, which now is just two weeks away.
We have a pretty good idea of which players will be selected with the top three picks. American center Auston Matthews almost certainly will go No. 1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, with Finnish wingers Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi going after him in some order.
The draft really gets interesting at No. 4, where the Edmonton Oilers could trade their pick unless they view Sarnia’s Jakob Chychrun as a potential franchise defenseman. Finding a top-pairing D-man should be Edmonton’s top priority this summer.
Here’s our third 2016 NHL mock draft.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, C ZSC Lions (SWI)
2. Winnipeg Jets: Patrik Laine, RW Tappara (FIN)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (FIN)
4. Edmonton Oilers: Alexander Nylander, RW/LW, Mississauga (OHL)
5. Vancouver Canucks: Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL)
6. Calgary Flames: Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)
7. Arizona Coyotes: Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
8. Buffalo Sabres: Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL)
9. Montreal Canadiens: Mikhail Sergachyov, D, Windsor (OHL)
10. Colorado Avalanche: Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL)
11. New Jersey Devils: Tyson Jost, C/RW, Penticton (BCHL)
12. Ottawa Senators: Clayton Keller, LW, US-NTDP
13. Carolina Hurricanes: Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
14. Boston Bruins: Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL)
15. Minnesota Wild: Kieffer Bellows, C/LW, US-NTDP
16. Detroit Red Wings: Logan Brown, C/LW, Windsor (OHL)
17. Nashville Predators: Luke Kunin, C/RW, Wisconsin (NCAA)
18. Philadelphia Flyers: Max Jones, LW, London (OHL)
19. New York Islanders: Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-D’Or (QMJHL)
20. Arizona Coyotes (via NY Rangers): Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston University (NCAA)
21. Carolina Hurricanes (via L.A. Kings): German Rubtsov, C, Russia U-18
22. Winnipeg Jets (via Chicago Blackhawks): Riley Tufte, LW, Fargo, (USHL)
23. Florida Panthers: Rasmus Asplund, C, Farjestad (SWE)
24. Anaheim Ducks: Samuel Girard, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
25. Dallas Stars: Kale Clague, D, Brandon (WHL)
26. Washington Capitals: Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL)
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Carl Grundstrom, LW, Modo Hockey (Sweden)
28. St. Louis Blues: Boris Katchouk, LW, Sault Ste. Marie (USHL)
29. Boston Bruins (via San Jose Sharks): Markus Niemelainen, D, Saginaw (OHL)
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Pittsburgh Penguins): Cameron Morrison, LW, Youngstown (USHL)
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images