5 Players That Could Slide At The 2016 NHL Draft

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.

ALEX DEBRINCAT

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.

JULIEN GAUTHIER

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.

And he’s been sliding all year – in December, he was the consensus 7th overall pick. Heading into the draft, he’s the consensus 21st overall pick.

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.

GERMAN RUBTSOV

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.

VITALI ABRAMOV

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.

JAKOB CHYCHRUN

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.

  • CMpuck

    debrincat at 31 would be a steal. still concerned about his size. 5’10 is one thing. below that is concerning but can’t ignore that production. same with abramov. rubtsov seems very intriguing. the leafs would be lucky to get any of them or a highly touted defenceman at 31 (girard plz) even though he’s also 5’9.

  • Harte of a Lion

    My vote is for German Rubtsov at 31. He has early to mid 1st round talent, a complete 2 way game, high IQ and the ability to make his team mates better. He has Tarasenko potential in the second round? You jump all over that. If he is gone, DeBrincat has huge potential as well. Not every small player can translate his skill set to the NHL but I think he has the tools. This kid knows how to put the puck in the back of the net.

    For anyone who was a fan of drafting Bracco last year will absolutely love this kid.

    The current Leafs will have a great 1-3 up the middle for the next decade assuming they draft Matthews. They also have a 6’5″ 20 year old kid on the Marlies who has the skills to be the dominant shutdown centre every team depends on to win draws, kill penalties and smother the oppositions best players. The Goat improved his skating tremendously this past season which was seen as his biggest issue (besides his low point totals at the AHL level).
    To become competitive and sustain that level, the team must continue to find players through the draft and all other channels so the team has a consistent flow of good players on inexpensive ELC’s to either play for the team or to be used as currency for the acquisition of other assets.

    With all that said, both DeBrincat & Rubtsov are both good enough to play in the NHL in a few short years

    • Gary Empey

      I’d probably pass on Derincat if there are other options available at #31 like Rubtsov. The Leafs got Bracco at #61 last year, easier to take a risk on a smaller player with upside.

  • Gary Empey

    Here is my two cents on why scouts may have let some players slide.

    It used to be size was often the main reason. The NHL has changed all that by enforcing the hooking, holding, crosschecking and slashing. There are only a few draconian presidents and GM’s sticking to the old game.

    When I see teams on draft day passing on higher rated players. at first I get excited we might get a steal. After second thought I wonder how can so many scouting teams take a pass on this guy. There must be some underlying lifestyle issues that are not showing up in our scouting reports. Such as Sex, Drugs. and Rock and Roll. Is this guy a party animal? I have never read a scouting report that says: He has lots of talent but, “This he is a real a%shole.” “They whole team hates his guts.” “He can’t get along with anybody. He refused to listen to the coach.” ” This guy is a natural but refuses to train. He will hit a brick wall as soon as he gets to the AHL” He says only got into hockey because his dad wanted him to play. He would rather drive a truck”

    I am not seriously suggesting all the players who unexpectedly slide down in the draft fit into that group, but some of them must.