The concensus top overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft is Auston Matthews. However, the real fun begins at picks two and three, as there isn’t a clear cut answer as to who goes where.
It’s almost a certainty that one of two players will go at the second pick. Some analysts say that man is Patrik Laine. Although, quite a few believe Jesse Puljujärvi is going to be second off the board. Regardless, both are very talented players, and the Winnipeg Jets ( 2nd ) and Columbus Blue Jackets ( 3rd overall ) would be lucky to have either.
Toronto is going to take Auston Matthews, that’s a guarantee. Winnipeg is then faced with a tough decision of wether to draft Laine or Puljujärvi. Both are considered NHL ready, and will instantly help a roster. So, who does Winnipeg draft with the second overall pick?
Laine is a 6’3 winger that is known for his dynamic scoring ability. He put up 17 goals and 16 assists in 46 games for Tappara, one of the top teams in Finland. It was his performance at the 2016 World Juniors that put him at the top of the draft boards. Laine was named to the all-tournament team after amassing 13 points.
Puljujärvi is similar in build to Laine, standing 6’3. He scored 13 goals and 28 points for Karpat, who play in the same Finnish league as Tappara. Puljujärvi also had a great showing at the World Juniors, out scoring Laine by four points.
The two are similar in size and weight, but play very different games. Laine is a natural scorer, and possess a quick shot. Meanwhile, Puljujärvi is a playmaker who is a much more fluid skater than Laine.
Winnipeg might be at a disadvantage drafting at two. While Matthews is the unquestioned top overall pick, Laine and Puljujärvi are neck and neck. Sure, the Jets have their pick of the two, but what if their selection turns out to be a bust? It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for Winnipeg fans and their front office.
At this point there isn’t a wrong choice between Puljujärvi and Laine. It’s really a matter of who the Winnipeg front office likes best. Columbus will get whichever player the Jets don’t select, and both teams will look for them to carry their franchises for the next 10-15 years.
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