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2016 NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings Reaction

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NHL Central Scouting released their final set of draft rankings today. We still have the World U18s coming up, which we'll be covering extensively and should shake up our draft list quite a bit, but getting this big ranking from NHL Central Scouting is a good time to discuss what the draft picture looks like today.

Here are things that stood out to me on the list:

-We'll start at the top. Much of the discussion likely goes towards Pierre-Luc Dubois passing Matthew Tkachuk atop the NA list, but this is the rare year where all the real drama at the top of the draft comes on the European side. Auston Matthews is still the consensus number one, but his Swiss season ended early, while Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi have been playing lights out in the Finnish pro league and could potentially make things interesting for the Edmonton Oilers(I'm just assuming) at first overall. My gut feeling is Matthews is still first overall, he's certainly done nothing to lose the top ranking--not his fault he didn't get to play with Kyle Connor at the World Juniors--but he may have to have a really good World Championships or Laine might end up being the top overall pick.

-At the mid-terms, I side Jakob Chychrun was sliding backwards a bit, which could create an interesting race for the top defenseman in the draft. That appears to be the case. Bob McKenzie notes how tight it is.

It's good to remember this list is just the equivalent of one team's opinion, and there are 30 others out there. These things are never as cut-and-dried as people think.

-St. Cloud State commit Dennis Cholowski continues to rocket up draft boards. Central Scouting now has him first round-ish at 23rd on the NA skater list, and a few other services have him ranked similarly. It would have been nice to see him at the U18s, though his Chilliwack team is still alive in the BCHL playoffs. Seeing Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro is a nice consolation prize though.

Cholowski, by the way, will make a run at being the highest drafted player to ever play for St. Cloud State. The current highest pick ever was Matt Cullen, selected in the second round 35th overall.

-One of my big disagreements with the Central Scouting list is putting Joey Anderson at 56. I've said before that he gets overshadowed because he's the third guy on that great line. But every time I see him, he just plays so well, and I keep moving him up my board a couple slots at a time. Personally, I'd put him in the discussion as a first round pick.

-Mitch Mattson is still hanging on high in the draft ranked at 61st. Mattson finished his truncated USHL season with just two goals and no assists in 21 games. Potential is one thing, but I can't think of another player that has gotten so much attention with so few tangible results.

-Tri-City's Wade Allison made a big jump up the board with a strong second half of the season. I've always liked Allison's hard-nosed style of play, and now that the scoring is starting to come, he's a player to watch. At 130 spots, he was the biggest riser between the mid-term and final list

-Dylan Gambrell moved all the way from 149 to 67 thanks to his excellent second half on the Pacific Rim Line. General consensus is that he played his way into a mid-round pick with his great second half of the season.

-Rem Pitlick made another big jump up the rankings from 141 to 93 as he just keeps scoring goals for Muskegon. This is an interesting one. Pitlick made waves a few weeks ago when he said he was "99% sure" he would be going back to Muskegon next year, despite leading the league in scoring. The way it was explained to me is that at 5'8", Pitlick wasn't planning on a long pro career post-college, and playing in the USHL an extra year was the best way to play as long as he could. That equation might change though as he moves higher and higher on draft boards and actually has a decent shot at an NHL career. The higher he goes in the draft, the bigger that 1% chance he plays for Minnesota next year would seem to be, and Minnesota could really use him next year.

-They trimmed a lot of the fat from the Minnesota HS ranks off of this list. Riley Tufte, Mattson, Michael Graham, Casey Staum, and Scott Perunovich were the only ones to make the list, and they were the only ones I would consider drafting.

-The biggest head-scratcher to me is that 20 goals in Hockey East only gets Nolan Stevens the 209th spot on this list. Look at the list of guys that scored 20 goals in a major conference this year and see how many "maybe a late round pick" guys are on that list.

-The only real omission to not make the list that I would seriously consider drafting in St. Cloud State's Mikey Eyssimont.