The future of the NHL will be on full display on Friday night when the league presents the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft.
After the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last week and the NHL Awards were handed out Wednesday night to put a cap on the 2015-16 season, it’s now time to look ahead.
The NHL Draft’s first round will occur Friday at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., while rounds 2-7 will take place on Saturday.
This year’s field is headlined by Auston Matthews, an 18-year-old Arizona native who had 24 goals and 46 points for Zurich SC in the Swiss-A league this season after compiling 30 goals, 38 assists and 68 points through the last three years for the U.S. under-17 and under-18 national teams.
The Maple Leafs are likely to select Matthews with the No. 1 overall pick, and he’ll join the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and — most recently — Connor McDavid as a first overall selection. Other players expected to go early include Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.
The No. 2 and No. 3 picks belong to the Jets and Blue Jackets, so Laine and Puljujarvi will likely end up on either one of these teams barring a trade or surprise selection.
On the eve of the draft, Matthews spoke about his road to the NHL.
“It’s been very hectic,” Matthews told AZCentral.com. “I feel like this year’s flown by and this last week not so much. It’s been pretty crazy but an experience of a lifetime. It’s something you dream about. For it to be 24 hours away, it’s pretty surreal.”
NHL 2016 Draft Order (Round 1)
11. New Jersey
19. NY Islanders
20. Arizona (from NYR)
21. Carolina (from LAK)
22. Winnipeg (from CHI)
27. Tampa Bay
28. St. Louis
29. Boston (from SJS)
30. Anaheim (from TOR via PITT)
Information & Live Stream
Event: 2016 NHL Draft
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, N.Y.
Watch Online: The 2016 NHL Draft can be live streamed for free here.
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