With the first overall pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs are proud to select, from Zurich SC, Auston Matthews.
There was no surprise. During the few days that lead to the NHL 2016 Draft, the Leafs' organization were pretty bad at hiding the fact they were going to draft Auston Matthews ahead of the Finnish goal-scorer Patrik Laine.
Matthews, a 2-way centerman which game looks a lot like Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar, is exactly what most teams are looking to add to their lineup. Kopitar, Crosby, Toews, Bergeron, Datsyuk... Those guys are arguably the best 2-way centermen of the last decade, (they all won at least a Frank J. Selke trophy except for Sidney Crosby) and they're also the main reason why their teams got away with the last 9 Stanley Cup (check it out here).
The Leafs' #34 is currently 2nd in scoring among the rookies with 49 points (28-21--49) in 58 games, behind Patrik Laine. Although, Matthews is playing with Zach Hyman and Connor Brown while Patrik Laine is spending most of his time with Mark Scheifele or Nikolaj Ehlers (Winnipeg's best offensive weapon).
Despite "inferior" linemates, Auston Matthews is still generating scoring chances all around the ice. Actually, he's the best in the Maple Leafs' organization and his graphs (shown below) look a lot like Sidney Crosby's or Connor McDavid's. (This is a representation of the Maple Leafs 5v5 unblocked shot rates when Matthews is ON (left) and Off (right) the ice. When there's a red area, that means the Maple Leafs are shooting the puck at a higher rate than the NHL average. When it's blue, it's the opposite.)
Laine, an elite goal-scorer which game looks a lot like Alexander Ovechkin, is probably one of the best scorer the NHL will ever see. A deadly wrist-shot, a 100mph slapshot and a finishing touch like no others. The fit in Winnipeg appears to be perfect as the Jets' organization believes they have their 2-way centerman in Mark Scheifele.
Laine, who already has 3 hat-trick to his credit, is the leader in scoring among the rookies with 52 points (28-24--52) in 54 games despite the concussion he suffered in early January. The 6"5 winger is paired against a tougher opposition than Matthews on most nights as he's facing the opponent's best blueliners night in and night out.
In the end, Laine's ability to create scoring chances in the slot is better than the NHL average but when it comes to it, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler are a huge step ahead... but, Patrik Laine has this rare ability to turn what looks like a dead-end situation into a scoring chance. His shooting ability is just that good.
(This is a representation of the Jets 5v5 unblocked shot rates when Laine is ON (left) and Off (right) the ice. When there's a red area, that means theJets are shooting the puck at a higher rate than the NHL average. When it's blue, it's the opposite.)
So, Laine or Matthews? We believe both teams got what they needed/wanted out of the 2016 Draft.