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Prospects

Hanifin finishes freshman year at Boston College

Sunday, 03.29.2015 / 10:27 AM / Prospects

Connor Mellas - NHL.com Correspondent

PROVIDENCE -- Boston College’s offensive zone possession collapsed, and suddenly, Denver forward Daniel Doremus faced a stretch of wide-open ice. With a few seconds remaining in the second period, Doremus skated through the neutral zone and into Eagles territory, focusing his attention on the only player in front of the net, BC goaltender Thatcher Demko.

He should have been more worried about who was behind him.

BC freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin skated about 130 feet and caught Doremus before he could challenge Demko, defusing the threat with a sweeping poke check.

“The puck is transitioning, and he picked it up,” Hanifin said. “I saw the trail guy behind, so I didn’t know if it was going to be a 2-on-1 or not, so I was kind of pacing myself because I didn’t want to go to him and have him throw it across for an open guy. I looked back and [Michael Matheson] was there, so I told him to go to him, and I basically got stick on puck and luckily, the puck went into the corner.”

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Top prospects for 2015 draft provide self-evaluations

Saturday, 03.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Prior to every season, NHL Central Scouting has already evaluated hundreds of the top prospects eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft.

In addition to putting together meticulous reports and sharing those details with their colleagues, it's also required that each prospect submit some necessary paperwork.

So even before Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid and Boston University freshman Jack Eichel begin to impress, they've already completed the NHL Central Scouting questionnaire.

When asked for his ambition outside of hockey in September 2014, Eichel wrote: "Be a good father someday."

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Scouts see value in enhanced stats if applied properly

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 5:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Will the age of enhanced statistics one day change the way NHL Central Scouting goes about its business in evaluating the top players eligible for the NHL Draft?

There's no denying the fact enhanced stats have taken the NHL and its fans by storm. In February, the League announced a partnership with enterprise software company SAP to provide many new statistics via NHL.com. If this stats revolution changes the way people now analyze the game, what could it do for NHL scouts?

"If you add ingredients to help you evaluate someone, you have to use those ingredients," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "But you can't go overboard; we've been baking a cake our whole life and now, if you put icing on the cake, it's better. But if it's all icing it's not a good cake, so I think if you take it too far it might not work.

"The eyeball test still has to be there, you still have to apply what analytics do. It could help you decide between one guy or the other, and I believe it is good for the game."

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Eichel, Hanifin among those to watch in NCAA tourney

Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 12:40 PM / Prospects

Corey Masisak and Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writers

There hasn't been an NCAA player selected in the top five of the NHL Draft since 2006, but this June there could be two and both are in action this weekend in the 2015 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament.

Jonathan Toews from North Dakota and Phil Kessel from the University of Minnesota were top-five picks in 2006. Nine years later, Boston University forward Jack Eichel and Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin could be among the first five names called at the 2015 draft in Sunrise, Fla.

Eichel and Hanifin are two of the key players to watch in the NCAA tournament, which starts with four games Friday. There are also 107 NHL draft picks on the 16 rosters, according to College Hockey Inc., along with some undrafted players who should receive attention as free agents once their seasons are over.

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Wheat Kings' Provorov proving self in North America

Thursday, 03.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Defenseman Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League has been described by teammates as a breakout machine.

The 6-foot, 191-pound native of Yaroslavl, Russia, has lived up to that billing in his first WHL season.

"He's good in all aspects of the game," defense partner Ryan Pilon said. "He can take the body and score some highlight-reel goals."

Provorov isn't your typical one-year wonder from Russia having success in North America.

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Crouse gained confidence with complete effort at WJC

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Prior to the start of selection camp for the Canadian National Junior Team in December, director of player personnel Ryan Jankowski informed forward Lawson Crouse that doing the three things he does best would better serve his chances of earning a roster spot for the World Junior Championship.

The checklist included being first on the forecheck, finishing his checks and putting "the odd puck in the net in the blue paint." Nothing new to Crouse, since he considers himself an energy guy capable of doing the little things necessary to succeed. He also has one heck of a shot.

While no one would mistake Crouse for fellow 2015 NHL Draft-eligible center Connor McDavid, he did exactly what he was told to do and as a result played a vital fourth-line role in a gold medal-winning performance.

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Hanifin tops all defensive prospects for 2015 Draft

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Boston College freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin didn't hesitate when asked if freshman forward Jack Eichel of rival Boston University would be able to beat him wide in a one-on-one situation.

The question certainly has merit since Hanifin and Eichel have seen a lot of each other over the years. They were teammates for the United States Under-18 National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., teammates for the United States National Junior Team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, and are now opponents in Hockey East.

The fact the question was even posed to Hanifin is telling enough to how talented a player he is, considering Eichel is regarded as a generational star, a virtual lock as a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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Blackwood a top goalie despite short time in net

Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Mackenzie Blackwood wasn't a goalie. He almost wasn't a hockey player.

Blackwood, the top-rated North American goalie in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft, grew up like many kids, trying his hand at multiple sports. At age 9 Blackwood said he stopped playing hockey to focus on lacrosse and snowboarding.

The hiatus was relatively short-lived, as a year later he said he was back to playing in house leagues in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

But even then he wasn't a goalie. That didn't come until at age 12, when Blackwood's VP Bearcats lost their goalie and needed someone to play the position.

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Finland's Rantanen put on show at World Juniors

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Finland didn't do much celebrating at the conclusion of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

After winning a gold medal at the 2014 WJC, Finland struggled to find any level of consistency at this year's tournament and finished seventh.

However, forward Mikko Rantanen made quite the impression as one of the youngest players on the team.

In the eyes of some scouts, the 18-year-old left-shot right wing was Finland's best player. He had four of Finland's eight goals at the WJC, and proved to be fast, energetic and reliable player at each end of the ice for Finland.

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McDavid: I'm not in a class by myself

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 7:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid admitted there was a bit of a letdown for him after helping Canada celebrate its first gold medal in six years at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto earlier this month.

"It's pretty common to have a little bit of a letdown after world juniors; your game is so ramped up and everything is riding on every single play," McDavid said. "Then you come back to the Ontario Hockey League, where it's still great hockey but not the world juniors, so it's common to have a letdown."

McDavid, who was an alternate captain for Canada, had three goals, 11 points and a plus-8 rating in seven games for his country and was named to NHL.com's World Junior Championship All-Tournament Team.

"I think I had a little bit of [a letdown] that first week back to Erie but I'm feeling really good now," he said.

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