TORONTO – Center Connor McDavid of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters has been named the top 2015 draft-eligible skater from North America by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, edging Boston University freshman Jack Eichel for the honor.
2015 NHL DRAFT FINAL RANKINGS
McDavid, a native of Newmarket, Ont., finished third in the OHL with 44-76—120 in 47 games this season. A member of Canada’s gold medal-winning entry at the 2015 World Junior Championship, he tied for the tournament lead with 11 points (3-8—11), paced the tournament in assists and was named to the media all-star team. McDavid aims to be the seventh OHL player
selected first overall in the past nine years, following Patrick Kane (2007, London Knights), Steven Stamkos (2008, Sarnia Sting), John Tavares (2009, London Knights), Taylor Hall (2010, Windsor Spitfires), Nail Yakupov (2012, Sarnia Sting) and Aaron Ekblad (2014, Barrie Colts).
Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.), a freshman at Boston University, was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and paces all NCAA Division I skaters with 24-43—67 in 38 games. He led the Terriers to their first conference title in six years and was named Hockey East Player of the Year, Hockey East Rookie of the Year and was the only unanimous first-team Hockey East All-Star selection. Eichel would be the first NCAA player selected in the top five of the NHL Draft since 2006, when the Boston Bruins picked Phil Kessel (University of Minnesota) fifth overall.
Joining McDavid and Eichel among the top six North American skaters are another college freshman and three standout OHL forwards, including the league’s top two scorers from 2014-15: defenseman Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass), center Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont.), left wing Lawson Crouse (Mount Brydges, Ont.) and center Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont.).
Hanifin, who at age 17 became the youngest player ever to don a Boston College Eagles uniform, finished third among NCAA freshmen blueliners with 5-18—23 in 37 games. Strome, McDavid’s teammate with the Erie Otters and brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, won the OHL scoring title with 45-84—129 in 68 games. Crouse, who joined McDavid on Canada’s gold medal-winning squad at the 2015 World Junior Championship, led the Kingston Frontenacs in goals (29) and points (51). Marner, of the London Knights, finished three points behind Strome in the OHL scoring race, finishing second with 44-82—126 in 63 games.
Right wing Mikko Rantanen of Finland’s TPS has been named the top 2015 draft-eligible skater from Europe. A 6’3” forward from Nousiainen, Finland, he recorded 9-19—29 in 56 games as an alternate captain with TPS of Liiga during the 2014-15 season. Rantanen also skated for the club’s junior team in the playoffs, collecting 6-8—14 in seven games en route to a league championship and Playoffs Best Player honors. Internationally, he represented Finland at the 2015 World Junior Championship and was named one of the top three players on his team (4-0—4 in 5 GP).
Also among the top European skaters is No. 2-ranked Gabriel Carlsson (Orebro, Sweden), a defenseman who spent the majority of 2014-15 with Linkoping’s junior team, registering 0-7—7 and a plus-21 rating in 39 games.
Mackenzie Blackwood (Thunder Bay, Ont.) of the Barrie Colts, who finished fourth in the OHL with 33 wins, and Ilya Samsonov (Magnitogorsk, Russia) of the Magnitogorsk junior program are the top-rated goaltenders from North America and Europe, respectively.
The final rankings feature the top 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 120 skaters and 10 goaltenders from Europe.
In its 40th year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides evaluation and scouting of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time and 15 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing in Europe, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff at European Scouting Services based in Finland.
Combined, NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Services will see in excess of 3,000 games this season.
The 2015 NHL Draft will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. The 2015 Draft will be the second for the Panthers and Broward County, after also playing host to the event in 2001.