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Entry Draft preview: Top 15 North American skaters

In the last of a four-part series, here are the top 15 North American draft-eligible skaters

by NHL @NHL / NHL.com

With the NHL Entry Draft coming up next week, we took a look at the top prospects available for selection this year in Chicago. In the last of a four-part series, here are the top 15 North American draft-eligible skaters, as ranked by the Central Scouting Bureau (CSB).

Nolan Patrick
Final rank (midterm rank): 1 (1)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 198 lbs.
Born: September 19, 1998
Birthplace: Winnipeg, MB

Named captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to the start of the season, Nolan Patrick averaged more than a point per game despite missing significant time due to injury (20G, 26A in 33 GP). Patrick was the MVP of the 2016 WHL playoffs after helping Brandon win its first championship in 20 years, tying teammate Jayce Hawryluk for the post-season scoring lead. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound forward was the WHL Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 after putting up 56 points (30G, 26A) in 55 games, and registered 102 points (41G, 61A) in 72 games last season. Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr believes that Patrick is the "real deal" and will be an impact NHL player.

Nico Hischier
Final rank (midterm rank): 2 (2)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 176 lbs.
Born: January 4, 1999
Birthplace: Naters, Switzerland

The Halifax Mooseheads' Nico Hischier was named the QMJHL Rookie of the Year this year, leading all QMJHL rookies with 38 goals and 48 assists in 57 games. Hischier, who added three goals and four assists in six playoff games, was also awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league's best professional prospect. The native of Naters, Switzerland is hoping to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history, a record currently held by Nino Niederreiter (drafted fifth overall by NYI in 2010). The 6-foot-1, 176-pound center represented Switzerland twice at the World Junior Championship; he was the second-youngest player in the tournament in 2016, and recorded four goals and three assists in five games in 2017.

Casey Mittelstadt
Final rank (midterm rank): 3 (5)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 201 lbs.
Born: November 22, 1998
Birthplace: Edina, MN

Casey Mittelstadt was the winner of Minnesota's Mr. Hockey Award in 2016-17, handed out to the state's top senior high school hockey player, after leading the Eden Prairie Eagles in goals (21), assists (43) and points (64) in 25 games. He also collected 13 goals and 17 assists in 24 games with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound center represented Team USA at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial (3G, 4A in 4 GP) and helped the Americans capture bronze at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship, where he scored four goals and five assists in seven games. NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr says that Mittelstadt's game is consistent no matter the environment, and that the Minnesotan "always makes a difference" when he plays.

Gabriel Vilardi
Final rank (midterm rank): 4 (3)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 201 lbs.
Born: August 16, 1999
Birthplace: Kingston, ON

In 49 games for the Windsor Spitfires, Gabriel Vilardi led the team with 29 goals, and also added 32 assists this year. Vilardi was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team in 2015-16 after putting up 38 points (17G, 21A) in the regular season and adding one goal and three assists in five playoff games. Vilardi won the 2014-15 Hockey Eastern Ontario Player of the Year award after recording 18 goals and 21 assists in 21 games with the CIHA Voyageurs. On the international stage, Vilardi scored four goals and added three assists in six games at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, helping Canada to a gold medal. NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr has called Vilardi a "high-end possession center with excellent hockey sense and puck-handling ability."

Michael Rasmussen
Final rank (midterm rank): 5 (6)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 215 lbs.
Born: April 17, 1999
Birthplace: Vancouver, BC

The Tri-City Americans' Michael Rasmussen was recently named team captain after leading his club with 15 power play goals in 2016-17. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound center totalled 32 goals and 23 assists in 50 games in the WHL this past season. Rasmussen was the Americans' seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft, and led Tri-City rookies in goals (18) and points (43) in 63 games in 2015-16. The native of Vancouver, BC has represented Canada at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial (1G, 3A in 4 GP) and the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (2G, 1A in 5 GP; member of the Canada Black squad).

Cody Glass
Final rank (midterm rank): 6 (8)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 178 lbs.
Born: April 1, 1999
Birthplace: Winnipeg, MB

After leading the Portland Winterhawks with 94 points (32G, 62A) in 69 games this season, Cody Glass was named team co-MVP. Glass added four goals and five assists in 11 playoff games and was named a WHL Western Conference First Team All-Star in 2016-17. In his rookie season with Portland, Glass scored 10 goals and added 17 assists in 65 games. The native of Winnipeg, MB represented Canada Red at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and scored 2 goals and one assist in 3 games at the 2017 Under-18 World Championship for Team Canada. Prior to joining the Winterhawks, Glass recorded 23 goals and 32 assists in 40 games for the Winnipeg Thrashers Midget AAA club in 2014-15.

Owen Tippett
Final rank (midterm rank): 7 (4)
Position: right wing
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: February 16, 1999
Birthplace: Peterborough, ON

The Mississauga Steelheads' Owen Tippett enjoyed a successful sophomore season in the OHL, posting 75 points (44G, 31A) in 60 games to lead his team after a 20-point rookie campaign in 2015-16. The 6-foot, 200-pound winger helped the Steelheads to a Central Division regular-season championship and added 10 goals and nine assists in 20 playoff contests. Mississauga made it all the way to the OHL Championship Series, losing in five games to the Erie Otters. Tippett also represented Canada in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in 2016, adding one goal and one assist in four games.

Eeli Tolvanen
Final rank (midterm rank): 8 (7)
Position: right wing
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 lbs.
Born: April 22, 1999
Birthplace: Vihti, Finland

Eeli Tolvanen was the leading scorer for the Western Conference-leading Sioux City Musketeers, potting 30 goals and added 24 assists in 52 games - good for eighth overall in the USHL. Tolvanen also contributed five goals and five assists in 13 postseason tilts, helping the Musketeers reach the Clark Cup final, where they fell to the Chicago Steel in five games. In his first season with the Musketeers, Tolvanen was named a USHL First Team All-Rookie after finishing sixth in scoring among rookies with 17 goals and 21 assists in 49 games. On the international stage, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound winger represented Finland at the 2017 World Junior Championship (2G, 4A in 6 GP) and the 2016 Under-18 World Championship (7G, 2A in 7 GP), where he tied for the tournament goal-scoring lead and helped Finland to a gold medal. Tolvanen has committed to Boston College for the 2017-18 season.

Cale Makar
Final rank (midterm rank): 9 (10)
Position: defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 180 lbs.
Born: October 30, 1998
Birthplace: Calgary, AB

Cale Makar, the top-ranked North American defenseman, led all AJHL blue-liners in goals (24), assists (51) and points (75) in 54 games this season, helping the Brooks Bandits to a first-place finish. Makar was named the league's Most Outstanding Defenseman and Most Valuable Player, and became the first player in franchise history to be named Canadian Junior Hockey League MVP. In the playoffs, the defenseman scored five goals and 11 assists in 13 contests, helping the Bandits to the championship and earning playoff MVP honors for himself. This all follows an impressive rookie year, in which Makar collected 10 goals and 45 assists in the regular season and three goals and 11 assists in the playoffs. The Bandits also won the championship that year, and Makar was named AJHL Rookie of the Year. The native of Calgary, AB was captain of Canada West at the 2016 World Junior A challenge where he scored four goals and added four assists in four games, after winning gold at the 2015 edition. Makar will be playing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2017-18.

Nick Suzuki
Final rank (midterm rank): 10 (16)
Position: center
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 183 lbs.
Born: August 10, 1999
Birthplace: London, ON

After a rookie season in which he netted 20 goals and 18 assists in 63 games for the Owen Sound Attack, Nick Suzuki broke out and registered a 96-point season in 65 games (45G, 51A), good for second in team scoring. Suzuki helped the Attack to a second-place finish in the OHL's Midwest Division. Owen Sound made it to the third round of the playoffs, losing to the eventual champion Erie Otters, with Suzuki leading his team in scoring with 23 points (8G, 15A) in 17 contests. On the international stage, the 5-foot-11, 183 lb. centerman represented Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in 2016, netting one goal and adding two assists in four games.

Juuso Valimaki
Final rank (midterm rank): 11 (9)
Position: defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 204 lbs.
Born: October 6, 1998
Birthplace: Tampere, Finland

Defenseman Juuso Valimaki averaged just over a point per game this season for the Tri-City Americans, notching 19 goals and 42 assists (61 points) in 60 games, after a rookie campaign in which he recorded 32 points (7G, 25A) in 56 contests. Valimaki has represented Finland on eight separate occasions, most recently at the 2017 World Junior Championships, where he scored a pair of goals in six games. Valimaki also captained Finland when they won gold at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship, recording two assists in the tournament.

Callan Foote
Final rank (midterm rank): 12 (12)
Position: defenseman
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 212 lbs.
Born: December 13, 1998
Birthplace: Denver, CO

Patrolling the blue line for the Kelowna Rockets, Callan Foote recorded 57 points (6G, 51A) in 71 contests in 2016-17, placing him 11th league-wide in scoring among defensemen. Foote added a goal and six assists in 14 playoff tilts, as the Rockets lost to the eventual champion Seattle Thunderbirds in the third round. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound defenseman was building off a rookie campaign in which he netted eight goals and 28 helpers in 71 games. The native of Denver, CO also appeared in two games for Omaha in the USHL in 2014-15, recording an assist.

Ryan Poehling
Final rank (midterm rank): 13 (14)
Position: center
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 183 lbs.
Born: January 3, 1999
Birthplace: Lakeville, MN

Centerman Ryan Poehling, of the St. Cloud State Huskies, recorded seven goals and six assists in 35 games in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The 6-foot-2, 183-pound pivot has represented the USA twice on the international stage, helping his country to a silver medal at the 2017 Under-18 World Championship with three goals and two assists in seven games, and registered seven points (4G, 3A) in five games at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, where the USA also won silver. Prior to that, Poehling played three seasons of high school hockey for Lakeville North, helping the Panthers to a perfect season and state championship in 2014-15, when he scored 14 goals and adding 24 assists in 25 games. The Panthers were conference champions all three seasons of his high school career.

Jason Robertson
Final rank (midterm rank): 14 (34)
Position: left wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 192 lbs.
Born: July 22, 1999
Birthplace: Arcadia, CA

Jason Robertson averaged well over a point per game in his sophomore season with the Kingston Frontenacs, registering 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 games, tops on the team. The native of Arcadia, CA also led all Kingston players in scoring in the playoffs with five goals and 13 assists in 11 games, en route to a second-round elimination at the hands of the Peterborough Petes. In his rookie campaign, Robertson found the back of the net 18 times, and also added 14 helpers in 54 tilts, making him the top-scoring rookie on the roster.

Isaac Ratcliffe
Final rank (midterm rank): 15 (20)
Position: left wing
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: February 15, 1999
Birthplace: London, ON

The Guelph Storm's Isaac Ratcliffe potted 28 goals and added 26 assists in 67 games in 2016-17, making him his team's top goal-scorer and placing him second in points. In his rookie season, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound left wing was tied as the team's top rookie with 13 points (5G, 8A) in 46 contests. Ratcliffe represented Canada at the 2017 Under-18 World Championship, netting two goals in five games.
 
For the full rankings and more info on each player, head to the Central Scouting Bureau's 2017 Draft Prospect Rankings page.

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