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Prospects react to NHL Central Scouting rankings

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid considered his No. 1 ranking on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft to be "a little bit of a dream come true."

But McDavid realizes his work is not yet completed. NHL Central Scouting revealed on Tuesday its midterm rankings of North American skaters and goaltenders and international skaters and goaltenders.

McDavid is the first of seven Canadian Hockey League players among the top 10 on the list, including left wing Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs (No. 4) and center Dylan Strome of Erie (No. 5). All 40 Canadian Hockey League players competing in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at the Meridian Center on Thursday are listed on Central Scouting's midterm rankings, including 32 of the top 60 skaters.

"You don't really dream about being No. 1 at the midterm rankings," McDavid said. "It's all about what's down the line and at the end of the day it's all about what teams and what general managers have to say about you and not necessarily what [Central Scouting] has to say or anything like that.

"At the same time, it's very nice."

McDavid will serve as captain for Team Bobby Orr at the Top Prospects Game.

Crouse, who was a teammate of McDavid's on the gold medal-winning Canadian team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, feels privileged to be ranked high on the list. He'll join McDavid on Team Orr in the Top Prospects Game.

"I try not to look at the [rankings] but obviously it's always there and you're always going to see it," he said. "It's a privilege but I still have to earn that spot. There's a lot of critics out there, and I'm just trying to prove them all wrong."

One player who made a significant move on the midterm list was Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Thomas Chabot, who was a B-rated prospect on Central Scouting's players to watch list in December.

Chabot, who will play for Team Orr, was No. 15 on Central Scouting's midterm list.

"It's always pretty nice to see your name on the list but I think it's only a list and there's a lot more work," Chabot said. "But I was pretty proud of myself because I knew I was working a lot for it and playing well."

Halifax Mooseheads right wing Timo Meier, who will play for Team Orr, was pleasantly surprised to be No. 12 on Central Scouting's midterm report.

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"For sure it was great to see my named up there in the rankings; it motivates me to keep working hard and keep going as the season now goes into the second part," Meier said. "I think if I take care of that process the results will be there in June at the Draft."

The 2015 NHL Draft is slated June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Strome, who will play for Team Don Cherry and opposite junior teammate McDavid, is excited that two of the top five players in the rankings represent the Otters.

"There's a little pressure knowing [two of the top five are from Erie] but at the same time rankings are something that everyone has and everyone can make," Strome said. "If you look at rankings too much, it's not going to end up going your way. You kind of just have to block it out as much as you can and focus on just playing hockey."

London Knights center Mitchell Marner, who leads the CHL with 90 points (34 goals, 56 assists), is No. 7 on Central Scouting's list. Marner will represent Team Cherry.

"I think everyone has looked at the rankings," Marner said. "Everyone wants to know what the placement is right now. I think it's nice to see what place everyone is in and it's good to see who you're playing against in the [CHL Top Prospects Game] and where they're ranked; it's going to be a fun game to play in."

Barrie Colts goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who will play for Team Orr, is No. 1 on Central Scouting's list of the top players at his position in North America.

"There's still a long way to go," he said. "I mean, I'm excited about it, but there's still a lot of work to be done. In order to stay at first, it's going to take hard work and focus. Nothing's happened yet. This ranking just means you're on the right track, so you just have to stick with it."

And what if he were drafted in the first round on June 26?

"It'd be amazing," Blackwood said. "It would be a dream of mine. I've always wanted it and it would just be like a dream come true."
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