Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his annual rankings of the top 30 draft-eligible prospects. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on Friday and Saturday.
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |#1 – CONNOR McDAVID
Center, Erie (OHL)
6’0.75”, 188 lbs.
The most talked about draft prospect in the last decade, McDavid brings to the table a high-level of skill at virtually every facet of the game. His special talent and unparalleled sense for the action have many forecasting him to join the elite names in the history of the sport once his playing days are complete.
For starters, McDavid is a marvelous skater with game-breaking acceleration. It’s rare to see a skater get to full speed within three steps, but he does it. With the world-class wheels comes excellent balance that keeps him in full control as he quickly shifts directions while controlling the puck as if it were on a yo-yo.
Once in open ice, McDavid can quickly read the play and create scoring opportunities like no other in his draft class. Even if his speed is somewhat neutralized at the next level, McDavid will still succeed with a deep arsenal of moves and dekes. He can take defenders one-on-one, and he can suck checkers in before coolly dishing the puck off to the open man.
While he made his mark early in his junior career with his seemingly unmatched vision, McDavid displayed a greater scoring knack last season in Erie, compiling 44 goals and 120 points in just 47 games. McDavid, who notched at least one point in 45 of those 47 appearances, posted 2.55 points per game, the most for a draft eligible prospect since Eric Lindros logged 2.61 in 1990-91. His consistently positive presence resulted in a league-leading plus-60 rating.
McDavid wasn’t done there, as the top draft prize capped the season by leading the OHL playoffs in goals (21) and assists (28) to guide the Otters to an Eastern Conference Championship before falling in the league final to Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals. He began the postseason roll with points in 16-straight contests.
The hockey world was abuzz in November when McDavid smacked his hand off the dasher during a fight in a game against Mississauga. He’d miss six weeks with the fracture, but returned in time to play a key role in Canada’s run to gold at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. There, he scored three goals and a tournament-best eight assists to earn a spot on the Tournament All-Star Team.
The smashing campaign earned McDavid the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player, the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the Playoffs Most Valuable Player and the Jack Links CHL Top Prospect of the Year, making him one of the most highly decorated draft prospects of all-time.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.