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 June 26-27.
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |#8 – LAWSON CROUSE
Left Wing, Kingston (OHL)
6’4”, 211 lbs.
A hard-working, big-bodied forward who skates with power, Crouse mixes crafty stick work, three-zone smarts and an aggressive forecheck to present one of the more compelling packages in the entire draft.
Crouse is a skilled wrecking ball in that he can chip, charge, crash and cash.
Crouse, who led the way for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August with six goals in five games, rode a strong second half to finish with 29 goals, 51 points and four fighting majors in 56 appearances with the Frontenacs. Along the way, he was tabbed as the Hardest Worker in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll.
He’s tough to handle when he gains speed in open ice, allowing him to bust through checks and bull his way to the front of the net with ease.
Crouse’s hard-charging game was rewarded with a rare 17-year-old spot on Team Canada for the World Junior Championship, where he notched a goal and two assists while killing penalties in a fourth line role during the seven-game march to the gold medal.
With a savory combination of size, toughness and the willingness to bang bodies, Crouse is coming into his own with the look of a player who could be more effective as a professional than he is a junior. He gets a lot of torque on his stick to unload a quick wrist shot and employs an otherwise soft touch down low.
The potential to become a top line winger is in place if he keeps trending in the right direction over the next few years.
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.