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2015 NHL Draft Profiles (1-10)

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Here is the first in a series of reports looking at the top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft, which will be held June 26-27 in Sunrise, Florida.

A few notes on the rankings. NHL Central Scouting breaks players into four categories: North American skaters and goaltenders; European skaters and goaltenders. Some of the independent and media services – Red Line Report and the Hockey News for example– rank all players together in one list. Others rank skaters and goaltenders separately.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll look at 60 of the top prospects including both skaters and goaltenders.

Connor McDavid

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-1/195
Shoots: Left
Born: January 13, 1997 in Richmond Hill, Ontario
2014-15 Team: Erie (OHL)

Rankings:

1 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

1 – International Scouting Services

1 – Red Line Report

1 – TSN

1 – The Hockey News

1 – ESPN

1 – Future Considerations

The consensus No. 1 pick in this draft. Named the OHL and CHL’s Player of the Year. Registered 120 points (44 goals, 76 assists) in 47 regular season games with Erie of the OHL. Was OHL playoff MVP, tallying 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists) in 19 playoff games as Erie made it to the OHL Finals. Won gold medal with Canada at 2015 World Junior Championship, co-leading tournament in scoring with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in seven games.

Quotable:

“He’s a craftsman with the puck. His hockey sense, with his vision, his anticipation, his sense of timing and the ability to do those things at a top-end speed, you’re looking at the best-skilled player in the draft.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“Get used to this name; he could end up as one of the faces of hockey for the next 10 to 20 years. McDavid is one of the best pure skaters I've ever seen. It's incredible how effortlessly he accelerates to an extremely dangerous full speed. … His puck skills are also of that same extremely high grade. He makes some of the most unique puck plays you'll see, to where it's hard to describe his puck skills other than to say ‘watch him.’ His creativity, hand-eye coordination, and balance are simply incredible.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN.

“The question now is not whether McDavid will be a great NHL player; it’s whether he’ll be a Hall of Famer.” – The Hockey News Draft Preview 2015

Jack Eichel

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-2/196
Shoots: Right
Born: October 28, 1996 in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts
2014-15 Team: Boston University (Hockey East)

Rankings:

2 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

2 – International Scouting Services

2 – Red Line Report

2 – TSN

2 – The Hockey News

2 – ESPN

2 – Future Considerations

He’d be a consensus No. 1 pick in just about any year, but not this year with Connor McDavid in the mix. As a freshman, led the NCAA in scoring with 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 40 games with Boston University. Became the first freshman since Paul Kariya (1993) to win the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey. Had a strong showing at the World Championship, registering seven points (two goals, five assists) in ten games as USA won the bronze medal. Also played for USA at World Junior Championship, tallying four points (one goal, three assists) in five games.

Quotable:

“He is proving to be such an amazing game-breaker; he’s relentless and driven on the play and has the smarts, speed and skills to deliver a needed scoring drive to tie up or win a game.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“The draft’s best combo of skills, power, and skating. ... A true horse in every sense of the word, and in a draft year devoid of McDavid, Eichel would be a very worthy top overall pick. Shows elite skating, puck skills and hockey sense.” – Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide

“He’ll be a franchise player.” – The Hockey News Draft Preview 2015

Noah Hanifin

Position: Defenseman
Height/Weight: 6-3/203
Shoots: Left
Born: January 25, 1997 in Boston, Massachusetts
2014-15 Team: Boston College (Hockey East)

Rankings:

3 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

5 – International Scouting Services

3 – Red Line Report

3 – TSN

3 – The Hockey News

5 – ESPN

3 – Future Considerations

The slick skating defenseman registered 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 37 games as a freshman with Boston College. At 17-years-old to start the season, was the youngest player ever to suit up for Boston College. A product of the United States National Team Development Program, Hanifin won gold at the 2014 U-17 World Hockey Challenge and 2014 U-18 World Junior Championship. Registered two assists in five games for USA at 2015 World Junior Championship.

Quotable:

“Everybody looks at him and says he’s a gifted offensive player, and he is, but what makes him so special is his transition game. He ‘gets it’ – that you have to play defense first and the offense will follow.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“Has the hands, feet, head, and intangibles that make him a potential corner piece on the back end for his NHL club. Superb skater with tremendous size and reach. Sees the ice incredibly well due to high hockey IQ and can QB the point on the power play effectively.” – International Scouting Services 2015 NHL Draft Guide

Dylan Strome

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-3/185
Shoots: Left
Born: March 7, 1997 in Mississauga, Ontario
2014-15 Team: Erie (OHL)

Rankings:

4 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

3 – International Scouting Services

5 – Red Line Report

5 – TSN

4 – The Hockey News

4 – ESPN

4 – Future Considerations

Led the OHL in scoring with 129 points (45 goals, 84 assists) in 68 games with Erie. Registered six points (four goals, two assists) in the final game of the season to edge out Mitchell Marner for scoring title. Tallied 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 20 playoff games as Erie made it to the OHL finals. Won the OHL’s William Hanley Trophy as the league’s most sportsmanlike player. Registered five goals and one assist in five games as Canada won the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial. Younger brother of Ryan Strome of the New York Islanders.

Quotable:

“He has that competitive edge and grittiness; he wants to succeed, wants the puck, wants to score and wants to win. He’s a skilled, driven player, a strong skater with the agility and reach that scouts love.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“A strong young man, with NHL frame. Will be a beast when he puts on 15 to 20 more pounds of muscle. Has an easy stride; two strides and he covers lots of ice. Has a projectable skillset, with good hand/ eye. You think he’s done nothing, then all of a sudden he has multiple points on the board. A 200-ft player and is suited for playing a heavy game once he fills out.” – Future Considerations 2015 NHL Draft Guide

Mitchell Marner

Position: Right Wing/Center
Height/Weight: 5-11/160
Shoots: Right
Born: May 5, 1997 in Markham, Ontario

2014-15 Team: London (OHL)

6 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

6 – International Scouting Services

4 – Red Line Report

4 – TSN

5 – The Hockey News

3 – ESPN

5 – Future Considerations

Offensively gifted forward registered 126 points (44 goals, 82 assists) in 63 games for London of the OHL, finishing second in the league in scoring. Lost out on scoring title to Dylan Strome on final game of season. Missed five games due to injury. Led London with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in seven playoff games. Picked up seven points (two goals, five assists) as Canada won gold at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

Quotable:

“High-end skill set with puck handling and playmaking ability. Plays bigger than his size and is not afraid to get involved in traffic or battle for pucks. He is an excellent skater with very good quickness and agility. He possesses some of the quickest hands in this year's draft class.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“Game breaking potential. Has all the makings of a star playmaker that opposing teams need to prepare for with his ability to quickly process the game and execute plays.” – Dennis MacInnis, International Scouting Services

Ivan Provorov

Position: Defenseman
Height/Weight: 6-0/201
Shoots: Left
Born: January 13, 1997 in Yaroslavl, Russia
2014-15 Team: Brandon (WHL)

Rankings:

7 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

7 – International Scouting Services

6 – Red Line Report

8 – TSN

6 – The Hockey News

14 – ESPN

6 – Future Considerations

The Russian-born Provorov led WHL rookie defensemen in scoring and ranked fourth among all league defensemen with 61 points (15 goals, 46 assists) in 60 games with Brandon. Registered 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 19 playoff games as Brandon advanced to WHL Finals. Was the youngest member of Russia’s team that won a silver medal at the 2015 World Junior Championship, picking up one assist in seven games. He came to North America at 14-years-old to play for the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Knights in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League in 2011-12.

Quotable:

"He's very composed with the puck, has excellent vision and knows where everybody is on the ice. He has good hockey IQ and takes advantage when he sees an opening both offensively and defensively. He will play a physical game and can separate the man from the puck." – John Williams, NHL Central Scouting

“Liked this player a lot. He's strong in all areas. Good skater, good puck skills, hockey sense. He has good size and strength, can finish checks and win battles. Good passer, good vision and creativity.” – Phil Myre, International Scouting Services

Mathew Barzal

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 5-11/175
Shoots: Right
Born: May 26, 1997 in Coquitlam, British Columbia
2014-15 Team: Seattle (WHL)

Rankings:

11 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

8 – International Scouting Services

9 – Red Line Report

9 – TSN

10 – The Hockey News

6 – ESPN

9 – Future Considerations

Barzal registered 57 points (12 goals, 45 assists) in 44 games with Seattle of the WHL. He missed extended time due to a knee injury. He tallied eight points (four goals, four assists) in six playoff games. Led Canada in scoring at 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship, tallying 12 points (three goals, nine assists in seven games. Helped Canada win gold at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, registering seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games.

Quotable:

"He's the best skater I've seen in the WHL in terms of his east-west game while creating time and space with his feet. He has great vision and puck skills.” – John Williams, NHL Central Scouting

“The former first overall WHL pick is an exciting and well-rounded prospect with significant upside. He's one of the best skaters in this draft class, with an explosive first step, high-end top speed and his edge work that is among the most impressive of his age group. Barzal's skill level is also pretty good, with his vision and playmaking being standout attributes. He's patient, creative, and shifty with the puck. – Corey Pronman, ESPN

Lawson Crouse

Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6-4/215
Shoots: Left
Born: June 23, 1997 in Mt. Brydges, Ontario
2014-15 Team: Kingston (OHL)

Rankings:

5 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

4 – International Scouting Services

13 – Red Line Report

7 – TSN

8 – The Hockey News

10 – ESPN

10 – Future Considerations

The big wing led Kingston of the OHL in goals (29) and points (51) in 56 games. Won a gold medal with Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship, registering one goal and two assists in seven games. Crouse and Connor McDavid were the only two draft-eligible players on Canada’s 2015 World Juniors roster. Won a gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, co-leading the tournament with six goals in five games.

Quotable:

“He’s a big-bodied guy, protects the puck and is solid on his skates. He can see the ice and barrels through everyone. He’s got good hands to go along with that big body.” – Chris Edwards, NHL Central Scouting

“He is a warrior and will succeed in any role required of him. He is versatile and can have success in a checking role or a top line role depending on where he is cast. Crouse is ultra-competitive and is at his best when he plays with a feisty edge. A throw-back offensively capable power forward.” – Future Considerations 2015 NHL Draft Guide

Mikko Rantanen

Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6-4/211
Shoots: Left
Born: October 29, 1996 in Nousiainen, Finland
2014-15 Team: TPS (Finnish Elite)

Rankings:

1 (Europe) – NHL Central Scouting

9 – International Scouting Services

7 – Red Line Report

10 – TSN

12 – The Hockey News

12 – ESPN

8 – Future Considerations

Top-ranked European skater in the draft. Registered 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 56 games with TPS in Finnish Elite League. Registered 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in seven playoff games as junior team won league championship. He was named best player in junior playoffs. Scored four goals in five games for Finland at 2015 World Junior Championship and was named one of his team’s top three players at tournament.

Quotable:

“He’s a physically strong power forward with very good playmaking abilities, smart, active and involved on every shift. He has very good speed and quickness for a big man and plays with authority. He’s difficult to check, protects the puck well and has good hands.” – Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting

“Huge, powerful locomotive has improved his skating. … Imposing and assertive Finnish winger with over 100 pro games under his belt in Finland. A rare blend of size, skill, and effort. Consistently active, dangerous, and forceful.” – Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide

Zach Werenski
Position: Defenseman
Height/Weight: 6-2/206
Shoots: Left
Born: July 19, 1997 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan
2014-15 Team: University of Michigan (Big Ten)

Rankings:

9 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

11 – International Scouting Services

12 – Red Line Report

11 – TSN

9 – The Hockey News

8 – ESPN

7 – Future Considerations

Ranked second nationally in scoring among freshman defensemen in scoring with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 35 games for the University of Michigan. His nine goals were tops among Big Ten defensemen. He was an All-Big Ten first team and All-Rookie Team selection. Registered the most points and goals by a freshman defenseman at Michigan since Jacob Trouba (13G, 16A) in 2012-13. Played for USA at 2015 World Junior Championship, registering one goal and one assist in five games.

Quotable:

"He's such a cool, calm and collected player. He's smart, always in the right spot, moves the puck and makes all the right plays.” – Greg Rajanen, NHL Central Scouting

“Has ease to his game and is always under control but in command. Werenski is a fluid skater who beats pressure and can create space for himself offensively. He sees the play well and combined with very good passing skills, can create offense. I’ve always felt he deserved to be discussed in the same light as Hanifin.” – Craig Button, TSN

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