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2015 NHL Draft Profiles (11-20)

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Here is the second part in a series of reports looking at the top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft, which will take place June 26-27 in Sunrise, Florida.

A note 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.

We are taking a look at 60 of the top prospects including both skaters and goaltenders leading up to the draft.

Pavel Zacha

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-3/210
Shoots: Left
Born: April 6, 1997 in Brno, Czech Republic
2014-15 Team: Sarnia (OHL)

Rankings:

8 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

10 – International Scouting Services

10 – Red Line Report

6 – TSN

7 – The Hockey News

11 – ESPN

15 – Future Considerations

The Czech native, playing in his first season in North America, registered 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 37 games for Sarnia of the OHL. Missed time during the season due to injury, suspensions and the World Juniors, where he had one goal and one assist in five games for Czech Republic. He scored five goals in five games at U-18 World Junior Championship. Zacha played in Czech professional league at age 16.

Quotable:

“He's got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor; he plays an excellent two-way game. He's physical and solid on his skates and can separate guys from the puck.” – Chris Edwards, NHL Central Scouting

“He's a big, strong forward who uses his body well to win battles and deliver hits. He's a fantastic skater for a big man. His technique is very refined, he's good in tight spaces, and can explode through the neutral zone. He's also a pretty skilled playmaker who shows skilled, coordinated puck handling and the vision to make plays.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN

Timo Meier

Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6-1/209
Shoots: Left
Born: October 8, 1996 in Herisau, Switzerland
2014-15 Team: Halifax (QMJHL)

Rankings:

10 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

14 – International Scouting Services

16 – Red Line Report

12 – TSN

13 – The Hockey News

26 – ESPN

14 – Future Considerations

Native of Switzerland led Halifax (QMJHL) with 44 goals and ranked second with 90 points in 61 games. Set a franchise record with 23 power-play goals. Put together a 27-game points streak during the regular season, tallying 28 goals and 23 assists during the stretch. Registered 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 14 playoff games. Played for Swiss at 2015 World Junior Championship, tallying six points (two goals, four assists) in six games.

Quotable:

“He's a solid and strong skater both with and without the puck, has high-end hockey sense and reads the play very well. He is very effective in 1-on-1 situations.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“After the long spell in which Switzerland seemed to be able to produce nothing but goalies at the NHL level, Meier represents a cohort of young, big Swiss forwards starting to make their mark on the game in North America. And the fact he kept up his scoring pace in the playoffs was encouraging. Meier is big, skilled and dangerous when he gets in the offensive zone. Some will point to the fact he played with Winnipeg first-rounder Nikolaj Ehlers as a reason for his success, but scouts see a player who can do it on his own.” – The Hockey News Draft Preview

Travis Konecny

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 5-10/175
Shoots: Right
Born: March 11, 1997 in London, Ontario
2014-15 Team: Ottawa (OHL)

Rankings:

14 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

12 – International Scouting Services

17 – Red Line Report

15 – TSN

24 – The Hockey News

7 – ESPN

11 – Future Considerations

Ottawa 67’s captain ranked second on the team with 68 points (29 goals, 39 assists) in 60 games. Voted Best Skater and second Best Stickhandler in a poll of the OHL’s Eastern Conference coaches for 2014-15 season. Was OHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2013-14, registering 70 points (26 goals, 44 assists) in 63 games for Ottawa. Won gold medal with Canada at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

Quotable:

“He's a highly skilled forward who never quits. He skates very well, has excellent speed, is not afraid to get involved in battles and has no fear of taking the puck to the net.” – Chris Edwards, NHL Central Scouting

“One of the best pure skating, puckhandling and sniping forwards in the draft. Has both terrific straight line speed and east-west lateral agility. Makes all his moves at top-end speed, and can beat even good defenders off the rush. Slick and elusive with the quickness to get separation in tight spaces. Has quick, soft hands in close.” – Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide

Kyle Connor

Position: Left Wing/Center
Height/Weight: 6-1/177
Shoots: Left
Born: December 9, 1996 in Clinton Township, Michigan
2014-15 Team: Youngstown (USHL)

Rankings:

13 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

13 – International Scouting Services

26 – Red Line Report

13– TSN

11 – The Hockey News

13 – ESPN

12– Future Considerations

Led the USHL in scoring with 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists) in 56 games with Youngstown. Named the USHL’s Player of the Year and Forward of the Year. Registered four points (three goals, one assist) in four playoff games. Won gold medal with USA at 2014 U-18 World Championship. Has committed to the University of Michigan for 2015-16 season.

Quotable:

“He's a solid two-way player and plays hard in both zones. Nice stride and quickness and good in tight with the puck.” – Greg Rajanen, NHL Central Scouting

“He is a quick, energetic force that can be incredibly tough to contain on the rush. Strong possession game through his lower body strength, explosive stride and ability to keep the puck to the outside with his nifty hands. A player who has shown ability to be a two-way threat although putting up big production numbers.” – International Scouting Services 2015 NHL Draft Guide

Evgeny Svechnikov

Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6-2/199
Shoots: Left
Born: October 31, 1996 in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia
2014-15 Team: Cape Breton (QMJHL)

Rankings:

17 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

18 – International Scouting Services

15 – Red Line Report

18 – TSN

16 – The Hockey News

9 – ESPN

16 – Future Considerations

In first season in North America, the Russian native ranked second in rookie scoring in QMJHL with 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in 55 games for Cape Breton. Registered seven points (one goal, six assists) in seven playoff games. Has represented Russia internationally, winning silver at the 2013 U-17 World Hockey Challenge and being named one of his team’s top 3 players at the 2014 U-18 World Junior Championship.

Quotable:

“He proved to be a very skilled skater, strong on the puck and a player capable of doing a lot of things well. He plays a physical game, doesn't back away, is aggressive on the forecheck and finishes checks.” – Troy Dumville, NHL Central Scouting

“He's a 6-2 forward with a ton of talent who effectively switched to center in the latter months of the season. He's very shifty in tight, and can make lightning-quick moves to evade pressure. Svechnikov also uses his big frame well to protect the puck and doesn't shy away from putting physical pressure on his opponents. He sees the ice well, and has good touch on all his passes. His skating isn't a standout attribute, but he skates at a solid to average level, which makes him stand out as a bigger player.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN

Nick Merkley

Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 5-10/191
Shoots: Right
Born: May 23, 1997 in Calgary, Alberta
2014-15 Team: Kelowna (WHL)

Rankings:

23 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

19 – International Scouting Services

14 – Red Line Report

17 – TSN

15 – The Hockey News

18– ESPN

17 – Future Considerations

Led Kelowna and finished sixth in the WHL with 90 points (20 goals, 70 assists) in 72 games. Registered 27 points (5 goals, 22 assists) in 19 playoff games as Kelowna won WHL championship. Picked up five points (three goals, two assists) in five games at Memorial Cup. Won gold medal with Canada at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, tallying four assists in five games. Was the WHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2013-14.

Quotable:

“One of the best playmakers and table setters in the draft. Clutch performer is at his best when stakes are highest — elevated his game in the playoffs, leading Kelowna to the WHL championship. His determination is relentless; dictates the pace of the game with the puck on his stick. Battles until the whistle blows and while not tall, has a thick frame that is very tough to contain.” – Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide

“He's a high-end offensive weapon who can make a wide variety of plays to generate scoring chances, and is a dynamic puck handler with very soft hands and a high level of creativity. Merkley makes plays in tight spaces and at a very quick pace. He's a very flashy player -- arguably at times trying to be too fancy -- but overall the tempo at which he plays makes him very dangerous.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN

Jeremy Roy

Position: Defenseman
Height/Weight: 6-0/188
Shoots: Right
Born: May 14, 1997 in Longueuil, Quebec
2014-15 Team: Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

Rankings:

21 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

23 – International Scouting Services

11 – Red Line Report

29 – TSN

26 – The Hockey News

19 – ESPN

13 – Future Considerations

Tied for tenth in defenseman scoring in the QMJHL with 43 points (five goals, 38 assists) in 46 games. Ranked seventh among all players with 26 power-play assists. Tallied five points (one goal, four assists) in six playoff games. Won bronze medal at 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship, tallying four points (three goals, one assist) in seven games. Won gold medal at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, registering three assists in five games and serving as alternate captain.

Quotable:

“He has good hands, very good vision and a good passer. Skates 'hunched over a bit'. He has mobility but could improve quickness and speed. Has very good hockey sense, makes good decisions with and without the puck.” – Phil Myre, International Scouting Services

“Jeremy’s game is based on strong play with the puck. He has that ability in all areas; defensively, offensively and in transition. Great poise with the puck and he makes strong decisions that create advantages for his team. His speed is not exceptional but his mental pace of play is outstanding. A strong competitor who finds ways to meet the challenges.” – Craig Button, TSN

Colin White

Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-0/183
Shoots: Right
Born: January 30, 1997 in Boston, Massachusetts
2014-15 Team: USA U-18 (NTDP)

Rankings:

29 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

15 – International Scouting Services

37 – Red Line Report

16 – TSN

19 – The Hockey News

22 – ESPN

19 – Future Considerations

White, a product of the USA National Team Development Program, registered 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists) in 54 games for the USA U-18 team. Was slowed this season by a bout with mono and a wrist injury. Registered nine points (six goals, three assists) in seven games as USA won gold medal at 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship. Has committed to Boston College for 2015-16 season.

Quotable:

“Colin has a lot of hockey sense and a strong two-way game. He is a strong competitor and brings a solid effort every night. He has high-end skill and makes the players around him better.” – Dave Gregory, NHL Central Scouting

“White is a smooth, quiet player that gets a lot done. He sees the ice at a high level, he's creative, but isn't overly flashy with the puck, and rarely makes mistakes. White is very good defensively, often being the kind of player who is leaned on to kill penalties and take critical defensive zone draws. His skating is what one scout describes as ‘deceptively quick,’ in that he won't jet down the wing, but he can get to a good top gear and doesn't labor around the ice.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN

Jakub Zboril

Position: Defenseman
Height/Weight: 6-1/184
Shoots: Left
Born: February 21, 1997 in Brno, Czech Republic
2014-15 Team: Saint John (QMJHL)

Rankings:

12 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

22 – International Scouting Services

27 – Red Line Report

14 – TSN

22 – The Hockey News

20 – ESPN

20 – Future Considerations

Ranked third among QMJHL rookie defensemen in scoring with 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 44 games with St. John. His 13 goals set a franchise record for a rookie defenseman. Missed two months due to knee injury. Registered three points (one goal, two assists) in five playoff games. Won silver medal with Czech Republic at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, ranking second in defenseman scoring at the tournament with six points (four goals, two assists) in five games. Registered three assists in seven games as Czech Republic won silver medal at 2014 U-18 World Junior Championship.

Quotable:

“He does the little things right and although he doesn’t possess an overly flashy game, brings tough minutes and consistency to the table. His mobility defensively and ability to contain the opposition's top guns with his positioning and active physical play makes him tough to play against. Does what it takes to win and won’t hesitate to mix it up or block a shot in order to put his team ahead.” – International Scouting Services 2015 NHL Draft Guide

“Love this kid’s willingness to play a little dirty defensively and contribute to the offensive side of the game as well. He has some areas and wrinkles to work out and improve upon but he is a versatile defenseman that’s got all the raw tools it takes to become a top-pair minute munching defenseman in the NHL one day.” – Future Considerations 2015 NHL Draft Guide

Paul Bittner

Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6-4/204
Shoots: Left
Born: November 4, 1996 in Crookston, Minnesota
2014-15 Team: Portland (WHL)

Rankings:

26 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting

17 – International Scouting Services

20 – Red Line Report

20 – TSN

17 – The Hockey News

43 – ESPN

29 – Future Considerations

Registered 71 points (34 goals, 37 assists) in 66 games for Portland (WHL). Tallied 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 17 games as Portland advanced to conference finals. Registered 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 21 games as Portland won WHL championship in 2014. Won silver medal with USA at 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, registering three points (two goals, one assist) in five games.

Quotable:

“He's a smooth skater with really good hands who can make plays and is strong in tight along the wall. He protects the puck well and can retrieve pucks on the forecheck. With his size, strength and reach, he's tough to handle.” – John Williams, NHL Central Scouting

“Big body winger that's not overly physical but uses his size. Skating is better then average with skills to produce points. Willing to battle along the wall and go to hard areas for pucks. Has a chance to develop into a 2/3 line NHL player.” – Jack Higgins, International Scouting Services

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