The 2015 NHL Draft is about one month away and 26 of the league’s 30 teams already have turned their attention to scouting the top prospects in this year’s impressive class.
Here’s a look at the top three players at each forward position.
1. Connor McDavid, 6-1, 190 (Erie Otters, OHL)
Stats: 47 GP, 44 G, 76 A, 120 P
McDavid is one of the best draft prospects in NHL history and will be expected to immediately play at a high level. He’s an incredible goal scorer, a gifted playmaker, a silky smooth skater and thinks the game at a level similar to the greatest of all time. The last prospect with this much hype entering a draft was Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby in 2005.
2. Jack Eichel, 6-2, 194 (Boston University, NCAA)
Stats: 40 GP, 26 G, 45 A, 71 P
Eichel is similar in many ways to Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. The reigning Hobey Baker Award winner is a highly skill center who plays a physical game, scores goals and defends well. He’s the complete package and projects to be a No. 1 center for 10 or more years.
3. Dylan Strome, 6-3, 187 (Erie, OHL)
Stats: 65 GP, 45 G, 84 A, 129 P
Strome is a strong center with size and extraordinary skill. He also possesses a high work ethic and an impressive hockey IQ. Strome has the potential to be a franchise center and a consistent point-per-game scorer.
1. Timo Meier, 6-1, 209 (Halifax, QMJHL)
Stats: 61 GP, 44 G, 46 A, 90 P
Meier is a gifted goal scorer with good skating ability. He’s a natural winger, but his ability to also generate scoring chances at center would provide a team with valuable versatility in the top-six.
2. Evgeni Svechnikov, 6-3, 205 (Cape Breton, QMJHL)
Stats: 55 GP, 32 G, 46 A, 78 P
Svechnikov plays a physical game and is capable of consistently racking up points. His defensive-zone play needs work, though, but his offensive upside should result in him being a top 20 pick.
3. Lawson Crouse, 6-4, 212 (Kingston, OHL)
Stats: 56 GP, 29 G, 22 A, 51 P
Several teams might fall in love with Crouse’s impressive combination of size and offensive upside. Crouse is a better skater than a lot of power forwards, too. He’s a risky pick, but he has the potential to be a Milan Lucic-type of power forward.
1. Mikko Rantanen, 6-4, 209 (TPS, FINLAND)
Stats: 56 GP, 9 G, 19 A, 28 P
A first-line talent with elite scoring skill and excellent size. That’s the definition of a first-round talent. Unfortunately for Rantanen, the plethora of elite center prospects in this class might cause him to drop to the bottom of the top 10 or out of it.
2. Nick Merkley, 5-10, 187 (Kelowna, WHL)
Stats: 72 GP, 20 G, 70 A, 90 P
Merkley’s offensive skill, smooth hands and high hockey IQ were on full display in a two-goal performance during the Kelowna Rockets’ 7-3 win over the Quebec Ramparts in Tuesday’s Memorial Cup game. His defensive awareness and skill also are better than a lot of the right wing prospects expected to be drafted in Round 1.
3. Daniel Sprong, 6-0, 192 (Charlottetown, QMJHL)
Stats: 68 GP, 39 G, 49 A, 88 P
Sprong scores goals with a powerful, accurate shot and creates chances for teammates with high-end playmaking skill. He’s the type of forward fans buy tickets to go watch because he plays an exciting, uptempo game.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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