Three Canadian players are expected to be selected in the top five of the 2015 NHL Draft. That group includes center Connor McDavid, considered the best prospect since Sidney Crosby, as well as centers Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner.
These players headline a very impressive class of Canadian forwards who project to be first-round picks. Canadian players made up 47.4 percent of all draftees in 2013, and that number dropped to 38.1 percent last year.
Here are the top 15 Canadian prospects in this year’s draft class:
1. Connor McDavid, 6-1, 195 pounds (Center, Erie/OHL)
Stats: 47 GP, 44 G, 76 A, 120 P
McDavid is a near-perfect prospect. He’s a quality goal scorer, a fantastic playmaker, thinks the game at a high level and isn’t a liability defensively. There are very few weaknesses in his skill set and he should make an immediate impact in a top-six role for the Edmonton Oilers next season.
2. Dylan Strome, 6-3, 185 (Center, Erie/OHL)
Stats: 65 GP, 45 G, 84 A, 129 P
Strome is an incredible offensive player projected to be a No. 1 center for many years. He combines a powerful, accurate shot with impressive skating ability and very good size.
3. Mitch Marner, 5-11, 160 (London/OHL)
Stats: 63 GP, 44 G, 82 A, 126 P
Much like Strome, Marner is a gifted scorer who creates offense for himself and teammates in a No. 1 center role. His lack of size is a concern, but few players in this draft class bring more offensive tools to the ice.
4. Mathew Barzal, 5-11, 175 (Center, Seattle/WHL)
Stats: 44 GP, 12 G, 45 A, 57 P
Injuries prevented Barzal from playing a full 2014-15 season for Seattle, but he still scored at above a point-per-game rate and showed why he’s among the top playmaking centers available. His work ethic on and off the ice also are impressive.
5. Travis Konecny, 5-10, 175 (Center, Ottawa/OHL)
Stats: 60 GP, 29 G, 39 A, 68 P
Konecny scored fewer points than he did as the 2013-14 OHL Rookie of the Year, but he’s still among the top centers in this class. He doesn’t have ideal size, but his physicality allows him to consistently win puck battles and excel in the defensive zone. Konecny projects to be a top-six forward at the NHL level.
6. Jeremy Roy, 6-0, 188 (Defenseman, Sherbrooke/QMJHL)
Stats: 46 GP, 5 G, 43 A, 43 P
Roy is a strong player who wins puck battles in the dirty areas, excels on the penalty kill and takes on tough assignments against opponents’ top players. He’s not far off from being NHL-ready and could emerge as one of the best defensive defensemen from this class.
7. Nicholas Merkley, 5-10, 191 (Right Wing, Kelowna/WHL)
Stats: 72 GP, 20 G, 70 A, 90 P
Merkley is the best playmaking winger in this class. He’s an excellent passer, protects the puck well in traffic and has a high hockey IQ. His size is less than ideal, but his ability to create scoring chances for teammates is quite impressive. Merkley should be among the first right wingers drafted after finishing third in WHL playoff scoring.
8. Thomas Chabot, 6-2, 180 (Defenseman, Saint John/QMJHL)
Stats: 66 GP, 12 G, 29 A, 41 P
Chabot is a mobile, puck-moving defenseman who plays a physical style of hockey without taking himself out of position. He also has good size, as well as the maturity and hockey IQ needed to excel in tough defensive assignments against top competition.
9. Lawson Crouse, 6-4, 215 (Left Wing, Kingston/OHL)
Stats: 56 GP, 29 G, 22 A, 51 P
Crouse is a prototypical power forward who blends size, truculence and offensive skill. There are some concerns about how much scoring Crouse will provide against better competition in the NHL, and it’s among the reasons he’s a high-risk, high-reward prospect. That said, it’s difficult to imagine a player with his type of skill set falling out of the top 15.
10. Jake DeBrusk, 6-0, 174 (Left Wing, Swift Current/WHL)
Stats: 72 GP, 42 G, 39 A, 81 P
DeBrusk is a gifted goal scorer who blends speed with an accurate shot. He’s also a good defensive player and projects to be a mid first-round pick as a two-way winger.
11. Jansen Harkins, 6-1, 182 (Center, Prince George/WHL)
Stats: 70 GP, 20 G 59, 79 P
Harkins is a well-rounded, two-way center with a high hockey IQ and the ability to provide consistent scoring production. He’s not the most exciting player, but he does all the little things and is dependable in all types of situations, whether it’s at even strength or both special teams units.
12. Anthony Beauvillier, 5-10, 173 (Left Wing, Shawinigan/QMJHL)
Stats: 67 GP, 42 G, 52 A, 94 P
Beauvillier is a speedy winger with good one-on-one moves and a shot that will help him consistently score goals. He could be among the steals of the draft if he falls to the second round.
13. Vince Dunn, 6-0, 187 (Defenseman, Niagara/OHL)
Stats: 68 GP, 18 G, 38 A, 56 P
Dunn is a smooth-skating, puck-handling defenseman who excels in an uptempo style of play. His playmaking ability also makes him dangerous on the power play. Dunn’s defensive game needs improvement, but his offensive skills should make him a late first round or early second-round selection.
14. Ryan Pilon, 6-2, 206 (Defenseman, Brandon/WHL)
Stats: 68 GP, 11 G, 41 A, 52 P
Pilon uses his size and strength to defend well in his own zone and consistently win puck battles in the dirty areas. He’s unlikely to make a huge scoring impact at the NHL level, but he provides the physical presence and defense-first mindset that would be useful on a second or third pairing when his development concludes.
15. Noah Juulsen, 6-2, 174 (Defenseman, Everett/WHL)
Stats: 68 GP, 9 G, 43 A, 52 P
Juulsen is a smart defensive defenseman and a strong skater. Expect him to be selected in the second round.
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