I'd like to welcome @NHLDraftTalk to the team. He's a blogging rookie with first line potential!
Let's see what his pre-season top 10 draft rankings look like. There's a surprise or two you might not expect...
Since Connor McDavid recorded 209 points in 88 games as a 16 year old he has become the most sought after forward prospect since Sidney Crosby. McDavid brings just about everything you could want in a hockey player. His pure play making ability along with his unparalleled hockey IQ sets him apart from the pack. Look for McDavid to carry Team Canada at this years World Juniors, as well as carry the Erie Otters offensively in the 2014/15 hockey season.
Projection: 130 points in 60 games
2. Jack Eichel, 6'1 190 lbs C
There hasn't been this much hype over an American born prospect since Patrick Kane was taken 1st overall back in 2007. Many consider Eichel and McDavid to be equal, however that's far from the truth. For Eichel to reach the level McDavid is on, and be considered for the 1st overall pick, he would have to put up over 100 points and prove he's solid defensively. Much like McDavid, Eichel will likely carry Team USA and BC.
Projection: 80 points in 38 games
3. Noah Hanifin, 6'2 201 lbs LHD
Hanifin is the current top ranked defender for the 2015 NHL Draft. However, he hasn't separated himself from the other defenceman just yet. With Kylington in the number 4 spot, it is likely that these two battle it out over the course of the year. Hanifin brings a reliable two way style with a defensive edge. Noah utilizes his body to control opposing players and gain stronger positioning. Though it's early, Hanifin is seen as a Ryan McDonagh type of defender. Not an offensive dynamo, but he can definitely get his name on the scoresheet.
Projection: 30 points in 40 games
4. Oliver Kylington, 6'0 181 lbs LHD
Though his offensive numbers aren't overwhelming, Kylington is an elite puck moving defenceman. Oliver is one of the best skaters in the entire draft. His vision from the back end is what separates him from other defenceman in this class. At this point, Hanifin and Kylington are easily interchangeable for the 3rd spot. Kylington will be playing for Farjestad of the SHL and will likely play a large role for Team Sweden at the World Juniors.
Projection: 25 points in 50 games
5. Travis Konecny, 5'10 172 lbs C
Travis Konecny is an elite playmaker in the making. His elusive skating allows him to create plays in traffic. During his rookie season in Ottawa, Konecny recorded 70 points in 63 games, however with another year of experience he should be able to add an extra 20 this year. After a great showing at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, look for Travis to start off with a ton of confidence.
Projection: 90 points in 62 games
6. Matthew Barzal, 5'11 174 lbs C
Since his days with Burnaby Winter Club everyone knew that Matt would be a very good prospect. In his first WHL season, Barzal recorded 54 points in 59 games. 40 of those points came in the form of assists. Barzal is a playmaker plain and simple. Even with his high pace offensive style, Barzal has rounded his game out and excels in both ends of the ice. If there's a comparable to Matt it would be Nicklas Backstrom. Look for Barzal to build on his strong rookie season.
Projection: 75 points in 60 games
7. Pavel Zacha, 6'3 200 lbs C/LW
Zacha doesn't have elite puck moving ability or game changing speed but he makes up for it with the use of his body. Zacha plays a big man style of game and isn't afraid to use his body to generate offence. He's a fairly raw prospect which is good news for whichever team selects him in June. If he can develop a stronger offensive game (not that it's weak) during his first season in North America his draft stock could skyrocket.
Projection: 60 points in 58 games
8. Colin White, 6'0 175 lbs C/RW
Colin White is a cerebral player who relies on his intelligence to generate chances. He is a good skater who also plays a strong defensive game. After putting up 18 points in 6 games, White should have a great start to the season, playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. At the NHL, White should be a lock for the top 6 as a scoring forward. He plays a similar style to David Kreijci.
Projection: Assuming he plays with the USNTDP and the U-18 team, 100 points in 75 games total.
9. Dylan Strome, 6'2 170 lbs C
Strome excels when he has the puck on his stick. He has great puck handling ability, but can be perceived as selfish. At 6'2 Strome can take his game many places. If he proves the doubters wrong and cleans up his defensive game and becomes a more well rounded player, we could see him become a much more sought after player. Playing in Erie means he won't be the go to offensive forward, but he will be relied upon for secondary scoring.
Projection: 65 points in 60 games
10. Paul Bittner, 6'4 195 lbs LW
At 6'4, 195 pounds, Bittner has the ability to dominate both physically and offensively. During the 2014 WHL Finals, there were times where he looked like the best player on the ice. With a few key departures in Portland, the big, lanky winger should be able to up his offensive numbers, as well as play a larger role within the organization. Could rise tremendously this year.
Projection: 75 points in 60 games
- Mitch Marner
- Daniel Sprong
- Kyle Connor
Thanks for reading!