As the 2013-14 season progresses, the order at the top of the ISS Hockey 2014 NHL Draft rankings seems to have further solidified. Case in point: the top five prospects in the March rankings is the same order as the top five from the February rankings.
Sitting on top once again is Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad. In the eyes of the scouts at ISS, at least, Ekblad seems to have secured a strong hold on the top ranking as he is now in his third straight month in that lofty position. And the player that he has been dueling with for all of the 2013-14 season, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart, remains in the second slot for the third consecutive month.
Rounding out the top five is Kingston Frontenacs left wing Sam Bennett, Oshawa Generals center Michael Dal Colle, and MODO center William Nylander. All three players held the same rankings in this month's rankings as they did in February.
Re-entering the top 10 in the sixth slot in this month's rankings is Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl had dropped to 11th in the February rankings after holding down the seventh slot in January, but a recent surge that was capped off with a WHL Player of the Week honor this past Monday no doubt helped improve Draisaitl's draft position.
One new entrant to the ISS top 10 is U.S. NTDP forward Alex Tuch. Tuch, a Boston College recruit, climbed five places to the ninth ranking from #14 in the February rankings. The big winger was ranked 23rd by ISS back in October, so he has made a steady climb up the charts the past five months. Cracking the top five might be more difficult for Tuch, but a player with his size and skill set might be tempting for a bottom five club in need of a player with Tuch's qualities.
While there was some minor upward and downward movement in the 11-25 range, the 26-30 area features three names that did not appear among the top 30 in the February rankings. Magnitogorsk center Vladislav Kamenev is ranked 26th in the March rankings after ISS placed him in the 39th slot in February. Two OHL players, Plymouth Whalers right winger Connor Chatham and Kitchener Rangers left winger Ryan MacInnis, slotted in at numbers 28 and 29 respectively this month after sitting outside the top 30 in February.
In goal, it appears that Boston College freshman Thatcher Demko has tightened his grip on the top ranking at that position after turning in a strong first season in NCAA hockey, a season that is not yet over as BC appears to be a strong contender for the national title. As to where Demko actually falls among the top 2014 prospects is hard to gauge since neither ISS nor Central Scouting rank the goaltenders with the skaters, but Demko seems to have the look of a definite first round selection.
The ISS Hockey draft rankings for March of 2014 are presented below.
|4||Michael Dal Colle||C||6/20/96||L||6.01.5||179||Oshawa||OHL||4|
|6||Leon Draisaitl||C||10/27/95||R||6.01.5||204||Prince Albert||WHL||11|
|9||Alex Tuch||RW||5/10/96||R||6.03.5||213||USA Under-18||NTDP||14|
|10||Haydn Fleury||LD||7/8/96||L||6.02.5||207||Red Deer||WHL||8|
|15||Jared McCann||C||5/31/96||L||6.00.25||179||S.S. Marie||OHL||17|
|16||Dylan Larkin||LW||7/30/96||L||6.00.75||190||USA Under-18||NTDP||23|
|18||Sonny Milano||LW||5/12/96||L||5.11.5||183||USA Under-18||NTDP||18|
|22||Conner Bleackley||C/RW||2/7/96||R||6.00.25||192||Red Deer||WHL||16|