On the eve of the NHL Draft Lottery, ISS Hockey has released their April ranking of the top 30 prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft. And, as a result of some strong playoff performances by a pair of players, there has been some re-shuffling at the top of the order since the March edition of this list.
Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart has moved back into the top slot, a position he had held until the January ISS rankings when he swapped places with Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Reinhart is the leading scorer in the 2014 WHL playoffs with the Ice looking to advance to the Eastern Conference Championship round. Ekblad moves back to the second position, in front of Oshawa Generals center Michael Dal Colle. Dal Colle has averaged two points per game during the 2014 OHL playoffs as the Generals move on to the Eastern Conference Championship series against the North Bay Battalion. Dal Colle was ranked third through much of the early portion of the season before sliding to the fourth slot in January.
Kingston Frontenacs left winger Sam Bennett replaces Dal Colle in the fourth slot in the ISS April rankings after having spent the past couple of months among the top three prospects. MODO center William Nylander maintains his fifth-place ranking, a position that he has held in these rankings for most of the 2013-14 season.
The remainder of the top 10 features four names that appeared in those positions last month, plus another player that previously had a foothold among this draft's top players. Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl and Niagara IceDogs left wing Brendan Perlini hold the sixth and seventh slots, respectively, the same ranks they held in the March list. U.S. National Team Development Program right wing Alex Tuch continued his climb up the charts, moving from ninth to eighth in the April rankings. Peterborough Petes left wing Nick Ritchie re-entered the top 10 in the ninth slot after having last made an appearance in the top 10 in the February rankings. Calgary Hitmen left winger Jake Virtanen rounds out the upper third of the rankings, falling to tenth from his eighth ranking in March.
There was some minor upward or downward movement in the remaining 20 positions of the first round compared to last month. One significant upwardly mobile player is Hailfax Mooseheads left wing Nikolaj Ehlers, who has been climbing steadily up the ranks since the season began. Ehlers now sits in the 11th slot of the ISS rankings and could well break through to the top 10 should Halifax make a return to the Memorial Cup Tournament.
Kitchener Rangers left wing Ryan MacInnis is another climber in this month's top 30, having moved from the 29th position in March to the 22nd slot this month. Guelph Storm center Robby Fabbri also made a significant move from last month to this month, going from 21st to 16th in the April rankings.
Two new names in the top 30 are 28th-ranked Kevin Fiala, a Swiss player currently playing for HV71 in the Swedish junior league, and Hunter Smith, a nearly 6'7” right wing who plays for the Oshawa Generals. Fiala made a small move up from the 32nd slot, while Smith rocketed up the ranks from his March ranking of 84th to 30th in the current month's rankings. Smith is particularly interesting in that he was passed over in the 2013 NHL Draft after producing just one assist in 30 OHL games in 2012-13, but has put himself on the radar after a solid showing during the 2013-14 regular season, and an even better performance so far in the 2014 OHL playoffs.
ISS continues to rank Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko as the top goaltending prospect for the 2014 draft. Demko is once again followed by Plymouth Whalers netminder Alex Nedeljkovic, with Charlottetown Islanders goalie Mason McDonald moving into the third slot after having been ranked 11th among goaltenders by ISS in March.
Below is the ISS Hockey April ranking of the top 30 prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft.
|3||Michael Dal Colle||C||6/20/96||L||6.01.5||179||Oshawa||OHL||4||5NA|
|6||Leon Draisaitl||C||10/27/95||L||6.00.5||199||Prince Albert||WHL||6||4NA|
|8||Alex Tuch||RW||5/10/96||R||6.03.5||213||USA Under-18||NTDP||9||12NA|
|12||Haydn Fleury||LD||7/8/96||L||6.02.5||207||Red Deer||WHL||10||9NA|
|14||Dylan Larkin||LW||7/30/96||L||6.00.75||190||USA Under-18||NTDP||16||17NA|
|15||Jared McCann||C||5/31/96||L||6.00.25||179||S.S. Marie||OHL||9||10NA|
|18||Sonny Milano||LW||5/12/96||L||5.11.5||183||USA Under-18||NTDP||18||16NA|
|21||Nick Schmaltz||RW||2/23/96||R||5.11.5||172||Green Bay||USHL||38||19NA|
|24||Connor Bleackley||C/RW||2/7/96||R||6.00.25||192||Red Deer||WHL||22||35NA|
|29||Vladislav Kamenev||C||8/12/96||L||6.02||185||Magnitogorsk Stalnye Lisy||RusJr||26||13EU|