The competition to become the top selection at the 2015 NHL Draft is almost assuredly a two-horse race between Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid and Boston University forward Jack Eichel. But one of those thoroughbreds already appears to be separating from his main challenger at this early stage of the 2014-15 season.
McDavid has started the season on an offensive tear, racking up 42 points (14G, 28A) in 14 games, a scoring pace of three points per game. He along with teammate and fellow 2015 prospect Dylan Strome have led the Otters to a 13-0-0-1 record and a tie at the top of the OHL with the Oshawa Generals. The top independent scouting organization, ISS Hockey, has taken notice of both McDavid and Strome’s strong start, ranking McDavid first and Strome fifth in their November rankings for the 2015 draft. McDavid was ranked first in the October rankings, as well, but Strome has moved up from the ninth position into the top five.
This isn’t to say that McDavid’s main challenger for first overall hasn’t played well as Eichel has been as good as advertised to start the 2014-15 season. Eichel is among the scoring leaders in the NCAA to start the season and was just named the Hockey East Player of the Month for October, which comes on the heels of his having been named the Player of the Game at the 2014 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game back in late September. ISS has again ranked Eichel second in their monthly rankings.
Both the third and fourth positions in this month’s top 30 are held by the same players that held those slots in October. Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin is ranked third overall by ISS while Seattle Thunderbirds forward Mathew Barzal is ranked fourth. Hanifin has posted two assists in two games while Barzal leads his team in scoring with 17 points (7G, 10A) in 15 WHL contests.
As mentioned above, the Otters’ Strome rounds out this month’s ISS top five. He is second in scoring in the OHL behind McDavid with 33 points (12G, 21A) in 14 games.
The remainder of the ISS top 10 has shown some change from the October rankings, with three new names appearing among the top prospects.
University of Michigan defenseman Zach Werenski moved up from the 11th slot last month to the sixth position in this month’s rankings. The Wolverines have struggled out of the gate with a 2-5-0 record, but Werenski has shown well despite the team’s slow start. He has posted two goals and four assists in seven games to date despite being just 17 years of age.
The next two players in ISS Hockey’s top 10, Farjestad defenseman Oliver Kylington and Sarnia Sting forward Pavel Zacha, both appeared in last month’s top 10. Kylington dropped from fifth to seventh on this list while Zacha moved up to the eighth slot after being ranked 10th last month. Kylington is a 17-year-old competing in the SHL, Sweden‘s top hockey league. He has put up five points (2G, 3A) in 17 games this season. Czech Republic native Zacha is second in rookie scoring in the OHL with 13 points (7G, 6A) in 15 games.
Rounding out the November top 10 are two risers, OHL forwards Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs and the Ottawa 67’s Travis Konecny. Krouse was ranked 14th in last month’s rankings, while Konecny was ranked 12th.
There was some minor movement among the remainder of the top 30, but nothing overly significant. The biggest risers among those players on last month’s ISS list were Werenski and Crouse, who each moved up five places, while U.S. NTDP forward Colin White had the biggest drop, going from seventh to 16th.
Newcomers to the list include Sarnia Sting forward Nikita Korostelev (24), U.S. NTDP forward Christian Fischer (29), and Waterloo Black Hawks forward Brock Boeser (30)
Among the goaltenders ISS hockey again ranks Czech netminder Daniel Vladar as the top goaltending prospect. Sitting in second is Callum Booth, who plays for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL.
Below is the November ranking of the top 30 prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft according to ISS Hockey.
|2||Jack Eichel||Center||10/28/1996||R||6.02||193||Boston Univ.||HE|
|3||Noah Hanifin||Left Defenseman||1/25/1997||L||6.03||185||Boston Coll.||HE|
|6||Zack Werenski|| Right Defenseman||7/19/1997||L||6.02||214|| Michigan|| Big Ten|
|7||Oliver Kylington||Right Defenseman||5/19/1997||L||6.00||180||Farjestad||SHL|
|9||Lawson Crouse||Left Wing||6/23/1997||L||6.04||211||Kingston||OHL|
|12||Mikko Rantanen|| Right Wing||10/29/1996||L||6.04||195|| TPS Turku||FinE|
|14||Jordan Greenway||Left Wing||2/16/1997||L||6.04||189|| US Under-18||NTDP|
|15||Paul Bittner||Left Wing||11/4/1996||L||6.04||206||Portland||WHL|
|16||Colin White|| right Wing||1/30/1997||R||6.00||183|| US Under-18||NTDP|
|17||Jeremy Bracco||Right Wing||3/17/1997||R||5.09||154||US Under-18||NTDP|
|18||Daniel Sprong||Right Wing||3/17/1997||R||6.00||189||Charlottetown||QMJHL|
|19||Evgeny Svechnikov||Right Wing||10/31/1996||L||6.02||199||Cape Breton||QMJHL|
|20||Ivan Provorov||Left Defenseman||1/13/1997||L||6.00||191||Brandon||WHL|
|21||Gabriel Carlsson||Left Defenseman||1/2/1997||L||6.04||183||Linkoping||SweJE|
|22||Matthew Spencer||Right Defenseman||3/24/1997||R||6.01.5||200||Peterborough||OHL|
|24||Nikita Korostelev||Right Wing||2/8/1997||R||6.01.25||195||Sarnia||OHL|
|25||Jansen Harkins||Center/Left Wing||5/23/1997||L||6.00.75||177||Prince George||WHL|
|26||Ryan Gropp||Left Wing||9/16/1996||L||6.02||184||Seattle||WHL|
|27||Jeremy Roy||Right Defenseman||5/14/1997||R||5.11.75||189||Sherbrooke||QMJHL|
|28||Graham Knott||Left Wing||1/13/1997||L||6.03.5||192||Niagara||OHL|
|29||Christian Fischer||Center||4/15/1997||R||6.01||212||USA Under-18||NTDP|
Ken McKenna contributed to this article
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