2015 NHL Draft: McDavid, Eichel and Hanifin retain hold on top 3 in ISS Hockey’s December rankings

By ISS
Jack Eichel - Boston University

Photo: Boston University center and 2015 NHL Draft prospect Jack Eichel remains the second-ranked prospect for next June’s draft, behind the Erie Otters’ Connor McDavid (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)

 

Despite missing the past three weeks with a hand injury, Erie Otters center Connor McDavid remains the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft in the December rankings released by ISS Hockey.

McDavid – who is still ranked second in scoring in the OHL despite having missed the past eight games – suffered a hand fracture during a fight in a game on Nov. 11th. He has just been chosen by Hockey Canada to compete at the 2015 U20 World Junior Championship, but it remains to be seen if McDavid will be ready to go on Dec. 26th. Clearly, though, the talented forward has shown enough in the 18 games that he has played this season to make most observers realize that McDavid is the odds-on favorite to be chosen first overall next June.

As has been the case in the first two rankings released by ISS, Boston University forward Jack Eichel is holding down the second slot in the rankings. Eichel has been every bit as impressive as McDavid so far this season, with the true freshman currently leading the NCAA in scoring with 21 points (8G, 13A) in 13 games.

Eichel’s cross-town rival, defenseman Noah Hanifin, has also performed as advertised in his freshman season at Boston College. Hanifin has posted seven points (2G, 5A) in 14 games and has played a steady game for an Eagles’ team that is still trying to find an identity after losing their top line from the 2013-14 season.

There has been a change from last month’s ranking in the final two slots in the top five. McDavid’s teammate on the Otters, forward Dylan Strome, has moved up to the fourth position while University of Michigan defenseman Zach Werenski moved from sixth to fifth. McDavid’s absence has placed the spotlight on Strome, who has taken full advantage of the opportunity by taking over the OHL scoring lead from McDavid. Werenski was chosen for Team USA‘s preliminary roster for the World Juniors and has posted 10 points (2G, 8A) in 13 games this season.

The second half of the December top 10 begins with Seattle Thunderbirds center Mathew Barzal. Barzal, who was ranked fourth last month, has turned in a solid season so far, posting 18 points (7G, 11A) in 16 games.

The seventh through ninth slots remain unchanged from the November rankings. Farjestad defenseman Oliver Kylington remains seventh in the rankings, followed by Sarnia Sting center Pavel Zacha and Kingston Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse. Rounding out the top 10 is London Knights center Mitch Marner, who moved up from his 13th ranking in November.

There was only minor movement since last month among the players ranked in the 11-20 range of the ISS rankings. One player making a somewhat significant move upward this month is Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Ivan Provorov. The Russian import, who was ranked 20th in November, is currently tied for second in scoring among WHL defensemen with 30 points (8G, 22A) in 28 games. Provorov moved up four positions in this month’s ranking to #16.

The 21-30 range of this month’s rankings includes five new names. The highest ranked of these newcomers is Kelowna Rockets center Nick Merkley, who debuts in the top 30 in the 22nd slot. Merkley currently sits second overall in WHL scoring with 46 points (8G, 38A) in 28 games.

The other newcomers to the ISS rankings include Waterloo Black Hawks center Tom Novak (25) and three QMJHL defensemen – the Saint John Sea Dogs’ Jakub Zboril (27); the Baie-Comeau Drakkar’s Nicolas Meloche (28); and the Saint John Sea Dogs’ Thomas Chabot (30).

The top two goaltenders in this month’s ISS rankings are the same two players that occupied those places in November. Czech goaltender Daniel Vladar of Kladno’s junior club is ranked first for the third straight month while Quebec Remparts netminder Callum Booth remains the second-ranked goaltender.

Below is the December ranking of the top 30 prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft according to ISS Hockey.

 

RankPlayerPositionBirthShotHeightWeightTeamLeague
1Connor McDavidCenter1/13/1997L6.00185ErieOHL
2Jack Eichel Center10/28/1996R6.02193Boston Univ.HE
3Noah HanifinLeft Defenseman1/25/1997L6.03185Boston Coll.HE
4Dylan Strome
Center3/7/1997L6.03187ErieOHL
5Zach WerenskiRight Defenseman7/19/1997L6.02214MichiganBig Ten
6Mathew Barzal
Center
5/26/1997R5.11.25175Seattle
WHL
7Oliver KylingtonRight Defenseman5/19/1997L6.00180FarjestadSHL
8Pavel ZachaCenter4/6/1997L6.02.75200SarniaOHL
9Lawson CrouseLeft Wing6/23/1997L6.04211KingstonOHL
10Mitchell Marner
Center5/5/1997R5.11155LondonOHL
11Kyle ConnorCenter12/9/1996L6.01170YoungstownUSHL
12Travis Konecny
Center
3/11/1997R5.09.75174Ottawa
OHL
13Mikko RantanenRight Wing10/29/1996L6.04195TPS TurkuFinE
14Jordan GreenwayLeft Wing2/16/1997L6.04189US Under-18
USHL
15Colin White
Right Wing1/30/1997R6.00183US Under-18USHL
16Ivan ProvorovLeft Defenseman1/13/1997L6.00191Brandon
WHL
17Jeremy BraccoRight Wing3/17/1997R5.09154US Under-18USHL
18Paul Bittner
Left Wing11/4/1996R6.04206PortlandWHL
19Daniel SprongRight Wing3/17/1997R6.00189CharlottetownQMJHL
20Evgeny SvechnikovRight Wing
10/31/1996L6.02199Cape BretonQMJHL
21Nikita KorostelevRight Wing2/8/1997R6.01.25195SarniaOHL
22Nick Merkley
Center
4/23/1997R5.10.5191KelownaWHL
23Matthew SpencerRight Defenseman3/24/1997R6.01.5200PeterboroughOHL
24Gabriel Carlsson
Left Defenseman
1/2/1997L6.04183LinkopingSweJE
25Tom NovakCenter4/28/1997L6.00.25180WaterlooUSHL
26Jansen HarkinsCenter/Left Wing5/23/1997 L6.00.75177Prince GeorgeWHL
27Jakub ZborilLeft Defenseman2/21/1997L6.00.75184Saint JohnQMJHL
28Nicolas Meloche
Right Defenseman
7/18/1997R6.02.5202Baie-Comeau QMJHL
29Christian FischerCenter4/15/1997R6.01212USA Under-18USHL
30Thomas Chabot
Left Defenseman1/30/1997L6.01.25181Saint JohnQMJHL

 

Oct. ’14 | Nov. ’14

Ken McKenna contributed to this article

Follow ISS Hockey on Twitter via @ISShockey