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.
|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|
|5||Zach 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|
|13||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||USHL|
|15||Colin White||Right Wing||1/30/1997||R||6.00||183||US Under-18||USHL|
|16||Ivan Provorov||Left Defenseman||1/13/1997||L||6.00||191||Brandon||WHL|
|17||Jeremy Bracco||Right Wing||3/17/1997||R||5.09||154||US Under-18||USHL|
|18||Paul Bittner||Left Wing||11/4/1996||R||6.04||206||Portland||WHL|
|19||Daniel Sprong||Right Wing||3/17/1997||R||6.00||189||Charlottetown||QMJHL|
|20||Evgeny Svechnikov||Right Wing||10/31/1996||L||6.02||199||Cape Breton||QMJHL|
|21||Nikita Korostelev||Right Wing||2/8/1997||R||6.01.25||195||Sarnia||OHL|
|23||Matthew Spencer||Right Defenseman||3/24/1997||R||6.01.5||200||Peterborough||OHL|
|24||Gabriel Carlsson||Left Defenseman||1/2/1997||L||6.04||183||Linkoping||SweJE|
|26||Jansen Harkins||Center/Left Wing||5/23/1997||L||6.00.75||177||Prince George||WHL|
|27||Jakub Zboril||Left Defenseman||2/21/1997||L||6.00.75||184||Saint John||QMJHL|
|28||Nicolas Meloche||Right Defenseman||7/18/1997||R||6.02.5||202||Baie-Comeau||QMJHL|
|29||Christian Fischer||Center||4/15/1997||R||6.01||212||USA Under-18||USHL|
|30||Thomas Chabot||Left Defenseman||1/30/1997||L||6.01.25||181||Saint John||QMJHL|
Ken McKenna contributed to this article
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