2015 NHL Draft: WJC performances bring some change to the ISS Top 30

By ISS
Lawson Crouse - Team Canada

Photo: Kingston Frontenacs forward and 2015 prospect Lawson Crouse was a surprise selection for Team Canada’s 2015 World Junior Championship roster, but Crouse played an important part in helping his country win gold at that tournament (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

 

The 2015 World Junior Championship has come and gone, and with its completion comes a bit of change in the upper reaches of ISS Hockey‘s ranking of the top 30 prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft.

 

There is no change at the top, of course, as Connor McDavid‘s performance at this WJC only served to enhance his standing as the top prospect available for this year’s draft. McDavid holds onto the top slot, while his main rival for the first overall designation, Jack Eichel, remains the second-best prospect according to ISS. Eichel didn’t have a bad tournament with Team USA, but McDavid got stronger as Team Canada made their run to the gold medal, while Eichel and his U.S. teammates struggled in their final two games of the tournament and were ousted in the quarterfinals by Russia.

 

But the order in the top 10 features some significant change after the top two players, due mostly to what transpired at this WJC. The first change comes at #3, a position held in previous rankings by Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin. Hanifin played for the U.S. at the WJC, and like Eichel, Hanifin impressed at times but also had moments where he didn’t stand out. The end result is that Hanifin now slides down one spot to #4.

 

Taking Hanifin’s place in the third slot is Kingston Frontenacs forward, Lawson Crouse. Crouse was a somewhat surprising choice to play for Canada at this WJC, but he earned full marks for his dogged play for the gold medal winners.

 

“Crouse is a determined player that does not give up on any loose pucks or puck battles”, says ISS Hockey Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis. “He has a lean body on a large frame and, once he fills out, he has the potential to be a top six NHL power forward.”

 

Another strong WJC performer climbing the ranks is Finnish forward Mikko Rantanen, who moved from #13 to the fifth slot in this month’s ranking. Rantanen was viewed by many as being the top player for Finland at this year’s tournament, and he has been rewarded by ISS with a significant move up the ranks.

 

As a result of Rantanen’s upward mobility, the fifth-ranked prospect from December, University of Michigan defenseman Zach Werenski, slipped one spot to #6. Werenski played for Team USA at this WJC and impressed at times, but his performance wasn’t impressive enough for him to hold onto a top-5 position.

 

Moving down three slots from last month’s rankings is Erie Otters forward Dylan Strome, who sits at #7. Strome has continued his strong play in McDavid’s absence, so his downward slide is mostly related to Stome not having the international stage to perform upon that some of the prospects ahead of him did.

 

Coming in at #8 this month is Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds. Barzal is still on the shelf due to an injury suffered in November, but he is close to returning to a Thunderbirds team that is making a push for the WHL playoffs.

 

Maybe the best indicator of the strength of this year’s top 10 is the presence of London Knights forward Mitchell Marner at #9 in this month’s rankings. Marner is the leading scorer in the OHL with 77 points (32G, 45A) in 38 games. Within the past week, Marner turned in a six-point effort in a Knights’ win. While he doesn’t have ideal size, there is little doubt that Marner has the talent to be a top offensive player in the pros down the road.

 

Sitting in the 10th position in this month’s rankings is Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman, Ivan Provorov. Provorov had a relatively quiet showing for Russia at the World Juniors, but he has shown enough over the past month to move up six places from last month’s rankings.

 

Two players slipping out of last month’s top 10 are ranked 11th and 12th in this month’s ISS rankings. Sarnia Sting forward Pavel Zacha drops three slots to #11, while Farjestad defenseman Oliver Kylington moved from #7 to #12. Zacha played for the Czech Republic at the WJC and, while he had his strong moments at that tournament, it remains to be seen how much offensive upside he has in his game. Kylington was supposed to compete for Sweden at the World Juniors but missed the tournament due to injury.

 

Making the biggest jump up the rankings from last month to this month is Kelowna Rockets forward Nick Merkley. Merkley was ranked 22nd in last month’s ISS rankings, but has moved up nine places to #13 due to his strong offensive play with the Rockets. Merkley currently sits second in scoring in the WHL with 61 points (13G, 48A) in 40 games.

 

Another player making a sizable leap up the ranks was Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Thomas Chabot. Chabot is currently fifth in scoring for the Sea Dogs and 13th among defensemen in the QMJHL with 24 points (7G, 17A) in 37 games.

 

There was only minor movement up or down among the remaining players in this month’s top 30. There were two newcomers to this month’s rankings, both of whom were WJC participants. One is defenseman Brandon Carlo, who plays for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL and competed for Team USA at the 2015 WJC. The big defender slotted in a #17 after a good showing for the U.S. Alexander Dergachev (or Dergachyov) from SKA 1946 St. Petersburg in the MHL is the other new name on this month’s list. Dergachev was an impressive performer for silver medalist Russia at the WJC as he was one of the bigger forwards (6-4, 201) who was contributing both offense and some muscle. He came in at #28 in this month’s rankings.

 

The two names at the top of ISS Hockey’s goaltender rankings were the same ones that appeared the past couple of months, but their places have switched. Moving into the top position is Callum Booth from the Quebec Remparts, while Czech goaltender Daniel Vladar of Kladno moves down to the second slot.

 

Below is the January 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
3Lawson CrouseLeft Wing6/23/1997L6.04211KingstonOHL
4Noah Hanifin
Left Defenseman1/25/1997L6.02.75203Boston CollegeHE
5Mikko RantanenRight Wing10/29/1996L6.04195TPS TurkuFinE
6Zach Werenski
Right Defenseman7/19/1997R6.02206Michigan
Big Ten
7Dylan StromeCenter3/7/1997L6.03187ErieOHL
8Mathew BarzalCenter5/26/1997R5.11.25175SeattleWHL
9Mitchell MarnerCenter5/5/1997R5.11155LondonOHL
10Ivan Provorov
Left Defenseman1/13/1997L6.00191BrandonWHL
11Pavel ZachaCenter4/6/1996L6.03210SarniaOHL
12Oliver Kylington
Right Defenseman
5/19/1997L6.00180Farjestad
SHL
13Nick MerkleyCenter4/23/1997R5.10.5191KelownaWHL
14Travis KonecnyCenter3/11/1997R5.09.75174Ottawa
OHL
15Kyle Connor
Center12/9/1996L6.01182YoungstownUSHL
16Colin WhiteRight Wing1/30/1997R6.00183US Under-18
USHL
17Brandon CarloRight Defenseman11/26/1996R6.04.75198Tri-CityWHL
18Evgeny Svechnikov
Right Wing10/31/1996L6.02199Cape BretonQMJHL
19Jordan GreenwayLeft Wing2/16/1997L6.04.75222US Under-18USHL
20Jeremy BraccoRight Wing
3/17/1997R5.09.25173US Under-18USHL
21Jansen HarkinsCenter/Left Wing5/23/1997L6.00.75177Prince GeorgeWHL
22Thomas Chabot
Left Defenseman
1/30/1997L6.01.25181Saint JohnQMJHL
23Nikita KorostelevRight Wing2/8/1997R6.01.25195SarniaOHL
24Matthew Spencer
Right Defenseman
3/24/1997R6.01.5200PeterboroughOHL
25Gabriel CarlssonLeft Defenseman1/2/1997L6.04183LinkopingSweJE
26Tom NovakCenter4/28/1997 L6.00.25180WaterlooUSHL
27Nicolas MelocheRight Defenseman7/18/1997R6.02.5202Baie-ComeauQMJHL
28Alexander Dergachev
Right Wing
9/27/1996L6.04200St. Petersburg 1946-SKA RusJr
29Jakub ZborilLeft Defenseman2/21/1997L6.00.75184Saint JohnQMJHL
30Paul Bittner
Left Wing11/4/1996L6.04206PortlandWHL

 

Oct. ’14 | Nov. ’14 | Dec. ’14

Ken McKenna contributed to this article

Follow ISS Hockey on Twitter via @ISShockey