There are no surprises at the very top of ISS Hockey’s April rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft, but there was some movement outside the top two positions.
Holding fast as the top-rated duo for this year’s draft is Erie Otters’ center Connor McDavid and Boston University forward Jack Eichel. McDavid just completed a successful regular season with the Otters and is currently competing in the 2015 OHL playoffs. Eichel and his Boston University teammates recently won the Hockey East title and have just completed a successful run through the NCAA Tournament, which now has them headed to the Frozen Four and a chance at winning a national championship.
It is possible that McDavid and Eichel could meet in the 2015 World Championship tournament that takes place in May; Eichel will definitely be available since his college season ends with the Frozen Four, but McDavid and the Otters could make a run to the Memorial Cup tournament that takes place later in May, making him unavailable for the international tournament.
Beyond the top two prospects, there has been some change in the order within the top 10, beginning with the third slot. Taking over that position this month is another Erie Otters forward, Dylan Strome. Strome had a strong finish to the 2014-15 OHL campaign that culminated in his winning the league scoring title on the final day of the season. ISS took notice of that feat, moving Strome from the sixth position to #3.
Holding on to the fourth slot this month is Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin. Hanifin’s freshman season has ended as the Eagles were eliminated in the NCAA Tournament by the University of Denver this past weekend. Despite the relative lack of success for the Eagles this season, Hanifin was a good as advertised over the course of the 2014-15 season.
Dropping from the third to the fifth position is Kingston Frontenacs left wing, Lawson Crouse. The Frontenacs won eight of their last 10 games in the regular season, but they are on the brink of being swept in their opening round OHL playoff series against the North Bay Battalion. Crouse is their leading scorer in the postseason, however, picking up three points (2G, 1A) in the series.
Falling one place in the rankings is London Knights center, Mitch Marner. Marner was the player overtaken by Strome for the OHL scoring title, but he is right back in familiar territory as the scoring leader in the OHL playoffs. In just three games, Marner has racked up seven goals and five assists as the Knights are cruising towards a series win against the Kitchener Rangers.
Moving up one position from last month’s rankings is TPS Turku right wing, Mikko Rantanen, who slots in at #7. The big winger has been impressive in Finland’s Liiga as an 18-year-old, and he further upped his credentials with a strong performance at the 2015 World Junior Championship.
Taking Rantanen’s place at #8 is Seattle Thunderbirds center, Mathew Barzal. Barzal and his Thunderbirds teammates are currently leading their opening round WHL playoff series against the Portland Winterhawks, two games to one. Barzal has posted three points in three playoff games after producing 57 points in 44 games during the regular season.
Remaining in the ninth position this month is Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman, Ivan Provorov. After turning in a strong WHL rookie season, Provorov has produced three assists for the Wheat Kings in the postseason with his club leading the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings, three games to one.
Moving back into the top 10 after last appearing at #8 back in December is Sarnia Sting center, Pavel Zacha. The Czech Republic native had fallen slightly in the rankings, in part due to an injury that kept him out of the lineup for several weeks. Zacha finished the regular season with 34 points (16G, 18A) in 37 games, and has followed that up with three points in four OHL playoff games against an Erie club that leads the series, three games to one.
Outside the top 10, two players made significant moves up the rankings this month.
Moving up six places from #22 to #16 is Cape Breton Screaming Eagles right wing, Evgeny Svechnikov. The skilled Russian turned in a strong rookie season, picking up 78 points (32G, 46A) in 55 games for the Eagles. In three postseason games, Svechnikov has tallied two goals and an assist for his team, who currently lead the Quebec Remparts, two games to one.
Also moving up six places this month is U.S. NTDP left wing, Jordan Greenway. The big forward was ranked 23rd in March, but has moved up to the 17th position in the April rankings. The future Boston University forward has been productive offensively for the U.S. squad this season as he has notched five goals and 15 assists in 22 USHL games in 2014-15. Greenway has also produced 35 points (7G, 28A) in 42 games for the U18 national team.
The player losing the most ground among the top 30 prospects since last month is U.S. NTDP right wing, Colin White. White switched places with his NTDP teammate Greenway, dropping down to the 23rd slot held by Greenway in the March rankings.
One new name entered the rankings this month. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds right wing Zachary Senyshyn had not previously been included among the top 30, but he is now ranked 28th by ISS. The 6’1”, 192-pound Senyshyn had a productive OHL rookie season, posting 45 points (26G, 19A) in 66 games to go along with a +30 rating. He has contributed another three points in three playoff games for a Greyhounds team that is poised to sweep their opening round series against the Saginaw Spirit.
The top two goaltenders remain unchanged from last month, although their order has flipped. Moving into the top position from the second slot is Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov of the Magnitogorsk junior club. He is followed by Czech goaltender Daniel Vladar from the Kladno junior squad. Vladar was ranked first by ISS in the March rankings.
|2||Jack Eichel||Center||10/28/1996||R||6.02||193||Boston Univ.||HE|
|4||Noah Hanifin||Left Defenseman||1/25/1997||L||6.02.75||203||Boston College||HE|
|5||Lawson Crouse||Left Wing||6/23/1997||L||6.04||215||Kingston||OHL|
|7||Mikko Rantanen||Right Wing||10/29/1996||L||6.04||195||TPS Turku||FinE|
|9||Ivan Provorov||Left Defenseman||1/13/1997||L||6.00||191||Brandon||WHL|
|11||Zach Werenski||Right Defenseman||7/19/1997||L||6.02||206||Michigan||Big Ten|
|14||Paul Bittner||Left Wing||11/4/1996||L||6.04||206||Portland||WHL|
|15||Timo Meier||Right Wing||5/23/1997||R||5.10.5||191||Kelowna||WHL|
|16||Evgeny Svechnikov||Right Wing||10/31/1996||L||6.01.75||199||Cape Breton||WHL|
|17||Jordan Greenway||Left Wing||2/16/1997||L||6.04.75||222||U.S. Under-18||USHL|
|19||Thomas Chabot||Defenseman||1/30/1997||L||6.01.5||180||Saint John||QMJHL|
|20||Jakub Zboril||Left Defenseman||2/21/1997||L||6.00.75||184||Saint John||QMJHL|
|21||Brandon Carlo||Right Defenseman||11/26/1996||R||6.05||196||Tri-City||WHL|
|22||Joel Ek Eriksson||Center||1/29/1997||L||6.01.75||180||Farjestad||SweJE|
|23||Colin White||Right Wing||1/30/1997||R||6.00||183||U.S. Under-18||USHL|
|24||Oliver Kylington||Right Defenseman||5/19/1997||L||6.00||180||Farjestad||SweE|
|25||Jansen Harkins||Center/Left Wing||5/23/1997||L||6.00.75||177||Prince George||WHL|
|26||Jacob Larsson||Left Defenseman||4/29/1997||L||6.02||191||Frolunda||SweJE|
|27||Jeremy Bracco||Right Wing||3/17/1997||R||5.09.25||173||U.S. Under-18||USHL|
|28||Zachary Senyshyn||Right Wing||3/30/1997||R||6.01||192||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL|
|29||Jeremy Roy||Right Defenseman||5/14/1997||R||6.00||188||Sherbrooke||QMJHL|
|30||Gabriel Carlsson||Left Defenseman||1/2/1997||L||6.04||183||Linkoping||SweJE|
Ken McKenna contributed to this article
Follow ISS Hockey on Twitter via @ISSHockey