When looking at the prospects for the upcoming NHL Draft many have heard of the likes of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel – the two topped the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings released this week.
At No. 4, behind Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin, is a hulking 6-foot-4, 211-pound forward by the name of Lawson Crouse.
Crouse, who plays for the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, was listed at No. 3 on the International Scouting Services latest rankings released earlier this month.
“Everytime he’s out there, you know what he’s giving you,” said Benoit Groulx, who coached Crouse with Team Canada at the recent world junior hockey championship. “You know what he brings to the table. He’s a big body, likes to get involved. Smart player, solid with the puck. He’s solid also on the defensive game.”
The 17-year-old, who was a surprise to even make the Canadian team, spent much of the tournament on the fourth line registering a goal and three points in seven games.
Crouse has 16 goals and 23 points in 31 OHL games this season – a nice increase in production from the 15 goals and 27 points he registered in 63 games during the 2013-14 season.
“I’m a big power forward. I just try and bring it every night,” said Crouse describing his game. “If you want to play in the National Hockey League, I feel that’s what you have to do. I can score, but there are areas of my game that I’m strong at – in the defensive zone and doing the little things.
“That’s something that I focus on. Try and control the little things and do everything else.”
Crouse grew up idolizing current Colorado Avalanche veteran Jarome Iginla, but models his game after a couple of other NHL stars.
“Right now I like to watch Rick Nash and Milan Lucic- trying to find a balance between them both,” he said. “I have the ability to score, but I also have the meanness and ability to play physical like Lucic.”
Given his size, whoever selects Crouse in the first round in June could have an NHL-ready player for the start of next season.