The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau has released its midseason rankings for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and, to nobody’s surprise, a pair of familiar names top the list.
Connor McDavid, the OHL Erie wunderkind, took the No. 1 spot while Boston University star freshman Jack Eichel came in at number two. McDavid’s positioning comes on the heels of an impressive showing at the World Juniors, where he led the tournament in assists (with eight) and was named to the media All-Star team while helping Canada win gold.
Eichel, who didn’t fare as well at the Juniors, continues to dominate the collegiate hockey landscape with 11 goals and 34 points through 20 games this year. A Hobey Baker Award nominee, he’s looking to become just the second freshman to capture the trophy and first since Paul Kariya did it for the University of Maine in 1993.
As for other draft ranking highlights:
Joining McDavid and Eichel among the top North American skaters are: No. 3 Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.), a freshman defenseman with Boston College (H-EAST); No. 4 Lawson Crouse (Mount Brydges, Ont.), a left wing with the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL); and No. 5 Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont.), a center with the Erie Otters (OHL) and brother of New York Islanders center Ryan Strome.
Defenseman Oliver Kylington (Sundbyberg, Sweden) and right wing Mikko Rantanen (Nousiainen, Finland) are the No. 1- and 2-ranked skaters from Europe, respectively. Both have skated in their country’s top league, with Kylington recording 2-3—5 in 17 games with Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League before joining AIK in the second division, and Rantanen notching 4-11—15 in 36 games for TPS of the Finnish Elite League.
The No.1-ranked North American goalie is OHL Barrie’s Mackenzie Blackwood, while the top-rated European netminder is Ilya Samsonov, who plays in the Russian junior league.
One thing to note: Denis Godla, who won MVP at the World Juniors en route to helping Slovakia medal for just the second time in tournament history, is the fourth-ranked draft eligible goalie from Europe.