Get to know a draft pick — Mathew Barzal

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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Mathew Barzal (C)

Height: 5’11 Weight: 175 Shoots: Right

Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 11 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

Skill and speed are two things that come highly valued in today’s NHL, and Barzal boasts both.

The playmaking forward is also a “student of the game,” as this Sportsnet piece attests; he watches hours of NHL video of skaters he hopes to emulate, from Patrick Kane to Pavel Datsyuk.

Of course, NHL teams have to worry a bit about how his skating ability – generally believed to be among the best in the field – may be affected by a knee injury he suffered while “horsing around” in November. As NHL.com reports, he spent much of his many interviews insisting that his knee has healed, but such issues may stand as a red flag for certain scouts and executives.

Barzal’s stock may have taken a hit, yet his dangerous offensive abilities argue that he could be a steal if he does slip down the board a bit. Really, falling ever so slightly in the first round may be the best thing for his development, as it seems like he could add a little weight to his frame.

Seidel says:

“Following a tremendous rookie campaign with WHL Seattle, Barzal came into his draft year looking like a surefire top-10 pick. Injuries, though, hampered his sophomore season, though he did finish the year off with a fantastic performance at the U-18 World Championship with Team Canada. Barzal is a slick offensive player with tremendous vision; along with his offensive skill set, he’s shown an ability to play hard consistently and battle physically. In the scouting world, we love to see kids play well at the end of the year — based on his effort at the U-18s in Switzerland, he will be highly coveted.”NHL comparable: Kyle Turris/Mike Ribeiro

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.