2015 NHL Draft Profiles

Get to know a draft pick — Noah Hanifin

4 Comments

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.

Noah Hanifin (D)

Height: 6’3 Weight: 203 Shoots: Left

Team: Boston College (NCAA)

Country: United States

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 3 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

A potential top pairing defenseman that excels with the puck and can quarterback a team’s power play.

While Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are regarded as locks as the first and second overall picks, there isn’t the same level of consensus when it comes to the third selection. Hanifin is a top contender for that slot though after a strong rookie campaign with Boston College. Although he didn’t turn 18 until Jan. 25, Hanifin held his own against his older competitors by scoring five goals and 23 points in 37 contests.

He participated in the 2015 World Juniors, recording two assists in five games. While that tournament ended in disappointment for the United States, Hanifin helped Team USA win the gold medal in both the Under-17 and Under-18 tournaments in 2014. He also served as the captain on the Under-17 team.

Although his offensive play draws a lot of attention, Hanifin is sound defensively as well and capable of transitioning quickly. That’s one of the reasons he’s so highly regarded.

There’s plenty of talk about McDavid and Eichel being generational talents, but Hanifin also has star potential.

Seidel says:

“Hanifin’s a smooth-skating defender with the ability to jump into the rush and create odd man chances, yet also possesses the foot speed to get back into the defensive end and take care of his responsibilities. Although he isn’t the most physical player, he showed he’ll stand up for his teammates — like he did as a freshman at Boston College this season, often against bigger and older opponents. What’s more, his play as a 17-year-old for Team USA at the World Juniors showed that he relishes the big stage. He has the overall game to become a 25-minute a night defenseman in the NHL.”

NHL comparable: Keith Yandle

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Get to know a draft pick — Connor McDavid

10 Comments

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.

Connor McDavid (C)

Height: 6’1 Weight: 195 Shoots: Left

Team: Erie Otters (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

The clear-cut top prospect in this year’s draft, viewed by many as the kind of talent that comes around once every 10-15 years. For all of McDavid’s exploits this season — OHL Player of the Year, CHL Player of the Year — the feather in his cap might’ve been an outrageous run through the Ontario League playoffs; he scored an eye-bulging 21 goals and 49 points in 20 games and put together a highlight reel of goals, further cementing him as the type of dynamic player that will make an immediate impact in Edmonton next season.

Seidel says:

“McDavid is a generational talent that’s been in the spotlight since he was 13 years old, and has excelled on all of the big stages. An offensive force, he’s a natural set-up man with deft passing ability — but he’ll still score his fair share of goals with his innate ability to capitalize on opportunities. McDavid also has incredible quickness, a hockey IQ that’s off the charts and will instantly create offense in the NHL.”

NHL comparable: Sidney Crosby/Tyler Seguin

Get to know a draft pick — Dylan Strome

6 Comments

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.

Dylan Strome (C)

Height: 6’3 Weight: 185 Shoots: Left

Team: Erie Otters (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 4 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

The younger brother of Islanders’ forward — and No. 5 overall pick — Ryan Strome, Dylan had a tremendous campaign as Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie this year, capturing the OHL scoring title with 129 points in 68 games.

As those numbers suggest, Strome is one of the elite offensive talents available at the draft. It’s worth noting that much of his production came solo; while he and McDavid spent time on the Otters’ power play together, Strome centered his own line this year and carried the load when McDavid was sidelined for 20 games with a broken hand (Strome racked up 29 points over that stretch).

“He was ready to rise to the occasion,” Erie head coach Kris Knoblauch said, per NHL.com. “He knew it would be more difficult. I didn’t want him to get too discouraged because there was the possibility of him drawing more attention, the top defensemen, the shutdown line, and his scoring going down.

“But his 5-on-5 play, his scoring went up. His power-play production went down a little bit because without Connor being there that affected him a little bit. For his overall game we saw him step up.”

Seidel says:

“Strome’s a big, smart center that possesses tremendous offensive instincts and a very high hockey IQ. His skating will need to improve upon entering the NHL, though, as he currently lacks the extra gear that will allow him to separate from defenders. He will use his offensive mind to be particularly effective on the PP, because he usually makes the right offensive decisions that lead to scoring chances.”

NHL comparable: Joe Thornton

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Get to know a draft pick — Zach Werenski

4 Comments

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.

Zach Werenski (D)

Height: 6’2 Weight: 206 Shoots: Left

Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)

Country: USA

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 9 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

Along with Boston University’s Jack Eichel and Boston College’s Noah Hanifin, Werenski is part of the “big three” NCAA prospects expected to go high at this year’s draft. But what sets Werenski apart from Eichel and Hanifin is his age — at 17, he was the youngest college hockey player in the country last season (after accelerating his high school course work to graduate a year early.)

Werenski’s freshman campaign was a good one. He led all Wolverines d-men in scoring, with 25 points in 35 games, and was named to both the Big Ten’s first and all-freshman teams.

“He’s had to learn the college game and the quickness, the defensive-zone stuff, our systems and structure, but he was able to continue to play his game and play the right way,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said, per NHL.com. “I’d put him right up there with former Michigan defensemen Jacob Trouba, Mike Komisarek, Jack Johnson and Jeff Jillson.

“They were all first-round picks in the NHL and they all had big-time hockey written all over them just like Zach does.”

Seidel says:

“Werenski decided to play for Berenson at U of M last year and quickly showed scouts why he’s considered a potential franchise defenseman. He has a complete game, accentuated by good size and quick feet — both of which make him a formidable force in the defensive end. As the youngest player to ever play for Berenson, he showed incredible maturity for his age and his ceiling is extremely high.”

NHL comparable: Ryan McDonagh

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Get to know a draft pick — Mitch Marner

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.

Mitch Marner (C)

Height: 5’11 Weight: 160 Shoots: Right

Team: London Knights (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 6 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

A diminutive skill guy, at a time when diminutive skill guys are all the rage.

Sure, that might be overstating things a bit, but we did just wrap a Stanley Cup Final in which Patrick Kane (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and Tyler Johnson (5-9, 175) finished tied for the playoff scoring lead. And if you’re looking for offense, look no further than Marner — he finished second in the OHL in scoring this year (126 points in just 63 games), became the fastest 17-year-old in London history to score 40 goals and became the 46th player in franchise history to notch 100 points, joining the likes of Kane, John Tavares and Corey Perry.

“The NHL has changed,” Marner said earlier this month. “It’s not about height. It’s not about cross-checking as hard as you can. It’s not about hooking. All those get you a penalty nowadays. It’s a speed game now. It’s about thinking.

“If you have the brain to play in the NHL, no matter how tall you are, you can play. If you can dodge hits, you can play.”

Seidel says:

“The Kane comparisons are inevitable because both are undersized, offensive machines that had phenomenal careers with London. Marner is a magician with the puck and had the OHL scoring race locked up — until the final day of the season, when Dylan Strome notched six points to snatch the title. Although Marner needs to get stronger, concerns about his size are overstated as he’s shown a willingness to go into the dirty areas to make plays. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that he came into the OHL as a one-dimensional offensive star, only to evolve into a complete player under the tutelage of Dale Hunter. Marner has the potential to become a superstar in the NHL, and shouldn’t drop out of the top-five.”

NHL comparable: Kane/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.