Connor McDavid Tops NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings


As of today, there are 157 days until the 2015 NHL Draft will be held in Sunrise, Florida. (Day one of the two-day event, that is.)

That’s 157 days until the Buffalo Sabres make their inevitable first-round choice, bringing in a hopeful future NHL star.

Where exactly the Buffalo Sabres will end up drafting is still to be determined; after all, there’s still a few months remaining in the NHL season. But in 157 days, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and other top-ranked draft prospects will hear their names called and see their dreams come true as they hit the stage after being selected by an NHL team.

Today, 157 days prior to that big event, the NHL’s Central Scouting released its official midterm draft rankings. The full list – broken into four categories – can be found here, but let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights.

Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid ranks #1 on the list, to absolutely no one’s surprise. Despite missing time with an injury sustained in a fight, McDavid is still having a stellar season. He’s put up 60 points in just 23 games this season with the OHL team, and also has the prestigious honor of IIHF World Junior Championships gold under his belt after winning the title with Team Canada earlier this year.

Right behind McDavid at #2 is Boston University center Jack Eichel. Eichel joined BU after spending last season with the U.S. National U-18 team. In his first season of college hockey, the 18-year-old has 34 points (11-23) in 20 games. Eichel represented Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships.

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  • Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid have undoubtedly been the top two 2015 NHL draft prospects for some time. Compare them all you want, but keep in mind that the two play at different levels of hockey and in the end, both are stellar players that will make a great addition to any NHL team.

    Next up in the rankings of North American skaters: Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin. Both Hanifin and Eichel participated in the 2014 USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo last year. Hanifin, 17, is the youngest of the top three ranked NA skaters. The Norwood, MA native is in his first season with Boston College, where he’s managed to put up 13 points, racked up 10 penalty minutes and has a plus-9 rating in 22 games.

    Ranking 4th is Kingston Frontenacs left winger Lawson Crouse. Crouse, 17, is in his second season with Kingston and is set to surpass his point totals from last season. He has 16 goals and seven assists for 23 points in 30 games. Last season, Crouse had 27 points in 63 games. He also has 55 penalty minutes on the season.

    Rounding out the top five for North American skaters is Erie Otters forward Dylan Strome. The younger brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, Dylan is making a name for himself and has been ranked at #5 steadily for several months, so it’s no surprise to see him ranked in that spot for the midterm. Strome is in his second season with the Otters and has already doubled his point total from last season, putting up an outstanding 80 points in just 43 games. Strome is second in OHL scoring to London Knights forward Mitch Marner, who is ranked 7th by NHL Central Scouting.

    For North American goaltenders, it’s Barrie netminder Mackenzie Blackwood leading the way. The 18-year-old Thunder Bay native is in his second season with the Colts. He has a 20-7-1 record, .915 save percentage and 2.81 GAA this season.

    Next up are a pair of QMJHL goaltenders: Callum Booth of the Quebec Remparts and Samuel Montembeault of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

    Booth, 17, is a Montreal native in his second season with the Remparts. He has a record of 16-11-2 this season with a .898 save percentage and 3.11 GAA. Montembeault, 18, is a Becancour, Quebec native in his second season with the Armada. He has a record of 22-8-5 with a 2.62 GAA and .894 save percentage.

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  • For international skaters, a pair of defensemen made the top five rankings, including top-ranked AIK blueliner Oliver Kylington. Kylington, 17, is a Stockholm native who played part of this season – and all of last – with Farjestads BK Karlstad of the Swedish Hockey League. He’s since begun playing with AIK (Swedish 1st Division), where he has six points, four penalty minutes and a minus-2 in 13 games.

    Next up is Finnish right winger Mikko Rantanen. The 18-year-old is in his third season with TPS Turku of SM-liiga. He has 15 points – a new career-high – in 36 games and also has 16 penalty minutes on the season.

    Rounding out the top three is Brynas right winger Jens Looke. Looke, 17, is in his first season with Brynas IF Gavle of the Swedish Hockey League. He has six points and two penalty minutes in 32 games.

    Fourth in international skater rankings is Michael Spacek. Spacek, 17, is in his first full season with Pardubice HC of the Czech Hockey League. He has five goals and six assists in 27 games. Spacek played four games with Pardubice HC last season.

    Finally, defenseman Jacob Larsson finishes off the top five international skaters. Larsson, 17, plays for Frolunda Jr. of the Swedish Jr. league. The Ljungby, Sweden native has played for Frolunda at multiple levels and also represented Sweden at the U-18 tournament. He also participated in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

    For international goaltenders, the one-two punch involves Ilya Samsonov of Magnitogorsk 2 and Daniel Vladar of Kladno.

    Samsonov, 17, played one game with Metallurg Magnitogork of the KHL this season. He’s spent most of the year with Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk of the MHL, putting up a 2.25 GAA and .927 save percentage. He also played for Russia at U-18s and U-19s.

    Vladar, 17, is a Praha, Czech Republic native who has spent the past few years playing with HC Kladno at various levels (U16, U18, U20 and Czech2). He represented his country at U-18s this year and also participated in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

    Again – you can find the full NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings here. Who do you think will be joining the Buffalo Sabres? Will it be Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel or perhaps another big name? Who else would you like to see playing in Buffalo in the years to come?