2015 NHL Draft Preview: Top Prospects 11-20


2015 NHL Draft Preview: Top Prospects 11-20

This is part two of our top 30 prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft. Part one can be found here. Prospects are ranked by averaging their rankings from NHL Central Scouting (broken down into North American and European skaters), International Scouting ServicesESPN and Future Considerations. It should be noted this does create a small bias towards European players. Also ESPN’s rankings are behind a paywall but are extremely detailed and well worth the money.

#11 Pavel Zacha – Centre – Sarnia (OHL)
6’3″ – 210 pounds
16G – 18A – 34P in 37 GP
NHL Rank: #8 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #11 Overall
ISS Rank: #10 Overall
FC Rank: #15 Overall

The offensive production has not been what Zacha fans hoped for in his rookie OHL season. Despite that, he had a very good World Juniors for the Czech and translates as a big dynamic centre. He’s good defensively, highly skilled and posses a strong work ethic. He’s got good speed for a man of his size and his shot is dangerous either in close or from a distance. Zacha spent his first year in North America last year and the transition wasn’t always smooth, once he’s full acclimatized he may realize his full potential.

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#12 Travis Konecny – Centre – Ottawa (OHL)
5’10” – 175 pounds
29G – 39A – 68P in 60 GP
NHL Rank: #14 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #7 Overall
ISS Rank: #12 Overall
FC Rank: #11 Overall

Halfway through the year scouts saw Konecny range from a top 10 pick to a late first rounder, but a strong second half has confirmed him around the low teens. He’s got blazing speed, tough and fearless. He’s been described as a buzzsaw similar to Brad Marchand. A skilled puck handler with good vision and solid defensive play, his speed and ability to read the play allow him to project as not just an offensive force, but a possible penalty killer in the NHL. He’s also versatile, able to play centre or the wing.

#13 Kyle Connor – Centre – Youngstown (USHL)
6’1″ – 182 pounds
34G – 46A – 80P in 56 GP
NHL Rank: #13 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #13 Overall
ISS Rank: #13 Overall
FC Rank: #12

Few picks outside of McDavid or Eichel have as much consensus as Kyle Connor, ranked 13th by three scouting departments and 12th by the other. Connor is a high energy, scoring centre with very good skating ability. He’s also solid defensively. He projects as the kind of player who can do everything well but nothing great or elite. A concern for any team drafting Connor has to be his point total of 80 in 56 games this season. Compared to last year, when he had 74 in 56 games, it’s only a modest improvement. Part of that can be explained away by the fact that Youngstown was terrible last year, finishing 17-37-6 and was often playing from behind while this year they were 40-14-6 and Connor was asked to control the play more from a defensive standpoint.

#14 Evgeny/Evgeni/Yevgeni Svechnikov – Left Wing – Cape Breton (QMJHL)
6’2″ – 199 pounds
32G – 46A – 78P in 55 GP
NHL Rank: #17 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #9 Overall
ISS Rank: #18 Overall
FC Rank: #16 Overall

Svechnikov lit it up in his first season in North America, dominating from left wing while also dabbling at centre. His shot is very accurate and his bread and butter, with his skating, vision and soft hands all working together to get him to the right spot on the ice to unleash his shot. Only average to below average defensively, Svechnikov’s game revolves more around offense. He uses his body well but needs to lower the amount of penalties he takes. At the very least he projects as a one dimensional offensive threat, but if he can improve his defensive game to at least above average, he could become a dynamic two player. The most common spelling of his name seems to be Evgeny but the other two appear often as well, hence they’re inclusion.

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#15 Timo Meier – Right Wing – Halifax (QMJHL)
6’1″ – 209 pounds
44G – 46A – 90P in 61 GP
NHL Rank: #10 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #26 Overall
ISS Rank: #14 Overall
FC Rank: #14 Overall

Meier possess all the elements to be a very versatile forward in the NHL. He has good size, skating and puck handling with a strong shot. He’s also willing to work hard and backcheck to help out his defence. He had a strong World Junior tournament with six points in six games and a stronger playoff with Halifax with 21 points in 14 games. His offensive numbers are slightly misleading, as he benefited from playing with Nikolaj Ehlers, but his improvement from 34 points last year to 90 this year is not without merit. He can impact the play positively in a number of different ways. Meier projects as the kind of player you can put on a skill line or a shutdown line and he wouldn’t look out of place on either.

#16 Jeremy Roy – Defence – Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
6’0″ – 188 pounds
5G – 38A – 43P in 46 GP
NHL Rank: #21 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #19 Overall
ISS Rank: #23 Overall
FC Rank: #13 Overall

Roy has very good vision and is a powerplay quarterback, able to land picture perfect passes to open teammates. He’s got good skating ability but only moderate size. He thus relies on positional play and stickwork to break up offensive plays. A very high character player, Roy is a natural leader on the ice and controls the play in every zone. While he only had five goals this year, he had 14 last year showcasing a solid shot from the point. He’s a right handed defencemen, which is always in demand, but seems to prefer playing the left side. After Hanifin, Provorov and Werenski, Roy is the consensus fourth best defenceman. As such it’s possible a team who values defence could grab him as some scouts believe there’s a big dropoff amongst defenders after Roy.

#17 Nick Merkley – Right Wing/Centre – Kelowna (WHL)
5’11” – 191 pounds
20G – 70A – 90P in 72 GP
NHL Rank: #23 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #18 Overall
ISS Rank: Outside Top 30
FC Rank: #17 Overall

As impressive as the regular season was for Merkley, the playoff performance should go even further to solidify his draft status. After his 90 point performance (1.25 ppg) he improved with 27 points in 19 games in the playoffs (1.42) and also put forth a strong Memorial Cup performance. Merkley has very good speed, puck handling and is a very dangerous passer and offensive force. While he’s on the short side, he has a good build and weight to him for that size and isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas. He’s a hard worker and has shown a real drive to improve defensively and while he’ll never be a shutdown centre he looks like he could be a good pass first centre in a two way role.

#18 Oliver Kylington – Defence – AIK (Sweden)
6’0″ – 180 pounds
4G – 3A – 7P in 17 GP (AIK)
2G – 3A – 5P in 18 GP (Farjestads)
NHL Rank: #6 European Skaters
ESPN Rank: #15 Overall
ISS Rank: Outside top 30
FC Rank: #28 Overall

Kylington split his time this year between the Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League (think of it as like the NHL) and AIK in Allsvenskan (think of it like the AHL). He missed the World Juniors due to injury, which helped drop him down draft lists from the start of the season. He’s a high end skater and puck mover with a high hockey IQ. He’s an excellent passer with the vision to make the right pass at the right time. He can control the game offensively but needs to work on his defence which is above average but could use improvement. His size is average as well and he doesn’t play an overly physical game. Kylington has consistently dropped down the rankings all year and likely goes lower than 18, as being a European skater skews his ranking here.

#19 Daniel Sprong – Right Wing – Charlottetown (QMJHL)
6’0″ – 192 pounds
39G – 49A – 88P in 68 GP
NHL Rank: #20 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #17 Overall
ISS Rank: #26 Overall
FC Rank: #18 Overall

Scouts are highly mixed on Sprong, some see a scoring winger with elite level tools, others see a defensive liability who was -23 in the regular season despite his 88 points. Sprong can be offensively dominant, with fantastic hands, a great passer and impressive skater. He has all the ability to be one of the best offensive players in the draft, not something you can generally say from any pick landing outside the top 15. That being said his defense clearly needs work. While Sprong’s offensive tools are too good to ignore, it may be his attitude and the hard work he puts in that rounds out his defensive game and could turn him into an excellent NHLer. He possesses more risk than a safe player like Meier, but his ceiling is so much higher than other picks available in the mid to late teens.

#20 Colin White – Centre – USNTDP (USHL)
6’0″ – 183 pounds
23G – 31A – 54P in 54 GP (U.S. National U18 Team)
4G – 13A – 17P in 20 GP (USNTDP Juniors – USHL)
NHL Rank: #29 North American Skaters
ESPN Rank: #22 Overall
ISS Rank: #15 Overall
FC Rank: #19 Overall

A quick explanation, the USNTDP is the U.S. National Team Development Program, a team that plays teams in the United States Hockey League, the NCAA as well as international tournaments. White is best described as a smart player, someone always in the right position and always making the smart play. While better described as a safe player than overly flashy, he has no problem racking up the points with his vision and passing ability. He’s been counted on to kill penalties and take key draws and projects as a solid two way centre. White is set to play for Boston College next year.

So who do you think can be the steal of the teens? Stay tuned for prospects 21-30 plus honourable mentions which will be posted tomorrow. 

Next: 2015 NHL Draft Preview: Top Prospects 1-10