Welcome back to Top Shelf Hockey Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 Draft Articles Click here.
Lawson Crouse was part of Team Canada’s Ivan Hlinka winning squad this summer leading the team with 6 goals in 5 games. He has followed that up by making Canada’s 2015 World Junior Team and playing an important defensive role on the fourth line and penalty kill. Crouse put up 29 goals and 51 points in 56 games for the Frontenacs this season. He also had two goals and an assist in their opening round four game loss to the North Bay Battalion in the OHL Playoffs. Crouse will be suspended for the first eight games of next season (whenever he is returned from OHL camp).
While other scouts have Crouse slightly higher than I do, and while I like him enough to have him just outside the top 10, and he’s a very complete player, I’m just not convinced about his high-end offensive upside right now. Don’t get me wrong, I think he can be a top 6 forward at the next level, there are just some questions about whether or not Crouse has enough offensive potential to be a true first-line player.
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born Jun 23 1997 — Mt. Brydges, ONT
Height 6.04 — Weight 212 [194 cm/96 kg]
At 6’4″ and 212 pounds Crouse is a budding power forward. He has a powerful skating stride, but could work on his first step and acceleration. That good power allows him to fight through checks and get to the net. He loves to get in the forecheck, and finishes his hits along the boards. He is very good in protecting the puck in the cycle and in winning battles along the boards. Crouse’s could improve on his agility going forward, to be able to avoid defenders instead of always trying to skate through them. Adding some more variety to his game would go a long way towards making him a more dynamic offensive threat.
Lawson Crouse has the soft hands to finish in close and can tip in shots, or bang in goals from the front of the net. He also has a good wrist shot with a decent release. He could stand to shoot the puck more though. Crouse can make the smart pass in the cycle game to an open man along the boards to keep the play going, but he isnt much of a playmaker. He can use some work on making touch passes to set up teammates, and on his vision and creativity.
Lawson Crouse is also an excellent penalty killer, and has excellent defensive instincts. He anticipates the play well, and can use his long stick to break up passes. He plays a physical game in the defensive end of the ice, and backchecks well supporting the defense down low. Crouse is a very willing shot blocker, and his big frame makes him very effective at it. He makes the smart play to get the puck out at the line. Overall Crouse’s defensive game is very advanced for a 17-year-old. He’s also showed that he’s not afraid to drop his gloves to defend a teammate.
Some say that Crouse has the potential to be a top line winger, and he could get there, but will need real improvements in his offensive game. It is more likely that he becomes a very good second line player. Even if the offense doesn’t improve, Crouse has the size and defensive game to be a third liner, and so is a very safe pick. At his best Crouse’s game resembles an Andrew Ladd, however this is a stylistic comparison and not a talent one.
Below are some videos of Crouse in action.
Check back tomorrow for the number 12 player on our draft board.