2015 NHL Draft November Rankings 11-20

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Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column looking at Hockey’s Stars.  Over the next few days, we will be previewing the 2014 NHL Draft by ranking our top 30 prospects and honourable mentions.  As always, you can check out the previous Top Shelf Prospects articles here.

With the CHL season a good 6 weeks old,  a month or so of NCAA hockey, plenty of games for the USNTDP  and the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the books since we last updated our draft rankings, we have gotten a decent overview of what some of the biggest prospects for the draft are doing this year.  That said, I and the rest of the LWOS staff haven’t seen everyone yet… its quite simply not possible at this point in the season, so if there is someone you feel is an obvious name that has been left out, we’ll do our best to get a look before our final ranks come out in April, May, and June.  At this point the group we haven’t seen a lot of are those European prospects who for whatever reason haven’t had much exposure on the international stage.  With the Four Nations, Subway Series, World Juniors, Five Nations, and the Under 18 all to come later in the year, we should get a better look at most.  For now, this is what we have, we hope you enjoy the early preview.

For the Top 10, Click here

2015 NHL Draft November Rankings 11-20

11) Jeremy Roy, Defence, Sherbrooke Phoenix (6’0″, 183 lbs): An alternate captain with Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, Roy put up three assists in five games and brought home a gold medal.  This season, Roy has shown dynamic offence from the blueline for the Phoenix this season, with 18 points in 19 games.

Roy is an outstanding skater, and shows great mobility both forwards and backwards, as well as the strong edge work and agility to cover all areas in the defensive zone, and walk the line in the offensive zone.  He’s a smart player, who almost always makes the right pass out of his own end, or on the point at the powerplay.  Roy is developing a hard one-timer, and understands that by keeping it low and on net, he creates second chance opportunities for the Sherbrooke forwards.  Roy’s hockey sense and positioning are extremely good, and he battles hard in the corners and in his own end.  He may only be 17, but he plays all situations and against top competition for the Phoenix this year.

 

12) Colin White, Centre/Right Wing, US NTDP (6’0″ 183 lbs): Colin White played a top line role for the US NTDP U17 team at centre and was leading the squad in points before a late season call-up to the Under 18 team where he played in a checking line wing spot. Was incredible at the U17 World Hockey Challenge with 10 goals and 18 points in just 6 games. He is back with the U18 team this year and is once again the top line centre and captain.  White has put up 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points in 10 games so far.

White plays a great puck protection and cycle game, always keeping his feet moving and working down low. He wins the vast majority of his puck battles showing outstanding balance and strength.  He has decent speed and generates the power to fight through checks and go to the net.  He also has good agility.  White is equally adept as a passer or as a shooter, and displays the good hands to stickhandle around defencemen or to finish in close to the crease.  He also has shown the ability to play in his own end as well being outstanding in the face-off circle.

 

13) Zach Werenski, Defence, Michigan Wolverines (6’2, 214 lbs):  With 6 points in 7 games as a freshman, Werenski is settling in nicely at the NCAA level.  Like Noah Hanifin he is another 17-year-old who accelerated his education and is one of the youngest players in the NCAA, making his output even more impressive.

Werenski is a mobile, two-way defender who is not afraid to be physical in his own end of the rink.  He can battle in the corners and works to clear the front of the net.  He’s also been known to throw a hit if a forward comes down his side of the rink with his head down.  Add to this some offensive ability with good passing skills, and strong ability to handle the puck and quarterback things from the blueline and you have someone who is rising quickly.  If this play continues at this level, he could move up even higher in our next rank.

 

14) Travis Konecny, Centre/Right Wing, Ottawa 67s (5’10”, 172 lbs): The first overall pick in the 2013 OHL Draft, Konecny was the captain of Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka, and his five goals and six points in five games were key to Canada’s Gold Medal win.  He’s carried some of that momentum into the OHL season where he has put up 11 points in 15 games for the 67s, another club where he is Captain. He is a cousin of Bo Horvat, a recent top 10 NHL pick by the Vancouver Canucks.

Konecny has excellent speed, and tremendous acceleration. He utilizes it both on the rush, and to be a cannonball on the forecheck. Add to this great vision and passing ability and Konecny is the type of player who can make his linemates better. He also has a strong wrist shot and a good release. Its not something he can control, but growing an extra inch or two this season could help him go higher in the draft.

 

15) Daniel Sprong, Right Wing, Charlottetown Islanders (6’0″ 192 lbs):  Sprong is likely to be the highest drafted Dutch born player ever. He moved to Canada in 2005 to face stronger competition than what was available in the Netherlands. Sprong’s 30 goals was the most by any 1997 born player in the CHL this season.  Sprong has picked up where he left off and has 9 goals and 18 points in 19 games for the Islanders so far this season.

Sprong has got great speed off the wing, and a bullet wrister with a deadly release. He is dangerous every time he touches the puck, and loves to shoot. Sprong has outstanding acceleration and his ability to change speeds while carrying the puck can help him to blow past a flat-footed defender.  He also has very good agility, and can slip by a a defender with quick cuts.  Add to this some great stick handling ability, and you have a player who can be a threat to go coast to coast at any time.  Don’t get the wrong impression though, Sprong also has excellent passing ability and can play the role of playmaker if a linemate has an opportunity. He must get stronger and be better at taking a hit going forward.  This is specifically true of his lower body, where some more muscle would help him be more powerful and better balanced to be stronger on the puck. He is already good positionally and shows effort in the defensive end of the ice.

 

16) Kyle Connor, Centre, Youngstown Phantoms (6’1″ 174 lbs): Was part of Team USA’s gold medal winning squad at the U18 World Championships last spring, putting up 4 goals and 7 points in 7 games last season.  Connor is back with the Phantoms in the USHL this season and has had an excellent start with 5 goals and 15 points in 10 games.  He is committed to the University of Michigan for the 2015-16 season.

Connor is a very good skater, with excellent speed.  He has extremely good stickhandling ability, and can make plays while moving at close to top speed.  He is extremely agile, and uses this and his stickhandling ability to terrify defenders off the rush.  Connor is an excellent playmaker who has the vision to spot the open man, and the skill to make passes through tight areas.  He also is developping a good two-way game.  While he’s not afraid to give, or take a hit, he must get stronger to be more effective at it, and to be better at protecting the puck down low.

 

17) Jordan Greenway, Left Wing US NTDP (6’5″ 225 lbs): Greenway is playing a top 6 powerforward role with the US NTDP this season.  The massive winger has 1 goal and 9 points in 13 games this year.  He is committed to Boston University starting in the 2014-15 season.

Greenway is a decent skater for his size.  He is especially strong on his skates and shows excellent balance.  Greenway creates offence by winning battles in the corners, forechecking hard, and creating havoc in front of the net.  He has a very hard and accurate wrist shot.  His release is decent, but could be improved.  He does have soft hands and can make tips in the crease, or good passes to set up teammates.  The combination of size and skill makes Greenway an intriguing prospect going forward.

 

18) Mikko Rantanen, Centre/Right Wing, TPS (6’3″ 193 lbs):  The 17-year-old playing with TPS in the Finnish Sm-Liiga has started the season with an impressive 7 points in 17 games while playing against men.  Add this to the 5 points in 5 games that he scored at the 2014 Under 18s, and the 3 goals and 7 points in 5 games that he scored in the 2013 Ivan Hlinka tournament.

Rantanen is a big kid who plays a power forward style of game.  He works extremely hard along the boards and is extremely effective at winning battles in international tournaments in his age group.  He also drives the net hard and can finish in close. He controls the puck well down low on the cycle and can spot teammates to set them up in front of the net. Rantanen’s skating is decent.  He has a good top speed but he can improve his first step and acceleration.  He shows good effort at the defensive end and is a solid two way player.

 

19) Nick Merkley, Centre, Kelowna Rockets (5’10’, 170 lbs): Last season Merkley won the WHL Rookie of the Year award.  He is another member of Canada’s Hlinka winning squad, and another quick riser on draft boards.  After scoring 4 points in 5 games in the summer tournament, Merkley has exploded in Kelowna putting up 27 points in 16 games so far, and is close to the top of the league scoring charts.

Merkley is currently listed at 5’10” but if he can grow an inch or two this year before the NHL combine it would really help his stock as size is the major knock against him right now.  Despite the size, Merkley isn’t afraid to go to the net, and to battle in the dirty areas of the ice. With his excellent balance, and good lower body strength, he is hard to knock off the puck.  He’s got excellent offensive skills including superb vision and passing ability; a hard shot and good release; and high-end hockey IQ.  Merkley is tenacious in the backcheck and uses his hockey IQ to anticipate plays and create turnovers.  He has very good speed and gets the transition game going when he does steal pucks or intercept passes.

 

20) Jakub Zboril, Defence, Saint John Sea Dogs (6’2″, 185 lbs): Along with Pavel Zacha, Zboril is part of one of the best Czech draft classes in years, as the country has really turned around their hockey program following a number of dark years.  Zboril was part of the silver medal winning squads at the 2013 U18 World Championship last spring, and the Ivan Hlinka this past summer. Drafted 5th overall in the CHL Import Draft, Zboril has put up 10 points in 17 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Zboril is living up to the hype and looks like the total package on the blueline this season.  He is an excellent powerplay quarterback, with strong poise with the puck and good vision and passing skill.  He also has a rocket of a slap shot, and has already scored three goals.  Zboril has good skating skill and his excellent pivots, edgework, and agility allow him to cover a ton of ice.  He’s also not afraid to be physical in the defensive end of the ice.

 

Come back later in the week to see ranks 21-30.

 

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