How is Barzal progressing? Looking at prospects from the 2015 draft.
In this weeks Journey article, we continue our three part segment looking back on the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Part Two outlines the 20th-11th selections, and recaps each prospects season thus far.
20th: Minnesota Wild – Joel Eriksson Ek – Färjestad (SHL)
2015-16 Stats: 23 GP, 3G, 5A, 8 Points
Eriksson Ek is a strong, big-bodied center who has improved on his first sesason with Färjstad, eclipsing his point total already in a fewer amount of games. Going into his draft year, he was fairly unknown but shot up draft boards around the league, showcasing an extremely solid work ethic paired with NHL size and power. The young Swede is an effective net front presence, and pairs his solid two-way game with an elite shot and high level vision. Likely projects as a middle-six forward at the NHL level that can capably play the possession game while providing secondary scoring. He is a member of Sweden’s World Junior Championship team, but has yet to record a point thus far in the tournament.
19th: Detroit Red Wings – Evgeny Svechnikov – Cape Breton (QMJHL)
2015-16 Stats: 27 GP, 17G, 22A, 39 Points, 50 PIM
Detroit’s ability to draft and develop European players is well documented, and they have another potential star in the pipeline in Svechnikov. As offensively skilled as they come, the young winger has elite hands and NHL size at 6-3, 200 pounds. After a 78 point season with the Screaming Eagles last year in his first season in North America, the young Russian winger has picked up right where he left off, and is on pace for a similar finishing stat line this season. Chosen as a member of Russia’s WJC team, he has been held off the score sheet thus far in Finland. Svechnikov appears to have the talent to be a offensively productive player at the NHL level with a little bit of sandpaper to his game as well. His 50 penalty minutes in 27 games this season are fourth on his team.
18th: Ottawa Senators – Thomas Chabot – Saint John (QMJHL)
2015-16 Stats: 22 GP, 7G, 13A, 20 Points, 36 PIM
Regarded at draft time as a high-upside puck mover, Chabot has done nothing this season to make anyone back off that projection. On pace for an over 50 point season in the Q, the Canadian born player is a mobile defenseman that has the all-around ability to be a minutes-eater in the NHL. Likely filling the role of a second pairing defenseman and power play contributor, Chabot is a great passer, utilizing his abilities to breakout of the offensive zone or pop a stretch pass to a teammate to initate an odd man rush. As a key member of Canada’s WJC team, he has produced a goal and two assists in four games.
17th: Winnipeg Jets – Kyle Connor – University of Michigan (US-C)
2015-16 Stats: 17 GP, 12G, 13A, 25 Points
Winnipeg continued their terrific value drafting by selecting Connor 17th in 2015. A player with top-end speed and supreme confidence, Connor is currently the leading freshman scorer in college hockey, and is seventh among all players with 25 points in 17 games. Constantly making his teammates better, the young center torched the USHL with 80 points in 56 games last season. He is active in all zones, and has the ability to be an effective two-way player at the NHL level. In a shocking decision, he was left off the United States WJC roster this year, but it had nothing to do with his current in-season form which has been tremendous in his first year playing college hockey.
16th: New York Islanders – Mathew Barzal – Seattle (WHL)
2015-16 Stats: 25 GP, 9G, 34A, 43 Points, 31 PIM
In the next few years, when people look back on the 2015 Entry Draft, they may be shocked that Barzal fell into the Islanders lap in the middle of the first round. As a dynamic offensive threat, Barzal has terrific offensive upside, constantly driving offensive opportunities for his linemates. With 79 assists in his last 69 games, it’s easy to see a top-six role for Barzal when he reaches the NHL. He is always well positioned defensively, forcing turnovers as a way to generate offense for his team and regain possession. A stickhandling wizard that is sound defensively sounds like a certain magic man that currently wearing the “winged wheel” in the NHL. However, comparing an 18 year old to one of the most dynamic players of our generation is certainly unfair at this point. In dynasty leagues, fantasy owners are patiently waiting to see how Barzal’s career unfolds.
15th: Boston Bruins – Zachary Senyshyn – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
2015-16 Stats: 33 GP, 22G, 11A, 33 Points
As if there wasn’t enough heat on the Bruins from a portion of the fan base after moving Dougie Hamilton to acquire this pick, Boston reached for Senyshyn with their third selection of the first round. Pegged as a likely second round pick, the all-around winger was valued enough by the Bruins that they didn’t want to risk losing him before their next drafting opportunity. In the mold of a Chris Kreider type, Senyshyn was a bit overshadowed by his own teammates in his draft year, given the high-end talent that Sault Ste. Marie possessed. This season the young winger has taken on more offensive responsibility, humming along at a point per game pace. The high-volume scorer is generally active infront of the net, and is a solid possession player in the offensive zone.
14th: Boston Bruins – Jake DeBrusk – Red Deer (WHL)
2015-16 Stats: 24 GP, 9G, 17A, 25 Points
DeBrusk has been solid this season, with 25 points in his first 24 games after a great 2014-15 year where he put up 81 points. This week, he was traded from Swift Current to Red Deer, as the Rebels begin to stockpile high-end talent in an effort to make a run at the Memorial Cup that they are hosting at the end of the season. Constantly being found in the dirty areas of the ice, DeBrusk controls possession with his vision and cycling ability. As a net front scorer and willing forchecker, DeBrusk should be able to find a consistant job in the NHL for many years to come.
13th: Boston Bruins – Jakub Zboril – Saint John (QMJHL)
2015-16 Stats: 20 GP, 3G, 6A, 9 Points, 26 PIM
The Czech-born Zboril was selected by the Bruins as a complete, low-risk defender. He plays the game well in all three zones, but by no means would anyone describe his offensive play as flashy. He’s a no nonsense defenseman, who does not try to do too much with the puck, instead relying on his intelligence to solidly move the puck to teammates. Possessing a cannon of a shot from the point, there is potential for Zboril to be a power play asset when he reaches the NHL which would greatly help his fantasy relevance. He does play the game with an edge, and is ready and willing to stand up for teammates when needed, providing some multi-category potential that fantasy owners crave. Zboril is currently playing for the Czech Republic in the WJC, where he has recorded one assist and leads the tournament with 29 penalty minutes.
12th: Dallas Stars – Denis Guryanov – Lada Togliatti (KHL)
2015-16 Stats: 33 GP, 4G, 1A, 5 Points
Not much has gone wrong for the Dallas Stars this season, but the regression of their first round pick from last season has to be concerning. After averaging over a point per game last season, Guryanov only has 5 points in 33 games for his hometown KHL team this season. As a player tabbed as a high ceiling offensive producer and natural scorer, it’s a bit puzzling why his numbers aren’t better this season. Could be some unfortunate puck-luck, as the young wingers shooting percentage is surprising low. Stars fans are likely itching to get Guryanov on North American soil so that the team can better control his development, and hope to develop some consistency. He should be a fit for the North American style of play with good size, a quick release, and elite stickhandling ability.
11th: Florida Panthers – Lawson Crouse – Kingston (OHL)
2015-16 Stats: 22 GP, 9G, 15A, 24 Points, 37 PIM
There were a ton of opinions thrown around while scouting Crouse during his draft year. Florida jumped at the opportunity to draft the big-bodied winger with their first round selection, a decision that could pay them back many times over down the road. This season, Crouse has been solid again this campaign and is on pace for similar numbers to the 51 points in 56 games that he tallied last season. As a relentless forechecker possessing a NHL-level shot, he is currently playing in his second consecutive WJC for Canada. Although he will never be labled as a swift skater, Crouse is a possession monster, constantly creating space for his linemates and allowing the more offensively skilled players that he plays with to thrive. Kingston recently acquired Michael Dal Colle to play alongside Crouse, adding another weopon to an already stocked Frontenacs lineup. Currently leading the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, Kingston and Crouse could be in for a long playoff run, which will give the young winger more opportunity to shine.
Stay tuned next week for Part Three, which will take a closer look at the progress of prospects selected 10th-1st at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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