As a Leafs fan, I’m not all that much into playoff hockey. I just can’t get interested in something that, you know, doesn’t involve me. Personally, I’m more of a draft guy, and that’s why I get so excited when ESPN prospect guru Corey Pronman drops Top 100 knowledge on us all.
Yesterday, Pronman released his list of the Top 100 Prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft [Warning: Paywall]. Year in and year out, it’s fantastically detailed and interesting.
While this isn’t a mock draft, it’s still interesting to see which players are ranked in and around where the Leafs will pick. Currently without a second round pick, Toronto is set to select four times in the first 100 picks, with the fourth overall pick, Nashville’s first round pick (that will sit somewhere between 22nd and 24th overall), the 65th pick, and 95th pick.
Let’s take a closer look at who Pronman has ranked in those ranges…
No surprises here. We already knew that Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome and Noah Hanifin are expected to be picked shortly after McEichel. What we have been arguing however, is in which order they should be ranked.
Pronman has Marner ranked third, followed by Strome in fourth and Hanifin in fifth. In comparing the two forwards, Pronman explains that it’s very close…
Marner and Dylan Strome were both among the very top scorers in the OHL this season, and both had under-18 seasons that were among the very best of the past 10 years in terms of statistical production. […] The skating difference is really what sways me, even with the size discrepancy, given their puck skills are close and Marner has shown he can defend. Skating kills in the NHL, in terms of being able to gain the zone with control of the puck, and Marner is ahead there.
As for ranking Hanifin fifth, Pronman has previously discussed his belief that taking forwards over equally-skilled defenders at the top of the draft is the smartest way to go [Again, Paywall]. Still, there’s a lot to like about the draft’s top blueliner.
Hanifin is an elite all-around defenseman who has a real chance to be in the NHL next season should he choose to leave Boston College. He’s a high-end skater who moves incredibly well for a player of his size. His first few steps are explosive, with as much power out of his pivots and crossovers as you’ll see in a defenseman, making him very dangerous in transition.
Nashville’s First Round Pick
We know that the Nashville draft pick is going to fall somewhere between 22nd and 24th overall, which is especially nice since the Leafs won’t pick again until 65th (barring a trade). In that range, Pronman lists three centres that could/should be of interest to Toronto.
Colin White, who ranks 22nd on the list, is a 6’0, 183lb pivot with high-end hockey sense and impressive feet. With the USNDP U18 team, White scored 23 goals and 54 points in 54 games, adding another nine points in seven games at the IIHF WJC U18 tournament. Next year he’ll be playing in the NCAA, committed to Boston College.
Right behind him, Mitchell Stephens comes in at #23. The right handed centre appeared in 62 games for the Saginaw Spirit this season, scoring 22 goals and 48 points. Pronman certainly likes him more than some of the other rankings, as Stephens currently sits at 112th on the NHL Central Scouting’s North American Skaters list. Like White, Stephens is an above-average skater with good hockey sense.
Jansen Harkins is a favourite amongst our TLN staff, so I’m sure our staff room is buzzing right now over his 24th place ranking (just kidding, there’s no staff room). Pronman cites hockey sense and two-way play as big positives in Harkin’s game, and his Prince George Cougars-leading 79 points in 70 games stat line is certainly easy on the eyes.
One interesting note is that Pronman has Halifax’s Timo Meier ranked 26th. If he’s still on the board, yes please, I’ll take some of that. Meier was very impressive this year, with 90 points in 61 games, and is more often seen ranked in the #10-#15 range.
In the Leafs’ third round pick range, Pronman names HV71’s Filip Ahl (64th), Niagara’s Graham Knott (65th), and Quebec’s Dmytro Timashov (66th) as solid options.
Ahl, all 6’4 and 212lbs of him, is a two-way winger that ranks 9th on NHL Central Scouting’s European Skaters list. In 34 games with HV71’s J20 team, Ahl scored 42 points, and adding another couple points in 15 games with the men’s team.
Knott is another big winger, standing 6’3 and weighing in at 192lbs. While you’re not going to find a lot of offensive juggernauts in the third round, 25 goals (and 43 points) in 59 games is still pretty good. He ranks 57th on Central Scouting’s list of North American Skaters, so this is another player that Pronman seems to like a lot more than others.
Lastly in the 65th overall range, Dmytro Timashov has a wicked sweet name. It’s not Dmytri, it’s Dmytro. He sounds like a cool hockey robot, which is admittedly my own analysis and not Pronman’s. Timashov spent the year with the Quebec Remparts, scoring 19 goals and 90 points in 66 games, after coming up through the Swedish junior ranks with Djugarden and MODO. The Ukranian-born, Sweden-representing winger stands 5’10 and 187lbs, and is recognized as an excellent skater with flashy offensive skills. It’s his size and defensive play that keeps him from ranking higher.
With their early fourth round pick, Toronto will be able to pick up their fourth and final prospect in the Top 100. Pronman ranks Brynas’s Adam Brodecki 94th, Erie’s Travis Dermott 95th, and Barrie’s Andrew Mangiapance 96th.
Brodecki is an undersized winger that scored 18 points in 47 games in Sweden’s top league this past season, but beware – he’s 20 years old and this will be his third time through the draft process. I’m not arguing with Pronman’s assessment, but I’m not sure how interested the Leafs should be in overage picks.
You have to imagine that Toronto’s scouting staff has seen a whole lot of Travis Dermott this year, assuming that they’ve seen a lot of the Erie Otters due to Dylan Strome (and Connor McDavid – grumble, grumble). Dermott is a 5’11, 181lb blueliner that put up some decent numbers, scoring eight goals and 45 points in 65 games played. I’m sure it’s easy to pick up assists when you’re feeding pucks to that juggernaut of an offence, but that’s still pretty good.
Lastly, Andrew Mangiapane scored 104 points in 68 games for the Barrie Colts this year. That’s good for a 7th place tie in OHL scoring, which is obviously very impressive. Let’s pump the brakes a bit though. Like Brodecki, Mangiapane would be an overage pick in this yea’rs draft. He’s 19 years old, and he’s only 5’10 and a shade over 160lbs. We know that the Leafs, according to Assistant GM Kyle Dubas, “aren’t good enough to be picky about smaller players”, but this is a bit of an extreme example.