Ranking the 10 Best American Players in the 2015 NHL Draft
Led by Jack Eichel—who is already so good that Team USA has him playing at this spring's Ice Hockey World Championship—this looks like the best crop of American players for many years.
An interesting note on this year's group: Despite strong representation from junior league USHL, it's the college kids who lead the way.
Here are the 10 best American prospects who will be taken in the 2015 draft.
10. Jack Roslovic, C, U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
The Numbers: Jack Roslovic of the U.S. National Development Team showed solid progress all year, scoring 65 GP, 27 G and 52 A during the regular season.
The Player: Roslovic has a nice resume. He's a skilled forward who can create offense and find seams with outstanding passing. The real story this season is his progress throughout the year. He was an impact player at the U18 World Championship, which could improve his draft number.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: Central Scouting ranks him No. 39 in its final North American list, meaning he's likely to go around No. 50 overall. He will attend Miami of Ohio in the fall and may take a little more than two seasons to develop.
9. Dennis Yan, LW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
The Numbers: Winger Dennis Yan stars in the QMJHL for the Shawinigan Cataractes. He delivered 59GP, 33 G and 31 A during the regular season before scoring seven goals in seven playoff games.
The Player: Yan is a scoring winger with decent size—he's 6'1"—and stands out as a first-shot scorer who is very accurate. His 16.5 percent shooting percentage is outstanding.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: He is ranked No. 30 by Central Scouting, which combined with the other lists—Central Scouting has four—means he should be expected to go in the middle of the second round. Expect him to complete his junior eligibility and turn pro at 20.
8. Jeremy Bracco, RW, U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
The Numbers: Winger Jeremy Bracco had a strong season for the U.S. National Development Team, scoring 65GP, 30 G and 64 A in a big offensive season.
The Player: Bracco is one of the most dynamic players in this year's draft. He is fast, elusive, very creative and has tremendous passing skills. His size—5'9"—will cause some teams to pass on him, which may prove to be a mistake.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: Central Scouting ranks him No. 60 on its final rankings, but he's likely to be long gone before the end of the second round and could go inside the top 30. Bracco is off to Boston College in the fall and will likely spend at least two seasons there.
7. Brandon Carlo, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
The Numbers: Defenseman Brandon Carlo is a massive defender for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. He posted 63 GP, 4 G and 21 A while compiling 90 minutes in penalties.
The Player: Carlo is a bit of throwback defender in that there's not a lot of offense there, even at the junior level. His value comes from size and speed, giving him the ability to cover wide areas. Carlo's wingspan also means getting around him is a significant task.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: He projects as a shut-down defender in the NHL if he continues to develop. Carlo isn't the most provocative player in the draft, but his combination of size and foot speed could be enough to get him drafted in the first round. He will likely spend two seasons in junior before turning pro.
6. Colin White, C, U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
The Numbers: Center Colin White enjoyed a quality campaign with the U.S. National Development Team. He scored 54 GP, 23 G and 31 A with the team and then delivered a tremendous series at the U18 World Championship.
The Player: White's reputation is mainly based around the offense, and his outstanding performance at the U18's raised his profile. There's also a two-way reputation in the underlying scouting report, meaning whichever team drafts him could be getting more than a first-shot scorer.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: He is ranked as a late first-round pick and could climb to around No. 25 if a team in that range likes him enough. White is on his way to Boston College, where he will probably spend the next two seasons.
5. Brock Boeser, RW, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
The Numbers: Winger Brock Boeser had a strong season for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. He scored 57 GP, 35 G and 33 A during the regular season.
The Player: Boeser is a pure offensive player who can score goals and pass with aplomb. He has tremendous offensive acumen and can impact the game as a scorer or playmaker.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: It's difficult to project Boeser's draft position because there may be a team in the top 25 that values him enough to take him early. His final Central Scouting rating was No. 27 on the North American list, and if he isn't chosen before that number, it should happen soon after. He is off to the University of North Dakota in the fall and will probably spend at least two seasons there before turning pro.
4. Kyle Connor, C, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
The Numbers: Center Kyle Connor is a star for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. In 2014-15, he scored 56 GP, 34 G and 46 A in what was an outstanding season.
The Player: Connor is a lanky forward with exceptional skills and finishing ability. His two-way game should impress scouts, who rarely see this kind of skill and responsibility in player at this age.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: He has been impressive for two seasons running in the USHL and is on the way to a strong program in the Michigan Wolverines. Connor should be chosen inside the top 20 in the draft and will very likely play a season or two in college before turning pro.
3. Zach Werenski, D, Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten)
The Numbers: Defenseman Zach Werenski posted 35 GP, 9 G and 16 A for the Michigan Wolverines in 2014-15.
The Player: Werenski is a quality puck-moving defenseman and an expert passer. He has the skill set to grow into a complete defenseman and may be underrated in this draft because of the sheer number of top-end players of similar style.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: He should go inside the top 10 overall and is likely to have a feature role in Michigan next season. He's a young player for this draft, and there's no hurry when developing defensemen. The potential for Werenski as a player with a wide range of skills is outstanding.
2. Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College Eagles (NCAA)
The Numbers: Noah Hanifin posted 37 GP, 5 G and 18 A for the Boston College Eagles in 2014-15.
The Player: He is a tremendous defensive prospect and the best defenseman in the 2015 draft. Despite being one of the youngest players in college last year, he established himself as a complete prospect. Hanifin's ability to make stretch passes is a strong part of his offensive game.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: Hanifin is a lock to go inside the top five overall, and he could go No. 3 on merit. As for next season, his relative youth and the difficulty of the position he plays may mean another season with the Eagles.
1. Jack Eichel, C, Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
The Numbers: Jack Eichel starred for the Boston University Terriers this season, scoring 40 GP, 26 G and 45 A during the season. He also starred for Team USA at the World Junior Championships and is currently playing at the Ice Hockey World Championship.
The Player: Eichel is one of the best prospects to come through the draft this century, but his potential impact is being undervalued because of the presence of another generational player, Connor McDavid. Eichel is a power player who can impact the game in many ways. He's fast, skilled and plays with intelligence and creativity.
His Draft Story and 2015-16 Projection: Despite possessing No. 1 pedigree, it's likely Eichel will go No. 2 overall to the Buffalo Sabres. His NHL impact should be immediate and substantial.