Ranking the Best Power-Play Producers in the 2015 NHL Draft

Kelly FriesenFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2015

Ranking the Best Power-Play Producers in the 2015 NHL Draft

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    An NHL team’s power-play success or lack thereof has the ability to make or break them. It’s extremely important for every club to have a handful of players who can produce on the man advantage.

    That said, we put together a list of talents in the 2015 draft class who have the potential to become prominent power-play producers in the NHL. The ranking includes some of the draft’s top prospects such as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but it also sheds light on the power-play skills of some players projected to don a jersey in the latter half of the first round.

    The ranking is based on the combination of valuable power-play skills such as vision and composure as well as power-play points and the percentage of points produced on the man advantage. In addition, the various competition levels are taken into account.

10. Mathew Barzal, C, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

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    When it comes to poise and vision, the Vancouver, British Columbia native is near the top of his draft class. In addition, he has the skating ability to slide around the ice smoothly while having the ability to fire off an excellent wrist shot.

    Ultimately, Barzal might have been ranked higher if it weren't for a major knee injury that only allowed him to suit up in 44 games this year. The injury not only forced him to the sidelines for a chunk of the season, but also made him a bit rusty when he turned to Seattle’s lineup in January.

    The numbers: Barzal, who is ranked 11th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service, racked up 37 percent (two goals and 19 helpers) of his 57 points on the power play.

9. Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College (NCAA)

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    Having a game reminiscent of Drew Doughty, the 6’2”, 205-pound Hanifin possesses oodles of offensive skill. He’s one of the best skaters in the draft, possesses top-notch hockey sense and has the ability to hold onto the puck with poise and confidence.

    It seems Hanifin’s power-play skills are somewhat overshadowed by his complete game. For good reason, scouts tend to marvel over the fact that he can be the best player on the ice in all three zones. Moreover, he makes just as big of an impact on the penalty kill as he does on the man advantage.

    The numbers: He netted 39 percent (one marker and eight assists) of his 23 points while his squad was up a man.

8. Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

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    Roy gets it done at both ends of the ice, but he truly makes his mark on the power play. He has the awareness and knowledge of the game to position himself in the right spot at the right time and make pinpoint passes to teammates.

    Future Considerations describes Roy, whom the organization ranks 13th overall in the draft, as:

    An offensively gifted defenseman who is solid in the defensive zone…has a real smooth stride and is pretty mobile…very mature game with strong positioning and smart with the puck…tough to separate from it as he has a heavy stick…makes terrific passes and rarely has anything intercepted…has a good point shot as well and he gets it on net…has the vision and creativity to QB a PP.

    The numbers: Although he didn’t find the back of the net, Roy notched 26 assists on the man advantage. It made up 60 percent of his point total (five goals and 38 helpers).

7. Anthony Beauvillier, W, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

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    Beauvillier is a dynamic forward whose puck-handling and playmaking abilities are near the top in the draft. He has the tools to skate the puck around the offensive zone with patience and speed before wiring a shot or sending a smooth tape-to-tape pass.

    As Central Scouting’s 33rd-ranked North American skater, Beauvillier is expected to be drafted in the latter half of the first round or early second round. It’s not because he lacks a certain offensive skill, but rather because of his smaller 5’10”, 176-pound stature. "If this kid is six foot, he’s a first-rounder,” an NHL scout told the Hockey News. “So much drive, plays with such high pace and he has a really good skill set. If someone is going to draft a 5-foot-10 kid early, he’s the guy."

    The numbers: He produced half (16 goals and 31 assists) of his 94 points on the power play.

6. Mitchell Marner, W, London Knights (OHL)

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    Marner, who is ranked sixth overall by International Scouting Services, plays a smart puck-possession style. He uses his speed and puck-handling abilities to skate the puck around the ice until he sees the prime opportunity to fire off a shot or make a slick pass.

    Here’s director of Central Scouting Dan Marr’s take on his best offensive tools:

    High end skill set with puck handling and playmaking ability. Plays bigger than his size and is not afraid to get involved in traffic or battle for pucks. He is an excellent skater with very good quickness and agility. He possesses some of the quickest hands in this year's draft class.

    The numbers: Marner scored 44 percent (15 goals and 50 assists) of his 126 points on the man advantage.

5. Jack Eichel, C, Boston University (NCAA)

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    Eichel, similar to McDavid, is a generational talent. He’s clearly the second-best prospect in the draft, but he dropped to five on the power-play list because it seems there are a handful of prospects in the draft who are better suited to run a man advantage. This theory is based on statistics and the ability to cycle the puck.

    Nonetheless, even though some prospects have a slight edge on him, the 6’2”, 196-pound center still has the tools to run an NHL power play down the road. He has the ability to score from anywhere and has the vision and speed to move the puck around the ice smoothly.

    The numbers: Of his 71 points, Eichel netted seven goals and 16 helpers (32 percent) on the power play.

4. Zach Werenski, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)

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    The 6’2”, 207-pound Werenski has the skating ability, composure, vision and understanding of the game to control the play in the offensive zone. He not only can move the puck around smoothly, but he also has a quick shot that he likes to fire.

    According to Sean LaFortune of McKeen’s Hockey, "Werenski possesses high-end offensive ability with good passing skills, and strong ability to handle the puck and quarterback things from the blueline on the powerplay."

    The numbers: He went to work on the man advantage as he produced 48 percent (three markers and nine assists) of his 25 points while his team was up a man.

3. Dylan Strome, C, Erie Otters (OHL)

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    Compared to San Jose Sharks star Joe Thornton, Strome has the rare blend of a big frame (6’3”, 187 pounds), a poised composure and top-notch vision. The combination of the three gives him time and space while having the ability to read the ice and wait for the right play to come his way.

    Craig Button, TSN director of scouting, described him as:

    A smart, good skating, center who can not only make plays but can finish them also. Reads the play so very well and he gets himself into positions where he can take advantage and be a threat. He's multi-dimensional in that he can play two-ways, can play a skill game, can play a 'heavy' game but regardless of the situations he plays a game where he contributes in some way, some fashion.

    The numbers: The OHL’s top point producer racked up 14 markers and 36 helpers (39 percent) of his 129 points on the power play.

2. Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

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    The 18-year-old rearguard did an excellent job running Brandon’s power play in his rookie season of major junior hockey this year. He showcased his accurate release, creativity, slick passing abilities and his poised demeanor.

    Provorov’s elite skill set gives him the potential to develop into a future top-pairing NHL defender who runs a club’s top power-play unit. He ultimately could blossom into the next Oliver Ekman-Larsson if he keeps taking steps forward in his game.

    The numbers: The Russia-born defender, who is ranked seventh among North American skaters by Central Scouting, produced the second-highest percentage of power-play points in the ranking at 52 percent. Of his 15 markers and 61 points, he notched eight goals and 24 helpers on the man advantage.

1. Connor McDavid, C, Erie Otters (OHL)

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    Up a man, down a man or on even strength, McDavid takes the cake in the 2015 draft class. There’s a reason why he’s regarded as a generational player and the best draft prospect since Sidney Crosby.

    The 6’1”, 194-pound center thinks the game at an extremely high level and reads how a play is going to unfold a second before it happens. Moreover, his elite playmaking and puck-handling abilities make him extremely dangerous in both tight and open areas.

    The numbers: Of his 120 points, the Newmarket, Ontario native notched nine goals and 32 assists (34 percent) while his club was up a player.