Mid-season NHL Draft checkup

Image Credit: John Quackenbos - Boston College

Back in October, I pointed out some players to watch out for (not named McDavid and Eichel.) These two players were positioned to battle it out for the top two spots, and that hasn’t changed. Now with the season at the halfway point, it’s time to re-evaluate our draft predictions and see how right  — or more likely, wrong — I was.

Oliver Kylington (Färjestad BK, SHL):

Image Credit: Anders Henrikson
Image Credit: Anders Henrikson

Back in October, I said his draft stock would depend a lot on his performance in the World Juniors (WJCs). Unfortunately, he missed the tournament due to injury, so he wasn’t able to make an impact on a Swedish team that was eliminated in the semifinals. Now he risks being buried under a strong crop of US defencemen. Kylington has regressed; however, I figure he’ll still go in the top 10.

October Prediction: 4th Overall
Mid-season Prediction: 7th to 9th Overall

Dylan Strome (Erie Otters, OHL):

Image Credit: Matt Mead Photography
Image Credit: Matt Mead Photography

Playing on a line with McDavid, the question was: can he score without McDavid? Well, McDavid’s injury may have been the best thing for Strome, as he was able to show he is an elite talent in his own right. Even with McDavid out, he was able to produce a pace of over a point per game, and sits on a ridiculous 85 points in 45 games. I said in October that there’s too much uncertainty in where he will be drafted, but now I’m almost certain he will be in the top five.

October Prediction: 7th to 11th Overall
Mid-season Prediction: Top 5

Mitch Marner (London Knights, OHL):

Image Credit: Claus Andersen, London Knights & Getty Images
Image Credit: Claus Andersen, London Knights & Getty Images

Marner is putting up incredible numbers so far this season, with 93 points in 45 games for the London Knights. In fact, since the end of the WJC, he has actually outscored Connor McDavid in the OHL. This season, Marner has had plenty more ice time, and has shown no sign of slowing down his torrid scoring pace. Marner is an elite offensive player, and will surely make it in the top five this year.

October Prediction: 8th Overall
Mid-season Prediction: Top 5

Travis Konecny (Ottawa 67’s, OHL):

Image Credit: Valerie Wutti
Image Credit: Valerie Wutti

Konecny may be the player whose draft stock has dropped the most since October — so much so that TSN expert Craig Button has him ranked 30th. One year after winning the OHL rookie of the year, Konechy has had a rough season, and is on pace to end up with fewer points than he had last year. However, he did have a good Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, which is usually a good indication of future point production. He had six points in five games, and while he probably won’t be a top 10 pick, I don’t believe he will drop as far as Button is predicting. He could be a good consolation prize for a team bounced out in the first round of the playoffs.

October Prediction: 5th to 8th Overall
Mid-season Prediction: 16th to 22nd Overall

Noah Hanifin (Boston College, NCAA):

Image Credit: John Quackenbos - Boston College
Image Credit: John Quackenbos – Boston College

Hanifin has had a great start to his collegiate career, with 14 points in 24 games for Boston College as a defenceman; he also had a solid WJCs. Originally thought to be the bona fide number three pick, his position may have fallen because of the solid play of Marner and Strome. He could slip to fourth or even fifth if a team has a more pressing need for a forward than a defensemen.

October Prediction: 3rd Overall
Mid-season Prediction: Top 5

Lawson Crouse (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL):

Image Credit: Kingston Frontenacs Hockey Club
Image Credit: Kingston Frontenacs Hockey Club

Crouse wasn’t included in the October list, but he deserves to be discussed this time around. One would think his 6’4” and 220 lb frame would transfer nicely into the NHL, but his relatively low point total (23 points in 32 games) leaves some questions. He should be a quality NHL player, but not good enough for him to be picked ahead of guys like Strome or Marner.

October Prediction: Not ranked
Mid-season Prediction: 10th to 12th Overall