This article was written by my good friend Paul Whalley. He is a very passionate hockey fan. His favorite team is the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL. Paul is from England and will occasionally have some interesting hockey thoughts for us to read here on some of the NHL Youth.
Hi there my name is Paul Whalley and I have been an NHL fan for almost 20 years now. The one thing that never fails to impress me is the amazing amount of young and youthful players that seem to make the big leagues. No more is that evident than these past two seasons.
The past two drafts have shown so much promise and potential. Here’s my pick of the top two players from the 2015 draft.
Number 1 Connor McDavid
Though his rookie season was cut short by injury when he broke his collar bone after being checked and sliding into the end boards. Brandon Manning was the player on the Flyers who put the hit on McDavid. You can bet all the Oilers fans knew who he was after that incident. McDavid went on to miss a total of 37
games with injury in his rookie year but all the hockey top brass knew that he was going to be a superstar. Even with the injury he still finished the season averaging better than a point per game average. He played in 45 total games scored 16 goals, 32 assists for an impressive debut season total of 48 points.
this season, he has more than lived up to the hype. In 59 games played to this point in the season he has scored 20 goals, assisted on 47 more for a total of 67 points. with more than a point a game average he looks like he could be the player to take the Oilers back to their former glory.
PREDICTION. Even after just a season and a half, there’s no telling how high this guys stock is going to go. Expect him to win at least one Stanley cup before his time is done, as well as a ton of other honors.
Number 2 Jack Eichle
Now he was fighting an up hill battle to be the best player in his draft class before NHL scouts even knew his name, but that would not detour Eichle. He was pretty close by some scouts evaluations. In any draft
year not dubbed the “McDavid Draft” He would be a sure fire 1st overall selection. He might not get much attention from anyone outside of Buffalo fan base right now, but he has been outstanding.
In his rookie year Eichle played in 81 games scoring 24 goals and assisting on 32 more for a total of 56 points. While not quiet on Connors pace there are not many teams in the NHL who would like to have a rookie with this kind of production. Like MacDavid, his value seems to be going in only one direction and that is up.
Eictle and McDaivd shown just how productive and composed an exceptional hockey player in there teens can be. I believe that both of these players have shown the ability and potential all ready early in their (albeit very early stages) of their careers to show that they could both very well end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day.
Now I will add my thoughts (Ryan Crappa) on a couple of players from that draft year as well
While I fully agree with my friend here Paul I thought that i would take a look at a couple of other players from this same 2015 draft class that I feel have the potential to be very special players in the near future for their respective teams.
Number 3 – Mikko Rantanen
Mikko Rantanen was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. To be honest I did not know too much about this kid when they selected him on draft day, but that did not last long.
While I was not expecting him to make the team his draft year I was very interested to see how he did with the San Antonio Rampage the Avalanches American Hockey League (AHL) Affiliate team. In his rookie year for the Rampage Mikko Rantanen he played in 52 games scoring 24 goals and getting 36 assists for 60 points on his rookie season in the AHL. He also finished with a + 20 rating and 42 Penalty Minuets. He
finished with a share of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award. This award is given to the American Hockey Leagues outstanding rookie.
During his rookie year in the AHL he also was the captain for this Finnish Junior team in the 2016 World Championships. While Mikko did not score in the round robin rounds when the team needed him most he came through leading by example. Mikko finished the tournament with 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 games played to finish the tournament with 5 points and the gold medal.
In the 2016-2017 season Mikko as expected has played with the Avalanche for the whole season to this point. He has played in 53 games and has scored 14 goals and 15 assists for a total of 29 points on the year so far. To start the season it looked at times like Mikko was still looking to set up his line mates a bit more then just playing his game. He showed some incredible vision and patients with the puck. There were moments when I felt like he was showing me a bit of that famous Alex Tanguay patients with the puck and passing that all Avalanche fans know.
As the season went on he start to gain his confidence and started to shoot the puck a little bit more. He has picked up the scoring pace significantly in the last couple weeks of the season and looks like he could finish up with 20 or more goals to finish his rookie campaign in the NHL.
Number 4 – Mitch Marner
Marner was sent back to the London Knights for one more season before coming to the NHL to make his Debut for the Maple Leafs.
In the 2015-2016 season Marner scored 39 goals and 77 assists for a whopping 116 point in just 57 games. He also finished with 68 penalty minuets and a huge + 45 rating.
Marner helped lead his OHL team The London Knights to become the highest scoring team in the league in 2015-2016 season. His 116 points were second in the league in scoring that year and he earned the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s most outstanding player.
In 18 play off games he scored 16 more goals and 28 assists for 44 points total in the post season.
While I agree again with my good friend, I also feel like Mikko and Marner both have a chance to become special players.
I feel like both of them if they can stay healthy have a shot at becoming perennial all stars.
Before they are done in this league I feel like Marner will win 2 Stanly Cup Championships in his career.
As far as Rantanen goes I think that he will end up as a finalist for The Art Ross and Rocket Richard awards but because of the era that he is playing in sharing the league with young players like McDavid, Mathews, Eichel, Nolan Patrick (next year), Marner and others I think that he will not win the Art Ross or Rocket Richard Trophy finishing 2nd or 3rd behind them.
He will have an all star level career and have a chance to be better if he is willing to put in the hard work in the off season and keep working on honing his game through the years. Mikko could go down as a hall of fame player one day if he can stay healthy through his career and find some chemistry with Nathan Mackinnon in Coach Bednars offensive system that he will be playing in next season and on.
Feature Image Credit NHL All Rights Reserved