The Class of 2015 now gets its turn in the spotlight soon, and it is also time for shift the focus to the 2016 NHL draft prospects.
The 2015 class is an exciting group, with NHL scouts almost salivating at the mouth to get their hands on a player who could become their team’s next franchise star. Many of the players eligible for the 2015 draft, born in late 1996 or 1997, have experienced plenty of success and heartbreak on their junior teams with some slated to go in the first or second round of the draft having already had extensive international experience.
The 2015 draft class features two standout players. Although one has been heralded as the first overall pick since his bantam year, the other has been making a strong case to challenge for that coveted spot. The number one draft choice favorite is Connor McDavid.
Connor McDavid, Center, Erie Otters (OHL)
“He looks like he’s got it all,” said Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby about Connor McDavid.
McDavid was the third player to be granted Exceptional Player status by the Ontario Hockey Federation. The status gave the Toronto native the opportunity to enter the 2012 OHL Priority Selection where he was selected first overall by the Erie Otters.
The 6’0”, 185-pound center earned the OHL’s top rookie award by scoring 66 points in 63 games in his first year of juniors. He followed that with 99 points in 56 games in the 2013-14 season. Big things are expected of McDavid in not only junior hockey but on the international stage for Team Canada, as well.
McDavid models his game after his idol, Crosby. He is a threat anytime he has the puck and his vision allows him to make highlight reel passes. He has quick hands and quick feet to help maneuver in and out of the high traffic areas.
All that remains to be seen of McDavid at this point is if he can add strength and size as well as increase his defensive awareness, but he is projected to make the immediate jump from juniors to the NHL as soon as he is drafted next June.
While McDavid is in a unique situation headed into the NHL, there are several younger players who are born in the USA and may make a impact in future years. If the 1996 youth players are being looked at now, soon it will be time to look at the 2000's.
If the name Jackson Kyser is not recognizable right now - that fact my change significantly in the near future.
For those who have watched the 6"02", 195 pound defenseman play there is no surprise that he will likely be seen by many more hockey fans in the upcoming seasons.
Kyser is a powerful skater, he is physical and possesses excellent passing skills and a booming shot from the point. he is also equipped to play on either the left or right side of the blueline and has done it successfully on many occasions.
Most would consider him to be a man among boys when he is on the ice. The fact is Jackson Kyser is a 2000 birth year player. When parents and casual fans hear that fact they cannot believei ti and some continue to question his age.
During a tournament in Dallas tournament a few years ago that Kyser participated in, a somewhat irate parent said " if that kid is a 2000 I will eat my hat." Luckily no one bother to assure that parent had a nutricious "Hat Dinner."
Despite his obvious skills and size Kyser has somehow managed to stay under the radar.
He started out playing in Florida on several youth hockey teams such as the Canadians, Toros, and most recently Little Caesars based in Michigan. Jackson also had the opportunity to perform in several out of state tournaments.
It was in those tournaments that he caught the notice of several coaches and scouts who saw his potential immediately.
With Little Caesars, Kyser will have the opportunity to play with top ranked teammates in a top division against top ranked competition. Little Caesars is a perrenial contender for top 5 honors.
Such a move will provide him more opportunity to develop his youth hockey skills on the way to juniors, or perhaps a college Division 1 opportunity.
One thing for sure is he will have all the Pizza can eat.