SPORTS

Connor McDavid listed as NHL's top prospect over NCAA star Eichel

04/08/2015 11:47 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT
ERIE, Pa. - Connor McDavid is the projected No. 1 pick in this year's NHL draft, so it's no surprise that he's the top-ranked North American prospect on Central Scouting's final list.

As expected, McDavid topped the rankings released Wednesday, ahead of Boston University centre Jack Eichel. Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin was third.

"It's a pretty special thing," McDavid said Wednesday after practising with the Erie Otters. "You're honoured to be the top-ranked guy, I guess. It's a good position to be in, but there's still a lot of work to be done and still a lot of time from now to the draft. Anything could happen."

McDavid, from Newmarket, Ont., finished fourth in Ontario Hockey League scoring with 120 points in just 47 games. His 44 goals were tied for fourth in the OHL.

McDavid also tied for the scoring lead at the 2015 world junior championship with 11 points in seven games as Canada won the gold medal. He and the Otters will face fellow gold-medal winner Max Domi and the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs beginning Thursday.

Eichel is also considered a top talent entering the 2015 draft, which will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. He leads NCAA players with 67 points and is of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey's best player.

"Jack is a tremendous future NHLer, he's an all-star, he's big, he can skate, he's competitive," Toronto Maple Leafs scout and BU alum John Lilley said Tuesday. "Whoever gets him in this upcoming draft has certainly got an unbelievable building block at the centre position."

Behind McDavid, Eichel and Hanifin is OHL leading scorer Dylan Strome, Erie's second-line centre. The brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome put up 45 goals and 84 assists for a league-best 129 points.

"It's just another notch. It doesn't really affect me too much," Strome said. "It's just kind of cool for people when they look back in history at the scoring titles of the league and see some of the people that won, (Islanders captain John) Tavares and guys like that. it's pretty cool to be part of that elite company."

McDavid was glad Strome was shown the appreciation of being ranked so high.

"After the year he had, it's hard not to put him up there," Erie's captain said. "I think he can be even higher than that. He's a great player, and I'm very glad that he's been able to show that this year."

Canadian world-junior winger Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs rounded out the top five North American skaters. Mikko Rantanan, who starred for Finland at that tournament, was ranked as the top European skater.

Mackenzie Blackwood of the OHL's Barrie Colts topped the list of North American goaltenders, while Russian Ilya Samsonov was ranked the top international goaltender.

The top 120 prospects will be invited to attend NHL scouting combine, which will take place in Buffalo, N.Y., for the first time. It will run from June 1-6 at the Sabres' arena, First Niagara Center, and the new HarborCenter facility.

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