The top 100 list is nearing the end and we are starting to see prospects in or on the verge of making an impact in the NHL in the immediate future.
15. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 206
Drafted: Eighth overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Columbus
In his sophomore season at the University of Michigan, Werenski developed into a point per game defenseman, posting 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games. He was named Captain of Team USA at the World Junior Championship, where he produced two goals and nine points in seven games, showing he was ready to take his game to the next level. He was named the top defenseman of the tournament.
After his NCAA season concluded, he signed his ELC with Columbus and was assigned to the AHL for Lake Erie’s final seven regular season games. While Werenski only managed one point in that span as he adjusted to the pro game, he has been an important player in helping the Monsters all the way to the Calder Cup Final.
In his 15 postseason games to date he has scored five goals and 12 points. Werenski will make his NHL debut next season as he is on pace to be one of the league’s elite.
Scouting Report: A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman that has a strong understanding of the game. Excels in key situations and is able to execute under pressure. Possesses good vision and awareness on the ice; uses his abilities to put offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. All-in-all, a very strong all-around defenceman that consistently brings his game every night. – Elite Prospects
14. Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
Height/Weight: 5’11” / 160
Drafted: 78th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by Philadelphia
After a promising NCAA career, Gostisbehere all but lost his first pro season to injury playing in only seven games total. He made a full recovery from his torn ACL, and this year had a breakout season worthy of a Calder nomination.
With the Flyers loaded with defensive prospects, he will be pushed to retain his hold on the first power play unit in the future by the likes of Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. Given his ability to push the Flyers into a playoff position on the strength of his 15-game point streak and his being named to Team North America for the upcoming World Cup, he is up to the task.
Scouting Report: [He] gained 15 pounds during his rehabilitation, but still an unimposing 5-11, 175-pound defenceman who makes his impact on a game with speed and guile .. talented skater .. slick footwork moving backwards and transitioning to forward .. soft hands, skilled puckhandler and distributor .. shows teammates where he wants the pass via his stick placement .. elite peripheral vision .. senses/spots teammates coming into play from behind or beside him and gets them the puck .. thrives in up-tempo games with his transition and skating skills .. economical shooting technique – receives a pass and swiftly releases off his stick .. knee injury may set back his NHL timetable, but expected to fill a top-four NHL role soon. – McKeens Hockey
13. Dylan Strome, Arizona Coyotes
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 185
Drafted: Third overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Arizona
Strome had another dominant season in the OHL and now boasts a career point total of 279 points in 184 games. The OHL Coaches’ poll named Strome the smartest player, best in face-offs and in shootouts for the Western Conference.
Strome was also a standout for Canada at the World Junior where he scored six points in five games. If Strome can add some strength to his frame he has the skills to make the jump into the NHL next season. It’s expected that he will get a good look to start the season, and don’t be surprised if he sticks.
Scouting Report: Strome possesses high level playmaking abilities highlighted by great vision and slick puck skills. He possesses NHL size and a rangy wingspan that aids in his strong possession game. —Dobber Prospects
12. Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres
Height/Weight: 6’1” / 185
Drafted: Second overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Buffalo
As the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, Reinhart was unable to crack the NHL full-time and was wisely returned to his junior team for more development. He returned to the NHL this season and was ready for prime-time. He came in as the Sabres’ second-overall in goals, playing 79 games scoring 23 goals and 42 points. Look for Reinhart to play on the Sabres top line next year on the right wing with Jack Eichel. The future is bright for the Sabres.
Scouting Report: Reinhart plays a solid two-way game that features elite hockey sense and an understanding of the game that cannot be taught. Reinhart projects as a future leader with advanced offensive and defensive skills making him a likely first line forward at the NHL level. Dobber Prospects
11. Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs
Height/Weight: 5’11” / 160
Drafted: Fourth overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Toronto
Marner had a dominant season in the OHL. He won OHL regular season MVP, OHL playoff MVP, as well as the Memorial Cup MVP as he led the London Knights to a Memorial Cup Championship.
There is a great debate going around about where he will play next year. Most Leafs fans would like to see him in the NHL, as he is not eligible for the AHL and has proven to be too good for the OHL. He has NHL-ready skill and vision and, while undersized, he has an elusive ability that could see him survive in the Leafs top six this year.
Scouting Report: As with many high end point producers of the current age, Marner’s skill set begins with his skating. His start up speed is fantastic and comes complete with high level agility and pivoting. Although small, his wheels make him difficult to catch. His wrist shot is strong and accurate and the slapper is also solid, something he practices when playing the point on London power plays.
He is simply magical with the puck, as his hands are incredibly fast and his creativity his top notch. Even though his goal scoring was among the best in the OHL, his playmaking skills are even better. His offensive IQ is elite and he is not shy about contributing in his own zone as well. He could naturally stand to gain a few pounds of muscle to better withstand the physical rigors of the professional game, but his overall skills scream first line dynamo and it could be as a center or at right wing. – Hockey Prospectus