The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is one month closer, and some prospects have improved their stock this past month while others have hurt theirs.
Feb. Consensus Rankings
Again, these consensus rankings take into account six different sources and then sort the prospects based on average rank. The Sharks will probably be picking in the 12-17 range depending on how they finish the season and what moves they make at the deadline. Let's take a look at some new players to watch heading into the final stretch of the season.
D Oliver Kylington, AIK (Allsvenskan)
Kylington has been the big faller this year in the draft. Once thought to be a top-5 pick and the second best defenseman behind Noah Hanifin, Kylington has had a rough season overseas. He is rumored to have complained about his ice time in Farjestad (SHL) and was loaned to AIK (Allsvenskan). Now he's back in Farjestad on the J20 team. He's not putting up the numbers most expected before the season, but he still has arguably the most offensive upside of any defender in the draft. Often compared to Erik Karlsson, some team may get a steal if they draft him outside the top-10. He's still a long shot to fall to the Sharks, but if he does, I hope the scouting team would be running up to the stage to select him.
C/RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)
Contrary to Kylington, Timo Meier has been the biggest riser in the draft thus far. Putting up 6pts in 6 games for a weak Swiss World Junior team, Meier has lit the world on fire since returning to Halifax (QMJHL). Playing with one of the best prospects in the world in Nikolaj Ehlers doesn't hurt, but Meier has proven himself as a dangerous offensive threat. He has 75pts in 49 games and is the go-to guy, along with Ehlers, on the Mooseheads. Meier is more of a shooter than a passer, could stand to improve his defensive game, and plays with a high energy level and good work ethic. If the Sharks draft him they would get a much-needed high end scorer in their prospect pool.
C Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)
Connor is one of the least talked about, underrated prospect who is likely to go in the top-15. His game revolves around his superb hockey IQ and undeniable skill. Playing in the USHL will draw some critics as the top American prospects in this draft are in the NCAA (Eichel, Hanifin, Werenski). Connor is the leading scorer on Youngstown with 50pts in 40 games. Combine the fact that he's not blowing anyone away with those numbers and his potential is somewhat limited, Kyle Connor may be a player that falls, but whoever drafts him will be happy. Playing a style that is easily translatable to the NHL, Connor may become a perfect second line center for a contender.
C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)
A consensus top-5 pick going into the season, a combination of injuries and not putting up great numbers hurt Barzal's stock through January. Now he's healthy and he's generating a lot of attention with his play on the Seattle Thunderbirds. Barzal is a playmaking center with high skill and high potential. His defensive game isn't spectacular and he will need to fill out his frame, meaning he may not be as NHL-ready as other prospects in the top-10. However, Barzal is a player with no real weaknesses and has all the makings to become a #1 center in the NHL. The big concern for the Sharks is that he may be rising too fast up the board. With 21 points in his last 11 games, he's starting to go into overdrive and may not be available when the Sharks pick.