Following another edition of the IIHF World Junior Championship, it's time for an update to my ranking of the top drafted NHL prospects. Of the top 50 listed below, I have seen 47 live in action during the past six months, and 49 of 50 overall.
The 2014 NHL draft looks pretty solid so far about six months after the selections were made. After No. 1 overall pick Aaron Ekblad, there doesn't seem to be a clear "elite" type of prospect -- unlike the presence of several at the top of the 2015 class -- but the bulk of the first round looks very strong, including an impressive European class. As of now, the prospects that were eligible to rank here formed a five-man tier at the top.
A lot also changes in six months. For one, around 20 of my top 50 prospects in my summer update have graduated to the NHL. Players can also significantly shift in that time span as well, thanks to jumps they make (or fail to make) in their development.
Prospects are considered "graduated" if they have more than 25 games played this season in the NHL, 50 career NHL games, or are currently on an NHL roster. Thus, players like Mikhail Grigorenko and David Pastrnak are considered graduates.
Here are the top 50 NHL prospects:
[Editor's note: Join the prospects conversation with Corey and other writers on Twitter by using hashtag #NHLNext50.]
1. William Nylander, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (previous ranking: 4)
Current team: Toronto Marlies (AHL) | 2014-15 stats: 21 GP 8 G 12 A
DOB: 5-1-96 | Draft: No. 8, 2014
The top group were all close for me, and I would not say that putting Nylander No. 1 was an easy call. I leaned toward him because he stands out. His skill level is unique, his play in Sweden this year has been unique, the way he weaves through the neutral zone and gains the blue line effortlessly is unique. He's by no means a perfect player -- he has to improve his play off the puck and get a lot stronger -- but the upside is quite tantalizing.