This is my third draft rankings update this season following ones in September and November, and follows the recent IIHF World Junior Championship and the CHL's top prospects game -- with my scouting notes here on the latter.
There is a very strong top end of the draft class this season. I see drop-offs in talent level after Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 7, before starting a gradual marginal decrease in prospect value. Overall, I'd classify the draft class as strong. It's not a "super draft" -- a la the 2003 class -- but it definitely should result in general managers demanding above-average trade value in exchange for a first-round pick.
I've seen all but three of the players in my top 30 live so far this season. The top three spots on the list remain the same from the previous update, but there were some big moves elsewhere on the list:
Note: Players on the list range from 17 to 18 years old, and only three -- Zach Werenski, Sebastian Aho and Nicolas Meloche -- will still be 17 when the draft occurs in June.
1. Connor McDavid, C, Erie (OHL)
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 190 | 2014-15 stats: 24 GP | 22 G | 39 A
Previous ranking: 1
As has been the case for a long time, McDavid is my clear No. 1 in this draft class. He's a generational talent -- click here for a detailed scouting report. While I know some within the industry view it as a race between him and Jack Eichel, I just don't see it. McDavid is special, and could change a franchise's trajectory.