By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season rankings are out, and to no one’s surprise Connor McDavid is at the top.
The Erie Otters centre is the runaway favourite to be selected first overall at the 2015 NHL Draft.
“It’s cool, (but) it really doesn’t mean anything,” McDavid said. “You don’t dream about being ranked No. 1 at the mid-term rankings. It’s all about what’s down the line here and at the end of the day it’s all about what teams and what GMs have to say about you.”
It’s hard to find bad things to say about McDavid, who has 60 points (21 goals and 39 assists) in 23 Ontario Hockey League games this season. He broke a bone in his right hand during a game in November but returned to action at the world junior hockey championship last month and helped Canada win a gold medal.
McDavid was ranked ahead of American forward Jack Eichel (Boston University) in the list of top draft-eligible skaters from North America. Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin, Kingston Frontenacs forward Lawson Crouse and Otters centre Dylan Strome rounded out the top five.
“I try not to look at that, but obviously it’s always there and you’re always going to see it,” said Crouse, who was also on Canada’s gold-medal-winning world junior team. “It’s a privilege, but I still have to earn that spot.”
The OHL’s leading scorer, Mitchell Marner of the London Knights, is ranked seventh.
“I think everyone’s (going to) kind of take a look at them,” Marner said as he prepared to play in the CHL top prospects game Thursday. “Everyone wants to know what the kind of placement is right now. I think it’s nice to see what place everyone is.”
Swedish defenceman Oliver Kylington was the top-ranked skater from Europe. Finnish right-winger Mikko Rantanen, who impressed at the world juniors, held the No. 2 position.
Barrie Colts netminder Mackenzie Blackwood was the top-ranked North American goaltender. He is 20-7-1 this season with a 2.81 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 29 appearances.
“I’m excited about it, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Blackwood said. “Nothing’s happened yet. It just means you’re on the right track, so you just have to stick with it.”
The mid-season rankings feature the top 210 skaters and 35 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 112 skaters and 11 goaltenders from Europe.
The 2015 draft will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.