The 2015 NHL Draft is set to take place Friday night and Saturday at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., and features one of the deepest prospect pools in recent memory. As it stands, Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel are shoo-ins to be picked Nos. 1 and 2 overall, but there will be plenty of talent, and undoubtedly a future star or two, available after the first two selections. Click onward for a look at the top 10 possible picks.
10. Zach Werenski, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
Not since Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews has an under-18 player scored at a better rate in college hockey than Werenski. The 17-year-old blueliner notched nine goals and 25 points in 35 games as a freshman for the University of Michigan this past season and has all the makings of a future top-pairing defenseman in the NHL. His hockey IQ is that of a player well beyond his years, and he's received praise for both his smooth skating and offensive skill set. Central Scouting has Werenski ranked ninth among North American prospects, and International Scouting Services has him 11th overall.
UM Photography, D. MarshkeDaryl Marshke
9. Mikko Rantanen, RW, TPS/Finland (SM-liiga)
No prospect expected to come off the board within the first round of this weekend's draft has more experience playing against professionals than Rantanen. The 6-foot-4, 211-pound power forward has spent the last three seasons playing for TPS Turku of SM-liiga -- Finland's top professional league -- and has already competed in 108 games since turning pro as a 16-year-old. An exceptional playmaker, he excels at using his using his size to protect the puck as well, if not better than, the majority of his fellow draftees. Central Scouting has Rantanen as its top-ranked European prospect, and International Scouting Services has him ninth overall.
8. Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
If you're a team looking to roll the dice on a high-risk, high-reward prospect, look no further than Zacha. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, the 18-year-old power forward possesses a unique blend of size, speed and skill, but he struggled to find consistency during his first season on North American ice. The Brno, Czech Republic, native registered just 16 goals and 34 points in 37 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting as he dealt with both injuries and suspensions this past season. That being said, he is one of the most naturally gifted scorers in this year's draft and has the potential to become an exceptional offensive talent in the NHL. Central Scouting ranks Zacha eighth among North American prospects, and International Scouting Services has him 10th overall.
7. Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
The jury is still out on what kind of player Crouse projects to be at the NHL level. A 6-foot-4, 215-pound man-child, the 18-year-old winger could potentially turn pro as early as next season, but it's unclear exactly what his role he will play when he gets there. He notched a team-high 29 goals and 51 points in 56 games for the Ontario Hockey League's Kingston Fronenacs last season, and despite playing well in both the offensive and defensive zone, he never really was dominant in either. If anything, Crouse should be considered one of the safest bets among this year's draft class, as his size and work ethic make him almost a guarantee to succeed in the NHL even if he never evolves into a star.
Billy KimmerlyBilly Kimmerly
6. Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Provorov burst onto the scene this past season for the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, registering 15 goals and 61 points in 60 games. A well-rounded defenseman with a high hockey IQ and knack for generating offense, the 18-year-old blueliner excels at bringing out the best in his teammates. Though some speculate the Yaroslavl, Russia, native could potentially spurn his future NHL team in favor of returning home to play in the KHL, all signs point to that scenario being very unlikely. Central Scouting ranks Provorov seventh among North American prospects, and International Scouting Services has him at seventh overall.
Brandon Wheat KingsBrandon Wheat Kings
5. Mitch Marner, RW, London Knights (OHL)
Considered by some the second coming of Patrick Kane, Marner is fresh off a monster season in which he finished second in the OHL with 82 assists and 126 points in 63 games for the London Knights. A dynamic goal scorer with game-breaking ability, the 18-year-old winger has a unique blend of speed and elusiveness that he uses to generate scoring chances for himself as well as his teammates. At 5-foot-11 and 160, however, his small stature could be an issue in transitioning to the NHL. But with recent success of other diminutive forwards such as Johnny Gaudreau and Tyler Johnson, it’s unlikely this deters teams on draft day. Central Scouting ranks Marner sixth among North American prospects, and International Scouting Services has him sixth overall.
Getty ImagesClaus Andersen
4. Dylan Strome, C, Erie Otters (OHL)
Overshadowed by teammate Connor McDavid, Strome, the brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, led the OHL with 84 assists and 129 points in 68 regular-season games for the Otters last season. Even when McDavid was knocked from the lineup with a hand injury, Strome still managed 14 goals and 29 points in 20 games. A smart player with strong awareness in all three zones, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound center has tons of offensive weapons in his arsenal to go with the agility and reach teams covet. Central Scouting ranks Strome fourth among North American prospects, and International Scouting Services has him at third overall.
Matt MeadMatt Mead
3. Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College (NCAA)
A dynamic two-way defenseman, Hanifin is arguably the most polished blueliner in this year's draft class. He had five goals and 18 assists in 37 games as a freshman at Boston College last season while spending time on both the power play and penalty kill for the Eagles. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Hanifin turned 18 only five months ago but exudes confidence and poise well beyond his years, which should help him become a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL sooner rather than later. Central Scouting ranks Hanifin third among North American prospects, and International Scouting Services has him at fifth overall.
Richard T Gagnon
2. Jack Eichel, C, Boston University (NCAA)
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better consolation prize than Eichel. The Boston U. product is the top American prospect in the draft and won the Hobey Baker Award as the top college player after scoring 26 goals with 45 assists in 40 games for the Terriers. His 71 points were the most by a freshman since Paul Kariya had 100 at Maine in 1992-93. And though he will undoubtedly be linked to presumptive top pick Connor McDavid throughout his career, many feel the 18-year-old center has a chance to go toe-to-toe with this year's consensus No. 1. A consistent scoring threat, he possesses elite offensive skills and can make the most prolific defensemen look pedestrian at any given time.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY SportsWinslow Townson
1. Connor McDavid, C, Erie Otters (OHL)
The Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year, McDavid is widely considered to be the most coveted draft prospect since Sidney Crosby in 2005. The 18-year-old phenom finished third in league scoring with 120 points in 47 games for the Erie Otters and led all OHL skaters in playoff scoring with 21 goals and 49 points in 20 games. Simply put, he's a slam-dunk, a home run, a sure thing. He's a proficent center with the ability to dominate all three zones. He has the work ethic, intangibles and raw talent to not only become one of the best players of his generation but an all-time great. It's a lot of pressure to put on a player that has yet to play in a single NHL game, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it's McDavid.