McDavid & Eichel are special, but very far from best 1-2 draft duo

Jason Kay
Jack Eichel by Brian Babineau, Connor McDavid by Adam D’Oliveira

The Connor McDavid-Jack Eichel NHL draft showdown is a towering monster, thanks in various parts to their amazing skill levels, an insatiable media appetite and social media. They’re being touted as better than Taylor Hall-Tyler Seguin, the dynamic duo that topped the 2010 draft board. As for their careers, however, they have many miles to skate to rank with the best-ever No. 1-2 tandems.

That distinction is held by Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne, who occupied the top slots in 1971. Montreal nabbed Lafleur first, following Sam Pollock’s legendary machinations; the Habs GM pried the No. 1 pick out of California a year earlier, then traded Ralph Backstrom to Los Angeles to help prop up a flagging Kings squad when it appeared they might finish last overall. The dipsy-doodling worked, as Los Angeles moved past the Seals, cementing the top choice for Montreal. Read more

2015 draft: London’s Mitchell Marner is all grown up and putting on a show

Ryan Kennedy
Mitch Marner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

If you think drafting teenagers into the NHL is a difficult task, imagine what GMs in major junior have to deal with. Those teams have to scout players who are only 15 (and 14 in the case of the WHL) and could still have growth spurts that will change their bodies completely.

Which brings us to London Knights right winger Mitch Marner. When he was taken 19th overall in the 2013 OHL draft, Marner came in at just 5-foot-7.5 and 130 pounds. Sure, he had a great resume with Toronto’s Don Mills Flyers, but what if he didn’t get much bigger?

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Losing Whalers, gaining U.S. NTDP an upgrade for Plymouth

Jack Eichel  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

There have been a lot of proposed names bandied about for Flint’s new Ontario League team that will hit the ice next season. I’m kind of partial to Hurricanes. After all, that’s what the team was named the last time Peter Karmanos played a key role in a city losing its Whalers.

The Plymouth Whalers, who began their life as the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors in 1989, then became the Detroit Jr. Wings, then became the Detroit Whalers and have been in Plymouth since 1997, were sold today to a group that plans to move the team to Flint in time for next season. The purchase still has to be approved by the OHL, which is expected to do so at its next board of governors meeting Feb. 2. Read more

Portland’s powerful Paul Bittner leads off The Hot List

Paul Bittner (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The United States League holds its Top Prospects Game in Dubuque tonight, with draft dandies such as Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser and Tom Novak leading the charge. And with the world juniors in the books, it’s interesting to look back at the CHL and see which players upped their games with extra responsibility and opportunity. So that’s part of what we’re doing this week in our weekly look at prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.

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Soo Greyhounds rookie GM swings for the fences with blockbusters

Nick Ritchie (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

More than two decades ago, with his team sitting on top of the NHL standings, New York Rangers GM Neil Smith made three blockbuster trades on deadline day that moved three core players out and brought four veterans into the fold.

“And how did that all work out?” asked Kyle Raftis, the first-year GM of the Ontario League’s Soo Greyhounds.

Like Smith did in 1994, Raftis has a team that’s in first place. Like Smith, Raftis saw that his team was good, but probably not good enough to win a championship. And like Smith, Raftis swung for the fences at the trade deadline. Read more

2015 NHL Draft rankings: McDavid still rules the roost

Connor McDavid (Richard Wolowicz/HHOF Images)

The World Junior Championship is a big part of the prospect calendar, but not the be-all end-all when it comes to the draft. Because the tournament tends to favor 19-year-olds, you can’t fault a 17-year-old for being left on the sidelines. Sure, it’s a checkmark if they make it and thrive, but you can see how nationality and even position can make it an unlevel playing field.

Below you will find my second run at a top-30 ranking for the 2015 NHL draft. There is a good deal of change from the first installment, though at the top much remains the same, since I’m conservative that way. You will also notice no goaltenders have been included. Frankly, it’s been a tough year to gauge netminders and when you see Zach Fucale and Thatcher Demko drop to the second round in recent years, you get a little gun-shy. With that in mind, here’s what I came up with:

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Return of Duclair and Draisaitl shakes up the Memorial Cup race

Quebec's Anthony Duclair  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

You can debate whether or not the Edmonton Oilers were right to hold rookie center Leon Draisaitl out of the world juniors, where he would have been far and away Germany’s best player. And you can debate whether or not he should have been kept up by the Oilers as long as he was before they sent him back to junior in the Western League. But the trade that sent his rights (and consequently, him) to Kelowna from Prince Albert is huge in the WHL’s arms race. Just as big as the New York Rangers sending Anthony Duclair back to the Quebec Remparts.

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