In a 2015 NHL draft full of high-scoring stars, it seems odd that a player who didn't even average a point per game could be taken as high as third overall this year.
Yet here we are, with possibly the most polarizing prospect in the draft in Lawson Crouse.
If you look away from the scorecard, you can see why scouts are enthralled with the kid. He's 6'4 and 212 pounds, and he can move with the puck up, down and across the ice like a natural center. His skills et even earned him a 17 year old trip to the U20's this year on a Canadian team that's stacked to the brim with elite talent.
Imagine, if you will, the net presence of Wayne Simmonds combined with the puck moving and skating of Sean Couturier. That's what Crouse possesses.
- Born: June 23, 1997
- Nationality: Canadian
- Height: 6'4"
- Weight: 212 lbs
- Team: Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
- Position: Wing
Where's his offense?
So if Crouse has such good tools, that begs the question: why can't he seem to score like the other players around him?
Maybe his offense isn't as bad as the baseline numbers make it look. I'm being pretty blunt here, but his CHL team wasn't very good. The only other Kingston forward that had a real impact was Spencer Watson, a 7th round pick from last years draft. Yeah, last year's fourth overall pick Sam Bennett came back late in the year, but for a majority of the season, Crouse was a one man show.
Via CHLStats, Crouse scored 16.96 percent of his teams goals, which ranks second in the OHL among draft-eligible 17 year olds -- behind only Connor McDavid, who happens to be the best prospect since Sidney Crosby.
And across the three CHL leagues, Crouse ranks fifth in team goal percentage -- behind McDavid, Ryan Meier, Daniel Sprong, and Jake DeBrusk. All four of those players above him are projected first round selections as of today, so if you look at it this way, it's safe to say Crouse can score with the best of them.
Crouse also played an estimated 25:63 of ice time a game, easily top 10 among draft eligible players in the OHL. This is evidence towards Crouse as a two-way forward, and not just a pure offensive winger.
So while Crouse may not have the total points that would be ideal for a top selection, his supporting cast and defensive responsibility shouldn't be overlooked, and could explain why he didn't make a a bigger on the scoreboard.
Would the Flyers draft Crouse?
I'm not a fan of drafting for need, but I think it's fair to say the Flyers system lacks a true difference maker at the wing position.
Ron Hextall can look at drafting in the No. 7 in two ways:
1) that the team needs to take a chance on a player who can become a dominate star...
... or 2) that they need to play it safe and draft a more steady, predictable player -- even if that players' ceiling isn't quite as high.
I can't answer which direction the Flyers will go. If they go with option two, that's fine. There are plenty of solid players available in this draft that can all be very good NHL players. But if they go with Crouse, they'll be drafting him because of his high ceiling, not his draft year production.