HOCKEY: DEC 19 World Junior Championship Exhibition Game - Canada v Russia

If the World Juniors serve as any indication, the next NHL draft could turn out to be a very special affair.

The pinnacle event for world junior hockey has historically been a tournament dominated by 19-year-old's, however this year's event saw numerous underage players make substantial impacts.

The U-20 World Juniors had been billed as the 'Mac vs Jack' showdown with a pair of 'generational' talents in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel battling for supremacy on the world stage - and ultimately for the first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Eichel led a Team USA squad which also featured a pair of high-end 1997-born blueliners in Noah Hanifin and Zach Werenski - the trio already having revived the U.S. collegiate scene.

The leading scorer among NCAA Div. 1 players, Eichel began the tournament on fire but gradually faded (5-1-3-4) as the Americans finished a disappointing fifth place.

It was all a rather conservative performance from the U.S. which served to mute the contributions of Hanifin (5-0-2-2) and Werenski (5-1-1-2), albeit the latter still managed to supercharge his draft stock.

Werenski (Grosse Pointe, MI) showed off his skating, skills and poise, following up a stand-out collegiate start which saw him leading the University of Michigan Wolverines blueline in scoring as a 17-year-old freshman (15-3-9-12).

Cracking the top 10, Werenski moves up to No. 7 - hotly pursued by another WJC underage phenom in Brandon's Ivan Provorov.

The Yaroslavl native played an integral role for Team Russia en route to winning a silver medal - and then celebrated his return to the WHL with a spectacular end-to-end goal against the Calgary Hitmen.

Mikko Rantanen of TPS Turku was another draft-eligible standout at the world juniors, turning heads throughout the tournie with his two-way play.

Rantanen was a one-man show for Team Finland, the defending champions, firing four of the team's eight goals.

Team Canada captured gold for the first time since 2009, receiving stalwart contributions from the only two draft-eligible players on the team - Connor McDavid and Lawson Crouse.

McDavid started tentatively fresh off a lengthy injury layoff, but got better each shift to produce some dazzling moments - not the least of which was his sublime cut behind the net to set up Nic Petan for a sitter in the semi-finals against Slovakia.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs cemented his status as a premier prospect with an outstanding performance.

Crouse emerged a leader on Canada's unstoppable fourth line which ground opponents down with a heavy cycle - alongside bulky linemates Nick Ritchie and Frederik Gauthier.

Despite a disappointing tournament for Team Switzerland, who needed a playoff win over Germany to avoid relegation, the Swiss underager's also made waves.

Jonas Siegenthaler was a rock on the Swiss blueline posting a remarkable plus-9 rating - the only non-Canadian among the tournament's top 10.

Another steady force for the Swiss was Timo Meier (6-2-4-6) who built on a strong opening half with the Halifax Mooseheads.

Meier earned a berth in the McKeen's Top 30 rankings - sitting at No. 24 - while Siegenthaler is ranked as an early second-rounder - at No. 36.

Jens Looke of Brynas also makes his debut in the top 30. As the only `97-born player on Team Sweden, Looke began the tournament as the 13th forward but gained a regular spot in the lineup and wound up scoring three goals - tied for third on the team.

Alexander Dergachyov (Russia), Sebastian Aho (Finland), and David Kase (Czech) added to the list of underager's who excelled at the world juniors - each of whom are ranked in the second round.

Here is a look at the McKeen's Top 30 Rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL TOP 75 RANKINGS.

 

RANK PREV PLAYER POS TEAM HT/WT DOB
1 1 Connor McDavid C Erie (OHL) 6-1/195 13-Jan-97
2 2 Jack Eichel C Boston University (HE) 6-2/195 28-Oct-96
3 3 Noah Hanifin D Boston College (HE) 6-3/205 25-Jan-97
4 6 Mitchell Marner C London (OHL) 5-11/160 5-May-97
5 5 Lawson Crouse LW Kingston (OHL) 6-4/210 23-Jun-97
6 7 Dylan Strome C Erie (OHL) 6-3/190 7-May-97
7 11 Zach Werenski D Michigan (B1G) 6-2/205 19-Jul-97
8 22 Ivan Provorov D Brandon (WHL) 6-0/195 13-Jan-97
9 4 Pavel Zacha C Sarnia (OHL) 6-3/210 6-Apr-97
10 9 Nick Merkley RW Kelowna (WHL) 5-11/190 23-May-97
11 18 Mikko Rantanen RW TPS Turku (Fin) 6-3/210 29-Oct-96
12 10 Mathew Barzal C Seattle (WHL) 5-11/175 26-May-97
13 17 Jeremy Roy D Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 6-0/190 14-May-97
14 8 Kyle Connor C Youngstown (USHL) 6-1/185 9-Dec-96
15 26 Evgeni Svechnikov LW Cape Breton (QMJHL) 6-2/200 31-Oct-96
16 13 Travis Konecny C Ottawa (OHL) 5-10/175 11-Mar-97
17 14 Oliver Kylington D Farjestads (Swe) 6-0/185 19-May-97
18 12 Colin White C NTDP (USA) 6-0/185 30-Jan-97
19 16 Paul Bittner LW Portland (WHL) 6-4/210 4-Nov-96
20 NR Thomas Chabot D Saint John (QMJHL) 6-1/180 30-Jan-97
21 15 Jakub Zboril D Saint John (QMJHL) 6-1/185 21-Feb-97
22 20 Matthew Spencer D Peterborough (OHL) 6-1/200 24-Mar-97
23 30 Jake DeBrusk LW Swift Current (WHL) 5-11/170 17-Oct-96
24 NR Timo Meier RW Halifax (QMJHL) 6-1/210 8-Oct-96
25 19 Brandon Carlo D Tri-City (WHL) 6-5/200 26-Nov-96
26 28 Daniel Sprong RW Charlottetown (QMJHL) 6-0/190 17-Mar-97
27 24 Jansen Harkins C Prince George (WHL) 6-1/180 23-May-97
28 NR Guillaume Brisebois D Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) 6-2/170 21-Jul-97
29 NR Brock Boeser RW Waterloo (USHL) 6-0/195 25-Feb-97
30 NR Jens Looke RW Brynas (Swe) 6-0/180 11-Apr-97
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