At the end of last year, Mathew Barzal, 6’0″, 176 lbs, was predicted to be a third overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Now some are guessing that he might not even make the top 10. Guys like Noah Hanifin and Dylan Strome have taken spots ahead of him.
Barzal has a well-developed skill in dishing the puck to his teammates. Last year in his CHL rookie season, with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, Barzal had 40 helpers which almost led him to a CHL Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, that award went to Nikolaj Ehlers.
Along with his 40 assists, Barzal put the puck in the net 14 times (54 points). However this does not come close to what players like winger Paul Bittner (22 goals), and Jack Eichel (38) had.
What Mathew Barzal needs to do now is have a solid sophomore year in the WHL. If he can put up a 60 plus point season, he has a good chance of regaining the trust of scouts that he seemed to have lost during last season.
If Barzal does not get drafted inside the top 10, he will surely make scouts sorry for not doing so. He passing skills are at an almost elite level. Of course, there is things that any prospect can work on, like power or size, but Barzal can work on his finishng. He can certainly help his cause of being a top ten draft pick if he can put up 10 more goals than he had the year previous.
This year is a big year for Barzal and he will most likely overcome last year’s criticism and work his way back up the draft board. There are players like Pavel Zacha who have a lot more to prove to be a top 10 pick (this being Zacha’s first year playing in North America).
The teams that are in the top 10 also play a big factor. If teams that have center prospects are in the top 10, Barzal might slide down to a top 15 pick. Teams are also looking for the best player available as well, which means Barzal could sneak his way into the top 10. He is much more mature than other prospects that are just starting their first year in the CHL.
My prediction is that Mathew Barzal is taken inside the top 10. He is a good center and can pass the puck, as mentioned before, very well. Barzal has until June 26th 2015 to impress scouts.