20 Prospects in 20 Days: Lawson Crouse

Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

(Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

With only nine days left until the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, we will be breaking down a prospect each day up until June 26th. Today, we will take a closer look at winger Lawson Crouse.

(NHL.com)

Winger Lawson Crouse, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL), 17 years old

Height: 6’4” Weight: 216 pounds, Shoots: Left

RANKED:

NHL Central Scouting: 5th among North American Skaters

TSN: 7th among all players

2014-15 Stats: 56 games, 29 goals, 22 assists, 23 points, 70 penalty minutes

Every year there is at least one if not several draft prospects who possess that rare combination of size, skill, and physicality that every NHL team seems to covet. Lawson Crouse is one of those prospects in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Standing at 6’3 and over 200 pounds, Crouse has an NHL ready frame and has already shown he is quite capable of playing a physical, grinding style of game down low and around the net. He is a powerful skater, with long strides that cover great lengths of the ice, but he lacks in the first step and acceleration department. Likewise, he is already proven to be strong enough to man-handle opponents at the junior level, but will need to add more muscle if he hopes to physically impose himself on players in the pros.

There is some risk with Crouse, at least in terms of his offensive upside. He struggled with consistency over the 2014-15 season, especially early on, when his production was a little streaky. He seemed to hit his stride after a strong showing at the 2015 World Juniors, and managed 17 goals and 18 assists in his final 32 regular season games. Crouse was a standout at the World Juniors, where he played a fourth line role with Toronto prospect Frederik Gauthier and Anaheim prospect Nick Ritchie, and finished with a goal and two assists through seven games.

Whether or not the power forward meets his offensive potential, he seems to have the size and disposition to excel in some capacity at the NHL level. It helps considerably that despite being a player with some skill, he is very willing to assume the role of a grinder and can complement lesser skilled linemates. He is also very underrated in his own end and possesses good vision and hockey sense. If he can further develop his offensive repertoire, particularly his passing ability, then he has the tools to be a complementary top-line player in the mold of a Milan Lucic or David Backes. Even if his offensive game does not fully develop, Crouse should have enough potential to develop into a middle of the lineup power forward, similar to Washington’s Troy Brouwer or Edmonton’s Benoit Pouliot.

Crouse is a divisive talent among scouts. While his size and all-around game garner praise from all corners, many scouts are split over where he should rank in the draft. He is an extremely active and easily noticed when out on the ice, which many scouts believe is misleading given his relatively modest production. Conversely, there are many hockey people who believe Crouse will be a more productive offensive player in the pros than in juniors. Either way, Crouse is slated to go in the first round, projected as high as 4th by ISS and as low as 10th by McKeen’s and Future Considerations.

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Previously Seen in “20 Prospects in 20 Days”:

Noah Hanifin
Ivan Provorov
Kyle Connor
Timo Meier
Dylan Strome
Mitch Marner
Mathew Barzal
Thomas Chabot
Evgeny Svechnikov
Mikko Rantanen
Ilya Samsonov