Lawson Crouse is likely going to be a top 10 pick. But is he worth the Flyers calling his name at seven? Let’s take a closer look. He certainly has the build, at 6-4, 215 pounds, that screams prototypical Flyers power forward. Some scouts have compared him to Cam Neely and former Flyer Eric Lindros, at least in physical build and style of play.
Crouse is a favorite among scouts, who covet his physical style and two-way play. He is relentless on the forecheck, and averaged over 25 minutes a night, indicative of this two-way play.
However, we are not convinced about his potential to produce top six offensive upside. Last year, on an admittedly bad Kingston Frontenacs team, he led all scorers with 29 goals and 51 points in 56 games. Junior scoring is not always indicative of NHL performance. Just look at Sean Couturier, who scored back-to-back 100-point seasons in junior, but has been more of a two way forward with defensive prowess.
Boston’s Milan Lucic, who had a similar build as Crouse when drafted (6’4″ 202 pounds), was not a prolific scorer with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL. He scored just 19 points in 62 games. Lucic is one of the top physical two-way players, scoring 50 points three times. Of course, Lucic was drafted 50th overall. With Crouse, he would be the seventh pick, so there is more pressure for the Flyers to hit a home run with an impact player.
SCOUTING REPORT (via Elite Prospects)
“A big-bodied power winger with the ability to physically dominate, making him a prominent forechecking presence every night. Possesses good hands that can be used to make crisp passes or to let loose accurate, NHL-level shots; paired with his strength and skating ability, his skill set allows him to contribute offensively, as well as create space for teammates.”
ACCOLADES (via NHL.com)
“Crouse led the Kingston Frontenacs in goals (29) and points (51) while appearing in 56 games in 2014-15. In his rookie OHL season of 2013-14, Crouse registered 27 points (15-12—27) in 63 games and was named to the OHL All-Rookie Second Team.
Internationally, Crouse was a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2015 World Junior Championship, scored twice in the final game to help Canada win gold at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial and potted the game-winning goal for Canada in the bronze-medal game of the 2014 Under-18 World Junior Championship.
Members of the Frontenacs refer to him as “The Sheriff” in honor of the way he looks after his teammates. He is known to give rookies on the team a ride to and from school.
A power forward, Crouse patterns his game after James Neal of the Nashville Predators, Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins and Rick Nash of the New York Rangers.”
DRAFT DAY DECISION
We would not be surprised or disappointed if the Flyers selected Crouse with the number seven pick. He is a prototypical power forward with a two-way game. Picturing Crouse centered by Couturier is a very tempting prospect. However, we do have concerns about spending a high draft pick on a player without a high offensive upside. And though it is an organizational need (LW), the Flyers have stressed that they will choose the best player available.
There is also talk about the Carolina Hurricanes taking Crouse with the five pick. It’s certainly not a lock for Crouse to be available at seven, which speaks to how high his stock has risen over the past few months. He was popular with team interviews at the NHL 2015 Combine, and was universally praised for his character and leadership.