The best wingers available at the 2015 NHL Draft
With eight spots on a typical NHL lineup, the wings are the most prevalent position in hockey.
Most of the focus falls on the goaltenders, defensemen and centers when building a team, but it's impossible to ignore a position that accounts for nearly half of a 20-man roster. With that in mind, drafting and developing the right wingers can make all the difference between a Cup contender and an also-ran.
The 2015 NHL Entry Draft has its share of elite prospects at left and right wing, offering tantalizing options for teams that weren't fortunate enough to win the Connor McDavid lottery.
Here are some of the best wingers available at the draft:
London Knights right winger Mitch Marner is arguably the most skilled player available outside of McDavid and Jack Eichel.
A natural center, Marner moved to right wing with the Knights and came within three points of winning the OHL scoring title. The diminutive forward shifted back to center for the playoffs and produced 16 points in just seven games, indicating he could play either position at the next level.
Whoever selects Marner will get a player with the kind of creativity and vision necessary to create goals in the NHL, from center or the wing.
Mikko Rantanen is the latest offensive phenomenon to emerge from Finland. He will likely be the country's highest-drafted player since Aleksander Barkov was selected second overall in 2013, and with good reason.
Rantanen already plays against men in Finland's top division, and he excelled as an underage player in the 2015 World Junior Championship, scoring four goals in five games. He doesn't use his 6-foot-4 frame to intimidate physically, but he doesn't need to when he's scoring goals like this.
Rantanen projects as a reliable scoring winger who won't take long to make the jump to the NHL.
Another dynamic undersized forward who can play both center and wing, Travis Konecny's biggest drawback is that he's not Mitch Marner.
Konecny has lived up to expectations after being drafted into the OHL first overall by the Ottawa 67's. He regressed slightly from his rookie of the year season, but was still able to produce 29 goals and 68 points on a very weak 67's team.
Konecny is fast, smart, and plays like he's three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. Any NHL team would be lucky to add him to their winger depth.
Even when Lawson Crouse doesn't impress on the scoreboard, he still makes an impact.
Crouse would be considered big in the NHL at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, and he uses his frame to disrupt the opposition with a relentless forecheck. He also has a pro-level shot and impressive speed, especially for his size.
The doubts surrounding Crouse's offensive ceiling are fair, but he's capable of being an effective winger without producing gaudy goal numbers. He's the perfect pick for a team that wanted Tom Wilson in 2012.
Timo Meier might be the most complete winger available at the draft. He can adjust his role to whatever his team needs, whether it's a big body in front of the net, a solid backcheck or an overtime winner.
Meier fit right in alongside Nikolaj Ehlers with the Halifax Mooseheads and assumed a leading role with Switzerland as an underage player at the 2015 World Junior Championship. He finds open spaces on the offensive end and is relentless on the defensive end, giving a consistent effort on both sides.
Meier's combination of statistical prowess (44 goals, 90 points in 61 games with Halifax) and reliability make him one of the safest picks beyond McDavid and Eichel.
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