I don't think I actually look at this tier as 9 more or less equal talents, but it does look murky in the middle. I'd be surprised to see Zibanejad, Hamilton, or Murphy go top 3, or Nugent Hopkins, Landeskog, or Larsson go 7-9, but other than that, I don't know where to break this group into tiers.
9 Zibanejad: Sure sounds like he'll go higher than this, I would like to see a bit more offence but if he had it he'd probably jump way up the list, as close as it seems these top 9 are grouped.
8 Murphy: The ultimate high risk/high reward. Craig Button says he sees a Zubov like player. That would work.
7 Hamilton: Very complete sounding player, with more than enough offensive to potentially play on a top pair at some point down the road.
6 Landeskog: I have him sliding just a little bit because I think his offence might be a little shy of the other forwards.
5 Strome: Not much to say here, I don't really understand why he's not generally ranked a little bit higher, but it's so tight I guess it's not that surprising. Very good numbers, young player for the draft, I think he's a bit underrated.
4 Larsson: I sure wish he'd brought more offence this year. I know he's in a men's league,and apparently moved up the depth chart, but it's still a little bit disconcerting.
3 Huberdeau: He had a fantastic season. I'm not sure how much The Memorial Cup plays into a team's evaluation, but it can't have hurt his ranking in this draft.
2 Couturier: I decided there were just too many scouting reports in favour of RNH to ignore. I don't mind abandoning consensus a little bit when it comes to defencemen like Gudbranson since I think those types of D are generally overrated by NHL teams. But, NHL teams are generally pretty good at assessing forwards. Given that, it's fair to ask why I still have Couturier as high as I do. I think his offensive upside is under-appreciated, and if it's really close between the 4 forwards after RNH, he has the best track record.
1 Nugent Hopkins: Interested to see what he looks like in EDM, I will be more surprised if the Oilers pass on Nugent Hopkins than I would have been last year if the Oilers selected Seguin. Fantastic hockey sense.