2015 NHL Draft Profiles: Lawson Crouse

Lawson Crouse – 6’4, 215-pound left winger from the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Lawson Crouse Rankings

  • #4 by ISS Hockey
  • #7 by Bob McKenzie
  • #10 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • #10 by Future Considerations
  • #5 by NHL Central Scouting

Lawson Crouse’s Scouting Report provided by Brock Otten of OHL Prospects.

Lawson Crouse Strengths

  • Crouse is a coaches dream. He’s already one of the most complete players in the OHL.
  • His defensive awareness and anticipation is fantastic and he uses his size very effectively to defend on the back check.
  • Crouse is also a real throwback power forward who actually plays the way he’s built (at 6’4, 215lbs) and is only going to become increasingly more difficult to play against when he gets even stronger (he probably suits up as an NHL’er at 6’4, 230+lbs).
  • Offensively, his game is not flashy, but it is effective. He’s become a very good player below the hash marks and uses his skating ability to take pucks hard to the net. He’s certainly capable of creating his own scoring chances and that’s what he’s had to do most of this year (with Kingston lacking a true playmaker when Bennett and Watson were injured).
  • Crouse’s hands and high-end wrist shot profile him as a goal scorer at the NHL level. He’s certainly more than just a scrub. When Bennett and Watson did return, just look at the spike in his numbers. In his final 27 games (including playoffs), Crouse put up 15 goals (prorated to a 38 goal season) and had over a point per game.

Lawson Crouse Criticisms

  • From McKeen’s draft guide (buy here):  Average stick handler – his game is more suited as a trigger man who needs a complementary set-up man to bring his skills to the fore.
  • Craig Button on The Pipeline Show: I’m not sure Lawson Crouse is anything more than a third-line winger. You’ve got to be able to make plays, you’ve got to be able to create offensive opportunities with the puck and skating with the puck, getting into position to finish a play. Those are all the things I’m looking for and, quite frankly, those are the things that, for me, that’s why I don’t have him in the top 10.
  • His production of .92 PPG for the season, lower than a number of prospects outside the top 10 conversation, has been the focal point of some who believe his ranking is unwarranted. He’s become the lightning rod of the annual draft philosophy argument on how much size, toughness and defensive play should be prioritized when rating 18 year old players. His offensive ceiling is a matter of debate.

The Verdict

  • Crouse is perhaps the most polarizing draft prospect this year. In a lot of ways, he’s not polarizing, though. If you look at the lists of scouting agencies, he’s been consistently high all year. And I’m sure that’s the case with NHL scouts, too. It’s the general fan base (the armchair scouts) who don’t seem to be too fond of Crouse. They see the average statistical output and wonder why he’s rated so highly. Watch him play for more than a couple of games and you’ll see why.
  • While he certainly didn’t make any fans at the end of the season with his actions at the end of the playoffs (and subsequent suspension), you can’t ignore his potential to play in the National Hockey League. I think a guy like Andrew Ladd is a perfect comparison; in today’s NHL, if you want to win in the playoffs, you need guys like Crouse.

Lawson Crouse Interview

Courtesy of The Pipeline Show:

On his role in Kingston:
Obviously I’m a big body presence out there, and I have to play that way. To be reliable in the defensive zone, get pucks in deep and create offensive chances for myself and teammates.

I love playing in the offensive zone, using my big body in the corners, getting in on the forecheck and laying a few big hits on those D.

Obviously the coach looks to me for my physical aspect of the game. I’ve got to get in on the forecheck like I said, and punish those D and hopefully next time they don’t want to go get the puck first.

On his size:
I’m 6’4, pushing 215 right now (in October, 2014). I’ve always been a pretty tall kid, but filling out was definitely big thing this summer. I put on a lot of weight and it’s definitely helping on the ice.

On if it’s possible to become “too heavy:”
I feel I am at the right weight and the right height right now; you can’t control your height, but you can control your weight. I’m looking to stay around the same and keep my speed going at the same rate.

I don’t think I want to get any heavier than 220 pounds. The game is getting faster and faster and if you start putting on too much weight your speed might decrease a bit. The game of hockey is all about speed. You can always get faster. You just don’t want to set yourself back by being overweight.

On areas of his game in need of work:
Obviously speed. You have to get quicker and quicker every game. The next level is a whole different speed. Obviously, throughout the year, I’m looking to get a lot faster.

I think I am pretty sound in the defensive end. Obviously, creating offense is definitely going to be a key factor. If you want to play in the league, you’ve got to create offense. I mean, I’m looking to create a little bit more offense while being reliable in my own end.

On whether he’s pass or shoot first:
Doesn’t really matter to me. Obviously you enjoy scoring goals as a hockey player, but if the play is there I like setting up my wingers or my centermen. The last couple of years I’ve been scoring more goals than assists. Obviously I like to shoot the puck a lot.

On his favourite NHL team:
Toronto, being a London boy and growing up watching the Leafs on Saturday nights. Any time they’re on TV I’m always watching it downstairs with my billets. It’s kind of a fun rivalry; they like Ottawa and I like Toronto.

Lawson Crouse: Experts Take

Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) speaking about Lawson Crouse on The Pipeline Show:
I am probably a little bit shy on him compared to everybody else. I think that, at best, you’re going to get a James Neal type that can score 30-35, good feet, tenacious forechecker, two-way guy. But that’s also at the absolute highest. If you want to hit a homerun, if you want to swing for the fences after the first six or seven picks, I don’t think there’s much issues with taking Lawson that high. People look at the stats, but as an example, last night he was playing with Connor McGlynn and an import who would be third line guys on most teams. It’s not like he’s playing with Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson all the time, and if he was playing with them all year I bet you he’s got 20 or 30 more points this season. While you do read a little bit into his production, you can’t read too much into it because he’s a victim of circumstances a little bit as well. If he was playing for London he would probably be third in scoring for God’s sakes. He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s a great skater, he’s really cerebral, he tracks back, he’s a first line PK guy. There’s a lot of elements to his game that you like. He’s not a Mitch Marner or a Dylan Strome from an offensive standpoint, but I think he’s also got a lot of facets to him in that you can probably spot him in as a third-line guy, he can probably play second line with a high-skill center, and he probably will be able to put up 15-20-25 goals at the NHL level. At the NHL draft where it’s a crapshoot to begin with, there’s a lot to be said for grabbing – I don’t want to say a safe pick – but getting a higher assurance of success.

He could [step into the NHL next season] but I don’t think that’s necessarily best for him. I want to see him play a year – I don’t know if Bennett will be back next year – but you want to see him play with Watson next year. You want to see him play with higher-skill guys and see how he adapts. He certainly has the size, he certainly has the smarts, he’s got the feet, he could play a role; he could play a bottom line role and not miss a beat, but I don’t know what the benefit would be from a personal development standpoint. I don’t know what the benefit would be from a financial standpoint because the contract loses a year. I think it’s best to let him play one more year at the very least. Let him play with higher skill guys, let him develop his puck skills. He’s got very soft hands, but sometimes he skates himself into trouble; I’d like to see him change that up a little bit. Who knows, he might get a 10-game audition and we’ll see, but I don’t think he’s necessarily ready for that level.

Craig Button (@CraigJButton) speaking about Lawson Crouse on The Pipeline Show:
You can’t help but like his skating ability, his willingness to gain advantages by using his size. He’s quick on players, he’s good below the circles in the offensive zone. He’s good along the boards, he’s good around the net. He’s a smart player, he’s very aware. I think he’s a really good penalty killer. I think you put all that together and you get yourself a real solid player. For me, it’s now so much what I don’t like about him or what I’d like to see more of him. I think the biggest key is always identifying what a player is. I’m not sure Lawson Crouse is anything more than a third-line winger. You’ve got to be able to make plays, you’ve got to be able to create offensive opportunities with the puck and skating with the puck, getting into position to finish a play. Those are all the things I’m looking for and, quite frankly, those are the things that, for me, that’s why I don’t have him in the top 10.

Lawson Crouse Stats

2013-14Kingston FrontenacsOHL631512276410|
Canada Ontario U17WHC-1752240|
Canada U18WJC-1871010-1|
2014-15Kingston FrontenacsOHL562922517010|Playoffs421318-7
Canada U20WJC-2071230-1

Lawson Crouse Video

Lawson Crouse – Shift by Shift:

Lawson Crouse – Highlights:

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