In this article, I give out my top-6 NHL prospects pools. There is no particular order to these teams, feel free to argue about which team ranks where.
The Wild are exceeding expectations this season, as they have finally become a contender. However, their main guys like Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu are all over the age of 30. It’s time to start building around their young talent.
Minnesota definitely has the assets. At the World Juniors we witnessed one of the most impressive crop of rookies one team had to offer. Kirill Kaprizov, a 5th round pick in 2015, was arguably the best player in the tournament, posting 12 points in seven games, which included a surreal nine goals. He wasn’t the only one; Joel Eriksson-Ek, Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway were all factors on their teams and gave everyone a taste of what Minnesota might truly become. Younger guys like Mike Reilly and Alex Tuch are also promising.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Even though the Lightning have been disappointing this season, big reason being the injury to Steven Stamkos, they have a stacked lineup. Players like Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman have really come into their own and are looking to lead the Lightning to the promise land in the near future.
That being said, the Lightning have piled up prospects under the radar and will remain a consistent threat for years to come. The Lightning had five players at the World Juniors, all five of them playing for Team Canada. As it stands, Taylor Raddysh is second in OHL scoring with 104 points, trailing Alex DeBrincat who is having a monster year. Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph and Mitchell Stephens are all guys who will play a specific role in Tampa Bay. They are great shutdown and energy players that will most likely play in the middle or bottom-6. With all that talent, it’s easy to forget Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevsky, who are currently playing for Tampa Bay.
The Carolina Hurricanes will be in the playoffs within the next three to five years.
How? Because they are adding defensive prospects to a core that is already growing nicely. Guys like Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin and Jaccob Slavin are already established and the Hurricanes will soon be throwing Jake Bean and Haydn Fleury into the mix. If goalie prospect Alex Nedeljkovic pans out, he could be the next guy to protect the cage. In addition, Carolina has great presence on the wings with Julien Gauthier and Sebastian Aho. Nicolas Roy is a strong center that could slot in nicely behind Victor Rask.
Over the last few seasons, the Flyers have been drafting smart. Once their bad contracts come off the books and their young guys make it to the show, Philadelphia will once again become a consistent playoff team.
Since 2012, the Flyers have drafted: Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, Travis Konecny and the list goes on. They also signed defenseman Philippe Myers to a contract a few years ago and it seemed to have motivated him, as he has been lights out for two consecutive seasons in the Q. The Flyers arguably have the best defensive pool in the league and could very well have the best goalie pool with the likes of Anthony Stolarz, Carter Hart, Alex Lyon and Felix Sandstrom. They also had an unearthly nine prospects at the 2016-2017 World Juniors. One player that not many know of is Oskar Lindblom, a 20-year-old Swede who tore up the SHL this season by putting numbers that hadn’t been seen in over 40 years by a player his age.
I would have ranked the Senators higher if they had not traded away the next Filip Forsberg, but they are here nonetheless.
Everyone was aware of Thomas Chabot’s presence for Team Canada at the Juniors, he put up what probably was the best performance by a defenseman in World Juniors history (10 points in seven games). He is without a doubt the next key piece to the Senators’ blue line and will be learning from one of the best in the game, Erik Karlsson. Now throw in a scoring threat like Colin White and a big body two-way center like Logan Brown and the Senators are looking ever so dangerous.
Despite a massive setback this season, the Arizona Coyotes have an amazing amount of prospects and will be looking to add another one at the upcoming draft.
Dylan Strome will be looking to make a statement at camp next season, as he was surprisingly sent back to his CHL team for the year, where he has posted 72 points in 32 games. Clayton Keller is another extremely talented player who will be looking to bring some ‘Patrick Kane’ with him to Arizona. The 7th overall pick likes to model his game after #88 and has shown nothing but excellence so far. The Coyotes already have a relatively young roster with Max Domi, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak, Lawson Crouse and Jakob Chychrun, but are still looking to add on.
Just missed: New-York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets.
BY BRANDON MURPHY – @2murphy8