Teams That Could Challenge the Oilers for the Future of the NHL

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IFebruary 22, 2013

UNIONDALE, NY - JULY 16:  Ryan Strome #8 of the New York Islanders spaeks to the media following the Blue v White Game on July 16, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers are one of the most promising NHL franchises in terms of young star power, and with a few secondary moves this summer, they could be turned into a viable playoff contender.

However, the Oilers are not the only team that could be a future elite NHL team, and if they don't turn things around quickly other teams may overtake them for that honor.

With a roster boasting youngsters Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz and prospects in the system like Oscar Klefbom, there is so much potential going forward.

However, the Oilers need to watch their backs because there are teams that could look to steal the show in the coming years because of the talent of their roster and prospect pool.

Here are the top teams that could make a huge turnaround to become consistent NHL contenders.

Teams that are already talented, but boast a high-end prospect pool like the St.Louis Blues are excluded.


New York Islanders



The New York Islanders are going to be something special very soon, and they could really challenge the Oilers as the next big upstart team in the NHL. John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Travis Hamonic and Michael Grabner already stand out on the roster, but the best is yet to come.

Prospects like Calvin de Haan, Griffin Reinhart, Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome will be on the team in the coming years, and when you factor in the team's upcoming move to Brooklyn, attracting complementary pieces will no longer be a daunting task.


Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are off to a great start, but the best is arguably yet to come. Right now, the Ducks have top-end forwards like Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan on the roster, but they are set to lose some players, too.

While aging forwards like Selanne, Saku Koivu and others will leave the team in the coming years, there is a new wave of young players ready to step in.

Prospects like Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm will make the team stronger than they already are.

If Viktor Fasth can keep up his play and develop into a top goaltender, given the prospects set to join the roster


Minnesota Wild

The Wild made big moves over the summer, but their best days are ahead of them.

Minnesota has one of the deepest prospect pools, featuring stars like Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Zach Phillips, Jonas Brodin, Mathew Dumba, Johan Larsson and goaltending prospects Matt Hackett and Darcy Kuemper.

This is a group of very talented young players, many of which have elite potential. When you pair these rookies with established pros like Zach Parise, Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter, the team could be very dangerous very soon.


Detroit Red Wings

The current Detroit Red Wings are not the same team that dominated during the 1990s and part of the 2000s. Although the team has been a contender in the past, they are going to have to rebuild some of their roster to compensate for aging and the loss of players.

They have the potential to rebuild themselves with prospects and go from a bottom-seeded team into an elite Western Conference contender. They have the right goaltender in Jimmy Howard and top-end forwards in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but they fall short in other areas.

However, their prospect pool should really be able to help them re-emerge if all goes to plan. Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar and Calle Jarnkrok are considered the team's top prospects, and the Red Wings should be able to get another good draft pick in 2013 to add to this depth.


Florida Panthers



The Panthers have a very bright future because of their numerous prospects at different positions.

In addition to rookie sensation Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers also have forwards like Nick Bjugstad, Rocco Grimaldi, Drew Shore and Quinton Howden, defenders like Alex Petrovic and Mike Matheson and Jacob Markstrom in goal.

This balance of prospects combined with current young roster players like Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov will ultimately make Florida a very good playoff team.


1980s Rivalry Renewed?


While the Oilers still stand the best chance to remain successful, these teams really have some impressive star power. The future of the NHL is truly bright, and it will be very interesting to see how these talented prospects eventually transition to the NHL level.

Ryan Strome is probably the best prospect listed here who is not in the NHL, and his Islanders should pose the biggest threat to the Oilers going forward.