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NHL Organizational Rankings for Top Prospect Systems

Billy SmithCorrespondent IIIJune 16, 2011

NHL Organizational Rankings for Top Prospect Systems

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    The NHL draft is coming up soon. Before we see how each team will improve their future team, let's take a look at where each team ranks by prospects right now. This list was based on how each team's top few prospects rank against each other and what teams have the most talent at the prospect level.

    Also, I will include not only explanations for the position of each team, but I will also include three top prospects from each team's system.

    So, with that said, let's take a look at which teams rank where in the league.

30. Calgary Flames

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    The Flames have suffered bad draft years in the past few seasons. They also have traded away a few picks that have hurt this teams chances of building. The Flames don't have any top prospects in their organization, and they really need to improve with the upcoming drafts. Look for the Flames to start building up young prospects and rebuild their system.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Greg Nemisz, RW

    2. T.J. Brodie, D

    3. Ryan Howes, LW

29. Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Flyers are a successful team at the NHL level, but they don't have great talent at the prospect level. The Fylers have had a few late picks, and it has kept them from gathering talent. Philadelphia has also gained a lot of veteran talent and made a few trades. The Flyers let top prospect, goalie Joacim Eriksson, reenter this years draft. It shouldn't make a big difference for this talented team, but the Flyers will need to improve over the next few years in drafting.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Erik Gustafsson, D

    2. Eric Wellwood, LW

    3. Brendan Ranford, LW

28. Atlanta/Winnepeg Trashers

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    Maybe a move from Atlanta can give them a good start. Some players in their system have shown some improvement, but most have shown nothing at all. They have some talent, but most of their players have underperformed. This team is still young, and they still have a chance at collecting some good prospects in the upcoming drafts. With the seventh overall pick in the draft in 2011, the Thrashers can add a good player with some talent to try and rebuild their system.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Patrice Cormier, C

    2. Carl Klingberg, LW

    3. Spencer Machacek, RW

27. Vancouver Canucks

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    The Canucks don't have much talent in their system. It doesn't affect them though because they have a lot of talent at the NHL level. But this system only has a few decent prospects. The Canucks don't have many guys that are surefire players in the NHL.

    The system lacks depth at a few positions, especially in goal (which the Canucks shouldn't worry about because of Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider in the NHL). Still, this system does have its bright spots maybe a few future top line NHLers if they reach their full potential.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Cody Hodgson, C

    2. Jordan Schroeder, C

    3. Anton Rodin, RW

26. San Jose Sharks

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    The Sharks system isn't too bad, but it isn't great either. The Sharks did have guys like Logan Couture and Jason Demers in their system but know that they are playing on the Sharks. The system has gotten worse. The Sharks have a few good goalie prospects that do have NHL potential, but only time will tell when they will play. 

    San Jose doesn't have many projected top line players. The player depth is average at best. They do however have a very good prospect named Charlie Coyle who has a lot of potential. Other than him, there is not much more.  But with the talent that the Sharks have at the NHL level, they shouldn't have to worry too much.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Charlie Coyle, RW

    2. Taylor DoHerty, D

    3. Nick Petrecki, D

25. Boston Bruins

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    The Bruins have some talent at the AHL level and CHL level. The problem is it's not much. The Bruins have a lot of depth at all positions, but the guys there don't have the same kind of talent or potential that other teams may have. They have little top-end talent, and this does put Boston in a bad place.

    They did get lucky with a pick that came from Toronto last year when they took Tyler Seguin second overall. Their defensive prospects are probably the weakest in their system so that is something that they will need to improve.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Ryan Spooner, C

    2. Max Sauve, C

    3. Jared Knight, RW

24. Minnesota Wild

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    The Minnesota Wild have had better drafts in the past few years. They're probably a couple years away from developing solid talent, but it is a good start. There are a lot of guys that are making an impact in other leagues and could make an impact in the NHL. 

    One of them is Minnesota's top prospect Mikael Granlund which is a good sign when your top prospect is playing well and improving every year. While the Wild have good talent, they really only have one top-end prospect in Granlund. There's some talent here, but the Minnesota Wild can improve.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Mikael Granlund, C

    2. Marco Scandella, D

    3. Matt Hackett, G

23. Colorado Avalanche

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    The Colorado Avalanche have a lack of depth at the forward position, mostly the wingers. There isn't a lot of talent there which is something they should think about in the upcoming draft. All of the wingers project as third and fourth line players and don't have much potential. They also don't have a player that projects as a high scorer at the NHL level.

    One strength for them is their blue line. Most of the Avalanche's young defensemen aren't far from the NHL level and could see action soon. Overall, the Avs organization needs to build up their system. They need some more offensive depth and need to get guys that can play at this level.

     Top Three Prospects:

    1. Joey Hishon, C

    2. Stefan Elliott, D

    3. Calvin Pickard, G

22. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    The Penguins have a lot of talent at the forward position. They also have a few physical defensemen that could be good NHLers and could compete for starting jobs soon. The Pens also have a few goaltending prospects that are solid.

    One weakness of the system is a power-play quarterback. They lack a deep-prospect system and also don't have much depth at all positions. They do however have talent which is the most important thing.

    1. Simon Despres, D

    2. Eric Tangradi, LW

    3. Beau Bennett, RW

21. Washington Capitals

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    The Capitals have a lot of depth at the forward spot. The Caps have talent and potential that is developing well. Washington also has a mix of offensive-defensemen and defensive-defensmen in their system. They also have a few good goalies in their system. While there is talent, it's limited.

    The Caps do have their promising prospects, but they don't have the depth of maybe two good prospects at every position. Most of the players have limited potential and won't develop into nothing more then a bottom line player.

    1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, RW

    2. Branden Holtby, G

    3. Dmitri Orlov, D

20. Phoenix Coyores

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    The Coyotes have one of the best defensive system in hockey. This is the system that produced defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson who played this year and should be a good defenseman. Now, Phoenix has a top defensive prospect again in Brandon Gormley.

    The Coyotes have a very deep defensive system and a few possible top defensemen. The goaltending is also deep and solid with most goalie prospects showing signs of improvement. The main weakness for this team is the lack of depth in forwards. They lack a projected top player and need some help at the wing positions.

    Top Two Prospects:

    1. Brandon Gormley, D

    2. Chris Summers, D

    3. Chris Brown, LW

19. Dallas Stars

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    The Dallas Stars system is showing signs of developing. The Stars have one of the best goalie prospects in hockey in Jack Campbell and also have a solid group of wingers. Once again like other teams on this list, the Dallas Stars lack depth of talent up front and on the blue line. They need to improve more. Also, there is a lack of depth at the goaltending spot which could go against the Stars in Campbell can't come through.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Jack Campbell, G

    2. Philip Larsen, D

    3. Scott Glennie, RW

18. Ottawa Senators

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    The Sens have some defensive talent in their system. They have a few guys that project to be top line players and also they have a lot of potential. Ottawa has a couple of forwards that can soon compete for NHL jobs. The problem with this system is that it lacks goalie and forward depth. The forwards that do project well aren't at a top prospect level. Still, this team's system can improve with some more development and in future drafts.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. David Rundblad, D

    2. Jared Cowen, D

    3. Robin Lehner, G

17. Montreal Canadiena

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    Montreal has very good depth at forward and defense. A few guys have come up when needed and played very well. The players in the system have been developing well. The Canadiens have a few projected NHLers and aren't hurting for top prospects. But they can improve.

    It's not a need of Montreal, but their goaltending lacks depth. They could also use a skilled top six forward that could step into the NHL and perform. This is the system that produces a good defenseman in P.K. Subban so it's not like they never have anything. It's just that the system could improve in the future.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Louis Leblanc, C

    2. Danny Kristo, RW

    3. Yannick Weber, D

16. New Jersey Devils

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    The Devils have added a few good scoring prospects in the past few years. Also, the Devils have improved their blue line. The Devils do have some depth at the forward spot, but most are just potential third line players. Also, considering the age of current goalie Martin Broudeur, the Devils don't have a potential replacement for him and might have to search the free-agent market in a few seasons. New Jersey does have depth at the forward spot, but they lack talent.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Tyler Eckford, D

    2. Jeff Frazee, G

    3. Dan Kelly, D

15. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning have enjoyed a couple of good drafts in the past couple years. Last year, they drafted an elite center in Brett Connolly. The Lightning also also have good secondary scorers on their team which is great to see for this team. If some of these guys come up, the Lightning could add to an already talented Lightning team led by Steven Stamkos.

    Also, Tampa has some nice defensemen in their system that are skilled. Most of the top prospects for the team are still a few years away. Also, some of the defensemen, which is a need for Tampa, are a couple years away from seeing NHL action.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Brett Connolly, C

    2. Carter Ashton, RW

    3. Richard Panik, LW

14. Buffalo Sabers

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    The Sabers have a lot of talent coming up, most of which are NHL-ready. The Sabers are very lucky for this because this is not always seen from young players. While a lot of these players are physically ready, they still need to improve some just like any other young player. Buffalo also has some talent on the blue line which could really help the Sabers out. Also, the Sabers have a good goalie prospect that has some NHL experience that could come in full time soon.

    The only problem with the team is that they don't have a pure goal scorer. Also, a lack of playmaking-type players could hurt this team as the guys that can score won't have anyone else to dish the puck to them. The Sabers are also thin down the middle at center.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Zack Kassian, RW

    2. Jhonas Enroth, G

    3. Drew Schiestel, D

13. Detroit Red Wings

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    The Red Wings have 15 centers in their system. About eight of them have first or second line potential. The Red Wings have a lot of depth at forward and defense. Some of the players in this system have top player potential and could be playing in the NHL soon.

    The future looks bright for the already talented Red Wings.The Red Wings have little negatives, but if one had to be chosen, it would be the depth on the wing. As I stated before, the Red Wings have 15 centers in their system. Also, they don't have good goaltending depth.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Brendan Smith, D

    2. Tomas Tater, C

    3. Teemu Pulkkinen, LW

12. Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Hurricanes system overall is strong at all positions. Carolina has a good group of top forwards and defensemen. The Hurricanes have a good mix of defensemen and forwards and could help out at the NHL level.There are a few negatives about the system though.

    The Hurricanes lack an elite player. Adding one would make this system very good and maybe let it crack the top 10. Also, most of the wingers are small and. Also, there are really no great goaltending prospects.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Zac Dalpe, C

    2. Justin Faulk, D

    3. Brian Dumoulin, D

11. Edmonton Oilers

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    The Oilers system is very good. Very good depth can be seen throughout the system. The Oilers produced guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Devan Dubnyk. Even though these players are in the NHL, the system has seen no effect from it. Both the offensive and defensive side of the puck has good players.

    One effect of prospects moving up into the NHL is that it leaves the Oilers in need of top talent. Also there is lack of depth in the goaltending department. The Oilers could also use an elite center, which they could land in the upcoming draft with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Tyler Pitlick, C

    2. Curtis Hamilton, LW

    3. Martin Marincin, D

10. Chicago Blackhawks

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    The past few draft years have been great for the Blackhawks. They have depth at both the forward and defensive spots. The Blackhawks have big wingers that can help out in the NHL. Also a few large defensemen could be a good addition to Chicago. Chicago have a couple of power forwards that have been developing well in the system.

    Only really one negative about the Blackhawks system, and it's not huge. The goaltending has no depth, but with Corey Crawford in the NHL and quickly making a name for himself in the NHL, it shouldn't be a problem.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Dylan Olsen, D

    2. Jeremy Morin, LW

    3. Kyle Beach, LW

9. Anaheim Ducks

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    The Ducks have a lot of talented forwards in their system. They have a good mix of power forwards and playmakers. The Ducks also have a good core of defensive talent. Anaheim has a good mix of defensive and offensive defensemen.

    The Ducks have a few players that could step into the NHL in a few years which is good for an aging team. Only negative here is the lack of size on the blue line for the Ducks. Most of the defensemen are small. Also, the goaltending depth is also lacking.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Emerson Etem, RW

    2. Peter Holland, C

    3. Justin Schultz

8. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    All around, the Maple Leafs are solid. Every position has some kind of higher-end talent. They have depth at all positions which will help in the future. Most of the top prospects should have great strides in improving their all-around game. A few of these guys could enjoy solid NHL careers.

    While the Leafs do have good talent, their only negative is a top prospect, which will be hard to add this season because the Leafs hold the 28th draft pick (via trade with Bruins). If Toronto can add a good goal scorer, their system could possibly be top five. material.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Joe Colborne, C

    2. Jake Gardiner, D

    3. Luca Caputi, LW

7. New York Rangers

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    The Rangers have great prospects at forward that are developing very well. The Rangers have drafted and traded for a few good prospects in the past few years. Most guys are projected second and third line players with some having a higher upside. The Rangers traded for top prospect Tim Erixon a few weeks ago, and he should be able to make an impact at the NHL level soon.

    Hard to find a negative in the organization, but the only one is they have no goaltending. No problem. The Rangers have an All-Star goalie in Henrik Lundqvist who will be starting for a very long time.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Tim Erixon, D

    2. Ryan McDonagh, D

    3. Chris Kreider, LW

6. St. Louis Blues

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    The Blues have some top talent in the forward position. St. Louis's prospects are all developing well and quickly and could see time in the NHL very soon. The Blues also have a couple of good goaltending prospects in the system. They could also be good NHL-caliber goalies in the near future.

    The Blues system has good prospects throughout the entire system. Only weakness for this team is the lack of an elite defenseman. But, one needs to remember this is the organization that had Alex Pietrangelo in their system.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW

    2. Jaden Schwartz, C

    3. Ben Bishop, G

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Blue Jackets are loaded in defensive prospects. They have 15 defensemen in their system. It seems to be working well for Columbus as all of the defensemen have been progressing well. On the offensive side, the Blue Jackets have good talent. They have their first-round pick from last year, Ryan Johansen, who is one of hockey's top prospects.

    A few other prospects are also developing well, and some are doing better then expected. The Blue jackets could add some more depth at the forward position and also the goaltending is a bit of a question mark. Other then that, this system is solid.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Ryan Johansen, C

    2. Nikita Filatov, LW

    3. John Moore, D

4. Nashville Predators

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    The Predators have a great system with a variety of players that can play in different spots. Nashville has great depth at the forward spot, and they have a lot of talent. On the blue line, the Predators are deep and have great talent. Even at the goaltending spot, the team is solid. This organization has great talent throughout. The only weakness of the organization is that they lack a top forward prospect which could make this team a very good one.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Jonathon Blum, D

    2. Ryan Ellis, D

    3. Taylor Beck, LW

3. New York Islanders

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    The New York Islanders are a team that is on the rise. This is due in large part to their great system. It's amazing that a lot of the young talent start quickly for the Isles in the NHL, but their system remains deep with talent. The Islanders have great talent at all positions. The Islanders have drafted great in the past few seasons, and it shows now in their organization.

    Lucky for the Islanders, they have the fifth pick this year in the 2011 NHL draft and could add another elite prospect. Something that could turn out great is the goaltending prospects. With the question mark over current goalie Rick DiPietro, the Islanders are loaded with good goalie prospects that have seen some NHL time. One weakness is the defense which could use an elite player.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Nino Niederreiter, LW

    2. Calvin de Haan, D

    3. Kirill Petrov, RW

2. Florida Panthers

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    It's not easy finding negatives in the Panthers organization. Florida has some elite talent in their system who are developing well. The Panthers have a lot of first and second line talent who could step into the NHL soon.

    There are a few defensive prospects as well that are looking good at lower levels and have great potential. As I said before, it is hard to find any negatives in this system. If I had to choose one, it would be the lack of an elite scorer. Other then that, this system is one of the best.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Erik Gudbranson, D

    2. Jacob Markstrom, G

    3. Colby Robak, D

1. Los Angeles Kings

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    The Kings system is no doubt the best in the league. The Kings have a great blue line along with a deep forward system. The Kings have a few top-end prospects that could soon be in the NHL.. Some others are still developing but are developing very well. The Kings have a few top six line prospects which should add the talent at the NHL level.

    The Kings have been working on the wing position over the past couple years. It is lacking depth, and that is really the only weakness. All around, the Kings no doubt have the best prospect system in the entire NHL.

    Top Three Prospects:

    1. Brayden Schenn, D

    2. Tyler Toffoli, RW

    3. Derek Forbort, D

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