Welcome back to the Hockey Prospecting Team Strength Rankings. Time to breakdown teams 11 through 20!
If you missed the 21 to 31 ranked teams, click here: 21 to 31 ranked teams
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20. New York Islanders
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Anatoly Golyshev, Kieffer Bellows and Simon Holmstrom
The Islanders, under the radar, have been a pretty good drafting team over the past 10 to 20 years. They often find themselves keying in on the gems that Hockey Prospecting picks up on at the draft. The players that aren’t in the lottery conversation but show very well and have really high probabilities. But, whether its their system, bad luck or the players themselves, of recent, they’ve had trouble converting those players into impactful NHLers (Ho-Sang, Dal Colle, Bellows and Vande Sompel come to mind). As well, since Lou Lamouriello has taken over, they’ve changed their drafting strategy. They’ve started going for players who are likely more regarded as ‘defense-first’ players but many of these have players have long odds of making the NHL. Add it all up, and this prospect system is starting to take a turn for the worst. Ilya Sorokin is an absolute stud though. One of the best NHLer goalie probabilities in the entire Hockey Prospecting database. In his back-up role in his first year in the NHL, he won 63% of his starts. Sorokin is the real deal. He should play well over 200 games in the NHL!
19. Colorado Avalanche
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Alex Newhook, Bowen Byram, Martin Kaut, Conor Timmins and Justin Barron
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Cale Makar
Makar no longer counts here as he’s crossed over 100 games, that’s a big omission as he’s already one of the best defensemen in the NHL. The Avalanche have a good top 5 pool but not a great one. Newhook and Byram could be monsters. Huge impact producers. But right now, they don’t look the part in the model. But there’s still time to grow there. Kaut can’t seem to impress enough in the AHL to get into the NHL quite yet. Their overall prospect pool is good as well but again not great. It’s not one of those multiple stud pools that we’ll see from some of the top ranked pools. But the Avalanche are just hitting their groove. They’re one of the best teams in the NHL and their star core (MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Makar and Girard) is really young. If they can can continue to add some pieces to their prospect pool, ideally high star likelihood pieces, while remaining a big contender, they could remain competitive for a decade or more.
18. Florida Panthers
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Aleksi Heponiemi, Owen Tippett, Anton Lundell, Justin Sourdif and Grigori Denisenko
The Panthers have a lot of players that should make the NHL, especially in their top 5. Tippett has already established himself as a regular. Lundell will be there in a few years. Denisenko, who’s probability has really fallen off since he was drafted, will still get his chance. Heponiemi I’ve been waiting for to make the jump. He’s starting to get long in the tooth, if he’s going to make the jump it’ll have to be soon. In terms of players, with some chance of making it they have more than the average team. But their top 5 lags behind the top teams, in terms of star probability. In terms of their goalies, Spencer Knight, 2019 1st round goalie selection, is growing into an NHLer and might get his shot next year but isn’t a no-brainer to be an NHLer. And their other goalie prospects are nothing to write home about.
17. Dallas Stars
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Thomas Harley, Jason Robertson, Ty Dellandrea, Riley Damiani and Mavrik Bourque
The Stars system is one that is starting to grow. Last year they were ranked in the mid 20’s and with some solid growth from a few notable prospects they’ve jumped up to the 17th spot. Thomas Harley, Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger are the driving forces. Harley had a big year in his first year in the AHL (a year earlier than usual because of COVID, as he was still young enough that if he hadn’t made the Stars out of camp he would have been sent back to the OHL). His development curve looks very similar to PK Subban, and there’s not a big list of players that have this same curve. Oettinger has been growing the past through years, from the NCAA to the AHL and now to the AHL. He looks to be an NHL starter going forward. Jason Robertson, a player I loved at the 2017 draft, looks good in the model but never hit the high watermarks that are typical of a star. However, his immediate success in the NHL suggests that he might beat the low odds and end up a star. Damiani also had a monster rookie year in the AHL and could be a very good, not star, piece going forward. Beyond their top 5, Dallas doesn’t have much so they will need to continue to add to the depth of their system.
16. Vancouver Canucks
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Nils Hoglander, Vasili Podkolzin, Olli Juolevi, Jack Rathbone and Kole Lind
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Quinn Hughes
Quinn Hughes no-longer counts here as he’s crossed over 100 games and is a full-time NHLer. He is a big loss from the Canucks system and was a driving force of that system and their top 5. The Canucks are average across the board. They have an average top 5, both in NHLer probability and star probability. Juolevi profiles like a star but having played less than 30 NHL game and being drafted five years ago doesn’t bode well that he’s going to hit it. Hoglander and Podkolzin could be very useful middle six wingers. Perhaps possession drivers. But there’s little chance they’re stars (based on how Hockey Prospecting qualifies stars). Both have less than a 5% chance of becoming stars.
15. Calgary Flames
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Juuso Valimaki, Matthew Phillips, Connor Zary, Ryan Francis and Jakob Pelletier
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Dillon Dubé and Oliver Kylington
If you remember, after the 2020 draft the Flames had the 7th best system here. I really liked what they did at the 2020 draft and, fast-forward to today, I still liked what they did at the draft. However, if you’ll also recall back to last year, I mentioned I liked the Flames’ system but it’s at risk of falling back because many of their big prospects will be graduating to the NHL. Dubé no longer counts. Kylington also doesn’t count because he was drafted in 2015 (and is sitting at 95 games). That’s the reason they’ve fallen back eight spots. A few big pieces graduated. Valimaki will do so early next year as well. If Calgary is hoping to retool on the fly rather than go into a full rebuild, they’ll need to have another strong draft and stock the cupboards a bit more or they will continue to fall back.
14. Nashville Predators
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Philip Tomasino, Luke Evangelista, Eeli Tolvanen, David Farrance and Egor Afanasyev
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Dante Fabbro
The Predators system is pretty average but has a decent amount of star potential throughout the pool. Tomasino is leading the charge, putting up huge (rare) numbers in his first year in the AHL (and he was in the AHL a year earlier than he should have been because of COVID-19 wiping out the OHL season). Tolvanen is really starting to come on now. He had an unbelievably productive season in the KHL right after he was drafted in 2017. Players who put up points like that that early in the KHL almost always make the NHL and are really productive. It took a Tolvanen a bit and he had some growing pains in the AHL, but you can see the talent and the shot starting to shine now. They also have the best goalie prospect not currently playing in the NHL in their system in Askarov. This guy is only three years into the seven year track that we follow for goalies with the Hockey Prospecting model, and he already looks like a shoe-in to play 200 games in the NHL, which is rare, if not unheard of.
13. Carolina Hurricanes
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Jake Bean, Jack Drury, Seth Jarvis, Ryan Suzuki and Dominik Bokk
The Hurricanes have an above average pool. The strongest part of their pool is they have a lot of potential NHLers in it. They have the second most players with some semblance of NHLer likelihood. The list includes the top 5 but also players like Pashin, Nikishin, Fensore, Honka, Keane, Rees, Nybeck, Geekie and Gunler. Carolina has been growing this aspect of their pool the last few years (it appears to be in a very deliberate fashion … HELLOOOO TULSKY!). They have a lot of players with high star probabilities, however. Jarvis was a great get from the 2020 draft as he does have the star potential. Interestingly, after a massive DY he didn’t have an overly productive year in his D+1 in the shortened WHL season. However, he played nine games in the AHL and was on fire. Could just be boredom with the WHL after tasting the pros. Could also be going up against Dustin Wolf every 2nd or 3rd game in the strange COVID-19 American WHL division. Ryan Suzuki has also fallen off a bit since he was drafted and his production isn’t evolving like you might expect from a highly regarded 1st round pick like Suzuki. Overall, it’s a solid prospect pool and one that I see growing and improving over the coming years.
12. Edmonton Oilers
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, Ryan McLeod, Dylan Holloway and Tyler Tullio
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Kailer Yamamoto
Edmonton has an outstanding looking D prospect in Evan Bouchard, who currently has a star probability of ~90%. In the next year, I’m confident he’s going to take over the 1st powerplay unit and turn into a big piece for Edmonton (surprised this hasn’t happened already). They also have an outstanding goalie prospect in Ilya Konovalov. He has similar numbers as Sorokin, Shesterkin and Vasilevskiy and should turn into something special for the Oilers. Outside of those players, they have a pretty average prospect pool. McLeod appears to be an NHLer. Holloway is really coming on. Tullio looks good, especially for a guy selected in the 5th round in 2020. They should have some NHLers in the system but likely no other stars outside of Bouchard. Bouchard and Konovalov really prop up the system.
11. Detroit Red Wings
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Filip Zadina, Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, Jonatan Berggren and Joe Veleno
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Michael Rasmussen
The Red Wings have a system with a lot of guys with some star potential and some NHLer potential. They rank 5th and 6th in these respective categories. However, their top 5 specifically, which is a young top 5 and still growing, don’t show like definite stars or NHLers. The Red Wings haven’t drafted a star since they drafted Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg. We’re going back over 20 years. You’d hope that a team that’s been rebuilding like the Red Wings the last few years has a star currently in their system but do they? They have a couple good candidates to do so, namely Seider and Berggren, but nothing that looks like a near guarantee. The Wings have lots of guys in the system that will make the NHL. Now they need to add the impactful stars to really turn the corner.