Team Strength Rankings– 21 to 31 (May 2021)

Welcome to the Hockey Prospecting team prospect strength rankings!

Just like last year, the team strength approach we will be using at Hockey Prospecting is to use our own model, largely based on NHLe tracking over a five year period – from the pre-draft year (D-1) to the three years after the draft year (D+3). The draft year is the prospect’s first eligible draft year so players drafted in their first eligible year and overagers are all on the same level here.

Like last year, the rankings are updated at season’s end as well as immediately after the 2021 draft is complete.

We’ll look at each team’s system by:

  • The player was drafted from 2016 to 2020 or was eligible to be drafted in those years. For goalies, the cut off was dropped back to 2014 as goalies take a lot longer to develop than skaters.
  • The player could have been drafted by the team or they now own the player’s rights through signing or trading for the player
  • All ‘prospects’ will have played less than 100 games in the NHL. 

What we’ll analyze (five categories):

  • Average Star probability and NHLer probability of top 5 prospects (top prospects determined not by probabilities but consensus top 5 prospects that meet the parameters above. In certain markets where required, local trusted sources and experts (team staff, journalists, independent scouts, etc.) were enlisted to help determine the team’s top 5 prospects). This is a slight change in methodology from last year which determined top 5 by NHLer probability.
  • 10%+ Star Probability: The number of players with a Star probability of 10% or more. How many players in the system have at least a shot of being a Star?
  • 30%+ NHLer Probability: The number of players with a NHLer probability of 30% or more.  We chose 30% as a cut off as 3 of 10 will still make the NHL here. Below that, the odds get less and less and over half of prospects fit the 0% to 29% criteria.
  • Top Goalies NHLer Probabilities: The average NHLer probability of the top two goalies in the system (as ranked by NHLer probability).
  • Teams are ranked in each of the five categories above and then the average rank of the five categories determines the team’s overall ranking. This will give us a good sense of what each team has for grade A talent and how many players with a better than average shot at making the NHL does each team have in their system.

The full 31 rankings will be broken down over the coming days. However, if you’re a Hockey Prospecting member you can jump into the ‘Team Prospect Strength Tool’ and see the rankings right now.

Not a member yet? Become one now!

Now let’s have a look at the 21 to 31 ranked teams!

31. Pittburgh Penguins

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Samuel Poulin, Nathan Legare, Justin Almeida, Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Valtteri Puustinen

There’s very little in the Penguins system. Not surprising, given they’ve traded away a number of high picks and notable prospects of recent. The Penguins continue to be a good team that continually makes the playoffs but their core (Crosby, Malkin and Letang) are all in their mid-30’s. When the wheels start to fall off with this core, the rebuild in Pittsburgh could be very long and painful. I wonder what Hextall and Burke have in plan when that happens. Should be interesting!

30. Boston Bruins

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, John Beecher and Mason Lohrei

The Bruins crawled out of the last ranked prospect spot but only barely. Like the Penguins, the Bruins have very few, if any, notable prospects in the system. They have a few goalie prospects that have some potential (Swayman and Vladar) but their skater pool doesn’t appear to have many that will ever make the NHL in a notable capacity. Like the Penguins, the majority of their star core (Bergeron, Marchand and Krejci) is well into their thirties. Pastrnak and McAvoy are still right in their prime but will they have the horses to compete once the older stars start to fade and holding a bare prospect cupboard?

29. Washington Capitals

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre, Alexander Alexeyev, Aliaksei Protas and Martin Fehervary

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Daniel Sprong

The Capitals have a few nice pieces with some NHL potential (McMichael, Lapierre and Alexeyev, all recent first round picks) but overall the system is pretty shallow. As well, they don’t appear to have an impactful star coming up through their system. Ilya Samsonov is a very good bet to become a regular starter in the NHL, however, if he’s not already there.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Jack Finley, Cal Foote, Taylor Raddysh, Mikhail Shalagin and Quinn Schiemann

Not sure they care right now, as they’re winning and winning a lot and they just won the Stanley Cup in 2020, but the Lightning have one of the worst prospect systems in the NHL. No depth and one of the worst top 5 prospect groupings in the NHL. They do have two goalie prospects that are starting to show promise and are growing rapidly in Europe (Miftakhov and Alnefelt). Kucherov, Point, Sergachev, Cirelli and even Hedman and Stamkos still have some tread left on the tires. So while the prospect pool is bleak, the Lightning should be able to remain competitive for a few more years.

27. Buffalo Sabres

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Asplund, Jack Quinn, Ryan Johnson, Jacob Bryson

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju

Unbelievable really. No playoffs for a decade, a superstar center that might want out and a prospect cupboard that is nearly bone dry. A club that has been this bad for this long should either have a prospect cupboard that is absolutely loaded or be right on the cusp of being very, very good. The Sabres are neither of these things. They also have a recent tendency to take low value draft picks (more so than any other team). It’s never sunny in Buffalo.

26. St. Louis Blues

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Scott Perunovich, Jordan Kyrou, Jake Neighbours, Klim Kostin and Keean Washkurak

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2016): Robert Thomas

Perunovich, Kyrou and Neighbours are quality prospects that should make their way to the NHL or already are in the NHL. The Blues system lacks star potential and prospect depth, however. Their system ranks in the 20s across all five prospect ranking components.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Emil Bemstrom, Alexander Texier, Liam Foudy, Kirill Marchenko and Yegor Chinakhov

A few of the Blue Jackets best prospects have already made the NHL (Texier Bemstrom and Foudy is on the cusp). Marchenko is a nice prospect that is rapidly developing in Russia. His production is increasing greatly every year. He could be a big piece for Columbus in the future. Outside of the top 5, there’s nothing much to Columbus’ system. And outside of Marchenko, who still doesn’t have very high odds of doing so, there is no star potential to be found.

24. Arizona Coyotes

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Barrett Hayton, Victor Soderstrom, Jan Jenik, Matias Maccelli and Kyle Capobianco

All of Hayton, Soderstrom and Jenik showed great promise shortly after being drafted, putting up huge seasons (usually indicative of NHL success) in their respective leagues. However, all three, since hitting the Coyotes’ pro system, have fallen off dramatically. And there’s not a lot coming outside of their struggling top 5 prospects. As well, the team’s top pick from 2020 (Mitch Miller) had substantial and known character issues at the time of the draft. Some of those character/bullying issues have come to light and the team has, rightfully so, walked away from the player. The only real promising feature of the Coyotes system are their goalie prospects, which is strong with Adin Hill and Ivan Prosvetov.

23. Montreal Canadiens

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle, Alexander Romanov, Ryan Poehling and Jesse Ylonen

The Canadiens are a team that continues to show well below where they are ranked by most other outlets. Caufield is a great talent. He might be the first star the Canadiens have drafted and will have played for the Habs since P. K. Subban. Outside of Caufield, there’s little star potential. Romanov is an NHLer (early in his NHL career he appears to be a 4-6 dman that can drive play but generates very little offense), Guhle should get a chance but has similar upside to Romanov, Ylonen and Poehling might be on the cusp as well but don’t profile to be very impactful NHLers. The Habs have a system that has a lot of guys with at least some chance of making the NHL (30% or greater probability). This includes their top 5 but also several other prospects (Harris, Norlinder, Farrell, Struble). But, outside of Caufield, they lack the star impact makers that other notable systems have.

22. Winnipeg Jets

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Cole Perfetti, Dylan Samberg, Vinne Heinola, Kristian Vesalainen and David Gustafsson

Perfetti and Heinola provide good potential star pieces for the Jets and Holm and Berdin are nice goalie prospects. They have a few other pieces with potential as well. Their prospect pool still lacks depth outside of that. The Jets pool, to their credit however, has jumped up a few spots from where it was pre-draft last year. Their 2020 draft helped grow the pool. They need another few drafts like that in a row to grow it further.

21. Vegas Golden Knights

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Nicolas Hague, Cody Glass, Peyton Krebs, Brendan Brisson and Ivan Morozov

The Golden Knights find themselves with the 21st ranked system. They draft well, there’s a few simple and obvious reasons why they’re ranked so low. First, they’ve only existed since the 2017 draft so their draft pool only goes back to 2017 (other teams go back to 2016). Second, they have drafted well since their inception but they’ve traded away their two biggest pieces (Brännström and Suzuki) to acquire Stone and Pacioretty. While it’s early and hard to tell at this point, the Knights seem to do just fine at the drafting table, even above average. If they can continue to have strong drafts and are done trading away their big pieces, they’ll easily grow their position in these rankings.

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