Welcome back to the Hockey Prospecting Team Strength Rankings. Time to breakdown teams 11 through 21!
If you missed the 22 to 32 ranked teams, click here: 22 to 32 Ranked Teams
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21. Vegas Golden Knights
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Pavel Dorofeyev, Lukas Cormier, Daniil Chayka, Brendan Brisson and Ivan Morozov
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2017): Nicolas Hague
The Golden Knights prospect system hasn’t been around for long (only 5 drafts). They’ve drafted some nice pieces during that time but have traded away numerous pieces to acquire players. For the last four years, the Knights have traded away at least one notable prospect to bring in a notable player via trade (Suzuki, Brannstrom, Krebs and Glass). The system still has a few pieces of interest (Brisson, Cormier, Morozov, Dorofeyev, Chayka). But across all rankings factored in here, the Knights are middle of the road or below average in all of them. And with a want to be a contender, which leads to continual trading of key assets, the Knights may hold a similar prospect pool ranking for years to come. Using good prospects to acquire established NHLers isn’t a bad strategy but maybe not something you should employ every few months!
20. Winnipeg Jets
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Cole Perfetti, Ville Heinola, Dylan Samberg, David Gustafsson and Chaz Lucius
The Jets pool is average right across the board. It has average depth and an average top 5. Their goalie prospects (namely Berdin and Holm) show some promise and as a result they rank in the top 10 in terms of likelihood to have an NHL goalie in the system.
Cole Perfetti, who had his season shortened due to injuries, shows really nicely and is still a near 50/50 shot to turn into a star (a big jump next year will be required to keep that momentum however). Heinola is another player that has some potential to be an elite producer. Lucius was another player that I was high on at the 2021 draft. His freshman year in college, however, didn’t provide a big jump forward. Hopefully he can take significant steps over the next couple years and turn into a significant prospect for the Jets as well.
19. Colorado Avalanche
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Alex Newhook, Bowen Byram, Sean Behrens, Martin Kaut and Oskar Olausson
The Avalanche have three very notable prospects, by the Hockey Prospecting model as well as eye test: Byram, Behrens and Newhook. Newhook doesn’t look like he’ll be a star but the Avs probably don’t need anymore of them anyways. Should be a very good driving player for the Avs for years. Byram, although having early concussion issues, shows excellent. His production is already at an elite level for a dman of his age. But can he stay healthy? Behrens, just drafted in 2021, is a rising product of the NCAA. Probably another 1-2 years before you see him in Avs uniform but he is also seeing early and significant growth in his production, which is a good sign.
Those three along are the driving force in the Avs’ top 5 prospects and give them a pretty good ranking within the top 5 metrics (they rank 9th in top 5 star potential and 11th in top 5 NHLer potential). Beyond those three, the prospect pool really drops off for the Avs and doesn’t have much depth to it (they rank in the 20s by both depth ranking metrics).
As the Avs turn into a bonafide Cup contender the prospect pool likely gets weaker and weaker and within a few years will look like the wastelands that are the Tampa, Boston and Pittsburgh systems.
18. New York Rangers
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Brenan Othmann, Braden Schneider, Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones and Vitali Kravtsov
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games (50 NHL games for goalies)/drafted prior to 2017): Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafrenière, K’Andre Miller, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev
Typo? Not a typo. Similar to the Senators, many of the Rangers big pieces (Kakko, Lafrenière, Miller and Shesterkin) don’t count as prospects anymore which significantly impacts their rankings. Although they don’t count anymore, Lafrenière and Kakko have not hit like they were expected to. Kakko I would be very surprised if he ever turns into a star at this point (his probability is after his full track is at 3%) and time is running out for Lafrenière (most stars/superstars who make it the NHL right away have had significant production years by now).
The Rangers still have good depth in their prospects (as they have 4 skaters with some star potential and 11 with NHLer potential) but it now lacks the skaters with the massive star potential. They should have gotten these stars with Lafrenière and Kakko but it’s not trending that way. Some may look at Othmann’s 50 goal season in the OHL in his D+1 and think he could be that piece but the overall production wasn’t elite enough, and coupled with the age in his D+1 season, he doesn’t have the prototypical look of a star but there’s still time there to grow the probability.
17. Arizona Coyotes
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Dylan Guenther, Barrett Hayton, Jan Jenik, Victor Soderstrom and Matias Maccelli
The Coyotes are loaded up and ready for this upcoming draft, holding 10 picks (thanks PuckPedia.com!), one of those picks being 3rd overall. They’re going to need those picks to start to build this system into something. As of right now, it’s a very average system across the board. They rank in the mid teens across almost every metric. The top 5 has some good NHL potential, as 4 or 5 of them should make the NHL. Dylan Guenther is their star piece in the system (58% star probability as of today).
The 2022 draft has some elite talent, especially at the top end. The Coyotes have three first round picks and this is their moment to build the franchise for the next decade. Expect their prospect strength ranking to increase substantially after the draft. If it doesn’t, they will have really dropped the ball at this draft.
16. Florida Panthers
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Anton Lundell, Mackie Samoskevich, Justin Sourdif, Grigori Denisenko and Michael Benning
The Panthers, who won the President’s Trophy in 2021-22, have a decent prospect pool that can keep their window open for longer. Lundell is their big piece. He’s already made the NHL and seems to be on the verge of turning into a star in the next few years. Michael Benning, 2020 3rd round pick, is a bit under the radar but is having some big production spikes in NCAA with Denver, often a sign of a late rounder that finds his way into the NHL. Spencer Knight is also a growing goalie prospect in their system. He’s already getting substantial starts in the NHL and could become Florida’s starter in the next few years. The depth of the system is also decent for a contending team. However, the pool will start to drop as players like Lundell become NHLers and high picks are traded away to go for it (their 1st rounders for 2023 and 2024 are already gone in the Chiarot and Giroux trades).
15. Carolina Hurricanes
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Seth Jarvis, Scott Morrow, Ryan Suzuki, Jack Drury and Vasily Ponomaryov
The Hurricanes system continues on as it has the last few years. The top 5 has some nice pieces but no massive star potential yet (Jarvis, however, looked great at the draft and had a nice rookie season. His star probability isn’t big right now, surprisingly, but I could see him breaking through). Hockey Prospecting can see some potential in Scott Morrow as well. Conversely, the Hurricanes system is the 2nd most likely system to have a goalie in it (and it will come from Pyotr Kochetkov… who is already making starts in the playoffs after coming over from Russia after the KHL season ended… Kochetkov is a tremendous goalie prospect).
The other strength of the Hurricanes system is depth. Every year they add good bets to the system (players that have a good to great probability of making the NHL). They won’t all make it but the more good bets, the more chance you’ll get NHLers. The Hurricanes have 21 skater prospects in their system with a 30% or greater chance of making the NHL, more than any other team except the Canadiens, who they are tied with.
14. San Jose Sharks
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Ryan Merkley, William Eklund, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Brandon Coe and Thomas Bordeleau
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games (50 NHL games for goalies)/drafted prior to 2017): Adin Hill
The Sharks system was ranked 5th last year and now are ranked 15th, so what changed? The big change is the goalies, where they ranked #1 last year. Adin Hill doesn’t count anymore as he’s passed 50 games. And Melnichuk, another promising looking prospect by the model, was traded to Tampa at the deadline. They don’t really have a substantial goalie in the pipelines now. The depth of the system is still terrific (they have 15 prospects in the system that have some chance of making the NHL which ranks them 7th). The top 5 still needs another star piece in it to really pop and Eklund hasn’t taken the big step forward yet I would have expected for him to emerge as a near sure thing star prospect. The Sharks will have another decent draft slot in the 2022 draft to continue to add to the pool.
13. Dallas Stars
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Wyatt Johnston, Logan Stankoven, Ty Dellandrea, Mavrik Bourque and Thomas Harley
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games (50 NHL games for goalies)/drafted prior to 2017): Jake Oettinger
The Stars system is a nice growing system, increasing in strength every year, with every draft. The Stars took a bit of a risk with their top 2 picks in 2021, taking Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven who essentially didn’t play in their draft year becase of COVID. The gamble paid off. Johnston and Stankoven, playing in their respective OHL and WHL leagues in their D+1, had some of the highest D+1 equivalencies of the entire 2021 class and look like A caliber prospects. The system also has decent depth to it.
Jake Oettinger doesn’t count anymore in the system as he’s played too many games and is well on his way to becoming an NHLer (who apparently stops everything and anything). If he still counted, the Stars would be a top 10 prospect system. The goalie prospect pool is lackluster now but they probably don’t need a substantial goalie prospect for another few years now anyways.
I like what the Stars are doing, how they’re adding to their pool while remaining competitive. They’ve got the goalie piece in Oettinger. And as stars like Benn, Radulov and Seguin fade, they added a fresh batch of stars in Heiskanen, Robertson and Hintz recently and have a couple more star contenders in Harley, Johnston and Stankoven. I could see this team staying in the playoff picture for years while having a prospect pool that provides the luxury of not needing to pursue a teardown rebuild in the next few years.
12. Buffalo Sabres
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Owen Power, Jack Quinn, John Peterka, Peyton Krebs and Mattias Samuelsson
Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games (50 NHL games for goalies)/drafted prior to 2017): Dylan Cozens and Rasmus Dahlin
After years of stagnation, the Buffalo Sabres prospect system is making a turn for the better. Their top 5 pool, featuring Owen Power, Jack Quinn, John Peterka, Peyton Krebs and Mattias Samuelson (who has emerged as a possible d partner for Dahlin), has seen substantial growth over the past year. Power and Quinn, who admittedly I was less high on than other elite prospects on the board when they were taken, have seen massive spikes in production in their D+1 and D+2 years, respectively. Quinn just completed one of the best D+2 AHL seasons we’ve seen from a forward in the past 30 years. Power has seen in his star probability increase to 37% with his D+1 season. Peterka as well is seeing big jumps in productivity since being drafted. Adding Krebs from the Jack Eichel trade adds another terrific asset. Perhaps not much star potential with Krebs but appears to be a good middle six option for the Sabres.
The Sabres system also has good depth. They have five prospects with some star potential in the system and 13 with some typical NHLer potential. The goalie pool is still ranked low right now, in that the model isn’t convinced there’s a goalie in their system. I know, I know … Devon Levi. Levi had an incredible year in the NCAA (holding down a .95 save percentage throughout the year). Levi, however, has had an atypical development pattern for goalies (coming from the CCHL in his draft year and didn’t play in his D+1). You won’t see this path from a North American goalie who makes his way to the NHL too often, if ever. He’s also a small goalie. So the model, which is based on 30 years of historical comparables, isn’t high on him yet. But if he strings together a couple more outstanding seasons in the NCAA and the AHL, his stock will grow within the model. He’s a few years out yet though.
The Sabres will surely be adding another few big pieces, when they draft 9th and 16th at the upcoming draft. I would bet this is a top 10 prospect pool within the year.
11. Nashville Predators
Top 5 Skater Prospects: Philip Tomasino, Cody Glass, Luke Evangelista, Fyodor Svechkov and Zachary L’Heureux
The Predators system is pretty solid all around. Their top 5 is a really promising looking group. Tomasino, already establishing himself as an NHLer, is the big piece. The top 5 could use a bit more star potential but that might emerge in the next few years especially with Svechkov and L’Heureux, two good value 1st rounders from 2021 that are just rounding into form. The depth is good as well.
Their goalie situation is excellent as well. As they very likely have an NHL goalie in their system with Askarov. Askarov’s development path has been a bit all over the last few years, as he finds himself playing in the VHL and KHL the past few years, and really not playing that often in both leagues. In the model, it’s dropped him back slightly from a sure thing NHLer he appeared to be when he was drafted. It’s taking a bit longer but I trust Askarov will establish himself once again as the stud he is and be over the North America in short order. And Saros has another 10 years left to be great. Nashville is pretty set in net!
What’s really missing currently from the Predators system is what they’ve been excellent at drafting their whole existence -a top level defense prospect. But, in fact, they may have that in 2021 4th round pick Ryan Ufko. A bit under the radar, but he saw big growth in his first year in college, his production spiking big. Very interested to see how Ufko looks after his D+2 and D+3 seasons.