Team Strength Rankings: 22 to 32 (May 2022)

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 after the draft is complete.

We’ll look at each team’s system by:

  • The player was drafted from 2017 to 2021 or was eligible to be drafted in those years. For goalies, the cut off was dropped back to 2015 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).
  • 10%+ Star Probability: The number of players with a Star probability of 10% or more. Most prospects have very little star likelihood. This metric provides insight to 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. This category and the previous one assess the skater depth of the system. The more of these pieces you have throughout the system, the better.
  • Top Goalies NHLer Probabilities: Factoring in the two highest NHLer probability goalie prospects in the system and determining the likelihood that they have least one 100+ NHL game goalie in the system. A system with one exceptional prospect but lackluster beyond the one (e.g., Carolina) or a system with multiple good bets (e.g., Edmonton) will show well here.
  • 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 skater ranking (an average of the four components) accounts for 90% of the overall ranking and the goalie ranking accounts for 10% of the overall ranking.

The full 32 rankings will be broken down throughout the day. However, if you’re a Hockey Prospecting member you can jump into the ‘Team Prospect Strength Tool’ and see the rankings right now.

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Now let’s have a look at the 22 to 32 ranked teams!

32. New York Islanders

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Samuel Bolduc, Ruslan Iskhakov, Aatu Raty, William Dufour, Simon Holmstrom

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games (50 NHL games for goalies)/drafted prior to 2017): Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Anatoly Golyshev and Ilya Sorokin

The Islanders system, which saw Dobson, Wahlstrom and Sorokin graduate, is in a terrible way now. There’s very little in the system, if anything, that screams future very good NHLer (Raty might be the best bet and even he doesn’t show like a definite NHLer currently). The drafting since Lou has taken over has been underwhelming (which has been a pattern of his teams for nearly 2 decades) compounded by trading away high picks and the Islanders now have the worst prospect system in the NHL. And they just fired head coach Barry Trotz, who had tremendous, and unexpected, success, with a veteran roster with few stars. Things could get real ugly for the Islanders over the next few years.

31. Pittsburgh 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 and Malkin and Letang are free agents in the summer. Ride Crosby and Guentzel as long as you can. Darkness is coming.

30. Boston Bruins

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Fabian Lysell, John Beecher, Jack Studnicka, Brett Harrison and Mason Lohrei

The Bruins crawled out of the last ranked prospect last year and have now snuck all the way up to #30. Like the Penguins, the Bruins have very few, if any, notable prospects in the system. Swayman is a solid goalie prospect that is likely to become a 100+ game NHLer. The skater pool doesn’t have much. It has a few pieces that could turn into middle of rotation guys (Lysell, Beecher, Studnicka, Lohrei). But there’s very likely not a future star or anything near it in those cupboards.

29. Vancouver Canucks

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Danila Klimovich, Aidan McDonough, Jack Rathbone, Vasili Podkolzin and Linus Karlsson

The Canucks prospect pool over the past 5 years has generated a number of notable NHLers, including three stars (borderline superstars) in Boeser, Pettersson and Hughes, as well as starter Thatcher Demko. But the prospect pool now runs dry. Podkolzin still counts as he hasn’t crossed 100 games and seems to have solidified himself as a good depth piece going forward. The prospect pool has little potential in their top 5 prospects and the depth in terms of potential future NHLers is extremely shallow. They rank in the bottom 3rd of the league across all five rankings.

Trading away their 9th overall pick in the 2021 draft for OEL and Garland also did the prospect cupboards no favors. If the Canucks are going to get back into the playoff picture and become a threat, they might have to do it through trades and signings. They don’t have any more Quinn Hughes or Elias Petterssons coming through the ranks. Nothing close.

28. Seattle Kraken

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Matty Beniers, Ryker Evans, Kole Lind, Ryan Winterton, Cale Fleury

No need to spend too much time on this one. The Kraken have only existed for 10 months and have only had one draft so they have one of the worst prospect systems as a result. Beniers in his first 10 NHL games looked real good! He and Ryker Evans are a solid start to the prospect pool.

27. Washington Capitals

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre, Alexander Alexeyev, Aliaksei Protas and Vincent Iorio

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2017): Ilya Samsonov

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. Samsonov has graduated and is no longer considered a prospect here anymore and as a result the goalie prospects are not overly flattering as well.

26. Chicago Blackhawks

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Lukas Reichel, Isaac Phillips, Colton Dach, Alec Regula and Ian Mitchell

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2017): Kirby Dach, Henrik Borgstrom and Philipp Kurashev

Chicago’s system is suprisingly shallow given they haven’t made the playoffs in several years and won’t make them again for several more. A few of their most notable prospects have crossed over 100 NHL games and no longer count. They’re most substantial prospect is Lukas Reichel and it’s a steep drop off after that.

25. St. Louis Blues

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Scott Perunovich, Klim Kostin, Simon Robertsson, Jake Neighbours and Zachary Bolduc

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2017): Jordan Kyrou

Perunovich and Neighbours are quality prospects that should make their way to the NHL or already are in the NHL. Their system ranks in the 20s across all five prospect ranking components. Husso, their best goalie prospect by the model, is likely to become a full-time NHL goalie with the impressive rookie campaign he’s had, where he’s featured in the post-season as well.

24. Ottawa Senators

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Jake Sanderson, Ridly Greig, Shane Pinto, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Lassi Thomson

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games/drafted prior to 2017): Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson, Erik Brannstrom and Josh Norris

This ranking may surprise you, but let me explain how the Senators rank so low. The biggest thing is the players that have moved on to be full-time NHLers that have surpassed 100+ games and no longer count as prospects here anymore. Those include Stutzle, Batherson, Brannstrom and Norris (essentially all of their previous top 5 prospects excluding Sanderson). All four of those pieces are significant prospects and there’s probably two stars between the four of them (Stutzle is the most likely… after what he’s been able to do in his first two years in the NHL, he looks like he’s going to be exceptional).

But the issue now is that the lackluster 2020 and 2021 Senators drafts have now come home to roost. What’s left in the system outside of their current top 5 does not appear much of significance. Had the Senators outperformed or at least performed to their significant draft slot in 2020 and 2021 they would likely still have a top 15 prospect pool with players ready to make an impact in a few years from now.

23. Tampa Bay Lightning

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Cal Foote, Jack Thompson, Mikhail Shalagin, Jack Finley and Dylan Duke

The Tampa system, after all the domination and Cup runs, is as you’d expect not very rich and robust. Their best skater prospects are a mediocre grouping at best. One of the only shining lights for the Bolts, and what props them up from having a bottom 5 prospect system, is their goalies. With Melnichuk, Alnefelt and Miftakhov in the fold, they likely have a goalie prospect in their system that will become an 100+ game NHLer.

22. Edmonton Oilers

Top 5 Skater Prospects: Carter Savoie, Philip Broberg, Raphael Lavoie, Dylan Holloway and Xavier Bourgault

Notable omitted prospects (crossed 100 NHL games (50 NHL games for goalies)/drafted prior to 2017): Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod

Evan Bouchard was the big piece in the Oilers’ prospect system. He had a significant likelihood of becoming a star and is one of the best d prospects the Oilers have drafted in 30 years. He’s played over 100 games now, is well on his way to 200 and also looks like he will immediately hit as a star. As a result of Bouchard no longer qualifying (and McLeod but that’s less impactful), the Oilers prospect system has taken a tumble, dropping back nine spots from the July 2021 ranking.

The top 5 doesn’t have a ton of star potential in it anymore, that’s the big change. The overall pool has some depth to it (they rank right in the middle across both depth rankings). A shining light for the Oilers, perhaps surprisingly, is their goaltending prospects. Skinner and Konovalov both show excellent in the model and the data suggests at least one of them should hit as an NHL goalie (they rank #1 by the goalie criteria).

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