The Hockey’s Future Organizational Rankings are an assessment of the overall state of each NHL team’s system of prospects. An overall rank is given, and strengths and weaknesses are identified. The rankings are compiled twice a year by a committee of staff members using Hockey’s Future prospect criteria. For information on individual prospects for each of the NHL teams, please visit the various team, league, or country pages here at Hockey’s Future.
21. San Jose Sharks
Strengths: Logan Couture is still the Sharks top prospect. Coming off his best season to date in the OHL and will turn pro next year. The Sharks are rich with depth in goal. A quality cast including Thomas Greiss, Tyson Sexsmith, Finn Harri Sateri, and NCAA standout Alex Stalock. Behind Petrecki on defense, Derek Joslin has made marked progress since Ty Wishart’s departure. Mike Moore has also quickly risen to a serviceable level. Weaknesses: There is no immediate, bona fide elite talent in the Sharks system. Beginning with Couture, there is a heavy presence of two-way players up front as well as on the blue line. And in goal, though Sateri may prove to be the most capable of becoming a No. 1 at the NHL level, he is still a big question mark. Top 5 prospects: 1. Logan Couture, C, 2. Nick Petrecki, D, 3. Jamie McGinn, LW, 4. Derek Joslin, D, 5. Steven Zalewski, C. Key graduates: None.
22. Dallas Stars
Strengths: The prospect pool for Dallas is finally regaining its depth. The Stars’ scouting staff has found some excellent late-round gems that rank prominently in the organization’s top 20. The Stars possess a lot more scoring forwards in the system than in years past although there are some meat-and-potato types also in the mix. There are only three blueliners in the top 20, but two of them, Ivan Vishnevskiy and Philip Larsen, are highly skilled. Weaknesses: There’s a lack of defensive prospects, with just five rearguard prospects in the organization. Goaltending is again a weakness. Tyler Beskorowany and Richard Bachman have fairly high ceilings, but both are coming off relatively disappointing seasons. Dallas also lacks any elite-level prospects. Top 5 prospects: 1. Ivan Vishnevskiy, D, 2. Jamie Benn, LW, 3. Fabian Brunnstrom, LW, 4. Ondrej Roman, C, 5. Philip Larsen, D. Key losses to graduation: James Neal, Mark Fistric.
Strengths: Although they graduated many of their top forward prospects, the Maple Leafs still have several players with top-six potential. Forwards such as Tyler Bozak, Jimmy Hayes, and Mikhail Stefanovich bring a scoring presence to the system while others like Victor Stalberg bring a mix of grit and character. There are also several intriguing prospects such as Chris DiDomenico and Joel Champagne who could develop into top-six forwards. Weaknesses: Considering their top defensive prospect, Dmitri Vorobiev, may never play hockey in North America, the Leafs are extremely thin along the blue line. There is also little goaltending depth behind Justin Pogge. Top 5 prospects: 1. Justin Pogge, G, 2. Dmitri Vorobiev, D, 3. Mikhail Stefanovich, C, 4. Jimmy Hayes, RW, 5. Chris DiDomenico, C. Key losses to graduation: Luke Schenn, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin.
Strengths: Colorado has a strong collection of character forwards with potential top-six forwards Chris Stewart, T.J. Galiardi and Ryan Stoa. The Avalanche’s main strength, however, is defensive depth. Led by top-ranked prospect Kevin Shattenkirk, the Avalanche have solid group of defensemen in Colby Cohen, Cameron Gaunce, Nigel Williams and Kyle Cumiskey. Weaknesses: The Avalanche have lacked a top-end goaltending prospect for several years now. The organization could also use a highly-skilled forward prospect who’s ready to play soon. Top 5 prospects: 1. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, 2. Chris Stewart, RW, 3. Nigel Williams, D, 4. Ryan Stoa, C, 5. Kyle Cumiskey, D. Key losses to graduation: T.J. Hensick, David Jones.
25. Calgary Flames
Strengths: The Flames have a great talent in Mikael Backlund, a Swedish pivot who has seamlessly acclimated himself to the North American game this season. While Mitch Wahl and Greg Nemisz could also develop into scorers at the pro level, the real strength of this crop of Flames forwards is grit and toughness. Kris Chucko, David Van der Gulik, and Brett Sutter could all make an impact in the near future. Defenseman Keith Aulie also fits the tough and physical mold. Calgary has two good goaltending prospects in Leland Irving and Matt Keetley. Weaknesses: The talent level drops off significantly after Backlund. While a glut of gritty forwards is always a plus, this leads to a dearth of scoring threats in the system. Defensive depth is also a concern. Top 5 prospects: 1. Mikael Backlund, C, 2. Greg Nemisz, RW, 3. Keith Aulie, D, 4. Mitch Wahl, C, 5. Leland Irving, G. Key losses to graduation: none
Strengths: The unpredictable Steve Downie is now the organization’s top prospect up front. The Lightning boast a wide array of forwards from Dana Tyrell to Mitch Fadden at center and Luca Cunti to Alex Killorn on left wing. With scoring ability, a two-way presence, the collective corps of forwards is plenty diverse. Weaknesses: The Lightning are fairly solid in goal with Dustin Tokarski, Karri Ramo, and Riku Helenius, though the two Finnish-born netminders’ stocks have slipped some. Helenius in particular has not yet met expectations as a first-round pick in 2006. Natural right wingers are lacking in the Lightning Top 20. The Lightning are also thin along the blue line. Top 5 prospects: 1. Matt Smaby, D, 2. Steve Downie, C, 3. Karri Ramo, G, 4. Dana Tyrell, C, 5. Ty Wishart, D. Key graduates: Steven Stamkos.
27. Anaheim Ducks
Strengths: Although the organization no longer boasts a great stockpile of talented forwards, the Ducks still have solid depth up front in Matt Beleskey and Logan MacMillan. Defensive depth is another strength with Mark Mitera, Brian Salcido, and Brendan Mikkelson all playing in the pro ranks. Weaknesses: Some of Anaheim’s top blueliners are starting to get a little long in the tooth, but some of the replacements may not be ready to step in. Jake Gardiner is the PP quarterback of the future, but his future should be a couple of years from now. Although they have a number of goaltending prospects in the system, quality is lacking. Top 5 prospects: 1. Jake Gardiner, D, 2. Mark Mitera, D, 3. Matt Beleskey, LW, 4. Brian Salcido, D, 5. Brendan Mikkelson, D. Key losses to graduation: Bobby Ryan, Ryan Carter.
Strengths: The biggest strength in the organization is 2008 first rounder Mattias Tedenby. He adds dynamic skill that the Devils have not had in awhile. The Devils possess decent forward depth and customarily, a good number gritty and responsible defensively. Matt Corrente and Brandon Burlon are valuable future pieces to the Devils blueline. Weaknesses: There are no elite prospects in the system outside of Tedenby. Goaltending depth is a big concern as there is only one netminding prospect in the pipeline. Top 5 prospects: 1. Mattias Tedenby, LW, 2. Nicklas Bergfors, RW, 3. Matt Corrente, D, 4. Matt Halischuk, 5. Brandon Burlon, D. Key loss to graduation: Rod Pelley.
Strengths: The team has solid depth in all three forward positions with Kirill Petrov, Jesse Joensuu, Corey Trivino, and Robin Figren. They also have defensive depth with Aaron Ness, Travis Hamonic and Jyri Niemi leading the way. Weaknesses: While the Islanders may have depth in forward and defense, they lack any sort of impact prospect in the system. The organization is also very thin in net. Top 5 prospects: 1. Kirill Petrov, RW, 2. Jesse Joensuu, LW, 3. Trevor Smith, C, 4. Robin Figren, LW, 5. Jason Gregoire, LW. Key losses to graduation: Kyle Okposo, Joshua Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau.
30. Minnesota Wild
Strengths: There is depth in the system’s defensive prospects, led by top prospects Tyler Cuma and Marco Scandella. Changes in the organization may mean forwards such as Colton Gillies and Benoit Pouliot would not be pressured to develop as quickly into a defensive system that does not suit their style of play. Weaknesses: There are no first line, first pairing, nor top netminding prospects in the system. There is also very little depth. Although the Wild selected excellent players in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft when they had top picks, since 2003, none of the team’s mid-to-late first-round selections have become impact players in the NHL. With the possible exception of Cal Clutterbuck, Minnesota has also failed to find later-round diamonds in the rough. Top 5 prospects: 1. Tyler Cuma, D, 2. Colton Gillies, C, 3. Benoit Pouliot, LW, 4. Marco Scandella, D, 5. Maxim Noreau. Key losses to graduation: Cal Clutterbuck.