The Fall edition of the Hockey’s Future ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects continues with the prospects ranked 31-40. This section of the ranking features several talented forwards, including Tomas Jurco (DET) and Curtis Lazar (OTT), who will push for playing time in the NHL this season.
Below are the prospects ranked 31-40 in HF’s ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects. The top 50 prospects will be revealed in groups of 10 each day this week, resuming on Wednesday with the prospects ranked 21-30.
31. Tomas Jurco, LW, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-2, Weight: 193, Spring Ranking – 35
Forward Tomas Jurco is very skilled with the puck and has the speed to blow past defenders. His work ethic is strong and he is the kind of player that coaches love. Jurco is also a master stick-handler and capable of doing things that few players would even attempt. His work away from the puck needs to get better, but that will continue to improve with more playing time and good coaching. Jurco should see a fair amount of time in the Red Wings’ top nine this season, as well as on their power play.
While most of the prospects in the Top 50 ranking boast high-end offensive ability, Scott Laughton is one of the more well-rounded prospects on this list. That is not to say he cannot score goals – he tallied 40 in 54 games in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals last year – but it is his two-way mentality that will get him an NHL job. Laughton has a strong hockey IQ and willingly plays the body. He also is a strong penalty killer and good leader on and off the ice. He will likely never be an offensively prolific force in the NHL, but he has the hands and anticipation to put some points on the board. Laughton will start this season in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms alongside several other talented prospects in the Flyers’ system.
33. Curtis Lazar, C, Ottawa Senators
Height: 6-0, Weight: 198, Spring Ranking – 30
The Ottawa Senators’ first round pick in 2013 has had a very productive last six months. Lazar led his WHL team – the Edmonton Oil Kings – to the Memorial Cup championship in the spring and has continued to be noticeable both in the rookie tournament in London, Ontario and at the Senators’ training camp and preseason games. He is a two-way forward who can play anywhere in the lineup. When Lazar is not scoring goals, he is still an effective player who plays the body and brings energy on the forecheck. Lazar made the Senators’ opening day roster for 2014-15, and he could very well remain in the NHL for the length of the season.
34. Bo Horvat, C, Vancouver Canucks
Height: 6-0, Weight: 205, Spring Ranking – 27
The hardworking Horvat inches closer and closer to the NHL with each passing day. He is coming off of a tremendous season in the OHL where he had 74 points and 30 goals in 54 games. While he does have another year of OHL eligibility left, it is unlikely that Horvat has anything left to prove at the junior level. With exceptional leadership, strong two-way ability, and a high hockey IQ, the question is now left up to the Canucks on whether or not they want to push Horvat into the NHL sooner rather than later. He should at the very least get a long look in the NHL at the beginning of the 2014-15 season.
With a stacked blue line in Arizona, Gormley has been the shining example of patience in the minors. Year after year the dynamic defenseman has become better and better as he awaited his spot to open up. Now going on his third year of professional hockey, the two-way defenseman is at a point where the NHL seems a sure thing. He has proven that the offensive ability is there in the minors as well as the defensive game. Despite a minus-22 rating last season in the AHL, Gormley is as tough as they come in the defensive end. With a heavy shot, a good presence on the puck, and an intelligent game, he should eventually fit into the Coyotes’ top four. He is capable of eating huge minutes, playing in every situation, and he looks ready for his rookie NHL season.
Beaulieu is on pace to become a top-four defenseman in Monteal. How soon that happens remains to be seen, but he showed a glance of what is to come in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Trailing Boston in the second round, he was inserted into the Canadiens’ lineup and made an immediate impact with his puck-moving skills and quick zone clears. Beaulieu can quarterback the power play and is equally adept at shooting the puck or setting up his teammates. Experience and time seem to be the only hurdles left as he continues to improve his defensive game and recognizes when to take chances. He bounced between the AHL and NHL last year, but he should see more consistent time in Montreal this season.
Matt Dumba is an athletic and offensively-gifted blueliner. His ultimate upside will likely be determined by how quickly he is able to refine his decision-making at the professional level. He finished his junior career with a powerhouse Portland Winterhawks team that came just short of a WHL title. Dumba’s 175 points in 266 games as a junior (including playoffs) certainly speak to a player capable of contributing in a positive way. The Wild would like Dumba to be more of the same at the NHL level. The team was middle of the pack in power play scoring, but struggled mightily to generate shots. Already built to contend, the Wild would love its 2012 first-rounder to provide some of that dynamic offensive ability without costing chances against. Dumba can handle the puck, shoot, hit, and distribute. If he can also defend against NHL competition, he can push his team to the next level and meet his own lofty expectations for success.
38. Jake Virtanen, LW, Vancouver Canucks
Height: 6-1, Weight: 210, Not Ranked
Virtanen led the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen in 2013-14 with 45 goals and had 26 assists in 71 regular season games. He also played for Canada’s U18 teams at the Ivan Hlinka and World Junior tournaments despite a bothersome shoulder issue that required off-season surgery. The rehabilitation process will keep him off the ice into the start of the 2014-15 season. One of the younger players in the 2014 NHL Draft, Virtanen plays a high pressure game and uses his size to his advantage, as he accumulated 100 penalty minutes for the Hitmen in 2013-14. Long term, he figures to be a prototypical power forward with the stickhandling and shooting ability to create scoring opportunities. Virtanen should continue to develop as he adds strength and bulk to his considerable frame. The shoulder injury is a concern for a player that plays his style, however.
39. Petr Mrazek, G, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-0, Weight: 184, Spring Ranking – 33
Petr Mrazek continues to inch his way closer to a regular goaltending job in the NHL. The young Czech netminder put together two fairly strong AHL seasons with Grand Rapids and saw a brief stay with the Red Wings in 2013-14. Given his smaller size, he relies heavily on athleticism and aggressiveness, which makes him an exciting and sometimes show-stopping goalie to watch. Considering how the Red Wings have struggled in net with injuries and inconsistency, Mrazek could see even more NHL time in 2014-15. He will start the 2014-15 season in the AHL, however, as the Wings would rather that he play regularly in the minors than sit on the bench in the NHL.
Ryan Murphy is on the cusp of being a full-time NHL defenseman after playing 48 NHL games in 2013-14. Murphy’s game is predicated around moving the puck, a skill in which he excels. He is equally capable of making smooth outlet passes as he is at rushing the puck up the ice, and he is also very good at distributing the puck on the power play. It will take several years for Murphy to reach his full potential. Like many young offensive defenseman, he needs to learn to make smarter reads with the puck, especially in his own zone. He is also not particularly imposing physically and must get much stronger.
Hockey’s Future Fall 2014 Top 50 Prospects Ranking
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50
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