of the overall state of each NHL team’s system of pro
Hockey's Future Mid-Season Organizational Rankings are an assessment of the
overall state of each NHL team’s system of prospects. An overall ranking is given, and strengths and weaknesses are
identified. The ranking will be posted
in installments every few days. Teams ranked 21-30 are found below, with
previous rank in parentheses.
rankings were compiled by a committee of staff members using the prospect
criteria normally used by this site.
Players who were projected to appear in 41 or more NHL games in 2003-04
during the production of this list were excluded from the final draft of the
rankings. Some of the excluded players
may still be listed as prospects on some of the team pages, however, so moving
them to "Graduated" status is a project for another day.
information on individual prospects for each of the NHL teams, feel free to
visit the various team, league, or country pages here at Hockey's Future.
21. San Jose Sharks
(Previous rank: 30)
Strengths: The Sharks have taken a step towards
replenishing the team’s organizational depth. They have their star forward in
Milan Michalek, their potential power forward in Steve Bernier and a handful of
safe bets in Marcel Goc, Josh Hennessy, Mike Morris and Brad Boyes.
Weaknesses: Defensively the Sharks possess a
number of strong skating, yet undersized prospects like Matt Carle and Josh
Gorges. They are also lacking a strong top four, stay at home defenseman to go
with their collection of offensive blueliners. Additionally, the Sharks are lacking
an elite scoring forward since many feel that Michalek is more likely to become
a strong two-way player. In goal, the Sharks have two projects in the German
tandem of Dmitri Patzold and Patrick Ehelechner but it is unlikely that either
will be a true No. 1 anytime soon.
Top Prospects: (F) Milan Michalek, (C) Brad
Boyes, (F) Steve Bernier, (C) Marcel Goc, (C) Josh Hennessy, (F) Mike Morris,
(G)Dmitri Patzold, (D) Josh Gorges.
Louis Blues (24)
Strengths: The Blues
have respectable depth at all positions, especially defense and goaltending. On
the blueline, Shawn Belle and Christian Backman are potential second pairing
defensemen and Robin Jonsson and Matt Walker also provide depth at this
position. In net, Tuomas Nissinen, Konstantin Barulin and Curtis Sanford are an
impressive trio. In terms of forward depth, the prospects there are good but
not overly impressive. Jay McClement and Colin Hemingway are both two-way
threats, while Alexandre Bolduc, John Pohl and Alexei Shkotov all possess offensive
Weaknesses: There’s a
lack of top-flight talent throughout the organization as even the best
prospects still project to be second liners or second pairing defensemen. This
is definitely apparent up front, where there needs to be a big name forward
prospect. The Blues have generally had late draft picks and so considering
that, this group is usable but they are nothing spectacular.
Prospects: (D) Shawn Belle, (C) Jay McClement, (F) Colin Hemingway,
(C) John Pohl, (D) Christian Backman, (G) Tuomas Nissinen, (G) Konstantin
23. Florida Panthers (6)
Strengths: A definite
strength the Panthers have is their blend of forward prospects; they have a
wide array of talent, all of whom bring something different to the table.
Anthony Stewart is a big power forward with toughness to go with his ample
speed and skill. Rob Globke is another reasonably big guy, but he’s a lightning
quick sniper. Greg Campbell is a hard-nosed, checking forward who excels at
both ends of the ice. Stefan Meyer, Petr Taticek, Kamil Kreps and Dany Roussin
all add different elements. The defense is a good mix as well, consisting of
offensive Lukas Krajicek, Filip Novak and Jeremy Swanson who are intelligent
and strong two-way defensemen, and lastly stay at home, physical defenders like
Topi Jaakola and Grant McNeil.
Weaknesses: Goaltending prospects are a
definite weakness for the Panthers organization. Simon Lajeunesse is a longshot
to ever make the NHL and Mikko Vuorio is a even longer simply to ever come to
North America. The biggest thing missing from the Panthers forward prospects is
a guy who is a top-notch offensive force.
Top Prospects: (F) Anthony Stewart, (D) Lukas
Krajicek, (F) Rob Globke, (D) Filip Novak, (F) Gregory Campbell, (F) Stefan
Meyer, (C) Petr Taticek, (F) Dany Roussin, (C) Kamil Kreps, (F) John Hecimovic.
24. Tampa Bay Lightning (12)
Strengths: Size, size and more size. The
Lightning have managed to amass a wealth of very big bodies for the future of
both their forward and defensive units. Top prospects Alexander Polushin, Adam
Henrich, Andreas Holmqvist, Mike Egener, Evgeni Artuhkin, Matt Smaby are all at
least 6’3”. Even some of Tampa’s weaker prospects like Dennis Packard, Arthur Femenella and Karri Akkanen are absolute giants. Andreas
Holmqvist could develop into a very nice two-way defenseman and Mike Egener is
a very mean and physical defender from the WHL. Matt Smaby and Gerard Decaire
may also have solid futures in the NHL.
Weaknesses: Goaltending could be considered a weakness for the Lightning
organization. One time top prospect Evgeny Konstantinov has failed to deliver
at the professional level, where as Brian Eklund, Jonathan Boutin and Gerard
Coleman all have some potential but aren’t regarded as top goaltending
prospects. Russian forward Alexander Polushin is the closest to a bluechipper
Tampa has, but after a very promising start in the RSL this year, he injured
his knee and is lost for the season.
The Lightning have some good prospects but they lack that one potential
Top Prospects: (F) Alexander Polushin, (F)
Adam Henrich, (D) Andreas Holmqvist, (F) Dmitry Afanasenkov, (D) Mike Egener,
(D) Gerard Decaire, (F) Evgeni Artukhin, (D) Matt Smaby, (F) Anton But, (C)
25. New York Islanders (21)
Strengths: The Islanders have quality
depth on the right side with physical, scoring wingers. The team’s top prospect, Robert Nilsson, is
an exceptional talent on the left wing and could find chemistry with potential
linemates like Jeremy Colliton or Evgeny Tunik. New York has decent depth at center, but do not have any impact
Weaknesses: Currently the best
goaltender in the system for the Islanders is Brad Topping and there is no
guarantee of him ever making the NHL. The other glaring hole on Long Island is
on the blueline. There are no physical
defensemen in the organization because it is overstocked with talented but
undersized ones like Arto Tukio and Alexei Stonkus.
Top Prospects: Robert Nilsson (F), Justin
Mapletoft (C), Evgeny Tunik (F), Dmitri Chernykh (F), Arto Tukio (D), Jeremy
26. Toronto Maple
Strengths: Toronto finally has some
prospects their fans can look forward to in talented center Alexander Steen and
defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo. Steen is a very good playmaker who can score
spectacular goals. Kyle Wellwood, a scoring leader for the
AHL affiliate in St. John’s, is one of the Leafs’ other forward prospects of
note because he has good hands, can pass well and has good hockey sense. The
only other potential NHL player up front is Jarkko Immonen. Colaiacovo leads the defensive corps of
prospects and projects to be a top pairing defenseman. Maxim Kondratiev, Brendan Bell and Jay
Harrison round out the blueliners and all three could be 4-7 d-men in the NHL.
Toronto still has major problems, most noticeably at forward
behind Steen, Wellwood and Immonen where the depth chart gets ridiculously
thin. Todd Ford is the only goaltender in the system still considered a
prospect and he may be a back up at best.
The NHL Leafs are an old team which could see the need for replacements
at short notice so some prospects could be rushed into the NHL before they are
(D) Carlo Colaiacovo, (C) Alexander Steen, (D) Maxim
Kondratiev, (D) Brendan Bell, (D) Jay Harrison, (C) Kyle Wellwood, (F) Jarkko
Immonen, (D) Ian White, (G) Trevor Ford.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (13)
Strengths: The 2003 draft gave the
Flyers great top end depth at center with the addition of Jeff Carter and Mike
Richards both of who were outstanding for Canada at the recent WJC in
Finland. Patrick Sharp has spent
limited time with the Flyers since being drafted two years ago as well. Antero Nittymaki has emerged as an above
average prospect in goal and could still become a starter in the NHL.
Weaknesses: Recent prospect graduations
and the trading of Jeff Woywitka to Edmonton have decimated the Flyers depth at
the blueline and also at both wing positions.
Clearly Philadelphia relies on their ability to fill the holes in the
organization by taking advantage of the free agent market rather than building
through the draft.
Top Prospects: Jeff Carter (C), Mike
Richards (C), Antero Niittymäki (G), Patrick Sharp (C), Alexander Drozdetsky
28. Carolina Hurricanes (29)
Strengths: The Hurricanes have numerous
goaltending prospects led by first rounder Cam Ward while Patrick Desrochers,
Daniel Manzato, Rob Zepp, Daniel Boisclair and Kevin Nastiuk follow behind.
It’s very likely that at least a few of these guys might carve out NHL careers.
Defensive prospect depth is another strength for Carolina. Tomas Malec, Danny
Richmond, Jesse Lane, Bruno St. Jacques and Aaron Dawson all could be NHL
Weaknesses: The Hurricanes definitely have
more weaknesses than strengths in terms of prospect depth. The ‘Canes lack a
blue chip prospect that will make a significant impact in the NHL. Mike
Zigomanis and Tomas Kurka are now looking more like suspects than prospects.
While they have good depth on the blueline, the Hurricanes also lack a top
defensive stud prospect.
Top Prospects: (G) Cam Ward, (D) Tomas Malec,
(D) Danny Richmond, (F) Magnus Kahnberg, (C) Mike Zigomanis, (F) Tomas Kurka,
(D) Jesse Lane, (D) Bruno St. Jacques, (G) Patrick Desrochers.
29. New York Rangers (28)
Strengths: 2003 first round pick Hugh
Jessiman and Fedor Tjutin headline a pretty short list of players with the
potential to be impact performers for the Rangers. Nigel Dawes, who had a terrific WJC tournament, could end up
being a real steal if his development continues to progress. Dominic Moore had a very good training camp
and has played well in limited NHL action this year.
Weaknesses: Trades have totally wiped
out the Rangers farm system to the point that there is not one position that
does not need attention. Like the
Flyers, the Rangers are an organization that does not need to develop a strong
team through the draft as long as it can purchase whatever players it needs to
fill the holes in the NHL team.
Top Prospects: Fedor Tjutin (D), Hugh Jessiman
(F), Dominic Moore (C), Nigel Dawes
(F), Henrik Lundqvist (G).
30. Colorado Avalanche (17)
Strengths: Simply put, the Colorado Avalanche, in
terms of prospect depth, have no strengths whatsoever. If they have any
strength at all, one would have to point to the abundance of potential
role/character players within the organization. Collegian Keith Ballard was acquired in an off-season trade with
Buffalo and he represents the best hope for Colorado. Johnny Boychuk and Tomas Slovak could be depth defensemen in the
Weaknesses: The Colorado Avalanche, more so
then any other club in the National Hockey League, lack anything that closely
resembles a top two line forward in their system. Atrocious would be the best
word to describe the current state of the Colorado Avalanche prospect core. As
a whole, the organization lacks natural raw ability and any potential star
Top Prospects: (D) Keith Ballard, (D) Tomas
Slovak, (D) Johnny Boychuk, (F) Marek Svatos.