Strengths: The Vancouver Canucks have a decent amount of forward prospects that look ready to make an impact in the near future. Right wing in particular has several up-and-comers with Nicklas Jensen leading the charge. At center, Jordan Schroeder has started to taste NHL action and Brendan Gaunce has done well captaining the Belleville Bulls of the OHL. While Eddie Lack looks like a potential star in goal, recent hip surgery puts a question mark on his future. However, that does not take away from the fact that Lack is one of the brighter talents in the system.
Weaknesses: Like many other teams low in the rankings, Vancouver has drafted low over the past several years, and as a result, suffers from a lack of quality outside of the likes of Nicklas Jensen and Jordan Schroeder. The left wing position is particularly lacking and has no real quality prospects. The loss of Kevin Connauton to Dallas leaves just Frank Corrado and Patrick McNally as the future defensively.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Nicklas Jensen, RW; 2. Eddie Lack, G; 3. Jordan Schroeder, C; 4. Brendan Gaunce, C; 5. Frank Corrado, D.
Lost to Graduation: Chris Tanev.
Lost to Trade: Kevin Connauton (DAL).
Added: Kellen Lain.
Strengths: Despite the loss of forward prospect Johan Larsson and goaltending prospect Matt Hackett, the Minnesota Wild still boast one of the most impressive groups of prospects in the NHL. On the forward side, Minnesota is loaded with a very talented group of offensively-gifted forwards in Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund, and farther down potential producers in Erik Haula and Zack Phillips. Defensively, Jonas Brodin has been a standout in his rookie season at the NHL level, and Mathew Dumba still projects to be a marvelous puck-mover at the NHL level when he is ready. Despite the loss of Hackett in net, the team still has Darcy Kuemper, who was starting to overtake Hackett, and Johan Gustafsson, who helped Lulea to an appearance in the SEL championship series.
Weaknesses: Aside from Dumba and Brodin, there is a questionable amount of talent at the back end. The same could be said for the wing corps, which suffers from a considerable drop-off in scoring talent after the top tier.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Mikael Granlund, C; 2. Jonas Brodin, D; 3. Charlie Coyle, RW/C; 4. Mathew Dumba, D; 5. Jason Zucker, C.
Lost to Trade: Matt Hackett (BUF), Johan Larsson (BUF), Chay Genoway (WAS).
Strengths: The Flames have slowly improved their organizational depth and talent pool over the last few years. Calgary has added some high-end talent at the center and left wing positions while acquiring and developing more versatile depth prospects. The Flames also have a very good stock of young goaltenders who are playing well in their respective leagues.
Weaknesses: The right wing position is the weakest of the Flames' talent pool in terms of its depth and the overall skill level. Calgary has no highly-skilled prospects at right wing. Despite having several quality defensemen, the Flames lack the high-end puck-mover in their prospect group.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Sven Baertschi, LW; 2. John Gaudreau, LW; 3. Max Reinhart, C; 4. Mark Jankowski, C; 5. Tyler Wotherspoon, D.
Lost to Graduation: T.J. Brodie, Roman Horak.
Lost to Trade: Mitch Wahl (PHI).
Added: Mark Cundari, Ken Agostino, Ben Hanowski, Mike Testwuide.
Strengths: The Avalanche maintain solid depth on defense and in goal at the pro level. Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott have each found some success in the NHL but are still in the process of developing consistency at the pro level, while Duncan Siemens and Gus Young are two more promising defensive prospects coming down the pipe. Calvin Pickard leads a deep, talented group of goalies at the minor league level. At forward, Michael Sgarbossa made a smooth transition to the pro level during his rookie pro season. The Avalanche also have a prospect in Joey Hishon with high upside as a potential scorer, but he must prove he can stay healthy.
Weaknesses: Beyond Sgarbossa and potentially Hishon, Colorado's forward prospects are largely longshots to make an impact at the pro level. Neither wing positions feature much depth. The trade of Cameron Gaunce, along with the possible graduations of Elliott and Barrie, could leave the Avalanche with a lack of depth on the blue line.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Tyson Barrie, D; 2. Michael Sgarbossa, C; 3. Stefan Elliott, D; 4. Duncan Siemens, D; 5. Calvin Pickard, G.
Lost to Graduation: Mark Olver, Aaron Palushaj.
Lost to Trade: Cameron Gaunce (DAL).
Added: Andrew Agozzino, Markus Lauridsen, Trevor Cheek.
Strengths: Edmonton is led by blue chip prospects Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, both of whom have been productive players in their first pro season. The Oilers' strongest position is defense, where the prospects offer a good mix of size, physicality, and a good overall skill level. There are wide varieties of talent in the forward group and good size at the center position. Edmonton added Yale captain Andrew Miller via free agency to strengthen the depth at center.
Weaknesses: The Oilers' forward group has a drop in talent after Yakupov. Although the organization has accumulated a number of promising prospects in net, it lacks the blue chip goaltending prospect that Florida and Ottawa each possess.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Nail Yakupov, RW; 2. Justin Schultz, D; 3. Oscar Klefbom, D; 4. Teemu Hartikainen, LW; 5. Martin Marincin, D.
Lost to Graduation: Anton Lander.
Lost to Trade: Tobias Rieder (PHX).
Added: Andrew Miller, Kale Kessy, Niko Hovinen.