Strengths: The Florida Panthers possess arguably the deepest group of center and forward prospects in the NHL. Between Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore, and Nick Bjugstad the Panthers have a foundation of sizable and versatile forwards to build upon for many years to come. Behind those blue chip prospects, the Panthers still have talented prospects like Vince Trochek and Kyle Rau. The Panthers are also set in goal as Jacob Markstrom is starting to take shape and adjust to the demands of being an NHL goaltending. Defensemen Colby Robak, Alex Petrovic, and Mike Matheson continue to grow and take shape as good potential two-way options on the blue line.
Weaknesses: The youth of the Florida Panthers and the sheer amount of high-end prospects they have accumulated is a good and a bad thing. With so much talent around the same age level it could create a log jam in several positions, leading to limited ice time for good players and potential movement of very talented pieces. Considering how young many of the prospects are, it will likely be several years before they are truly ready for or comfortable in the NHL.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Jonathan Huberdeau, C/LW; 2. Jacob Markstrom, G; 3. Nick Bjugstad, C/LW; 4. Drew Shore, C; 5. Quinton Howden, LW.
Lost to Waivers: James Wright (WPG).
Lost to Trade: Casey Wellman (WAS).
Added: Zach Hamill, Brendon Nash, T.J. Brennan.
Strengths: The Jets have potential core players in center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Jacob Trouba, both of whom could be playing in the NHL sooner rather than later. Wingers Ivan Telegin and Carl Klingberg provide balance to the forward corps while the likes of Zach Redmond and Paul Postma provide valuable blue line depth at the pro level. Winnipeg's system is well balanced and several depth prospects, such as goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and power forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas, had standout seasons at their respective levels of play.
Weaknesses: Even the top two prospects are still developing and have yet to realize their full potential, leaving the Jets with very few sure things in the pipeline. The center depth behind Scheifele is suspect.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Mark Scheifele, C; 2. Jacob Trouba, D; 3. Ivan Telegin, LW; 4. Paul Postma, D; 5. Carl Klingberg, LW.
Lost to Graduation: James Wright.
Lost to Trade: Spencer Machacek (CBJ).
Added: Tomas Kubalik, Juho Olkinuora, Anthony Peluso.
Strengths: The Carolina Hurricanes possess a solid group of defensive prospects led by puck-mover Ryan Murphy. They also possess a few talented two-way forwards, including Victor Rask, Zac Dalpe, and Chris Terry. Additionally, the Hurricanes have many speedy forwards capable of filling a checking role. Daniel Altshuller and Matt Mahalak headline a relatively deep group of goaltending prospects.
Weaknesses: Outside of possibly Murphy there is not much high-end talent in the Hurricanes prospect pool. The team also lacks skill at forward, with their top prospect Rask being known more for his two-way ability than as a sniper or playmaker. Many of the prospects in the Hurricanes pool are long-term projects and will not be ready for many years.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Ryan Murphy, D; 2. Viktor Rask, C; 3. Zac Dalpe, C; 4. Riley Nash, C; 5. Jeremy Welsh, LW.
Lost to Trade: Mark Alt (PHI).
Added: Luke Pither.
Strengths: The Lightning have several talented forwards ready to make full-time NHL contributions in Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, and Richard Panik. There are also several skilled two-way forwards such as Vladislav Namestnikov and Matthew Peca who, in several years, should be quality NHL players. Tampa Bay also has a solid collection of defensemen, with Radko Gudas and Mark Barberio the most ready to make NHL contributions. Andrey Vasilevskiy, who is among the top goaltending prospects in all of hockey, leads a promising group of goaltenders.
Weaknesses: Though Tampa has many skilled forwards with top-nine potential, few if any project to be an elite talent. Top defensive prospect Slater Koekkoek has missed almost a full season worth of hockey over the past two years to injury. Many of the Lightning's forward prospects are undersized.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Andrey Vasilevskiy, G; 2. Vladislav Namestnikov, C; 3. Richard Panik, RW; 4. Mark Barberio, D; 5. Slater Koekkoek, D.
Lost to Trade: Cory Conacher (OTT), Kirill Gotovets (CHI), Dustin Tokarski (MTL).
Added: Philippe Paradis, Andrej Sustr.
Strengths: The Washington Capitals have arguably the best player not playing on this side of the Atlantic in Yevgeni Kuznetsov. They also have a prospect with power forward potential in Tom Wilson. The organization has a wide array of promising prospects capable of filling a variety of different roles including Michael Latta, Chandler Stephenson, and Garrett Mitchell. There are also several promising goaltending prospects led by Philipp Grubauer.
Weaknesses: The Capitals have traded many of their assets over the past several years for NHL roster players and it has left them with large holes in their prospect pool. The biggest hole is on defense, where they have many solid prospects such as Tomas Kundratek, but none who project to play in a top-four role. Some of the Capitals most promising prospects, such as Riley Barber or Connor Carrick, remain long-term projects. The fact Kuznetsov remains non-committal about when or if he will play in North America is another major issue.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Yevgeni Kuznetsov, RW; 2. Tom Wilson, RW; 3. Tomas Kundratek, D; 4. Philipp Grubauer, G; 5. Stanislav Galiev, LW.
Lost to Graduation: Braden Holtby.
Lost to Trade: Filip Forsberg (NAS), Zach Hamill (FLA), Kevin Marshall (TOR).
Added: Michael Latta, Casey Wellman, Chay Genoway, Nicolas Deschamps, Nate Schmidt.