NHL Prospect Rankings

Hockey's Future ranks 50 active NHL prospects who we believe will make a significant impact in the world of hockey. We publish these rankings twice a year, once before and after each regular season. NHL prospects considered for these rankings meet HF's prospect criteria at the time the list is published.

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Postseason Prospect Rankings 2014-15

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B C 6-1 186 lbs. Buffalo Sabres

Following a strong first NHL training camp, Sam Reinhart made the Buffalo Sabres’ opening day roster. But the 2014 second overall pick struggled to adapt to the NHL and was returned to the WHL after nine games, due in part to the fact that the Sabres roster was not constructed in a manner that might have allowed the young center some protection as he got used to the pace of the game. He later competed for Canada at the World Juniors where his patience and playmaking led to Reinhart tying for the lead in tournament scoring, then he returned to the Kootenay Ice where he finished with 65 points in 47 games. Reinhart's skating and physical play are still short of elite level, but his high level of intelligence and ability to distribute the puck mark him as a probable impact player.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B G 6-3 203 lbs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s impressive North American debut has not been a surprise to those who have followed the 6’3” goaltender for the past few years. He appeared in three World Junior Championships prior to this season, winning a pair of bronze medals and a silver medal, while posting incredible five-game stat lines – save percentages of .953, .950 and .933. He finally made his way to North America this season, and after a couple of rocky performances to start his tenure with the Syracuse Crunch, Vasilevskiy quickly found his form and was playing well enough for the Tampa Bay Lightning to be comfortable enough with him in a back-up role to Ben Bishop. In Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy played in 16 games, posting a 7-5-1 record with a goals-against average of 2.36 and save percentage of .918.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C LW 5-11 163 lbs. Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets snagged a silky smooth pure goal scorer when they drafted Nikolaj Ehlers. With back-to-back 100-point seasons in the QMJHL, the anticipation for the Danish forward to play in the NHL continues to grow. Even without high-profile former teammate Jonathan Drouin this season, Ehlers continued to be one of the most explosive offensive talents in junior hockey. He thinks and plays the game at an exceptionally high level, and his lack of size is offset by his great skating and heads-up thinking. He will need to get stronger and improve his defensive game, but those are issues that can be easily solved with good coaching.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 6-0 178 lbs. Calgary Flames

Unfortunately, Sam Bennett lost nearly an entire season due to injury. The fourth overall pick in 2014 played just 11 games this season for the Kingston Frontenacs, but he accumulated a massive 24 points in that stretch. Following the completion of his junior season, Bennett joined the Calgary Flames and made it into 11 NHL playoff games, where he managed three goals and an assist. The hard-working forward should not have any issue gaining back the potential time lost. He remains one of the best and most exciting goal scorers in junior hockey, with this season simply being a case of bad luck. The future is bright for Calgary, as the former first rounder is just one of many young players already making a mark at the NHL level.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 6-0 172 lbs. Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings first round pick in 2014 was one of the top players in the NCAA this season not named Jack Eichel. Playing for his hometown team, the University of Michigan Wolverines, Dylan Larkin and Zach Hyman formed a formidable scoring duo, combining for 101 points between them, with Larkin scoring 15 goals and adding 32 assists in 35 games. His strengths include his skating and playmaking abilities, assets which came to the forefront during the 2015 World Junior Championship, where Larkin led the Americans in scoring with five goals in five games. Larkin suited up for the United States during the IIHF World Championship, but is still eligible to play up to three more seasons in the NCAA. It is likely, however, that he plays no more than one more season.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C D 6-5 192 lbs. Edmonton Oilers

While there is still some lingering concern about just how the Edmonton Oilers will ease Darnell Nurse into the main squad, his developmental path seems to be on the right track. Between the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the World Juniors, Nurse showcased the two-way game that made him such an attractive prospect for several years. He suffered a minor injury setback when he injured his knee in mid-February and missed a month of hockey, but he returned in time for the OHL playoffs and had a strong individual performance. Nurse finished his junior career with 134 points in 221 regular season games, and 20 points in 29 post-season matches. He joined the Oilers' AHL affiliate upon completing his junior career and could push for an NHL roster spot next year.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B D 6-0 208 lbs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Derrick Pouliot started his first professional season of hockey in the AHL, but by the end of year he looked like an NHL mainstay and was playing around 20 minutes a game on an injury-depleted Pittsburgh Penguins blue line. The 21-year-old defenseman has the skating, offensive acumen, and natural athletic ability to play big minutes in all situations for the Penguins. Standing at 6’0, Pouliot does not have ideal size for an NHL defenseman. He does have a thick build and low center of gravity, however, which helps him protect the puck against bigger forwards. Like most young, skilled players, he needs to simplify his game and make more high percentage plays with the puck. Pouliot is expected to play a prominent role on the Penguins defense next season.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C G 6-3 210 lbs. Anaheim Ducks

As expected, goaltender John Gibson has had some issues making the jump from the AHL to the NHL. He has also had to deal with a fair amount of health issues this season that have kept him in and out of the lineup. When Gibson has played with the Norfolk Admirals, he has been nothing short of outstanding, but has left a lot to be desired in his backup role with the Anaheim Ducks as he managed only a 2.60 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Gibson still has all the tools to be a legitimate starter in the NHL, but he will just have to take his knocks, little by little, in getting adjusted to the best league in the world. He generally has the right attitude, along with the right skills, to live up to expectations.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 6-1 209 lbs. Edmonton Oilers

Leon Draisaitl became the highest-drafted German-born player ever when the Edmonton Oilers took him third overall in 2014. He was a bit of a one-man show for the Prince Albert Raiders in his draft season, putting up 105 points when Josh Morrissey was second on the team in scoring with 73. The Oilers, never much for prudence, inserted Draisaitl into the lineup as the team's second-line center to start the 2014-15 season, burning a contract year and watching the young man struggle. Though Draisaitl is a big body, he was not yet ready to win battles with NHL players in the corners. Though he is a strong skater, he is nowhere near as explosive as Taylor Hall nor as nimble as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He was able to use his frame to shield the puck, and showed the ability to understand his defensive assignments, though he was not always effective. Draisaitl's calling card is his passing ability, which is already smooth, creative and effective. Although he was not ready for the rigors of the second-line role with the Oilers in 2014-15, he is a player who could be among the league's elite playmakers during the course of his career.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B C 5-11 165 lbs. Chicago Blackhawks

A very skilled player with smooth hands and fine hockey sense, Teuvo Teravainen is still adapting to the NHL style of game. He has the skill to be an impact player in the NHL, but must improve his strength, conditioning, and defensive play. His skating also could stand to be upgraded. With the Chicago Blackhawks expected to experience some roster turnover this offseason, Teravainen will be one of several young players in the organization who will be looked upon to take on a more prominent role next season. In the meantime, the 20-year-old has earned a regular spot on the Blackhawks bottom six during the team's latest run through the NHL playoffs.

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