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.

About prospect talent score and probability of success »

Preseason Prospect Rankings 2015-16

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
10.0 C C 6-1 187 lbs. Edmonton Oilers

It is hard to argue with Connor McDavid being anything other than the top prospect in the hockey world. He has the complete package of NHL skills: strength, creativity, technical ability, skating, puckhandling, physicality, a winning mentality, and a professional approach. There is really nothing he is lacking aside from NHL experience. While a feeling out process for the NHL should be expected, we are looking at perhaps THE premier player in the game for many years to come. There is no reason to believe otherwise. Few think the game as well as McDavid does and few have the physical and technical attributes to go along with it. He is, by all accounts, a potential generational talent. His speed and skill make him a special player in the history of hockey, and even fans outside of Edmonton should treasure the opportunity to see McDavid as he learns how to dominate the NHL level as he did the CHL.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
9.0 B C 6-2 194 lbs. Buffalo Sabres

A slam dunk first overall selection in any other draft year, Jack Eichel had the apparent misfortune of being behind the exceptional Connor McDavid in the 2015 draft class. But it may work to Eichel's advantage as he flies a touch more under the radar than most potential franchise centers. Eichel destroyed the NCAA scene with 71 points in 40 games as a freshman before joining the United States for a seven-point outing at the 2015 IIHF World Championship back in May. Eichel has the skating ability - including a wonderful ability to change gears on the rush - and the vision to be a phenomenal playmaking center with value in all aspects of the game. His ability to control the pace of the game will be challenged early in his NHL career, but as he gains the savvy of a veteran - and he will adjust quickly - his upside will be in full view.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 6-1 190 lbs. Calgary Flames

Sam Bennett, the slippery center from the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, jumped right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs after his 2014-15 junior season finished and looked more than comfortable in his first NHL action. On an offensive and exciting Calgary Flames team, Bennett was one of their more dynamic skill players in the postseason. The fourth overall selection in 2014 figures to make a big impact on a team that would appear to fit his style of play to a 'T'. The bonus with Bennett is that he is not a one-way, offense-only player - he is not timid on the backcheck and can mix it up with anyone. He has shifted to wing as his first full NHL season gets underway. Bennett plays with the intensity of a Jonathan Toews and should help the Flames find success as his career progresses.

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

Sam Reinhart was the top prospect on our last list, and while his NHL debut last season hurt his stock a little, the skills that made him a number two overall pick in 2014 are still present. Reinhart is the type of player whose impact might be more subtle than others, but he is one of the smartest prospects in hockey. His combination of skill and poise will allow him to put up points at the NHL level. His role in Buffalo, however, looks a little different this season than it did last. Jack Eichel will be the team's number one center. Whether this means Reinhart becomes one of the league's best number two centers (a situation like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins faces in Edmonton) or he makes the shift to wing full-time remains to be seen. Either way, Reinhart brings a responsible and intelligent approach to the game and projects to be one of the league's best playmakers.

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

Waterford, Michigan native Dylan Larkin is going to have many years of success in the Motor City. He has been a standout in the NCAA and USHL circuits. He was the highest drafted NCAA player in 2014, and has been strong on the international stage also - even appearing with Team USA at the Men's World Championship - and has now forgone the AHL to make the big club with the Detroit Red Wings right out of camp. The 19-year old plays a desirable brand of North-South hockey thanks to his superlative skating ability. He drives hard to the net, plays bigger than his 6’1” frame, and does not seem to back down from physical play. He plays a full 200-foot game at wing for now, receiving in-game tutelage on a line with Henrik Zetterberg. Once Larkin is capable of moving back to center full-time, this seasoning should help his value skyrocket in a Detroit system that relies heavily on center to control and dictate play on the ice.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.5 C LW 6-0 172 lbs. Winnipeg Jets

Danish sensation Nikolaj Ehlers is an offensive juggernaut. His speed, hands, scoring touch, playmaking, are all finely-tuned. He scored 101 points in 12 less games in 2014-15 before making the Winnipeg Jets in his first pro season. Ehlers's anticipation, strength on the puck, ability to attack on the rush and do jaw-dropping things at top speed make him a consistent threat. His quickness and ability to change angles at an instant makes his shot - which explodes off his stick - all the more deadly. Playing in a top-six role already, Ehlers has gained early Calder Trophy consideration. More importantly, he is gaining in experience and confidence, which bodes well for his rookie campaign.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.5 C C 5-11 164 lbs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Mitch Marner is a quick, nimble, playmaking center with tremendous hands and a great release. What he lacks in size, he makes up in heart, determination and talent. Although he is most at home in the offensive end, he backchecks hard and plays a complete 200-foot game. His 126 points in 63 contests last season were good enough for second in CHL scoring—prompting the Toronto Maple Leafs to select him fourth overall at the 2015 NHL Draft. It will take Marner a year or so to arrive in Ontario's capital, but he will be dynamite when he does. For Marner, it is his creativity that sets him apart from other players.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 5-11 169 lbs. Toronto Maple Leafs

With the Toronto Maple Leafs focused on the future, William Nylander will be front and center for the franchise’s new direction. It is easy to see why the talented forward has already endeared himself to management and fans. Nylander's skill set and playmaking make him an exciting player to watch, but he has an understanding of the game few players possess. Best of all, he has shown he can score at the pro level. Nylander started the 2014-15 season with MODO in Sweden, participating in 21 SHL games before playing for Sweden at the 2015 World Juniors and then joining Toronto's AHL affiliate following that tournament. This season, Nylander proved himself at training camp but the decision to keep him in the AHL for the bulk of the season had already been made. Toronto’s new management has made it known that they will let Nylander further develop as the organization prepares to rebuild for the next few years.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.5 C C 6-3 187 lbs. Arizona Coyotes

Intelligent and poised, Dylan Strome is a gifted center with elite hockey sense and the kind of hands that make Stanley Cup dreams come true. Strome led the CHL in scoring last season thanks to his elite stickhandling, shooting and passing abilities. Although he is an average skater, that doesn’t stop him from dazzling defenders with creative one-on-one moves—and his size and balance make him a tough checking assignment. Taken third overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, Strome almost made the Arizona Coyotes in camp but was sent back to the OHL’s Erie Otters after exhibition play. He promises to be a top player for Canada at the World Junior Championship during the upcoming holiday season.

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

The Edmonton Oilers rushed Leon Draisaitl into their lineup last season and ended up returning him to the WHL at the season's midpoint. With his school-of-hard-knocks lessons learned at the NHL level, the German pivot went back and wrecked up the place. He potted 53 points in just 32 games for the Kelowna Rockets and then won the league playoff MVP en route to a WHL championship and a runner-up finish at the Memorial Cup Tournament. Draisaitl is a crafty playmaker who plays the game with a great deal of poise. His skating is improving as he grows into his legs more and more. Draisaitl has been recalled from the AHL by the Oilers, and looks to be ready to make the jump to full-time NHL duty with this young Oilers core. Though he may have to shift to wing just to find a place in the lineup, Draisaitl's ability to distribute and possess the puck is elite.

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