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:
8.0 B D 6-3 205 lbs. Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes got their franchise defenseman when they drafted Noah Hanifin at the 2015 NHL Draft. The Massachusetts native was considered the best defenseman in his class, heralded as a future star in the NHL. Based off his resume so far, he is on his way. Hanifin is a dynamic, all-around defenseman who is mature beyond his years and constantly strives for puck possession. At Boston College, he was an impact player on both sides of the puck, playing top-pairing minutes and looking like a veteran despite only being a freshman. He finished with 23 points and helped the Golden Eagles reach the NCAA Tournament. During the 2015-16 preseason, the 18-year old averaged nearly 22 minutes per game, and often found himself playing on both the power play and penalty killing units. While he only contributed one assist, his performance was good enough for him to make the Hurricanes' opening night roster. Hanifin will start out on the third defensive pair but could see his role increase if he shows he can handle the competition of the top level.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B D 6-0 200 lbs. Philadelphia Flyers

It has been a little while since we have seen a defenseman come in and take away time and space so well and so comfortably as a teenager like Ivan Provorov does. The Brandon Wheat Kings' star was a point-per-game player last season as a rookie and has returned there for the 2015-16 season. Provorov is a wonderful lateral skater with great first-step quickness. His offensive ability is strong but maybe a touch understated, almost in the way that Drew Doughty was in the past. He is a rare style of player and exhibits a great deal of all-around upside, especially for a Philadelphia Flyers blueline that has been gasping for a breath of fresh air.

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

The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Andrei Vasilevskiy 19th overall in 2012, and he looks to be the top goaltending prospect in hockey at this juncture. That said, he started the 2015-16 season on the shelf with thoracic outlet syndrome - a serious medical condition that could put his career at risk. Fortunately, the prognosis for the young Russian appears positive and he has returned to action at the AHL level. He has been one of the top goaltenders for his age group since his draft season, and performed well in professional play as a teenager in the KHL. Still just 21 years of age, Vasilevsky possesses the elite athleticism to make saves post-to-post as well as the technical skills to make routine stops. He showed in the NHL games he played both the upside as well as the growing pains a goaltender experiences, but remains on track to be one of the league's best once his career, role, and - most importantly- health status are stabilized.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 A LW 5-10 194 lbs. Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes were 29th in the 2014-15 season in goals scored. That may not improve by much despite the changes the franchise has made over the last 12 months, but it does open the door for the talented Max Domi to make his NHL debut this season. Domi is coming off a successful four-year junior career with the OHL's London Knights, where he played 244 regular season games and scored 331 points while adding 275 penalty minutes. He also played on the top line during Team Canada’s gold medal run during the 2015 World Junior Championship. Throughout the preseason, Domi was one of the more effective Arizona forwards, but showed good chemistry with center Antoine Vermette and fellow rookie Anthony Duclair. It is no surprise, then, that Domi started opening night on the Coyotes top line. The winger adds speed, skill and creativity to a team in short supply of those ingredients the past few years. Whether he will be able to stay in the NHL all season straight out of juniors remains to be seen, but he is a Calder Trophy contender early on and a beacon of hope for the franchise.

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

Darnell Nurse, the seventh overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, is a big and aggressive defender whose skill package will allow him to anchor a team's top-pairing during the heart of his career. The Edmonton Oilers, for one, have been missing a player of his caliber since Chris Pronger departed in 2006. Though he relied on his size and strength to be a dominant junior player, Nurse can translate those advantages to the NHL, too. Nurse has excellent mobility and solid puck skills for a player his size. While some question his offensive upside, he can shoot and move the puck well enough that it should not be a notable disadvantage. Though the Oilers would no doubt have liked to let Nurse spend the bulk of the 2015-16 season in the AHL gaining needed experience, he is exactly the player the team needs to get to the next level. Once Nurse reaches his peak strength, he will be a difficult player for the opposition to handle game in and game out in all three zones.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C LW 6-2 184 lbs. New York Islanders

Michael Dal Colle is a tough winger with a cannon for a hockey stick. He is a hard player to knock off his skates, and is the type of guy you want around when the going gets tough and you need a big goal. He provides consistent offense, and although he isn’t the fastest skater on the ice, gets back in time to defend in his own zone capably. His ability to fight through checks when it counts was on display during the CHL postseason, where he helped lead the Oshawa Generals to an OHL Championship and a Memorial Cup. He might face a steeper learning curve than some of his peers, but when he arrives in the NHL with the New York Islanders, he will be a force to contend with.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C LW 5-11 195 lbs. Nashville Predators

Historically, the Nashville Predators have loved going into European pools to select players in the NHL Draft. In the 2014 first round, they dove into Sweden to nab the flashy and talented Swiss national (although Czech by ancestry), Kevin Fiala. He has some absolutely game-breaking talent when it comes to offensive skills. His puck-handling, skating, vision, and puck-control are all superb, and will only get better as he adjusts his game in North America. At 5'10”, he is not the biggest player, but he plays with enough of a physical game to not create concerns about his North American transition. The rigors of a defense-first system might weigh on him, but the wide open style of coach Peter Laviolette should be a nice fit for Fiala and his outstanding offensive potential. His adjustment to the AHL has been smooth, but the Predators are dedicated to a patient approach.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.5 C D 6-2 215 lbs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Zach Werenski is a dominant, puck-moving defenseman with a complete two-way game. A pressure-player with a smooth stride and a great shot, Werenski is a graduate of the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he played with top prospects Noah Hanifin and Jack Eichel. He graduated high school early to become the youngest freshman ever during Red Berenson's tenure to join the hockey program at the University of Michigan, and he has been one of the team’s best players since. He scored 25 points in 35 games as a freshman, and was a key player for the U.S. at the World Junior Championship last winter. The Columbus Blue Jackets wisely returned Werenski to Ann Arbor, where he can get bigger, stronger and more experienced against older players without having to learn on the job.

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

Savvy Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen is ready to make an impact on the NHL right now. He upped his production big time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season as a rookie and should figure prominently into the Chicago Blackhawks' top-six for much of this season. Not a big guy or a particularly gifted skater, Teravainen has a lot of smarts and vision - plus some terrific technical skill - which should buoy his impending NHL career. The Finnish forward blew the doors off the competition at the 2014 World Junior Championship to cement his place in the hockey landscape after being a 2012 first round selection. Fast forward to last spring, where he was an integral piece of a Blackhawks' Stanley Cup win, a feat he and the team hope to repeat in 2016.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B D 6-2 175 lbs. Anaheim Ducks

Something of a sleeper first-round selection in 2013 (26th overall), Shea Theodore emerged as one of the top offensive defensemen in the WHL. Theodore put together back-to-back seasons of a better than point-per-game quality out West, and looked very comfortable in the AHL in his cups of coffee there. Theodore oozes offensive upside and has a deceptive shot that he can whip right into the mesh from anywhere on the surface. The left-handed defenseman is a major threat to score on the rush and is tough to get a good angle on because of his long stride and stick. Theodore made good strides defensively last season and is working on becoming a more all-around threat. He may have had a chance to play in the NHL already if the Anaheim Ducks did not own such a loaded blueline.

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