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:
7.5 B D 6-3 190 lbs. Philadelphia Flyers

The strength of Travis Sanheim's game at this time is clearly on the offensive side of the ledger. He is a strong skater, a solid two-way defender, and has enough offensive skill to be a potentially potent weapon for an NHL team's power play unit. He may not quite be in that elite standing of defensive prospects, but he will be a solid overall defenseman that top teams would need to fill out a good roster. At 6’3” and 181 pounds, Sanheim still needs to add some muscle to his somewhat lanky frame. He took a big step in his post-draft season with the Calgary Hitmen, and will be looking to build on that in 2015-16 after being a late training camp cut. The Philadelphia Flyers' 2014 first-rounder is off to a sparkling start back in junior, and also has an important role to play for Team Canada at the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
7.5 C C 5-9 172 lbs. Winnipeg Jets

Nic Petan is not very big, but he is slick. Sometimes he makes plays that almost look Patrick Kane-esque, particularly with the lanes and angles that he uses to make passes. Petan is a sensational playmaker who notched 74 assists in just 54 games last season in the WHL, a total that would have been good enough to place him in the top 30 in scoring even without counting his goals and the other 18 games he left on the table. The 43rd pick in 2013, Petan has sublime hands and smarts. Despite his smaller size, he is very difficult to hit because he is so quick and elusive. The British Columbia native has the potential to be one of the star finds of his class, and he has made the Jets' roster in his first try at the pro game. He is playing a limited role so far, but the Jets seem content to let him find his game against the world's best players.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C D 6-0 183 lbs. Winnipeg Jets

Josh Morrissey is one of the most fluid and smooth puck-moving prospects currently on the horizon. At a listed 6’0 and 185 pounds, he is a bit on the small side for an NHL defenseman, but his calm and collected game can get him out of trouble when it occurs. Still, Morrissey will likely have to bulk up a little bit, but not to the point that it hinders his exceptional mobility. While there may be questions about his defensive zone game moving into the NHL, he is a new age, puck-possessing style of defenseman. This generally translates to favorable defensive numbers. All things considered, Morrissey is currently one of the best mobile puck-movers in any NHL pipeline.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C LW 6-4 211 lbs. Florida Panthers

Lawson Crouse became a controversial figure leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft when some prognosticators had him ranked high among the top 10 prospects despite a relative lack of offensive output and high-end puck skills. He was eventually taken 11th overall by the Florida Panthers. Part of the reason scouts and observers felt bullish on Crouse is his big frame, which makes him look like a pro player already. Beyond that feature, though, Crouse plays a steady, strategic game which makes him look like a reliable player at the very least - a coach's favorite. His 51 points in his draft season were not as impressive as the numbers produced by other high-end prospects, but Crouse did lead his Kingston Frontenacs squad in scoring. In all, Crouse combines elite physical play with a good understanding of game situations. It may not have showed up in his numbers to date, but Crouse should be a positive force in the course of his career. He is a nearly-complete player with the intelligence and strength to be a top pro once he is given the opportunity.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 6-0 177 lbs. New York Islanders

Mathew Barzal’s stock has fallen a bit over the years, but the New York Islanders were ecstatic to grab him at 16th overall in the 2015 draft. The playmaking center broke his kneecap while horsing around with his Seattle Thunderbirds teammates on a road trip last year, but he came back in time to assert himself as a top-shelf NHL prospect after scoring 57 points (12 goals, 45 assists) in 44 games. Barzal had an impressive camp for the New York Islanders, leading some to believe he could get a nine-game trial, but he was ultimately returned to the CHL. He could be a key player for Team Canada at the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
7.5 B RW 5-11 183 lbs. Detroit Red Wings

A creative and dangerous winger, Teemu Pulkkinen made the Detroit Red Wings in camp after splitting the past two seasons between the NHL and AHL. His 34 goals and 61 points in just 46 AHL games last season made it clear there is nothing left for him to learn at that level. Pulkkinen’s development curve has been on a steady incline since he was selected in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft, and he has the potential to become yet another mid-to-late-round steal for the Red Wings. He has looked great through the early going, scoring three goals in his first four games. But, despite the team's early struggles, Pulkkinen and his big shot will be crucial to the Red Wings' success this season.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C C 6-1 175 lbs. Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor has not missed a beat in transitioning from the USHL, where he was that league's leading scorer during the 2014-15 season. Worth mentioning too is that he had been a productive player for the Youngstown Phantoms since making his debut as a 16-year-old. The 17th overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft may have been gifted to the Winnipeg Jets, not only because they can afford patience. A center with both defensive and offensive upside, Connor brings speed in transition and knows when to hit the next gear. His puck skills and shot are also excellent. He remains a little lanky but should be able to put on some weight and get stronger over the next season or two. In all, Connor is one player who is likely to be higher on this list's next version if he can continue his scoring pace at the NCAA level with the University of Michigan.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
7.5 C C 5-11 180 lbs. Columbus Blue Jackets

The gifted Sonny Milano may one day become a consistent offensive threat for the hardworking Columbus Blue Jackets. He plays with a swagger, and has good technical skills that allows him to create exciting plays that brings the fans out of their seats. Those aspirations are not too far from being realized, but Milano has some work to do in order to make those dreams a reality. Despite a training camp injury last year, the Long Island native put together a good 2014-15 campaign with the former Plymouth Whalers (now Flint Firebirds) with 68 points in 50 OHL games. Entering 2015-16, Milano has said he wants to prove he can be a two-way player, which would make the him more versatile to a franchise that prides itself on its two-way play. In order to achieve that goal, the Milano will have to improve his defensive effort and add some muscle while down in the AHL with the Lake Erie Monsters.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C LW 6-2 227 lbs. Anaheim Ducks

Classic power forward Nick Ritchie split the 2014-15 season between Peterborough and Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL before making a nice playoff run with the Greyhounds in which he scored 13 goals in 14 games. The big-bodied left wing is a little bit old school in his style of play, unlike some modern power forwards who are just big, skilled players. Ritchie does not mind throwing his weight around, and pushes the envelope as far as gentlemanly play goes. He has the strength to bully his way to any place on the ice and be effective. Like most players of his stripe, Ritchie has a heavy shot that he does not mind using, and he is definitely more of a finisher than a playmaker. The Anaheim Ducks will slowly bring him along by playing him in the AHL for now, but they have been craving a strong left wing for the Getzlaf-Perry duo for some time now.

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

Derrick Pouliot seems to have taken a slight step backwards in his development, but still has some things going for him as a prospect, not the least of which is opportunity. After 34 NHL games last season, Pouliot failed to earn a roster spot out of camp this season. Despite prospects Scott Harrington and Simon Despres being traded away, Pouliot could not stick, but remains the top defensive prospect for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Part of this demotion is necessary seasoning. Pouliot is looked at as an offensive producer, but will need to play a more complete game to have a long career in the NHL. The Penguins are taking a wise developmental angle with Pouliot, who has a big role to play in the success of the team this season. Though his early NHL returns seem underwhelming, his vision and distribution skills should be more productive this season once he gets the call.