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 RW 6-0 170 lbs. Boston Bruins

In the span of two years, David Pastrnak has gone from the Swedish Allsvenskan league to playing top-six minutes for the Boston Bruins. A big part for his quick rise is due to his immense offensive skills and ability to create chances with and without the puck. The Czech Republic native is especially good at breaking through defensive zones with his skating and puckhandling as well as hounding defensemen into the walls and battling for the puck. These are traits that should make an impression on Bruins management, who see the 19 year old winger as a risk defensively. For better or for worse, Boston is relying on Pastrnak to provide goal scoring that the team desperately needs throughout the season. If he is able to play his game and limit his mistakes, Pastrnak could be the X-Factor that helps the Bruins return to the postseason.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C RW 6-4 195 lbs. Colorado Avalanche

Mikko Rantanen combines a big frame and very good instincts to thrive in his 200-foot game. Sometimes players of this type rely on shooting more than playmaking, especially from the wing, but Rantanen can distribute the puck with aplomb. The big Finn has more pro experience than most draft-eligible players, as he had been a pro in Liiga play for the previous two-and-a-half seasons, which certainly doesnít hurt his mature style of play. A bit of a heavy skater who could stand to improve his first couple steps, Rantanen is a very competent all-around player who compares favorably to a young Mikko Koivu and even has his reverse check down pat. The rookie made the Avalanche out of his first pro camp, but after not receiving much playing time for the struggling squad, he was assigned to the AHL's San Antonio Rampage. His pro-ready game should translate to that level, so the demotion should be a positive for his development.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C LW 6-0 157 lbs. New York Rangers

Pavel Buchnevich is the top prospect for the New York Rangers. The Rangers are in contending mode with a corresponding veteran-heavy roster, so this has allowed the team plenty of patience with Buchnevich, who is developing with Severstal Cherepovets of the KHL. He made his professional debut when he was just 17 and has played at a high level in the world's second-best league ever since. Buchnevich has been a consistent scorer, and while his totals are relatively modest, his team is not strong. His speed and release make him a threat, and playing with more talented distributors would help his cause. He is playing out his contract year and is expected to join the Rangers organization after that. While not at the level of Evgeny Kuznetzov, his development path is similar, and the professional experience Buchnevich accrues should be to the benefit of the Rangers when he makes the jump.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 B C 6-3 200 lbs. New Jersey Devils

With similar traits to those of Ryan Getzlaf, Pavel Zacha is a prospect to watch and the face of the New Jersey Devils' new philosophy of attacking hockey. The big forward can use his body and skating to challenge defenders and finish plays with his puck skills and wrist shot. The Czech Republic native had a small sample size of the North American game last season where he only suited up in 33 games for the Sarnia Sting due to injuries, suspensions and international duty. In spite of this, he put up 37 points in the OHL and impressed onlookers while playing for his country. While he impressed Devils management throughout the offseason, Zacha was unable to secure a roster spot during training camp and was returned to Sarnia. Zacha showed during the preseason that he was not yet ready for the NHL. The 18-year-old needs more game experience in North America, so a complete, healthy season in the OHL should go a long way in providing that needed adjustment.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C D 6-1 211 lbs. New York Islanders

Ryan Pulock was one of the highest goal-scoring defensemen in the AHL last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and he was also one of the youngest. At age 21, he put together an altogether solid 2014-15 in the AHL, and one that put him on the map with the New York Islanders' brass. The trade of Griffin Reinhart this past summer almost certainly implies that GM Garth Snow feels Pulock is ready to step in and be an everyday NHL defender sooner rather than later. He has an absolutely marvelous point shot and is a very competent and cognizant player in his own zone. Overall, he brings an intriguing blend of power, poise, and intelligence to the Islanders defensive corps.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 D RW 6-0 181 lbs. Washington Capitals

Czech forward Jakub Vrana experienced much of his junior development in the Swedish system with Linköping. He used the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Tournament to cement his position as a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft and was taken 13th overall by the Washington Capitals. Now in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, Vrana is looking more and more comfortable on North American ice. Vrana possesses excellent vision and can make creative and effective passes. Whether his shooting ability allows him to be a prolific NHL scorer remains to be seen, but his talent level is very high. His physical game is limited by his frame, and though the Capitals can and should be patient with Vrana, he probably makes his NHL debut later this season.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
7.5 B D 6-1 180 lbs. Florida Panthers

Mike Matheson's sophomore season was his lowest offensive output on a Boston College team bolstered by the Johnny Gaudreau show that vaulted that school to a national title. His last college campaign saw him do much more heavy offensive lifting before he turned pro at the end of the 2014-15 campaign. Matheson has struggled a bit in his first AHL action, but should find his offensive tempo as the season progresses. Matheson's physical game is not the most advanced, but he is capable of moving the puck with purpose. He might top out as a middle-pairing option but has the potential to be a first-pairing special teams player in the course of his career.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
7.5 B C 5-10 170 lbs. St. Louis Blues

Robby Fabbri is a highly-skilled player who plays at a high tempo. The 21st overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, Fabbri is a strong player for his age and size and projects to be a difference-maker at the NHL level. Despite the high upside, his young career has already been negatively impacted by injury as he missed almost half of his post-draft season with an ankle sprain, and more recently was knocked out with a concussion just two games into his NHL career. With a slight frame, Fabbri will have to learn to avoid such collisions. Although he plays an aggressive style, picking his spots more carefully will help to prolong his career.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
8.0 C RW 6-1 209 lbs. San Jose Sharks

Timo Meier is the prototypical power forward that every team wishes they had on their top line. He is a freight train without the puck, and a deadly threat with it. If defenders give him too much space, Meier can burn them with his quick, hard release. If opponents play him too tight, he finds his teammates with accurate, almost effortless passes. He is just as dominant in his own end, and can smother skilled opponents with his muscular, 210-pound frame, which could get him to the NHL faster than some of his less well-rounded peers. His 90 points in 2014-15 were no accident— expect him to dominate again this season, even without Nikolaj Ehlers around to help out.

Talent Score: Prob. of Success: Position: Height: Weight: Team:
7.5 C G 6-4 200 lbs. Winnipeg Jets

Connor Hellebuyck came out of the college hockey world, where he was dominant, and stepped into the AHL. His transition was statistically difficult, but no goaltender was more of a workhorse for his squad, with Hellebuyck playing 58 games for the non-playoff St. John's IceCaps where he managed to post a .921 save percentage. While he had his growing pains, Hellebuyck also performed well at the international level last spring, starting for Team USA in the IIHF Men's World Championship and helping the team to a bronze medal. His AHL team should be somewhat improved this season, and it will only be a matter of time until his NHL debut. Hellebuyck exemplifies the size needed at his position in the modern NHL, but he is also strong in his technique. At just 22 years of age, the future is bright for the young goaltender.