The New Jersey Devils started the lockout shortened 2012-13 season on fire. Following a home-and-home sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in February, New Jersey sat atop of the Eastern Conference. Then the injuries started to take their toll. Without key contributors like Dainius Zubrus, Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk, the team tumbled down the standings. An inability to score, combined with some terrible luck down the stretch, kept New Jersey out of the playoffs for a second time in three years.
As the 2012-13 season comes to a close, it is time to hand out the end of the year awards for the New Jersey Devils prospects. While the NHL team struggled, many of their junior players performed very well for their respected clubs. What may be surprising are that most of the recipients are forwards. New Jersey features a healthy stock of quality defensemen, but lacks depth and talent up front. Still, the few standouts had terrific seasons that cannot be overlooked.
The Spring edition of the Hockey's Future ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects begins with the prospects ranked 41-50. The emergence of many new rookies in the truncated NHL season presented the ranking committee with a formidable challenge. The result is a diverse group of prospects at different stages in their development, from those on the verge of NHL stardom to project players who are still years away from helping their NHL club on a nightly basis.
Below is the bottom third of the NHL Team Rankings in terms of prospects as voted on by Hockey's Future staff. To determine the ranking, each team's entire prospect pool was taken into consideration. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.