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.
Now entering their second season in Manitoba, the Winnipeg Jets are continuing the franchise rebuild that started in Atlanta. The Jets have focused on adding size and grit to through the last two drafts. Top prospect Mark Scheifele, along with a limited number of other prospects would have had an opportunity to makes the Jets out of training camp, but the NHL lockout put those plans on hold. Instead, these prospects will have the chance to dominate their respective leagues while their veteran brethren find colder pastures to ply their trade.
The 31-40 spots in Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 prospect rankings feature players who were all ranked in the Spring edition, though many saw a great deal of movement from their previous spots. The 2012 NHL Draft can be partially to blame for some of the prospects moving down the list, as there are numerous new faces at the top of the rankings, but two players in particular, Mark Scheifele (WPG) and David Rundblad (PHX) saw a dramatic drop from their previous spots.
The Winnipeg Jets enter their second-ever draft year looking for some high-end skill to complement their growing stable of big, hardworking players. Having drafted entirely from North America last year, and focusing on size and toughness, the need going forward is to complement that strength with some skillful puck-movers, either forwards or defenders. There will still be plenty more of the strong characters and imposing physiques taken in this draft, but look for the Jets to swing for the fences in the first round.
The Ontario Hockey League has been one of the premier pipelines for NHL development over the past couple of decades, particularly down the middle of the ice. From Eric Lindros to Joe Thornton, and more recently, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf, and surging second-year center Tyler Seguin, the league has produced countless blue chip NHL centermen.