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.
Two years ago, little was known about Tomáš Hertl, then a 16-year-old center for the junior team of Slavia Prague. That season, he played mostly in the Czech U-20 Extraliga, posting better numbers than Radek Faksa, who was, however, drafted at a higher place at the 2012 NHL Draft. The same year, Hertl had his Czech Extraliga debut, not collecting any points, but at the age of sixteen, surely letting the hockey world notice his name.
The Fall edition of Hockey's Future's ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects begins with the prospects ranked 41-50. The addition of the 2012 NHL Draft picks to an already diverse and talented NHL prospect pool presented the 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.
The San Jose Sharks finished the 2011-12 season with arguably the worst prospect pool in the entire NHL. This has been a familiar trend within the Sharks organization over the past few seasons as they have looked to contend in the Western Conference and have sacrificed some of their future to do so. Despite the lack of top-tier talent, the Sharks’ prospect pipeline has become something of a well-oiled machine; year after year lesser known, unheralded players go in, and well-developed, NHL-ready talent comes out. The Sharks head into the 2012-13 season with a strong batch of relative unknowns, hoping to silence the critics.