Photo: Though the Columbus Blue Jackets added several important prospects this past off-season, none were more prominent than defenseman Ryan Murray, who was selected second overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: Chris Tierney has been a key defensive forward and a leader at the faceoff dot for the OHL's London Knights in 2012-13. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The San Jose Sharks have six prospects developing at the junior level. While that number is small in comparison to other organizations, it is a case of quality versus quantity for the Sharks. The group consists of three defenders, two centers, and a goalie. All of them could be considered dark horse prospects at their time of acquisition but they continue to develop and surprise.
Photo: San Jose Sharks prospect Tomas Hertl achieved another milestone in his young career with his recent selection to the Czech Republic's top national team (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: Left wing Matt Nieto leads a shallow group of winger prospects for the San Jose Sharks. (courtesy of Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI)
The San Jose Sharks have long believed in the philosophy of taking things slow, and letting young players develop to earn the opportunity to play with the big club. Unfortunately for the Sharks in the last five years, there have not been many opportunities earned.
San Jose second-round pick Chris Tierney will be a key centerman for the London Knights during the 2012-13 season. (courtesy of CHL Images)
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.