Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. 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: Colorado College forward and Dallas Stars prospect Scott Winkler's development was somewhat stunted in his first three NCAA seasons due to injuries, but he is off to a strong start in 2012-13 (courtesy of Casey B. Gibson)
Amidst a seesaw battle with Yale last weekend, Colorado College’s Scott Winkler sent Bulldog winger Anthony Day crumbling to the ice with a solid body check into the left corner boards at the World Arena. Instantaneously, Winkler set his sights on another Yale forward behind the Tigers net as he fiercely fought for possession of the puck in the defensive zone.
Photo: Center Gemel Smith has been a key contributor in every situation this season for the Owen Sound Attack, one of the OHL's top teams. (courtesy of Terry Wilson / OHL Images)
Despite some major graduations from the junior ranks in recent years, the Dallas Stars pipeline continues to churn mightily, especially at forward. The Stars feature some of the finest forwards in their respective leagues including Brett Ritchie and Radek Faksa in the OHL and Matej Stransky out west. The impressive amount of professional-level depth that the Stars have at forward will soon be augmented by these recently-drafted prospects that could fill a variety of roles within the organization. On the back line, Troy Vance is the lone junior prospect for Dallas and his progression has been that of race-winners – slow and steady. In all, the Stars have eight prospects at the major junior level.
Photo: University of Massachusetts-Lowell defenseman and Dallas Stars prospect Dmitry Sinitsyn is adjusting to NCAA hockey in his first season of college hockey (courtesy of Vaughn Winchell)
During the University of Massachusetts-Lowell's final game against Colorado College earlier this season, defenseman Dmitry Sinitsyn yelled to fellow blueliner Jake Suter in the offensive zone.
Photo: The off-season acquisition of center prospect Cody Eakin, pictured here with the Washington Capitals, strengthened the the Dallas Stars' organizational depth down the middle. (courtesy of Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI)
After a series of very promising drafts, the Dallas Stars prospect pipeline is glowing radiantly as hockey seasons across the Northern Hemisphere begin to get their respective sea legs before the ponds freeze over this winter. Still lacking a stable full of blue-chip stallions, the club from Dallas can trot out an impressive lineup of high quality players at any position.