Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill remains the top prospect for the New Jersey Devils. Merrill recently signed an NHL contract after playing three years at the University of Michigan. (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
An important summer approaches for the New Jersey Devils organization. With a plethora of free agents that may or may not be re-signed, the organization may give its minor league and junior prospects an opportunity to crack the NHL lineup.
Photo: Forward prospect Stefan Matteau had plenty of drama in his 2012-13 season, from playing 17 games in the NHL to later being dismissed by his QMJHL team. (Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI)
The New Jersey Devils 2012 draft class included seven junior level prospects, the most they have had come out of the CHL and Junior 'A' levels since 2008. With seven of the nine players at the junior level being forwards, the Devils can look ahead to restocking a struggling and low scoring Albany Devils AHL squad that has missed the playoffs three years in a row.
Photo: Cam Atkinson is one of several Blue Jackets prospects who has seen regular time in the lineup for Columbus during the 2013 NHL season (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
Welcome to the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
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: After paying his dues in the AHL for several seasons, defenseman Alexander Urbom is on the cusp of becoming a NHL quality defender. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
In terms of strengths and weaknesses, not much has changed for the New Jersey Devils organization. They continue to be well stocked on the blue line, which is good for the future because, aside from Adam Larsson and Mark Fayne, the majority of defensman in New Jersey are on the wrong-side of 30. In between the pipes, the Devils have finally started to plan for future and have a solid group of goaltending prospects. Upfront is a bit of a different story. There is some decent depth at wing and center, but in terms of top-six ability, there is not much to get excited about.