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.
Photo: Drafted 29th overall in 2012, Stefan Matteau instantly became the top forward prospect for New Jersey. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Lockout or no lockout, it is not likely that many of the New Jersey Devils minor-pro prospects would be in line for a promotion to the NHL. Having graduated a handful of players over the past couple of years like Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique, and Mark Fayne to name a few, the NHL roster is well stocked with established veterans and young up-and-comers.
Photo: University of Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill leads a strong and diverse group of New Jersey Devils prospects. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
The strength of the New Jersey Devils organization continues to reside in the burgeoning stable of defensemen working their way through the system. The addition of 2012 draft pick Damon Severson to a group that already includes Jon Merrill, Alexander Urbom, Eric Gelinas, and Reece Scarlett should have Devils fans frothing at the mouth about what the defense might look like in the near future. That doesn't even include Adam Larsson, who's already established himself at the NHL level.