Hockey’s Future Organizational Rankings, Fall 2009 11-20

By HF Staff

The Hockey’s Future Organizational Rankings are an assessment of the overall state of each NHL team’s system of prospects. An overall rank is given, and strengths and weaknesses are identified. The rankings are compiled twice a year by a committee of staff members using Hockey’s Future prospect criteria. All prospects in the pool are taken into consideration. The Top 5 prospects listed are from the Fall ranking of each team’s pool. Teams ranked 21-30 can be found here. For information on individual prospects for each of the NHL teams, please visit the various team pages here at Hockey’s Future.

11. Boston Bruins

Strengths: The Bruins continue to be heavily oriented to center ice, with their top five forwards in the organization all lining up there. University of Denver’s Joe Colborne, who has first-line upside, is still the best among them. Zach Hamill and Brad Marchand each have top-six potential, and are in the minors for a second year. Junior prospects Jamie Arniel, Jordan Caron, and Maxime Sauve have outside chances to be top-six forwards at the NHL level, too. Tuukka Rask, now Boston’s backup after recent success with the AHL Providence Bruins, projects as a starter.

Weaknesses: The Bruins haven’t yet restocked the wing positions, which are severely lacking in both quality and quantity. Boston’s defensive depth is sparse, and behind Rask, there isn’t much goaltending depth either.

Top five prospects: 1. Tuukka Rask, G, 2. Joe Colborne, C, 3. Brad Marchand, C, 4. Zach Hamill, C, 5. Yuri Alexandrov, D.

12. Detroit Red Wings

Strengths: Detroit has several players ready for significant NHL duty in Darren Helm, Ville Leino, and Justin Abdelkader. Helm, Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, and Mattias Ritola all look like promising members of the next wave of grinders. Daniel Larsson and Thomas McCollum could both challenge for a starting job in net in a few years. 2009 picks Tomas Tatar and Landon Ferraro brings some offense and spunk to the system.

Weaknesses: Defensive depth is thin after Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith, and virtually non-existent in the category of defensive defensemen. There is a need for skilled players with size up front in addition to the smaller players Detroit gravitates towards.

Top five prospects: 1. Jakub Kindl, D, 2. Ville Leino, C, 3. Brendan Smith, D, 4, Daniel Larsson, G, 5. Thomas McCollum, G.

13. Montreal Canadiens

Strengths: Having traded away several top prospects, the Canadiens prospect pool looks very different than it did last spring. Montreal continues to have good depth in forwards and defensemen, but lacks high-end talent. Max Pacioretty, Ben Maxwell, Matt D’Agostini, and Kyle Chipchura are all players who have tasted the NHL and made a positive impression. Yannick Weber and Mathieu Carle are two players with professional experience who could be moving up to full-time work soon.

Weaknesses: Goaltending is the biggest problem, with the organization a few injuries away from empty. Most of the team’s centers are more in the checking mold, and Montreal could do with more physicality here.

Top five prospects: 1. Max Pacioretty, LW, 2. Ben Maxwell, C, 3. P.K. Subban, D, 4. Yannick Weber, D, 5. Louis Leblanc, C.

14. Phoenix Coyotes

Strengths: Defensive depth is exceptionally strong and diverse, with names like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Chris Summers, Jonas Ahnelov, and Maxim Goncharov making it likely that Phoenix will have a solid defensive corps for many years to come. Sami Lepisto, David Schlemko, and Michael Stone could make solid bottom-pairing defensemen. The forward group is highlighted by hard workers and strong skaters, from Viktor Tikhonov and Kevin Porter, who’ve already made NHL impacts, to Chad Kolarik and Chris Brown, still some time away.

Weaknesses: Mike Lee was drafted this summer, but he is several years away and there is not much depth in net beyond him. There is not much high-caliber offensive talent left in the cupboard, as most of it has moved to the NHL recently.

Top five prospects: 1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, 2. Viktor Tikhonov, C, 3. Brett MacLean, LW, 4. Jonas Ahnelov, D, 5. Kevin Porter, C.

15. Philadelphia Flyers

Strengths: The Flyers boast two NHL-ready forwards with game-breaking potential in James vanRiemsdyk and Claude Giroux. Defenseman Ryan Parent is a second or third-pairing defenseman who is also currently in the NHL. The Flyers also boast several forwards in Andreas Nodl and Patrick Maroon who can contribute to the NHL team in a bottom-six capacity if called upon. Marc-Andre Bourdon is an offensively-minded defenseman who is also close to contributing at the NHL level.

Weaknesses: All of the other Flyers forwards aside from Giroux and vanRiemsdyk are mostly serviceable bottom-six types. Despite eight goaltending prospects, the Flyers continue to lack a long-term solution in net. The system also lacks a top-pairing defenseman. Depth outside of the pro leagues is also lacking — the system will need to be restocked soon.

Top five prospects: 1. Claude Giroux, RW/C, 2. James vanRiemsdyk, LW, 3. Ryan Parent, D, 4. Kevin Marshall, D, 5. Patrick Maroon, LW.

16. Tampa Bay Lightning

Strengths: The Lightning finally added some high-end talent at the draft while keeping with their favorite trait — size — in Victor Hedman, Carter Ashton, and the enigmatic Richard Panik. Matt Lashoff, Vladimir Mihalik, and Ty Wishart are all knocking at the NHL’s door as versatile defensemen ranging in size from big to mammoth. Goaltending depth is strong, with several prospects like Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus making major splashes at the international level.

Weaknesses: Forward depth is heavy on checkers, but light on scorers outside of what was added at the 2009 draft. Overall, the organization lacks depth due to misses in the later rounds of the draft. While they do have a few promising defensemen, the talent drops off quickly and brings up big question marks. They could also benefit from speedy puck-moving defensemen to complement the bigger, physical players in place.

Top five prospects: 1. Victor Hedman, D, 2. Carter Ashton, RW, 3. Richard Panik, C, 4. Matt Lashoff, D, 5, Dana Tyrell, C.

17. Colorado Avalanche

Strengths: Colorado improved a lot via the 2009 draft, landing two young prospects who started the season in the NHL in Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. Ryan Stoa, Chris Stewart, and T.J. Galiardi highlight a group of skilled forwards with size. Defensive depth continues to stockpile as the Avalanche have added Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott to a group including Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen.

Weaknesses: There is not much forward depth beyond the top group. Colorado could really use some help in the immediate future, but many players at the top of the depth charts have yet to even turn pro. Trevor Cann is getting a shot at the professional ranks, but the Avalanche have yet to see a payoff after trying to shore up goaltending depth with several early-round draft picks.

Top five prospects: 1. Matt Duchene, C, 2. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, 3. Chris Stewart, RW, 4. Ryan Stoa, C, 5. Ryan O’Reilly, C.

18. Toronto Maple Leafs

Strengths: The complete franchise overhaul is still underway, but clear progress is being made by Brian Burke and company. 2009 first-rounder Nazem Kadri delivered an inspired performance at training camp. Collegians Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson also impressed and could make an impact as early as this season. Former Hobey Baker nominee Viktor Stalberg cracked the NHL roster because of his skill and bullet-train speed. Free-agent goalie Jonas Gustavsson was spectacular in Sweden and could become a star in Toronto. Enigmatic Belarusian Mikhail Stefanovich has all the tools necessary to become a special talent.

Weaknesses: Depth is still an issue, which is not surprising considering the lack of picks in the past few years. Each position is lacking once you look past a single player. The blueline is especially thin, with Jesse Blacker currently occupying the top spot.

Top five prospects: 1. Nazem Kadri, C, 2. Jonas Gustavsson, G, 3. Mikhail Stefanovich, C, 4. Tyler Bozak, C, 5. Viktor Stalberg, LW.

19. New York Islanders

Strengths: John Tavares, the top pick of the 2009 draft, is already making an impact for his team in his rookie season. Behind Tavares is talented puck-moving defenseman Calvin de Haan and giant goaltender Mikko Koskinen. The Islanders have solid overall depth at every position as well. The Islanders stockpiled picks the last two years and those picks are starting to bear fruit.

Weaknesses: The Isles lack any game-breaking talent behind Tavares and de Haan. Questions about de Haan’s size and assertiveness and Petrov’s availability for signing also remain. There also appears to be little help on the wing for Tavares in the near future.

Top five prospects: 1. John Tavares, C, 2. Calvin de Haan, D, 3. Kirill Petrov, RW, 4. Mikko Koskinen, G, 5. Jesse Joensuu, LW.

20. Anaheim Ducks

Strengths: While they don’t have a surplus of defensemen by any means, a top group of Luca Sbisa, Jake Gardiner, Mark Mitera, Matt Clark, and Brendan Mikkelson leaves Anaheim’s future looking bright. They also have a stable of strong two-way forwards, led by Matt Beleskey and Logan MacMillan.

Weaknesses: Despite draft-day additions in Kyle Palmieri and Peter Holland, there are not many promising top-six forwards in the system. While there are several goaltenders in the system, none are of high quality and this remains the greatest need in the system.

Top five prospects: 1. Luca Sbisa, D, 2. Jake Gardiner, D, 3. Peter Holland, C, 4. Mark Mitera, D, 5. Kyle Palmieri, C.