Hockey’s Future Top 50 prospects, Spring 2010, 26-50

By HF Staff

26. Karl Alzner, D – Washington Capitals
Height: 6’2, Weight: 205
Now in his second full season of professional hockey, Alzner has spent much of the 2009-10 season shuttling between the Washington Capitals and their AHL affiliate in Hershey. A combination of size, mobility, and smart defensive play, the 21-year-old has all of the tools to be a shutdown defenseman at the NHL level. The only real impediment for him is playing for an extremely deep and talented Capitals organization. Expect Alzner to join the Capitals on a full-time basis as soon this fall.

27. Lars Eller, C – St. Louis Blues
Height: 6’1, Weight: 198
With all of the young offensive talent creeping up through the St. Louis Blues system recently, Lars Eller journeyed to North America in the hopes of jumping right into the action. Even after a great 2008-09 in the Elitserien, things developed slowly for Eller and at the beginning of 2009-10, he found himself in the AHL with the Peoria Rivermen. His talents as a playmaker are just another asset that the Blues are looking forward to in the upcoming years, but Eller’s two-way game may help bridge the gap until he reaches his peak as an NHL forward.

28. Joe Colborne, C – Boston Bruins

Height: 6’5, Weight: 190
Boston’s top-ranked forward prospect continues to make strides with his development. Now playing for the University of Denver, Colborne is having another successful season at the NCAA level. The 20-year-old is learning to use his impressive 6’5 frame and long reach to his advantage. He is also playing more physically and is becoming harder to play against. With continued progress, Colborne should prove to be a reliable power forward at the NHL level.

29. Cody Franson, D – Nashville Predators
Height: 6’5, Weight: 227
After two solid AHL seasons, Franson was called up to the NHL at the beginning of he 2009-10 season and made an immediate impact. At the age of 22, he still has a lot of room to develop and had his ups and downs this year. But his size, mobility, and offensive instincts suggest the blueliner should be a minute-munching NHL defenseman someday.

30. Eric Tangradi, LW – Pittsburgh Penguins

Height: 6’4, Weight: 224
The Penguins only blue-chip forward prospect, 21-year-old Tangradi looks like he is well on his way to being an impact NHL forward in the near future. In his first AHL season, he has shown a lot of maturity, particularly on the defensive side of the puck, and has continued to develop into a big and mean power forward who can play anywhere in the Penguins lineup. With the Penguins considerable cap constraints going into 2010-11, he should have every chance to make the NHL squad out of training camp.

31. Thomas Hickey, D – Los Angeles Kings

Height: 5-10, Weight: 195
The quick-skating Thomas Hickey is just one of many excellent young defensemen in the Los Angeles Kings organization. Of the group, Hickey’s combination of swift skating and offensive ability make him particularly intriguing. This season, Hickey started the season in the AHL, but had his season cut short due to a serious shoulder injury which he was trying to play through. Hickey should certainly see his first NHL action next season.

32. Cory Schneider – G – Vancouver Canucks
Height: 6’2, Weight: 195
Schneider has been considered one of the best goalies not in the NHL for several years now. Although his NHL results so far have not been up to par with his performances in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, he still projects highly. The 23-year-old uses a near flawless butterfly style along with his solid size. Schneider’s main obstacle to the NHL is Vancouver starter Roberto Luongo, whose presence may force Schneider to eventually join another organization that is in search of a future starting goaltender.

33. Logan Couture, C – San Jose Sharks

Height: 6’1, Weight: 195
Couture has already earned several call-ups to San Jose in his first pro season. The 20-year-old pivot made his NHL debut on Oct. 25, but has spent most of the year getting more ice time with Worcester. His offensive game has already shown up at the AHL level where he has been one of the team’s top scoring options. In addition to his great playmaking ability, Couture also plays a responsible defensive game. Though he has yet to carve out a permanent role among San Jose’s talented lineup, the skilled forward is poised to get plenty of opportunities with the big club.

34. Chet Pickard. G – Nashville Predators

Height: 6’2, Weight: 210
Pickard left the WHL as the league’s two-time reigning Goaltender of the Year, joining the Predators’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. He has split starts with fellow Nashville draft pick Mark Dekanich while adjusting to the speed of the pro game. At 6’2, he uses his size and sound positioning to take away a lot of net. He also plays with great poise and confidence which has helped ease some of the growing pains in making the jump to the pros. He is Nashville’s top prospect in net and one of the team’s top prospects overall.

35. Dylan Olsen, D – Chicago Blackhawks
Height: 6’2, Weight: 206
Olsen’s stock is quickly on the rise. Since his arrival as a freshman with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he has quickly made himself a fixture on team’s first defensive pairing. The 19-year-old was also invited to attend the Canadian WJC tryout camp and was among the final cuts. Olsen has very good size at 6’3 220 lbs, yet skates well. He is not physically overpowering by nature, but can at times be imposing. His offensive instincts are still developing, though he has a hard, accurate shot from the point. Olsen will likely spend another year or more with Duluth.

36. John Moore, D – Columbus Blue Jackets
Height: 6’2, Weight: 195
John Moore spent the 2008-09 season in the USHL, won the league’s Defenseman of the Year award, and then jumped to the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. The offensively-gifted blueliner signed a pro contract during the summer of 2009 and just missed making the Columbus roster out of camp. His blend of size and skating ability are lethal on the back end and he is also a smart passer. Like most teenage defensemen, continuing to improve defensively and filling out his frame will be the key at the next level. The 19-year-old looks to have a bright future on the Jackets blue line.

37. Jhonas Enroth, G – Buffalo Sabres
Height: 5’10, Weight: 166
While Ryan Miller posts Vezina-caliber numbers with the Sabres, Enroth continually sharpens his craft in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. After going pro last season, he has made noticeable improvement, and has been particularly successful as of late. Enroth was called up for a game with Buffalo early on in 2010. Though not big, the 21-year-old has quick reflexes, great agility, and has competed on the international stage for his Sweden. Enroth is still fairly raw for a goaltender but with Miller in net for the Sabres, the Swede will have plenty of time to mature.

38. Scott Glennie, RW – Dallas Stars

Height: 6’1, Weight: 188
A frequent linemate of Brayden Schenn (TOR) and Matt Calvert (CLB), Scott Glennie is having yet another strong season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The fast winger has also shown continued growth on the defensive side of the puck, plays physically, and has shown to be able to play all forward positions. With little left to prove at the junior level and the Dallas Stars in a rebuilding mode, it would be no surprise to see Glennie given at least a long look in the NHL come training camp.

39. Jakub Kindl, D – Detroit Red Wings

Height: 6’3, Weight: 210
A dynamic skater and skilled offensive defenseman, first-round pick Jakub Kindl is no exception to Detroit’s slow-cooker approach to their prospects. Now in his third pro season, the 23-year-old made his NHL debut on Dec. 3. He has used the Wings’ patient approach to his advantage, becoming a well-rounded player by improving his defensive play. Skating is still his greatest asset and he projects as a puck-moving power-play quarterback. Kindl is still prone to poor decisions with the puck but his improvements have him positioned for a call-up.

40. Mattias Tedenby, LW – New Jersey Devils
Height: 5’10, Weight: 176
Following a strong performance in the WJC, the Devils 2008 first rounder keeps on improving as he is now one of the hottest young players in the Elitserien. The biggest question is when he will join the Devils organization. The 20-year-old is under contract until April 2011, but is reported to have an out clause this summer. Most likely he will use it and be assigned to Lowell where the Devils will give him time to assimilate to the North America game. Tedenby has a lot of talent but he is not NHL ready yet.

41. Jared Cowen, D – Ottawa Senators

Height: 6’5, Weight: 218
Drafted in 2009 after sustaining a knee injury, Cowen has gone on to not only be a cornerstone for the Spokane Chiefs but is also their captain. The 19-year-old was also a member of the silver medal-winning Canadian WJC team. His most noticeable asset though is his is physically imposing 6’5 218 lbs frame. Yet, he skates very well for his stature and has the ability to be an all-around defender. Though the Senators signed him to an entry-level deal, Cowen remains a fairly raw prospect who will need more time before he enters the NHL.

42. Greg Nemisz, RW – Calgary Flames

Height: 6’4, Weight: 200
Signed by the Flames this summer, Nemisz was eventually returned to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, where he is one of the league’s top wingers in his fourth year. A big-bodied, physical forward, Nemisz raised a lot of eyebrows last fall after an impressive performance in the Memorial Cup tournament. For the power forward, the only question is a matter of NHL readiness, especially considering a sub-par outing in the WJC. There is no question about the ability and potential though.

43. Jordan Schroeder, C – Vancouver Canucks

Height: 5’8, Weight: 165
Schroeder was already a freshman at the University of Minnesota when he was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. With small stature and great hands, Schroeder presented some risks that many teams passed on before he was selected by Vancouver. Schroeder played in his third U-20 WJCs, one of the few players in recent history to do so. His sophomore year has been otherwise forgettable though as Schroeder has been unable to produce on a consistent basis. Schroeder will become a professional next fall, likely playing with the Canucks farm team in Manitoba.

44. Derek Stepan, C – New York Rangers

Height: 6’0, Weight: 168
Stepan was an unknown when the Rangers drafted him out of Shattuck-St. Mary’s in the summer of 2008. The Rangers loved his natural scoring ability, leadership ability, and hockey mind when they selected him in the second round. Since then, Stepan has performed well in his two seasons with the University of Wisconsin, but his biggest play has been on the international stage. As the captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at this year’s U-20 WJCs, Stepan recorded four goals and 10 assists in seven games, which made him the tournament scoring leader. Expected to return to Madison next fall, Stepan is two to three years away from an NHL career.

45. Kyle Beach, LW – Chicago Blackhawks
Height: 6’3, Weight: 182
Beach‘s reputation as a pest certainly precedes him around WHL arenas. The 20-year-old is also enjoying his most productive year in that league now in his fourth junior season. The winger has the size and strength to dominate at the junior level and his heavy shot makes him a potent goal scorer for the Spokane Chiefs. Beach is making the most out of his final junior season. He will challenge for a roster spot with the Blackhawks but could benefit from an adjustment period in the AHL. Still, his pesky attitude will make him hard to play against at any level.

46. Jacob Josefson, C – New Jersey Devils

Height: 6’0, Weight: 187
Now in his second full season with Djurgardens IF of the Elitserien, Jacob Josefson has shown considerable progress, particularly in his offensive game. Although there is no need for the Devils organization to rush him, as he continues to progress overseas, his current contract is over at the end of the 2009-10 season. With that in mind, the 19-year-old could be bringing his puck control, creativity, and vision to North America as soon as 2010-11.

47. Brett MacLean, LW – Phoenix Coyotes
Height: 6’1, Weight: 200
The talented winger has risen up the Coyotes depth chart and is poised to eventually take on a top-six role in Phoenix. With an already strong shot and skilled offensive game, further improvement in the skating department will make the 21-year-old an even more potent offensive threat. In his second full professional season, he has enjoyed a breakout year with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. The winger has been especially potent on the power play. While Phoenix has several other highly-touted offensive prospects with their AHL affiliate, including Kyle Turris and Mikael Boedkker, the skilled winger is on the right track towards a spot with the big club next season.

48. Carl Klingberg, LW – Atlanta Thrashers
Height: 6’3, Weight: 205
A physical winger with a thick build and strong skating ability, the only question about Carl Klingberg is his offensive upside. Playing for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Elite League, the 19-year-old is playing against an extremely high level of competition in a fairly limited role. Klingberg’s infectious physical play and willingness to play a strong two-way game should allow him to assimilate well to the North American style of play.

49. Michal Neuvirth, G – Washington Capitals

Height: 6’1, Weight: 200
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth was drafted only 11 picks after the Washington Capitals selected top prospect Semyon Varlamov. Even so, Neuvirth has run his paces with the Capitals organization, spending plenty of time in the AHL with the Hershey Bears. He has performed moderately well in the past, but his phenomenal breakout play with the Bears this season earned him a longer stint in the NHL. Though he has not had the level of success as Varlamov, he remains a very talented goaltender with outstanding composure and solid positioning.

50. Ivan Vishnevskiy, D – Atlanta Thrashers
Height: 6’0, Weight: 180
Traded from Dallas to Atlanta in exchange for Kari Lehtonen, the mobile Vishnevskiy spent most of 2008-09 with the Peoria Rivermen before a getting an NHL cup of coffee. He also had a brief look with the Stars in 2009-10, but was primarily a member of their AHL affiliate before being dealt to the Thrashers. The 22-year-old is currently skating for the Thrashers AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. Vishnevskiy is a highly talented skater and offensive defenseman, with a tremendous shot. Defensively, he is still learning his way.