Jacob Markstrom tops the penultimate group of HF’s Top 50 NHL prospects

By League Press Release

Photo: Florida Panthers prospect Erik Gudbranson is ranked 12th in the latest ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

The climb up HF’s Top 50 prospects ladder continues with our rundown of the players falling into the 11-20 section of the rankings.

The San Jose Sharks land their first prospect in the rankings with #20, Charlie Coyle. Coyle, a power forward in the making, played his freshman season with Boston University in 2010-11. The East Weymouth, Massachusetts native put up decent numbers in his first season of college hockey, but his performance for Team USA at the 2011 Under-20 World Junior Championship helped vault Coyle up the Top 50 rankings.

The prospect ranked #19, center Cody Hodgson, has placed as high as #3 but has had his star fall a bit over the past year. The former OHL star played his rookie pro season with the AHL‘s Manitoba Moose, the farm club of the Vancouver Canucks. Hodgson generated some offense for the Moose, but his performance was eclipsed by other AHL rookies that have been far less hyped than Hodgson. Injuries had dogged the Markham, Ontario native the past two seasons, but Hodgson stayed healthy this season, even spending a few games with the Canucks where he notched his first NHL goal.

Returning to these rankings after being left off the previous edition is #18, Jared Cowen. Cowen, a defenseman playing for the WHL‘s Spokane Chiefs, is a prospect of the Ottawa Senators. The Senators took a chance on Cowen, who was highly regarded in his draft year but suffered a serious knee injury that affected his play on into last season. But this year, Cowen bounced back to display the form that had made him a highly rated draft prospect. The Allen, Saskatchewan native turned in a strong performance for Canada at the 2011 WJC, further cementing his reputation as a top defensive prospect.

Staying with defensemen, at #17 is Phoenix Coyotes prospect, Brandon Gormley. The lanky rearguard posted a career-high point total this season while playing for the QMJHL‘s Moncton Wildcats. Gormley also was a serious contender to be named to Canada’s 2011 WJC squad, but an injury kept him out of the tournament. The Murray River, Prince Edward Island native is considered an all-around defenseman whose overall skill is his main strength.

One defensive prospect that has made great strides in a short amount of time is #16 in the rankings, Travis Hamonic. The New York Islanders prospect has effortlessly made the jump from juniors to the pro game. Hamonic began the season with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but made his NHL debut in November and has not looked back since that call-up. The St. Malo, Manitoba native has been effective defensively while also providing some grit and a little offense to the rebuilding Islanders’ defensive corps.

Making his debut at #15 in the Top 50 is left winger Jaden Schwartz. The Wilcox, Saskatchewan native is a prospect of the St. Louis Blues, who made him their top pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. Schwartz is a freshman at Colorado College where he turned in a great season for the Tigers, leading the team in scoring despite missing 15 games. The offensively gifted Schwartz suffered an injury early in the 2011 WJC while playing for Canada, which caused him to miss the rest of the tournament as well as playing time with his college team. Schwartz could be the elite offensive talent that the Blues have lacked the past few seasons.

Moving from the 30th spot in the previous rankings to #14 this time around is goaltender Jack Campbell. The Dallas Stars prospect tested his skills this season in the OHL as a member of the Windsor Spitfires after spending the past two seasons with the U.S. NTDP organization. Campbell has developed a reputation as a winner based largely on his strong showing at international tournaments the past three years. The Port Huron, Michigan native played for the U.S. at the 2011 WJC where he was named the top goaltender in that tournament.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri has been no stranger to these rankings, this time landing at #13. Kadri began his pro career this season after a productive run in the OHL. The London, Ontario native started the season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies where he was scoring at a nearly point-per-game clip. The Maple Leafs rewarded the young center with a call-up to the big club where Kadri has remained up to this point in the season. While there were some rumblings prior to the season that time was running out for the mercurial Kadri, his performance this season seems to indicate that he is on track to achieve better things in the NHL.

Moving up one position to #12 is Florida Panthers prospect, Erik Gudbranson. The rugged defenseman had a good season for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs but played his best hockey at the 2011 WJC as a member of the silver medal-winning Canadian squad. Gudbranson has a good mix of offensive ability and brawn which should make him an intimidating presence on the Panthers’ blueline in the years ahead.

Wrapping up the penultimate grouping of 10 is a player that dropped out of the top 10 to land at #11, goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The Florida Panthers prospect toiled in net for that team’s AHL farm club, the Rochester Americans, one of that league’s lesser lights. Markstrom performed admirably in his first season in North America, with his drop in the rankings having more to do with advances made by other prospects rather than any poor play on the part of Markstrom. The Gavle, Sweden native still has the size and technical approach to the game to eventually become a top goaltender in the NHL.

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