The Fall edition of Hockey's Future's Top 50 NHL prospect rankings has been released, but there are always talented prospects who did not make the cut. Whether through recent sub-par performances or the lack of high-end potential compared to some of their peers, these players were considered for the ranking but did not ultimately crack the Top 50.
Of the players who just missed ranking, the most prominent is probably Jack Campbell (DAL), who is appearing among the honorable mentions for the second consecutive top 50 ranking. It could be the last time the 20-year-old goaltender is among the honorable mentions however, given his opportunity with the Texas Stars in 2012-13. He had a strong finish in the AHL with the club last season, but it was not considered enough to account for the struggles he encountered as a junior player.
Campbell's OHL career could one day be a minor footnote in an otherwise glistening career, but at this point in his development, his inability to take over many games in his two juniors seasons, first with Windsor and then Sault Ste. Marie, stood in contrast to the young goaltender who carried several U.S. teams on his back in international competitions. Campbell's mental stamina and his tendency to get down on himself when things start going bad are aspects of his game to watch as he adjusts this season to the pro game.
At forward, Tomas Jurco (DET), Vladislav Namestnikov (TBL), and Nicklas Jensen (VAN) all missed the cut but have strong cases for inclusion. In Jurco's case, the talented lineup in Saint John of the QMJHL has made it difficult to make an accurate assessment of his skill level. A slick puckhandler with top-six upside, he will have a chance to step out from the shadow of the vaunted Sea Dogs offense as he makes his pro debut with Grand Rapids in 2012-13. Improving his defensive game and play away from the puck will be essential to Jurco's success with the Detroit organization.
Namestnikov will also make the adjustment to the AHL this season as a member of the Syracuse Crunch. A slight yet versatile forward, Namestnikov capped off his junior career in London by ranking second on the team in points during the regular season and third in the postseason. He skated in all situations for the Knights and has the potential of developing into a do-it-all forward with more strength and experience under his belt, but there are still questions regarding Namestnikov's ultimate upside as a professional player.
The Vancouver Canucks' top prospect, Jensen opted to spend the 2012-13 season playing against professional level competition in the Swedish Elite League. Jensen, a 6'3 winger with fantastic offensive tools, has the upside of a top-six power forward, the type of player that has been coveted by the Canucks in recent years. Being able to use his size consistently against men will be key to his transition, as will being able to continue finding the back of the net against better competition.
Defensemen Brian Dumoulin (PIT) and Tim Erixon (CBJ) ranked in the mid-40's in the Spring list but just missed the cut in this edition. Dumoulin's name may have been new to many people when he was part of Pittsburgh's return in the Jordan Staal trade, but that should not be the case for very long. His combination of a 6'4, 219-pound frame and great mobility make him stand out even among Pittsburgh's deep group of defensive prospects. He plays confidently in all situations and will play his rookie pro season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Erixon has also seen his rights traded since he was drafted in the NHL, first from the Flames to the Rangers and then from New York to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Rick Nash trade. Currently skating with the Columbus AHL affiliate in Springfield, he is an offensively-talented blueliner that will contribute on the power play. Expected to push for a spot in the Jackets' opening night lineup, Erixon should bring fairly immediate returns on the Nash trade and join the Jackets' lineup as soon as the NHL opens back up for business.
The class of defensemen from the 2012 NHL Draft was featured prominently in the Fall Top 50 ranking, but several more selections such as Hampus Lindholm, Slater Koekkoek, and Olli Maatta did not make the final list. All will have the opportunity to join the rankings as they develop and their ultimate upside becomes more clear.