The New York Rangers placed the most prospects on Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 NHL Prospects list for Spring 2006, with four. Five teams have three prospects on the list: Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, Nashville and Anaheim. Three teams have no prospects on the list: Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Phoenix.
All players were chosen by a committee from among those drafted prospects meeting Hockey’s Future’s prospect criteria. Below are players ranked 11-25. Players ranked 26-50 can be found here.
11. Alexander Semin, LW – Washington Capitals
Semin is an excellent skater and puckhandler, as well as a deadly shooter. Semin played 52 games with Washington during the 2003-04 campaign, registering 10 goals and 12 assists, but it is unclear whether he will play another game for the Capitals, who selected him 13th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Washington recently filed suit against Semin and his agent for breach of contract, due to Semin’s failure to report to the Capitals this season. According to Semin, he is serving in the Russian army, however, he has been playing all season for the Russian hockey teams Lada Togliatti and Mytishi Khimik. In 37 games in Russia, Semin has registered 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists). Regardless of the contract situation, Semin’s skill-set cannot be denied.
12. Cam Ward, G – Carolina Hurricanes
Ward made the move from junior hockey to the NHL this year, with just one AHL season in between, a rarity for goaltenders. He had an outstanding junior career and was drafted 25th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Now with Carolina, Ward has won 11 of his 22 games. Ward has a 3.44 GAA and a save percentage of .887 serving as backup to Martin Gerber. If Ward, who has great lateral movement and a quick glove hand, continues to develop at this pace, he will be a staple between the pipes for the Hurricanes for many years to come.
13. Marek Svatos, RW – Colorado Avalanche
Svatos emerges on the list at No. 13, due to his amazing speed and wonderful puckhandling skills. Svatos has used those skills to turn in a fantastic performance with the Avalanche in his rookie season this year. In 58 games, Svatos has registered 50 points (32 goals, 18 assists). He is currently third in scoring, behind only Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The 30 goals Svatos has scored places him second among all NHL rookies (behind Ovechkin, who has scored 34). As evidence of his fine play, Svatos has been named to the Slovakian Olympic hockey team.
14. Zach Parise, C – New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils top prospect continues to move up the list after making his NHL debut this year. Parise is a top-notch playmaker who always gives 100 percent effort when he is on the ice. He has adjusted well to the new league, which clearly suits his size and playing style. In 57 games, he has 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists), but he has had some trouble defensively, and currently has a plus/minus rating of –10. If Parise develops his defensive game nearly as much as he has his offense, he will be the next great forward in a long line of New Jersey draftees starring in the NHL.
15. Ryan Getzlaf, C – Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Getzlaf made his NHL debut with the Ducks this season and has been impressive so far. The big center has eight goals and six assists in 32 games. He also spent time with Portland of the AHL where he racked up an amazing 25 assists to go along with eight goals in 17 contests. He is more than proving that the AHL is little match for him. With the movement of some big name forwards off of the Anaheim roster in these past five months, the road may be clear for Getzlaf and fellow Anaheim prospect Corey Perry to emerge as young stars on the NHL roster.
16. Andrej Meszaros, D – Ottawa Senators
This rookie defenseman is having an incredible NHL season. He’s played in all 56 of Ottawa’s games, scoring a respectable five goals and impressive 19 assists for 24 points, which ties him for fourth among rookie defensemen. His most outstanding feat by far is his +34 rating, which ties him for the league lead, rookie or otherwise. Ottawa continues to churn out top prospects from their farm system. Drafted late in the first round, Meszaros is making other prospects drafted well ahead of him look like early busts in comparison to this 20-year-old.
17. Alexander Steen, C – Toronto Maple Leafs
After spending the last few seasons in the Swedish Elite League, Steen debuted with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005-06. He has been most impressive, scoring 13 goals, tied for 11th among rookies, and recording 18 assists for 31 points, tied for ninth among rookies. In most other years, Steen would be making headlines NHL-wide as a Calder Trophy hopeful if not for the bumper crop of rookies the lost season has produced. Toronto is fighting for a playoff spot, and it is the production of such rookies as Steen and Kyle Wellwood that has provided the scoring depth to keep them in the race.
18. Mike Richards, C – Philadelphia Flyers
After signing a contract with Philadelphia after the completion of his junior career, and dominating the AHL playoffs in 2004-05, Richards has played in 55 games for the Flyers this season, scoring ten goals and 18 assists. The youngster has shown toughness as well, with 43 penalty minutes, including three fighting majors. But more telling are his team-leading three shorthanded goals, proving that he can be relied upon in any situation. While teammate Jeff Carter came into the NHL with all the fanfare, Richards has more than held his own.
19. Braydon Coburn, D – Atlanta Thrashers
Coburn was expected to stick with the Thrashers this season, but finds himself back in the AHL, where he finished last season. He played nine games with the Thrashers in October before returning to the AHL. He has scored five goals and 15 assists in 44 contests with the Wolves. But scoring is not necessarily what you will think of when you hear Coburn’s name around NHL rinks. His assets are his size and skating. The big defenseman still has a lot of potential and is currently on the cusp of making the NHL roster permanently, as soon as he can get his defensive house in order.
20. Hannu Toivonen, G – Boston Bruins
Toivonen has played in 20 games for the Bruins this season, going 9-5-4 with one shutout. His 2.63 goals-against average is fourth best among rookies, and his .914 save percentage is third best. His impressive play has shown the Boston organization that he might be the franchise goaltender of the future and make Andrew Raycroft expendable. The fact that Toivonen has been able to push a goaltender who posted a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in his last NHL season is a testament to his capabilities.
21. Rob Schremp, C – Edmonton Oilers
Schremp is having another great year with the London Knights of the OHL. In only 44 games, he has scored 43 goals, and recorded 73 assists for a robust 116 points. A vastly controversial figure, what cannot be denied is his pure hockey ability. A danger from anywhere on the ice, Schremp is an elite offensive prospect. But the defensive side has yet to come around. The question is whether Schremp can score enough to overcome other areas that are lacking. The Top 50 Prospects list is in the pursuit of future All-Stars and not sure-bet third liners, and Schremp is as boom or bust as they come.
22. Bobby Ryan, RW – Anaheim Mighty Ducks
The second overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft had an impressive 37 goals and 52 assists in 62 games as a 17-year-old with the Owen Sound Attack. After 45 games in 2005-06, Ryan is ready to surpass his 2004-05 totals. Ryan is tied for seventh in OHL scoring with 87 points (29 goals and 58 assists). The New Jersey native was named to the Western Conference All-Star Team for the OHL All-Star Classic. The 6’1, 221-pound right winger is extremely gifted offensively, protects the puck well, and is strong along the boards, part of a trio of Anaheim power forward prospects.
23. Corey Perry, RW – Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Perry joins Getzlaf and Ryan to form Anaheim’s future at forward. The 20-year-old right winger started the season in Anaheim with a four-game point scoring streak. His production trailed and then he suffered a concussion Oct. 28 against St. Louis. Reassigned to Portland upon his return, the OHL’s leading scorer in 2004-05 nearly equaled that pace in Portland. In 19 games Perry scored 16 goals and 18 assists. The Duck prospect was named AHL Co-Rookie of the Month along with Getzlaf for December after leading the AHL in scoring that month. Recalled by Anaheim Jan. 8, Perry has flown with the Ducks since and figures to be a future first liner in the NHL after dominating the AHL.
24. Petr Prucha, RW – New York Rangers
Nobody in the hockey world would have predicted that Czech right winger Petr Prucha would be battling with Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Marek Svatos for the NHL lead in rookie goal scoring. But that was the case prior to Feb. 4, when the wiry speedster suffered a sprained MCL. Prucha, who has 25 goals and 9 assists in 49 games, was slated to represent the Czech Republic at the Olympics but is out three to four weeks and will miss the tournament. Few paid attention to it, but Prucha showed hints of his current form at the 2004 World Championships, and in last season’s Czech Extraleague playoffs, in which his Pardubice team won the Extraleague championship.
25. Ryan Whitney, D – Pittsburgh Penguins
Whitney began 2005-06 in Wilkes-Barre by destroying the AHL with five goals and nine assists in nine games from the back line. The struggling Pittsburgh Penguins recalled the soon to be 23-year-old after Dick Tarnstrom went down with a torn ACL. Averaging 23:19 of ice time per game, Whitney has 18 points in 47 games, 17 of them assists. The 6’4, 202-pound blueliner has proven himself as an excellent skater and puckmover, but he’s continuing to work on his defensive play and has been criticized by Penguins coach Michel Therrien for being soft. The fifth overall pick of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft has considerable upside due to his skating, size, and vision.
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