New York Islanders prospect Ryan Strome leads the 11-20 section of the Hockey's Future Spring ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects. Strome was one of the most productive players in the OHL this season, and was Mr. Everything for the Niagara IceDogs, figuring into over 40 percent of their total offense. He was not the only notable player to move up in the prospect rankings, however.
Two goaltenders, Andrey Vasilevskiy (TB) and Jacob Markstrom (FLA) moved up considerably in the rankings. Both were already promising prospects on the rise and they further solidified their status as elite prospects with strong seasons at their respective competition levels.
11. Ryan Strome, C – New York Islanders
Height: 6-1 Weight: 183, Fall Ranking – 13
Though Ryan Strome has many strengths to his game, the most noticeable is probably his explosive speed. The 2011 draft pick is able to move the puck and operate at top speed, all while making slick, highlight reel plays all over the ice. His vision and passing also are both top-notch, and when he is on, he can take a game over single-handedly.
One of the more fascinating things about Strome is his ability to find the scoresheet even when he is playing poorly. There are occasionally games where he goes unnoticed on the ice but still somehow finishes the game with multiple points. He will be in the New York Islanders lineup sooner rather than later.
12. Jacob Markstrom, G – Florida Panthers
Height: 6-6 Weight: 196, Fall Ranking – 20
In the past two years, injuries have limited Markstrom's opportunities to become a full-time player in the NHL. Now, after an injury to starting Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore and lackluster play from backup Scott Clemmensen, Markstrom is finally getting the chance to show that he is capable of handling the duties of an NHL starter. He has shown flashes of brilliance so far, including a 44-save win against the New York Rangers, but backstopping the shambling, patchwork Florida defense has been no easy task. He needs good coaching and experience to help close some of the holes in his technique, but he looks to be the starter for the Panthers now and likely for the foreseeable future.
13. Griffin Reinhart, D – New York Islanders
Height: 6-4 Weight: 202, Fall Ranking – 18
Possessing great vision, mobility, and excellent positioning, Reinhart has all of the tools to develop into a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL. He is not an offensively oriented defenseman, but is very good at distributing the puck up ice, and has a big shot from the point. Reinhart is extremely big and strong, but he is not really known for playing an overly physical game, instead opting to use his rangy build to gain positioning on opponents.
He is currently steeped in a playoff run as a member of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. Reinhart is expected to get a good look in the Islanders training camp next fall, but could very possibly be returned to the Oil Kings for one final season.
Grigorenko is a smooth-skating playmaker with excellent vision and high-end scoring ability. Prior to the NHL lockout, he was the top scorer in the QJMHL for the Quebec Remparts and performed well at the WJC tournament for Team Russia.
Once the lockout was resolved, the Sabres decided to keep the young Grigorenko at the NHL level, believing that he could help their offense for the shortened season. He was used on the team's third line and saw just over 10 minutes of ice time per game. After 22 NHL games, the struggling Sabres decided to return Grigorenko to his team in juniors to dominate at that level for the rest of the year. He will likely be back in the NHL in 2013-14 to stay.
Ryan Murray was considered the most NHL-ready defenseman selected at the 2012 NHL Draft, where he was chosen 2nd overall. Unfortunately, due to a shoulder injury, he will not play a single game in the shortened 2012-13 NHL season. In 23 games for the WHL's Everett Silvertips before suffering his injury, Murray played a very stalwart game and looked poised to become the new face of a rebuilding Blue Jackets franchise. Barring no setbacks, Murray should start the 2013-14 campaign in a top-four role with Columbus and, with his near perfect two-way game, which includes a very underrated offensive arsenal, he could be a dark horse for the 2014 Calder Trophy.
With great vision and excellent hands, Granlund stirred up a lot of excitement when it became certain he would play in North America for the 2012-13 season. After three seasons in the SM-liiga during which he posted approximately a point per game, Granlund was expected to compete for Rookie of the Year honors this season. However, after a very good showing with the AHL's Houston Aeros early in the season, Granlund was not able to find his offensive game in Minnesota and was returned to Houston in mid-March. Granlund has great hockey instincts and is a very flashy player. With average speed and below average size, however, he is still a work in progress. He is expected to play top six minutes for the Wild next season.
Forsberg's growth and prospect status remain solid after a strong 2012-13 regular season in Sweden where he was able to improve his play. He also had a strong World Junior Championship where he captained Sweden and contributed five points in six games. Forsberg continues to grow into his frame and as a result is becoming stronger and more physical in his game. He makes good decisions with or without the puck and his game is well-rounded. Forsberg could come to North America as early as this Spring, once he concludes his post-season in Sweden.
Schwartz was drafted by the Blues in 2010 as the 14th overall pick and since that time has been pegged as a playmaking forward with excellent speed. He showed promise in a short stint in St. Louis in 2011-12 and was likely to make the Blues in 2012-13. Because of the lockout, he started his season in Peoria (AHL) where he showed some offensive skill on a low scoring Rivermen team. He did struggle defensively, however, which was a known deficiency in his game. After the end of the lockout, Schwartz has played for St. Louis but has struggled and is seeing limited minutes as a result. He remains a top prospect, but needs more time to adjust to the pro level before he reaches his potential.
With outstanding speed and excellent size, Chris Kreider has the raw materials to be every team's dream power forward. He had three productive seasons at Boston College as well as good international experience, and once he went pro, the Rangers had enough confidence to insert him in their lineup for the 2012 playoffs. Kreider impressed, both with his offensive abilities and his willingness to play a strong defensive game. His 2012-13 campaign has been much less impressive, and he has had some difficulties adjusting to the rigors of the everyday professional game. During this season he has shown signs of being one of the best prospects in the league, particularly during his last demotion to the AHL, but he does not look to be as much of a sure thing as he did last summer.
The first goaltender taken in the 2012 NHL Draft, Vasilevskiy is a Russian goaltender best known in North America for his impressive play in the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Championships. Vasilevskiy is extremely athletic and has a good glove hand, though he is also quite technically sound and moves laterally very well. He has spent the last four years developing primarily with Tolpar Ufa of the MHL and has been extremely good at that level. He even managed to play in eight KHL games for Salavat Yulaev Ufa and acquitted himself nicely.
With one more year remaining on his contract, Vasilevskiy is expected to spend the stretch of the 2013-14 season in the KHL, and then likely make his way to North America once his committment is completed.
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