Heading into Friday's 2012 NHL draft, every team will be looking to improve. How each team goes about accomplishing this task will be different in many cases, as they all have specific needs and goals to address.
The pro roster doesn't tell the whole story, however, as many teams have hidden assets or deficiencies within the organization. Here are the organizational strengths and weaknesses for every team in the league before the upcoming draft.
Strengths: The Ducks boast some top-notch talent, headlined by a pair of great offensive prospects in Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem. Sami Vatanen is a smart, young offensive defenseman. Picking up John Gibson in the second round of the 2011 draft gives the team a legit future No. 1 goaltender. Forwards such as Devante Smith-Pelly and Peter Holland provide strong two-way ability to the professional ranks.
Weaknesses: The Ducks organization lacks some of that grit and borderline play that carried them to the Cup a few years ago. There is also a bit of a talent dropoff at the center ice position after Holland.
Strengths: The strength and future of the Bruins organization lies in the center ice position. Emerging young players like Tyler Seguin add to the mix of established vets like Patrice Bergeron, David Krecji and Chris Kelly. Doug Hamilton projects to be good as almost any other defenseman not in the NHL. At forward, the Bruins have a nice collection of talented youngsters still playing juniors, headlined by Alexander Khoklachev and Jared Knight.
Weaknesses: The forward pool lacks a game-breaking talent on the wings. A more pertinent issue to the Bruins might be that their defense pool does not have much behind Doug Hamilton.They have nothing in the way of a potential NHL goaltender behind Tuukka Rask.
Strengths: The Sabres' top-end prospects can match up with any team in the league. Center Luke Adam is a very smart, complete player who should be on the NHL roster next year. Joel Armia adds size and skill to the wing. Acquiring Cody Hodgson, a potential No. 1 center, for tough winger Zack Kassian was a shrewd move that should pay off big time.
The Sabres are also very deep at defense.The duo of Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb, combined with the continued development of Tyler Myers, promises a solid defense corps for years to come. In goal, Jhonas Enroth could be a No. 1 netminder, but has proven at a minimum he will be a nice backup.
Weaknesses: While they have a nice collection of top players, there is not much depth. Outside of the Sabres' top group, there is a significant drop-off. An influx of solid role-playing types would help them tremendously.
Strengths: The Flames have made solid improvements to their overall depth at all positions. The biggest improvement has been at the forward position by adding high-end offensively skilled talent like Sven Baertschi, Paul Byron and Roman Horak. The Flames have also seen solid offensive improvement from Max Reinhart, Greg Nemisz, Michael Ferland, Ryan Howse and Patrick Holland over the past year.
Weaknesses: The Flames are a middle-of-the-road organization at the moment. The pro roster is not a true Stanley Cup contender, but the organization seems reluctant to rebuild. A big move to either push for a Cup or remodel the organization would be beneficial.The Flames have many pieces like Jarome Iginla, Mikka Kiprusoff and Jay Bouwmeester that if moved, could push a rebuild along very quickly.
In the prospect ranks, the organization doesn't have a high-end puck moving defenseman and generally lacks depth on the blue line.
Strengths: Carolina is loaded with top-flight prospects at defense, led by 2011 draft pick Ryan Murphy, who was considered one of the top offensive defensemen in last summer's draft. Justin Faulk proved to be a talented young defender last season, and Brian Dumoulin is a good young prospect as well.
The young forwards on the pro roster, specifically Brandon Sutter and Jeff Skinner, will have to lead the team going into the future. Most of the top prospects lack elite talent, but players like Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman and Victor Rask all look to have bright NHL futures.
Weaknesses: The main weakness in the Hurricane organization is in goal. With Cam Ward in the net, Carolina has no immediate need for a goaltender, but neither of its top goalie prospects—Justin Peters and Mike Murphy—stand out as a future top NHL goalie. Right wing is also thin beyond the pro roster, both in quantity and quality.
Strengths: Despite being forced by the salary cap to trade much of the depth from their Stanley Cup roster, the 'Hawks have done a brilliant job restocking their system. The organization boasts depth at forward and defense. Mark McNeill and Brandon Saad headline a large group of forwards who should be able to complement current Blackhawk stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin all look to be NHL-ready and should be NHL role players sooner than later. Nick Leddy headlines a large amount of young defensemen who can play either a two-way or physical style of game.
Weaknesses: For all of the depth, there is no real star talent in the system. Several prospects such as Kyle Beach and Phillip Paradis have not developed as hoped. The pro roster lacks a true No. 1 goalie, as Corey Crawford had an up-and-down season last year.
Strengths: The Avalanche are a young organization from the pro roster down. They possess a ton of talented defensive prospects. Stefan Elliott, Cameron Gaunce and Tyson Barrie are all loaded with offensive skill, while Duncan Siemens brings a great deal of toughness to the prospect pool. Gabriel Landeskog is a star in the making and quite possibly the future captain of the team. Calvin Pickard headlines a deep group of goaltenders.
Weaknesses: Landeskog and Joey Hishon aside, there is a lack of high-end scoring talent across the board at the forward positions, but most notably on the wings. A more concerning issue is the development of Matt Duchene. The former third-overall pick had a tough, injury-plagued season last year coming off of an impressive rookie campaign. If Duchene can return to form, the Avs hold a dynamic, young duo that will lead the team back into contention.
Strengths: Finding strengths within the Blue Jackets organization is a difficult task for any hockey fan. The Blue Jackets do have one of the top prospects in hockey with Ryan Johansen, who made the team as a 19-year-old last season. Matt Calvert, Tomas Kubalik, Cam Atkinson and 2011 second-round pick Boone Jenner are solid forward prospects who add depth to the organization. The blue line has a variety of defensemen and decent depth featuring David Savard, John Moore and Cody Goloubef.
Weaknesses: The Blue Jackets' weaknesses far outweigh any of their strengths. The organization struggles to develop their top prospects, with names like Nikolay Zherdev, Nikita Filatov, Alexandre Picard and Gilbert Brule all proving to be busts or disappointments. Steve Mason's play has continued to decline since his outstanding rookie season and looks like he may be Jim Carey reincarnate.
Despite all of these issues, the most prominent topic in the Blue Jackets front office has to be the future of Rick Nash. It was widely speculated that Nash would be moved at last year's trade deadline, but GM Scott Howson balked at all of the deals he was offered. If Howson hopes to save his job and rebuild this organization, the prospective Rick Nash trade has to be of Herschel Walker proportions.
Strengths: The Stars look like a team on the brink of a retool. The pro roster is lead by prime players like Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and Kari Lehtonen. In the prospect ranks, they have excellent depth at defense, with a potential first-pairing defenseman in Jamie Oleksiak. At wing, there is very good depth, with Alex Chiasson and Reilly Smith developing in the NCAA and Scott Glennie adjusting to the professional game. Jack Campbell is a potential No. 1 netminder who is back on track with his development.
Weaknesses: The pro roster could use a retool. Veterans like Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, and Steve Ott have all been rumored to be shopped around the league. Within the organization, all of the offensive talent is concentrated on the wings, so the Stars system is very weak at center. Another question mark is the reliability of top prospects such as Glennie and Campbell, who have work ethic or character issues.
Strengths: The strength of the Red Wings organization lies within the depth of their system. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar look like definite top-nine forwards who will push for roster spots this fall. Calle Jarnkrok, Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen all have great talent, and should continue to develop after being signed this offseason.
The system possesses lots of two-way players like Riley Sheahan, Louis-Marc Aubry and Joakim Andersson who fit well into the Wings' style of play. Brendan Smith, one of the top defense prospects in the league, will be on the roster this coming fall.
Weaknesses: The biggest weakness for Detroit will be dealing with the retirement of Nick Lidstrom. Aside from the huge hole No. 5 left on the blueline, Detroit also lacks top-six scoring and grit in the bottom six. The Red Wings promise to be big players in free agency this offseason, but if they miss out on top names like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, there isn't a clear plan for how they will address these issues. All of the players with elite potential have questions marks or don't project to make the NHL for the next few years, so they may be on the fence for the playoffs next season.
Strengths: The Oilers are loaded with young stars and above-average prospects throughout their system. Oilers fans have a lot to be excited about, with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle all living up to expectations in their young careers so far. There are some promising defensemen within the organization, like Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin, as well as good top-nine prospects like Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen. All signs point to the Oilers' future getting even richer, as they have the No. 1 overall pick in Friday's entry draft and top prospect Nail Yakupov staring them down.
Weaknesses: While the Oilers' strengths lie in their rich, talented and diverse prospect pool, they have several weaknesses behind them. While extremely young and talented, the Oilers' top six might be one of the softest in the league. On defense, both the pro roster and prospect pool lacks real top-end talent, and they have no goalie of the future. Perhaps the Oilers would be better served trading the No. 1 pick, Nail Yakupov, to move back or get established players that will better suit their needs?
Strengths: The Panthers had an impressive run last season, making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Panthers fans should get well-acquainted with that type of success over the next few years, as the Panthers boast one of the best prospect systems in the league. Jonathan Huberdeau provides elite offensive talent and is a proven winner, Erik Gudbranson has top-pairing potential on the back-end and Jacob Markstrom is one of the best young goalies in the world.
Their system is laden with future NHL-ers at forward and defense and boasts multiple skilled and physical players throughout. Combine that with a playoff-level pro roster, and you have the makings of a perennial Stanley Cup contender.
Weaknesses: The only thing that could slow down the Panthers now is a lack of patience. After such a long playoff drought, fans will surely push to get their big-name prospects into the big show. Dale Tallon and the Panthers front office need to be diligent in their development process. If that happens, the Panthers have a bright future to look forward to.
Strengths: All hail the Kings! After a tremendous and historic run to win the Stanley Cup, the Kings front office is finally coming out of celebration mode and looking to keep the Cup in LA.
As seen in the playoffs, the Kings may have the best goaltending depth of any team in the NHL. Jonathan Bernier has shown signs he can be an elite NHL starting goaltender, but he is stuck behind Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick. The Kings are also very deep on their blue line, led by stud defenseman Drew Doughty. Young defense prospects like Derek Forbort and Jake Muzzin are also nice pieces on the back-end.
Up front, the Kings have a handful of talented players, including Andrei Loktionov and Tyler Toffoli, who will look to make the team sooner than later.
Weaknesses: The Kings are in great shape going forward, with top players like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty already locked in on long term deals. Retaining upcoming free agents Jarett Stoll, Dustin Penner and Colin Fraser would go a long way towards improving the odds of a repeat. Bernier is a blue-chip trade piece this summer, as Quick will certainly be signed to a long-term, big-money extension this season.
Strengths: The Wild were among the top teams in the Western Conference last season until they were hit by the injury bug. Fans of the Wild should be excited to move forward, as they have a group of top prospects looking to join the pro club. Finnish SM-Liiga star Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Zach Phillips are all good offensive prospects that will try to make the pro roster out of camp this fall.
Weaknesses: While the Wild's pro roster will be getting a boost this coming season, the talent level in the system drops off beyond those top players. The forwards are deeper than both the defense and goaltending. Eric Haula and Jason Zucker will be expected to develop their offensive games at the pro level. The defensive corps is stocked with mostly bottom-pair-caliber players, outside of puck-mover Jonas Brodin. A defense-heavy draft would suit the Wild well this year.
Strengths: The Canadiens have the opportunity to make a quick turn around this offseason. The organization's biggest strengths lie on the back end. Carey Price is a franchise goaltender that the team can build around.
The Habs also boast a deep defensive pool, highlighted by PK Subban on the pro roster and Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Darren Dietz in the system. With the third-overall pick in this coming draft, the Habs have the opportunity to draft a high-end offensive player like Alex Galchenyuk or Filip Forsberg.
Weaknesses: Most of the Canadiens prospects are still several years away from possibly making the NHL. The Canadiens lack grit and toughness up front, on the pro roster and in their system. A draft that featured some size and grit up front would pay off down the road.
Strengths: Nashville features some of the best organizational depth in the NHL with quality players at every position. Top prospects Taylor Beck, Austin Watson and Michael Latta can chip in offense and play a gritty two-way game. Ryan Ellis and Jonathon Blum are amongst a talented group of blueliners on the cusp of being NHL-ready. It appears as though the organization has finally moved past the Alex Radulov fiasco, as GM David Poile has said he may not be back with the team.
Weaknesses: Despite the glut of quality prospects, Nashville lacks A top-tier goal-scoring forward in its organization. The lack of an elite offensive player has held the team back from further success in the playoffs. The organizational depth at defense will be tested this coming season, as Ryan Suter appears to be headed for free agency.
It's important that Nashville re-sign its other free agents, like Paul Gaustad and Andrei Kostitsyn, as they paid a premium to acquire these players at the deadline last year.
Strengths: The Devils had a fantastic bounce-back season last year. They are knee deep in prospects on the pro roster, the deepest position of which is on the blue line. That group is headlined by Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill and Alexander Urbom. Merrill and Urbom should be on the roster next year, and they both show top-four potential. Eric Gelinas and Brandon Burlon are the best prospects up front.
With the addition of Keith Kinkaid last summer, the Devils' group of goaltending prospects continues to show signs of growth. The emergence of young forwards on the pro roster, especially Adam Henrique—who looks like a young Chris Drury—has to be the most promising development of the 2011-12 season.
Weaknesses: The biggest weakness for the Devils franchise may be financial. News has recently broke that the franchise is headed for bankruptcy and that Gary Bettman and the NHL are preparing to step in. The timing could not be worse for the Devils on the ice, as their captain and top player, Zach Parise, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Strengths: The Islanders' system features some of the best forward prospects in the world. Both Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome are expected to become high-end forwards and should develop into quality NHL-ers within a year or two. In addition, New York has several high-risk, high-reward skilled prospects within the organization, like Kirill Kabanov.
Weaknesses: The defensive prospect pool is thin with no top-pairing blue line prospects and generally little depth. Although there is some depth in net, none of the goaltending prospects could be considered elite. The pro roster could use a short-term second line center while Strome develops. The team desperately needs to make a playoff appearance soon to appease a justifiably disgruntled fanbase.
Strengths: The Rangers had a solid season last year and have a lot to be proud of. They have excellent organizational strength on the blue line, with Ryan McDonagh impressing in his rookie year and both Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath developing well within the Rangers system.
New York also has excellent depth on the wings, with many third and fourth-line prospects. Chris Kreider was impressive, making his presence felt in his debut against the Ottawa Senators.
Weaknesses: The Rangers are one of the teams tied to rumors of a Rick Nash deal. Many of the top prospects in the Rangers system are already playing professional hockey and close to graduating.
Strengths: The Senators are another team that made an unlikely run through the playoffs this past season. That run might be the first step toward serious contention, as the Senators have some tremendous talent throughout the organization. With captain and Swedish hero Danny Alfredsson still setting the tone for the organization, GM Bryan Murray has added two other top-end young swedes in C Mika Zibanejad and LW Jakob Silfverberg.
The organization possesses one of the most promising one-two punches on defense in physical stalwart Jared Cowen and the dynamic Erik Karlsson. The system also boasts a deep group of players who can fill a variety of roles and provide depth at the NHL level, including Stephane Da Costa, Jim O'Brien, and Bobby Butler.
Weaknesses: The Senators' future looks bright, but they have plenty of immediate needs heading into next season. The team simply gave up too many goals, finishing 24th in goals against last season. The penalty kill is a particular area of need, as it went from ranked ninth in 2010-11 to 20th in 2011-12 despite the inspired play of young energy forward Zack Smith.
Up front, the Senators relied on the Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson trio for much of their scoring and will look for improved secondary scoring from their bottom-nine forwards, especially Kyle Turris.
Strengths: GM Paul Holmgren has received a lot of criticism for moving Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who helped carry the LA Kings to the Stanley Cup this season. But Holmgren's moves should not be judged after just one season. With two potential All-Stars at center in Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier—both acquired by the Richards and Carter trades—and a potential superstar in Claude Giroux, the Flyers are very strong down the middle for years to come.
Weaknesses: Philadelphia sincerely missed Chris Pronger in the playoffs last season. The team played inconsistent defense at best in front of Ilya Bryzgalov, who had a roller-coaster of a year in his own right. The weaknesses of the pro roster reflect those of the rest of the organization, as the Flyers have no great defensive prospects to speak of (only Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson project as top-four defensemen).
Strengths: The Coyotes enjoyed their most successful season ever this past year on the ice. Mike Smith had an impressive year, and his play improved during the playoffs. The biggest strength, both on the NHL roster and in the system, is clearly on their blue line, which has a stacked group of young stars and possible NHL defensive prospects who continue to develop each year.
Keith Yandle and young Oliver Ekman-Larsson lead one of the most promising defensive pools in the league, which includes another of hockey's top defensive prospects in Brandon Gormley. The system's deep in the nets, with prospects like Mark Visentin and Mike Lee.
Weaknesses: The Coyotes are easily the most beleaguered organization in the league off the ice. They are in the red financially and still have to re-sign captain Shane Doan. Doan is very loyal to the Coyotes organization, but could a big-money offer and a chance at the Cup lure him out of the desert?
The system's biggest weakness is the dropoff in offensive talent after high-scoring forward Brett MacLean. The team improved their forward depth by drafting six forwards out of their eight picks in the 2011 NHL entry draft, but none are projected to be high-end talent in the future.
Strengths: The Penguins boast incredible defensive depth throughout their organization, as four prospects (Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo, Joe Morrow and Simon Despres) are pushing for regular time in the NHL. The Penguins are phenomenal at identifying and developing two-way team players.
The most important strength of the Penguins lies down the middle of their pro roster, as the combination of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal is unarguably the best trio of pivots in the league.
Weaknesses: Despite all the momentum in the world and being pegged as a Stanley Cup favorite going into this year's playoffs, the Penguins were exposed by the Philadelphia Flyers. Crosby was obviously frustrated by Claude Giroux. The Flyers were able to shut down the Penguins' big guns, and they had no answer for it. Some secondary scoring, particularly a goal scoring winger for Crosby, would make the Pens a favorite in the east again (UFA Ray Whitney would be a nice addition).
The Penguins' prospect system is thin, in part because the organization has three young veteran centers in the NHL. There is a general lack of prospective depth down the middle, and aside from several high-end defensemen, the prospect pool is almost entirely made of complementary talent.
Strengths: The Sharks had a disappointing season last year. One positive was the play of Logan Couture, who scored 31 goals and 65 points. Within the system, the Sharks have a group of players that project as good bottom-six role players.
On the back end, Brent Burns will be the No. 1 defenseman in San Jose for years to come. Other prospects, like Konrad Abeltshauser and Taylor Doherty, will look to make an impact in the coming years. Doherty is a 6'7" stay-at-home type who should be a contributor in the NHL. Abeltshauser is a smooth, young offensive defenseman.
Weaknesses: With the Cup window closing in San Jose, GM Doug Wilson will need to address a group of issues this offseason in order to avoid another failure in the NHL playoffs. The Sharks lacked scoring depth after their top-six forwards and relied too heavily on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Couture and Joe Pavelski this past season. After having disappointing seasons, the Sharks will rely on Ryan Clowe and Martin Havlat to have rebound years to address this issue.
The Sharks' prospect system is one of the weakest in the league. There's a definite lack of scoring and high-end talent at the AHL level to help the club in the near future.
Strengths: Led by the young talents of stud defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and gritty, two-way forwards David Backes and TJ Oshie, the Blues exceeded all preseason expectations. The duo of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak were stellar in the 2011-12 season, and both are under contract for two more years.
In addition to the team's success on the ice last season, the front office questions were answered by the new ownership group led by Tom Stillman. The stability offered by the new ownership should only help the team continue the course as one of the Western Conference's top teams.
Weaknesses: The Blues' only true weakness lie on the pro roster, as the team lacks some truly dynamic offensive threats. That weakness will be filled from within the organization next season, as young scorers Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz are both expected to make the team this fall.
A defensive partner for Pietrangelo is another need, which should be filled through free agency or trade. Chris Stewart is a valuable trade chip despite a disappointing year last season. If the team decides to add via free agency, Matt Carle is a top-four defenseman who fits the Blues' need.
Strengths: GM Steve Yzerman made some shrewd moves at the trade deadline last season and already this offseason. Yzerman used his excess of draft picks to pick up Anders Lindback, a promising young goaltender, from the Nashville Predators. If Lindback lives up to expectations, Steven Stamkos and the Lightning should make the playoffs next season. Still holding three picks in the first two rounds of this years draft, Yzerman will have the opportunity to add to a nice group of highly-skilled forward prospects in Brett Connolly, Richard Panik and Vladislav Namestnikov.
Weaknesses: The Lightning's pro roster still lacks size and grit, as well as another top-four defenseman to pair with Victor Hedman. The system is extremely thin with little depth at any position, particularly defense. They have no projected top-pairing defenders, and only a handful that project as even NHL defensemen.
Outside of their forwards, the system has no high-end talent. Yzerman, known for his daring drafting strategies, may take a chance on Stanstead College's Mark Jankowski come this Friday.
Strengths: Despite the pressures of the Toronto media, Brian Burke has managed to build up the Leafs prospect depth in his tenure so far. Smooth-skating Jake Gardiner had a promising year with the big club and has the look of a future top-pairing defenseman. Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin and Jerry D'Amigo all should make a push to be on the pro roster this fall, as they'll be given a much better chance under new head coach Randy Carlyle than they received from received from their last head coach.
Over the past year, the Maple Leafs have added Carter Ashton, Nicholas Deschamps and free-agent Hobey Baker finalist Spencer Abbott, all of whom add a lot of depth and flexibility to the system.
Weaknesses: The growth of the Leafs pro roster has not kept up with the demands of the fans and media. This has forced Brian Burke to make some questionable moves, like over paying for Tim Connolly last summer. The Leafs still desperately need a high-end, playmaking center to pair with Phil Kessel. Unfortunately for Leafs fans, those kinds of players are few and far between. Perhaps they will look to add this player through the draft this Friday, as Alex Galchenyuk would be an ideal fit for the Leafs' needs.
Rick Nash has had his name linked to the Maple Leafs, but the cost to acquire the Toronto native will likely be too high, and his cap hit isn't quite attractive to a team that already finished sixth in league scoring—especially when he doesn't fill Toronto's No. 1 need. The Leafs will also pursue a starting goaltender this offseason after James Reimer had a disappointing season.
Strengths: The Canucks and GM Mike Gillis have an interesting summer ahead of them. The Canucks will need to find someone to fill the void of Ryan Kesler for the first couple of months of the season, as he will be recovering from offseason surgery. 2011 first-round draft pick Nicklas Jensen, as well as forwards Jordan Schroeder and Anton Rodin, headline a thin group of forward prospects.
Eddie Lack has quickly emerged as a top-flight goaltending prospect, which may make dealing either Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider an easier pill to swallow.
Weaknesses: After an embarrassing playoff performance and a shrinking Stanley Cup window, the Canucks will look to regroup this offseason. There is some question as to where power forward Zach Kassian and speedy winger Mason Raymond will play, as there are questions about either player entering the top six. The Canucks will probably look to improve the defense and add a top-nine forward, perhaps with a trade involving the much-maligned Roberto Luongo, who said he would agree to waive his no-trade clause if asked.
Strengths: The Capitals had an up-and-down year with two head coaches, but the team impressed through the playoffs. At the NHL level, the club actually doesn't have many holes to fill; the continued development of Marcus Johansson will slot him in at the second-line center position. The Caps should be competitive next season, even with the impending departure of Alexander Semin.
In the system, the Caps have a prospect with immense upside in Evgeny Kuznetsov. Past the top-end talent, there are a handful of players who look like solid NHL-ers, including Cody Eakin. Goaltender Braden Holtby continues to impress with every opportunity given at the NHL level.
Weaknesses: Outside of their top four or five prospects, the Capitals own one of the worst prospect pools in the league. A strong draft of skaters would go a long way toward helping the Caps' organizational depth.
Strengths: Despite missing the playoffs in their inaugural season, the Winnipeg Jets had a season they can build off of. Young NHL-ers Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian had breakout seasons. Kane registered 30 goals and 57 points, and Bogosian proved to be a capable two-way defenseman with a mean streak. Both players will be expected to continue developing into the future.
The organization boasts a collection of big, tough character players on both ends of the ice. Mark Scheifle is an elite center prospect that compares to Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf. Scheifle has been signed and will push to stick with the pro club this fall.
Weaknesses: The Jets sorely lack playmakers and puck-movers within their organization. Aside from Tobias Enstrom, who is a UFA after next season, there is no puck-moving defenseman on the pro roster and no notable prospect to speak of. Alex Burmistrov will be heavily relied on next season, as he is the only forward with a playmaking skill-set on the roster right now. A free-agent acquisition, such as PA Parenteau or Jiri Hudler would be a step in the right direction. The organization is thin on top-end talent, as many of the players within the organization will get by based on hard work and tenacity rather than skill.