Each NHL Team's Top Prospect and When They Will Make It to the NHL
With so many top prospects ready to make the jump to the NHL this season, it would be very disappointing if their arrival to the grandest stage in hockey gets delayed by a lockout.
These prospects have elite skills and will be able to play an important role on their teams if given the opportunity.
Let's look at each team's best prospect and when we can expect to see him in the NHL.
Anaheim Ducks: Emerson Etem
If the Anaheim Ducks trade Bobby Ryan in the near future, then they could have another top offensive winger in Emerson Etem ready to step in next season and contribute at the NHL level.
Boston Bruins: Dougie Hamilton
Unless he has a terrible training camp, Dougie Hamilton will be on the Boston Bruins' roster this fall. It would be quite surprising if he didn't make the team since he's talented enough and has gotten stronger over the last year.
Buffalo Sabres: Joel Armia
Joel Armia has all the talent you could ask for in a winger, and his speed and shooting accuracy is especially impressive. He should be in the NHL full-time no later than the 2013-14 season.
Calgary Flames: Sven Bartschi
Sven Bartschi has amazing offensive talent and is a player who could be the face of the Calgary Flames' franchise in just a few years. He has to be in the NHL season.
Even though he cannot give the team some much-needed help at center, he needs to be given a roster spot next year.
Carolina Hurricanes: Ryan Murphy
The Carolina Hurricanes would be wise to give top defenseman prospect Ryan Murphy a shot in the NHL next season since his impressive offensive skills would be a real asset to the team's blue line. He is a future star.
Chicago Blackhawks: Brandan Saad
It would be surprising if Brandon Saad did not play a good-sized role on the Chicago Blackhawks this season, especially since the team has done little in free agency to upgrade their talent and depth at forward.
Saad is a power forward with immense offensive potential and could be one of the finest young players on the Blackhawks next season.
Colorado Avalanche: Duncan Siemens
Duncan Siemens is going to be a great NHL defenseman, but at just 18 years old, he needs more time to develop his skills and get stronger.
Avalanche fans should be excited about his NHL arrival, but it probably won't happen for at least two more seasons.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray
Ryan Murray is the next superstar player of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft could eventually replace Rick Nash as captain.
His great hockey intelligence will allow him to adjust so quickly.
Dallas Stars: Radek Faksa
Since the Dallas Stars have signed veteran forwards Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney this summer, they don't need to rush Radek Faksa to the NHL.
His time will come with the Stars, and he could be the franchise's next superstar player.
Detroit Red Wings: Brendan Smith
Since they didn't sign Ryan Suter or any of the other top defensemen free agents this summer, the Red Wings will have no choice but to make Brendan Smith an NHL player for the entire 2012-13 season.
This is not a bad scenario at all since Smith has the potential to be a No. 1 defenseman and will greatly benefit from Mike Babcock's coaching.
Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov
The Edmonton Oilers will want to get Nail Yakupov on the ice this season at the NHL level as they look to make a push for the playoffs and not spend their time in the spring hoping they win another draft lottery.
Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau
The next superstar in the NHL could be Jonathan Huberdeau, who will make a major impact with the Florida Panthers next year. He is arguably the top prospect in hockey right now. He is the complete offensive package and will be exciting to watch next season.
Los Angeles Kings: Tyler Toffoli
Tyler Toffoli is too talented for the Los Angeles Kings to keep in the OHL next season when he is ready to take the next step to the NHL.
His elite goal-scoring ability will be a great addition to the Kings as they attempt to defend their Stanley Cup championship.
Minnesota Wild: Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise will have a tremendous impact on the Minnesota Wild offense this season, but top prospect Mikael Granlund could have a similar effect with his phenomenal offensive abilities.
Granlund has very few weaknesses and will make a name for himself very quickly. It's almost unfair that the team who signed the top two free agents this summer also gets to bring the best prospect in the world to the NHL also.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk
Montreal Canadiens fans will want to see No. 3 overall pick Alex Galchenyuk in the NHL as soon as possible, but they must be patient.
He probably need two more years of development before arriving to the NHL.
Nashville Predators: Ryan Ellis
Ryan Ellis will get his chance with the Nashville Predators very soon, probably next season. He is the most NHL-ready defenseman prospect that the Predators can bring to the NHL to replace Ryan Suter.
New Jersey Devils: Alexander Urbom
Building from the back would be a good strategy for the New Jersey Devils after losing Zach Parise in free agency. Alexander Urbom should be a full-timer NHLer next season.
New York Islanders: Ryan Strome
After being sent back to junior hockey last season, it's time for Ryan Strome to finally get a full season's worth of action in the NHL.
He has immense offensive potential and needs to play against the best competition.
New York Rangers: Chris Kreider
The Boston College star made a very quick adjustment from the Frozen Four right into the NHL playoffs and played well in most of the games he saw time in.
There's little doubt that Kreider will be a fine NHL player for a long time, and if he develops well next year, Rick Nash may never be needed in New York.
Ottawa Senators: Mika Zibanejad
Mika Zibanejad will be a No. 1 center for the Ottawa Senators in the near future but probably won't be in the NHL full time for at least another year.
A power forward with the playmaking skills that Zibanejad has will add another dimension to the Senators' offense.
Philadelphia Flyers: Brandon Manning
Brandon Manning is one of the top defensemen prospects in the Philadelphia Flyers organization, and got a small taste of the the NHL this season when he played in four games.
Given the current shape of their blue line, the Flyers will likely give Manning another shot in the NHL next season and see how he performs.
Phoenix Coyotes: Brandon Gormley
Brandon Gormley's impressive two-way game should be on full display this season for the Phoenix Coyotes, who would be wise to bring the young defenseman to the NHL this fall.
Gormley and Oliver Ekman-Larsson could become the best defensive pairing in hockey over the next three to five years.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Joseph Morrow
The Pittsburgh Penguins used two first round picks on defenseman at the 2012 draft, but the next blueliner to join the NHL roster will likely be Joseph Morrow, who has impressive offensive skills.
He will help the Penguins power play and won't be a liability defensively. With another year of development, Morrow will arrive to the NHL.
San Jose Sharks: Freddie Hamilton
Freddie Hamilton is the best center prospect in the San Jose Sharks organization and should be in the NHL after one more season with the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. He could be in the pros this season, but another year in juniors couldn't hurt.
He set career highs in assists (51) and points (86) this past season.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Tarasenko will be taking his talents to the NHL this season, and will no doubt play a key part in a St. Louis Blues offense that was the third worst among playoff teams last season.
He has more raw offensive talent than almost any prospect in the world and could be a great NHL player as a rookie.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Vladislav Namestnikov
The Tampa Bay Lightning don't have too many top forward prospects, but Vladislav Namestnikov will be one player for fans to watch in the coming years. Another year with the London Knights would be perfect for him. Expect Namestnikov in the NHL for the 2013-14 season.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Joe Colborne
Many Toronto Maple Leafs fans will be angry if Joe Colborne doesn't have a roster spot for the entire 2012-13 season.
He has all the skills needed to be a phenomenal center, which is the position that the Leafs need the most help at.
Vancouver Canucks: Nicklas Jensen
Nicklas Jensen was a point-per-game player for the Oshawa Generals last year and also has impressive size at the right wing position.
With another year in the OHL, Jensen would be ready to step into the NHL and be a solid contributor for the Vancouver Canucks. Expect him in the NHL in 2013-14.
Washington Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov
Evgeny Kuznetsov could be the best prospect outside of North America, but he will probably spend another year or two in the KHL before coming to the Washington Capitals.
His performances on the international level for Russia the past two years have been very impressive, and Capitals fans should be excited about his potential.
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele
Mark Scheifele scored 63 points in 47 games for the Barrie Colts last season and is more than ready to make the NHL. The Winnipeg Jets will add their future No. 1 center in Scheifele to their roster this fall.