NHL Power Rankings: Grading Each Team's Minor League System

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent IAugust 21, 2012

NHL Power Rankings: Grading Each Team's Minor League System

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    This is a ranking of each team’s minor league systems: looking at who the team drafts, how they develop them and how that player performs in the NHL.

    The focus is on who is currently in the minor league system or are under team control with an emphasis on high-upside players. Depth is also a large consideration.

    Players that were drafted and developed by a team and currently play in the NHL are taken into account, as player development is the paramount role for a minor league system (duh!).

    Teams that received high marks have produced high-upside players, as well as depth at each position.

    Teams that received low marks either were lacking in high-upside talent or lacked depth at certain positions.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Notable players

    Rick Nash, LW (Currently with Rangers)

    Jakub Voracek, RW (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Derick Brassard, C (sixth  overall, 2006)

    Steve Mason, G (69th overall, 2006)

    Jared Boll, RW (101st overall, 2005)

    Rostislav Klesla, D (Currently with Phoenix)


    Notable prospects

    Cam Atkinson, RW (157th overall, 2008)

    TJ Tynan, C (66th overall, 2011)

    Ryan Murray, D (second  overall, 2012)

    Oscar Dansk, G (31st overall, 2012)

    David Savard, D (94th overall, 2009)

    Matt Calvert, LW (127th overall, 2008)

    Boone Jenner, C (37th overall, 2011)



    For years the Jackets have struggled to get young players to play at the next level.

    The future is looking better though.

    Columbus has a good farm system and it would be easy to chalk it up to poor play and high picks, but really it’s solid scouting.

    Yeah, Murray was drafted high, but most of the other players listed were overlooked and are thriving in the Blue Jackets’ minor league program.

    Think that the late-rounders can’t make an impact in the NHL?

    Think again.

    Calvert already has a natural hat trick.


    Grade: C

29. Calgary Flames

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    Notable players

    Dion Phaneuf, D (Currently with Toronto)

    Mark Giordano, D (Free agent)

    Chuck Kobasew, RW (Currently with Calgary)

    Steve Montador, D (Currently with Chicago)

    Robyn Regehr, D (Currently with Buffalo)


    Notable prospects

    Sven Baertschi, LW (13th overall, 2011)

    Max Reinhart, C (64th overall, 2010)



    Calgary tends to fill out their roster with established players rather than up-and-coming prospects, but the two guys that could become staples in the near future are Baertschi and Reinhart.

    Portland’s Baertschi made an immediate impact in the WHL after coming over from Switzerland last season. He’s a “Calgary guy,” with a gritty style of play to complement his offensive gifts.

    Reinhart is more of a playmaker and he made an impact on Kootenay’s power play last season on their run through the Memorial Cup playoffs.


    Grade: C

28. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Notable players

    Luke Schenn, D (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Tyler Bozak, C (Free-agent signing)

    James Reimer, G (99th overall, 2006)

    Viktor Stalberg, RW (Currently with Chicago)

    Tomas Kaberle, D (Currently with Montreal)

    Nik Antropov, C (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Alexei Ponikarovsky, LW (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Ian White, D (Currently with Detroit)

    Matt Stajan, C (Currently with Calgary)


    Notable prospects

    Nazem Kadri, C (Seventh  overall, 2009)

    Jussi Rynnas, G (Free agent)

    Joe Colborne, C (Trade with Boston)

    Jesse Blacker, D (58th overall, 2009)



    The Leafs have often gone outside the minor league system to build their team.

    They have a couple of players under control, however, who have a shot of making the team in years to come.

    Kadri is barely a prospect. He spent 29 games with the Leafs last year, and he’s the only guy with a lot of upside in the system.

    Finland’s Rynnas has a large frame (6’5”, 212). He made the switch over the to American league last year and struggled with consistency.

    Colborne is a University of Denver product that played in the AHL last year as well. The center has a big body (6’6”, 216), but is inconsistent as well.

    Owen Sound’s Blacker proved to be one of the OHL’s best defensemen and can play a variety of roles.


    Grade: C

27. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Notable players

    Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (Sixth  overall, 2009)

    Mikkel Boedker, RW (Eighth  overall, 2008)

    Martin Hanzal, C (17th overall, 2005)

    Keith Yandle, D (105th overall, 2005)

    Blake Wheeler, RW (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Shane Doan, RW (Seventh  overall, 1995)

    Kyle Turris, C (Currently with Ottawa)

    Danny Briere, RW (Currently with Philadelphia)


    Notable prospects

    Brandon Gormley, D (13th overall, 2010)

    David Rundblad, D (Trade with Ottawa)

    Connor Murphy, D (20th overall, 2011)



    Phoenix has had high-end prospects in the past, but they tend to have trouble getting them to produce at the next level.

    Currently, they have three defensive prospects that are worth noting.

    A Prince Edward Island native and former Moncton Wildcat, Gormley made his AHL debut with San Antonio last season after being named to the Q’s All-Star team.

    Sweden’s Rundblad made his NHL debut with the Senators last season and was received in the Kyle Turris trade last season. He will probably end up being a power play quarterback.

    Murphy played last season at Miami-Ohio. A mobile skater on the blue line, he has potential if he can grow into his 6’3” frame.

    After those three, however, the cupboards are pretty bare.


    Grade: C+

26. Minnesota Wild

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    Notable players

    Cal Clutterbuck, RW (72nd overall, 2006)

    Benoit Pouliot, LW (Currently with Tampa Bay)

    Clayton Stoner, D (79th overall, 2004)

    Brent Burns, D (Currently with San Jose)

    Pierre-Marc Bouchard, C (Eighth overall, 2002)

    Mikko Koivu, C (Sixth overall, 2001)

    Marian Gaborik, RW (Currently with Rangers)

    Nick Schultz, D (Currently with Edmonton)


    Notable prospects

    Mikael Granlund, C (Ninth  overall, 2010)

    Charlie Coyle, RW (Trade with San Jose)

    Jonas Brodin, D (10th overall, 2011)



    Finland’s Granlund is expected to make an impact next season as the team’s second line center. A playmaker that can handle the puck well, he’s projected to be an All-Star.

    Minnesota gave up popular defenseman Brent Burns to get Coyle, meaning there will be pressure on the 20-year-old to perform right away. There is an expectation that Sweden’s Brodin should have a spot on the blue line once he grows into his body.


    Grade: B-

25. Montreal Canadiens

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    Notable players

    Max Pacioretty, LW (22nd overall, 2007)

    PK Subban (43rd overall, 2007)

    Yannick Weber (73rd overall, 2007)

    Carey Price, G (Fifth  overall, 2005)

    David Desharnais, C (Free-agent signing)

    Francis Bouillon, D (Free-agent signing)

    Mikhail Grabovski, C (150th overall, 2004)

    Guillaume Latendresse, LW (Currently with Ottawa)

    Mark Streit, D (Currently with Islanders)

    Sergei Kostitsyn, LW (Currently with Nashville)

    Jaroslav Halak, G (Currently with St. Louis)

    Chris Higgins, LW (Currently with Vancouver)

    Tomas Plekanec, C (71st overall, 2001)

    Michael Ryder, RW (Currently with Dallas)

    Stephane Robidas, D (Currently with Dallas)

    Ron Hainsey, D (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Jose Theodore, G (Currently with Florida)

    Tomas Vokoun, G (Currently with Pittsburgh)


    Notable prospects

    Alex Galchenyuk, C (Third overall, 2012)

    Sebastian Collberg, RW (33rd overall, 2012)

    Nathan Beaulieu, D (17th overall, 2011)

    Danny Kristo, RW (56th overall, 2008)

    Brendan Gallagher, RW (147th overall, 2010)

    Charles Hudon, LW (122nd overall, 2012)

    Tim Bozon, LW (64th overall, 2012)

    Louis Leblanc, C (18th overall, 2009)

    Jarred Tinordi, D (22nd overall, 2010)



    Montreal has usually gone outside the system to build their roster, but may need to look inward in order to solve their recent woes.

    The key to turning around the Canadiens is the development of Milwaukee native Galchenyuk, Sweden’s Collberg and Strathroy, Ontario’s Beaulieu.

    Galchenyuk had a knee injury while playing with Sarnia (OHL) last season, but participated in all six of their playoff games.

    Collberg was ranked third among European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings and Beaulieu was a member of that dynasty in Saint John, NB.

    There are a lot of talented prospects in Montreal’s system. Whether or not they make an impact in the league will determine if the Habs turn things around in the near future.


    Grade: B-

24. Ottawa Senators

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    Notable players

    Erik Karlsson, D (15th overall, 2008)

    Erik Condra, RW (211th overall, 2006)

    Andrej Meszaros, D (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Brian Elliott, G (Currently with St. Louis)

    Jason Spezza, C (Second  overall, 2001)

    Brooks Laich, C (Currently with Washington)

    Chris Phillips, D (First overall, 1996)

    Daniel Alfredsson, RW (133rd overall, 1994)        

    Marian Hossa, RW (Currently with Chicago)

    Anton Volchenkov, D (Currently with New Jersey)

    Martin Havlat, RW (Currently with San Jose)

    Antoine Vermette, C (Currently with Phoenix)

    Ray Emery, G (Currently with Chicago)

    Mike Fisher, C (Currently with Nashville)

    Sami Salo, D (Currently with Tampa Bay)


    Notable prospects

    Mika Zibanejad, C (Sixth  overall, 2011)

    Robin Lehner, G (46th overall, 2009)

    Matt Puempel, LW (24th overall, 2011)

    Shane Prince, LW (61st overall, 2011)



    Ottawa has a couple of homegrown players that became staples on their roster (Karlsson, Phillips, Spezza, Alfredsson), but they tend to go outside the system to build their team.

    Sweden’s Zibanejad is the headliner in the Ottawa system. He’s a two-way player that isn’t willing to get physical and with more polish on his offensive skills he should be a staple for the Sens in years to come.

    Lehner, a fellow Swede, spent last season in Binghamton (AHL) and appears to be lined up to be the team’s goaltender in the future.

    Left wingers Puempel (Peterborough) and Prince (Ottawa) had their fair share of success in the OHL. Puempel had 34 goals and Prince had 25 last season.


    Grade: B

23. Winnipeg Jets

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    Notable players

    Alexander Burmistrov, C (Eighth  overall, 2010)

    Evander Kane, LW (Fourth  overall, 2009)

    Zach Bogosian, D (Third overall, 2008)

    Bryan Little, C (12th overall, 2006)

    Ondrej Pavelec, G (41st overall, 2005)

    Tobias Enstrom, D (239th overall, 2003)

    Dany Heatley, LW (Currently with Minnesota)

    Ilya Kovalchuk, LW (Currently with New Jersey)

    Braydon Coburn, D (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Kari Lehtonen, G (Currently with Dallas)


    Notable prospects

    Jacob Trouba, D (Ninth  overall, 2012)

    Mark Scheifele, C (Seventh overall, 2011)



    The Jets are relying a lot on young talent, meaning anyone with promise is already on the roster.

    As far as prospect depth goes, Winnipeg needs centers and if the 6’3” Scheifele can grow into his body, the former Barrie Colt (OHL) could eventually find a job with the big league club.

    Trouba is a physical defenseman from Rochester, Minn. that should get better as he fills out his body as well. His decision-making has been highly criticized, however.

    After that there are not many big-time prospects in the Winnipeg system.


    Grade: B

22. New York Islanders

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    Notable players

    John Tavares, C (First overall, 2009)

    Josh Bailey, C (Ninth overall, 2008)

    Travis Hamonic, D (53rd overall, 2008)

    Kyle Okposo, RW (Seventh overall, 2006)

    Rick DiPietro, G (First overall, 2000)

    Todd Bertuzzi, RW (Currently with Detroit)

    Roberto Luongo, G (Currently with Vancouver)

    Tim Connolly, C (Currently with Toronto)

    Sean Bergenheim, LW (Currently with Florida)

    Eric Brewer, D (Currently with Tampa Bay)


    Notable prospects

    Ryan Strome, C (Fifth overall, 2011)

    Nino Niederreiter, LW (Fifth overall, 2010)

    Anders Lee, C (152nd overall, 2009)

    Aaron Ness, D (40th overall, 2008)



    The Islanders have some high-end players and depth in the system, but they’ve had trouble getting their young guys to produce in the big leagues.

    Niagara’s Strome put up 33 goals in 65 OHL games last season. Portland’s Niederreiter had 36 in 60 WHL contests. Those two should be bona fide NHLers.

    A Notre Dame standout, Lee has turned out to be a solid pickup late in the 2009 draft.

    There is also a decent amount of depth at every position in the Islanders system, with no glaring weaknesses.


    Grade: B

21. Edmonton Oilers

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    Notable players

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (First overall, 2011)

    Taylor Hall, LW (First overall, 2010)

    Jordan Eberle, RW (22nd overall, 2008)

    Sam Gagner, C (Sixth  overall, 2007)

    Devan Dubnyk, G (14th overall, 2004)

    Jarret Stoll, C (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Matt Greene, D (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Ales Hemsky, RW (13th overall, 2001)

    Shawn Horcoff, C (99th overall, 1998)

    Ryan Smyth, LW (Sixth  overall, 1994)


    Notable prospects

    Martin Marincin, D (46th overall, 2010)

    Justin Schultz, D (Free agent)

    Oscar Klefbom, D (19th overall, 2011)

    Tyler Bunz, G (121st overall, 2010)

    Tobias Rieder, RW (114th overall, 2011)

    Teemu Hartikainen, LW (163rd overall, 2008)

    David Musil, D (31st overall, 2011)

    Martin Gernat, D (122nd overall, 2011)



    After years of futility, the Oilers have built up a strong stable of players in their farm system. Time will tell if they can produce a winner at the big league level. Right now the team looks pretty green.

    Red Deer’s Nugent-Hopkins tore up the WHL and had an impressive showing for Edmonton early in the year and had 18 goals in 62 games. “The Nuge” is arguably the league’s best prospect right now.

    Other notables are Slovakia’s Marincin, who suited up for one AHL game last season, former Wisconsin defenseman Schultz, a huge free agent pickup, and Sweden’s Klefbom, a defenseman with plus size and good offensive instincts.


    Grade: B

20. Colorado Avalanche

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    Notable players

    Gabriel Landeskog, LW (Second  overall, 2011)

    Matt Duchene, C (Third overall, 2009)

    Ryan O’Reilly, C (33rd overall, 2009)

    Kevin Shattenkirk, D (Currently with St. Louis)

    TJ Galiardi, LW (Currently with San Jose)

    Paul Stastny, C (44th overall, 2005)

    Wojtek Wolski, LW (Currently with Washington)

    David Jones, RW (288th overall, 2003)

    Radim Vrbata, RW (Currently with Phoenix)

    Milan Hejduk, RW (87th overall, 1994)


    Notable prospects

    Joey Hishon, C (17th overall, 2010)

    Stefan Elliott, D (49th overall, 2009)

    Duncan Siemens, D (11th overall, 2011)

    Tyson Barrie, D (64th overall, 2009)



    Colorado have a lot of prospects with potential, but at times the Avs have had trouble getting younger players to produce at the next level.

    This team has a lot of defensive depth in the system…but not much else.

    Colorado’s biggest offensive prospect, Hishon, was a staple on an Owen Sound (OHL) squad that made a Memorial Cup run last season. The major knack against him is that he’s injury-prone. He had a season-ending head injury at the end of last year.

    Elliott finished up his tenure in the WHL with Saskatoon last year and joined Lake Erie for their run in the AHL playoffs. He’ll have a chance to make the team this year.

    His teammate on the Blades, Siemens, may remain in the WHL next season, but is a solid all-around defenseman. He could join Barrie, the Kelowna (WHL) captain last season, in Colorado in the near future.


    Grade: B

19. New Jersey Devils

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    Notable players

    Adam Larsson, D (Fourth  overall, 2011)

    Adam Henrique, C (82nd overall, 2008)

    Andy Greene, D (Free-agent signing)

    Zach Parise, LW (Currently with Minnesota)

    Scott Gomez, C (Currently with Montreal)

    Mike Rupp, C (Currently with Rangers)

    Brian Gionta, RW (Currently with Montreal)

    Paul Martin (Currently with Pittsburgh)

    Willie Mitchell, D (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Petr Sykora, RW (18th overall, 1995)

    Patrik Elias, C (51st overall, 1994)

    Steve Sullivan, LW (Currently with Phoenix)

    Martin Brodeur, G (20th overall, 1990)


    Notable prospects

    Jon Merrill, D (38th overall, 2010)

    Scott Wedgewood, G (84th overall, 2010)



    New Jersey has traditionally built their team using farm hands, but the pipeline is beginning to look kind of bare.

    After at year at the University of Michigan, Merrill is already drawing comparisons to Ryan Suter. He had 18 points and was a plus-11 in 42 games for the Wolverines. He is far and away the team’s best prospect.

    Wedgewood is no slouch himself, though. He backstopped a solid Kitchener squad that lost to eventual OHL champion Owen Sound in the second round.

    After that there is little depth in the New Jersey system, however.


    Grade: B

18. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Notable players

    Sean Couturier, C (8th overall, 2011)

    Claude Giroux, RW (22nd overall, 2006)

    James van Riemsdyk, LW (Currently with Toronto)

    Jeff Carter, C (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Mike Richards, C (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Simon Gagne, LW (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Justin Williams, RW (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Steve Downie, RW (Currently with Colorado)

    Patrick Sharp, LW (Currently with Chicago)

    Vinny Prospal, LW (Currently with Columbus)


    Notable prospects

    Brayden Schenn, C (Trade with Los Angeles)

    Brendan Ranford, LW (209th overall, 2010)



    The Flyers have developed great players in the past, but have a reputation of trading them away.

    In their system they have Schenn, who was a big-time prospect when he was picked up in the Mike Richards deal and is reunited with older brother Luke. He finds open ice and should be a big part of Philly’s future.

    Ranford is looking like a hidden gem. He’s gritty and will fight for the puck, but he’s not a great skater and is small (5’10”, 180 lbs).

    Aside from those two, the Flyers are stacked at defense, but are lacking when it comes to forwards in their system.


    Grade: B

17. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Notable players

    Brett Connolly, RW (Sixth  overall, 2010)

    Victor Hedman, D (Second  overall, 2009)

    Steven Stamkos, C (First overall, 2008)

    Vincent Lecavalier, C (First overall, 1998)

    Brad Richards, C (Currently with Rangers)

    Roman Hamrlik, D (Currently with Washington)


    Notable prospects

    Richard Panik, RW (52nd overall, 2009)

    Nikita Kucherov, RW (58th overall, 2011)

    Cory Conacher, LW (Free agent)

    Vladislav Namestnikov, C (27th overall, 2011)

    Tyler Johnson, C (Free agent)



    The Lightning have a lot of depth in their system without any glaring weaknesses, but few high-upside prospects.

    Any of the guys listed above have the potential to earn a regular job in the NHL, but there are no Steven Stamkoses or Vincent Lecavaliers.

    Then again, the same could have been said of Martin St. Louis when he was in the minors.


    Grade: B

16. Dallas Stars

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    Notable players

    Jamie Benn, LW (129th overall, 2007)

    James Neal, LW (Currently with Pittsburgh)

    Loui Eriksson, LW (33rd overall, 2003)

    Trevor Daley, D (43rd overall, 2002)

    Brenden Morrow, LW (25th overall, 1997)

    Nicklas Grossman, D (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Steve Ott, LW (Currently with Buffalo)

    Jussi Jokinen, LW (Currently with Carolina)

    Jamie Langenbrunner, RW (Currently with St. Louis)

    Antti Miettinen, RW (Currently with Winnipeg)


    Notable prospects

    Jack Campbell, G (11th overall, 2010)

    Reilly Smith, RW (69th overall, 2009)

    Scott Glennie, RW (Eighth  overall, 2009)

    Alex Chiasson, RW (38th overall, 2009)

    Philip Larson, D (149th overall, 2008)

    Jamie Oleksiak, D (14th overall, 2011)



    Traditionally, Dallas has done well when it comes to developing players and Campbell leads a strong stable of current prospects for the Stars.

    The Michigan native played on the USNTDP squad before joining Windsor (OHL). He’s been called a more talented, and less injury prone, Rick DiPietro.

    Miami-Ohio’s Smith and Boston U’s Chiasson are two college guys that could be competing with Glennie (who played in Brandon the last four years and should start the season in the AHL), for a right wing position for years to come.

    On the other side of the ice, Denmark’s Larson came over and played well in the American league last season and the team will see how Oleksiak fares against OHL competition when he leaves Northeastern University for Saginaw next season.


    Grade: B+

15. Florida Panthers

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    Notable players

    Erik Gundbranson, D (Third overall, 2010)

    Dmitry Kulikov, D (14th overall, 2009)

    Keaton Ellerby, D (10th overall, 2007)

    David Booth, LW (Currently with Vancouver)

    Nathan Horton, RW (Currently with Boston)

    Michael Frolik, RW (Currently with Chicago)

    Stephen Weiss, C (Fourth overall, 2001)

    Jay Bouwmeester, D (Currently with Calgary)

    Ed Jovanovski, D (First overall, 1994)


    Notable prospects

    Jonathan Huberdeau, C (Third overall, 2011)

    Rocco Grimaldi, C (33rd overall, 2011)

    Jacob Markstrom, G (31st overall, 2008)

    Nick Bjugstad, C (19th overall, 2010)

    Quinton Howden, LW (25th overall, 2010)



    The Panthers have had great prospects in the past, but they tend to trade them away.

    This team appears to have changed their philosophy. Like Chicago and Los Angeles (two teams that used to frequently trade away prospects), the Cats look to be trying to build a team from the ground up.

    In order for Florida to build off of their success last season, they are going to be expecting a lot from Saint John’s Huberdeau, who had 43 goals in 67 games for the Sea Dogs.

    Grimaldi has shown upside, but the California native is only 5’6”, 161… which is awfully small.

    Sweden’s Markstrom could become a solution in net, Minnesota’s Bjugstad could become a top-six forward and Howden lead Moose Jaw (WL) in scoring last season.

    The Cats have prospects with promise, it’s a question of how NHL-ready they are.


    Grade: B+

14. Nashville Predators

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    Notable players

    Colin Wilson, C (Seventh  overall, 2008)

    Anders Lindback, G (Currently with Tampa Bay)

    Cody Franson, D (Currently with Toronto)

    Patric Hornqvist, RW (230th overall, 2005)

    Pekka Rinne, G (258th overall, 2004)

    Shea Weber, D (49th overall, 2003)

    Ryan Suter, D (Currently with Minnesota)

    Scott Hartnell, LW (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Dan Hamhuis, D (Currently on Vancouver)

    Alexander Sulzer, D (Currently with Buffalo)

    Scott Upshall, LW (Currently with Florida)

    Jordin Tootoo, RW (Currently with Detroit)

    Martin Erat, RW (191st overall, 1999)

    David Legwand, C (Second  overall, 1998)


    Notable prospects

    Magnus Hellberg, G (38th overall, 2011)

    Zach Budish, RW (41st overall, 2009)

    Taylor Beck, LW (70th overall, 2009)

    Jonathon Blum, D (23rd overall, 2007)

    Ryan Ellis, D (11th overall, 2009)



    Nashville relies heavily on their farm system to compete in the NHL.

    There are no high-end prospects in the pipeline, but the Preds always do well with goaltenders, and Sweden’s Hellberg has upside.

    Wingers Budish (Minnesota) and Beck (a former Guelph Storm) currently in the AHL, have the potential to see playing time in the foreseeable future.  Blum, a California native with ample big league experience, and Ellis, a former Windsor Spitfire and Beck’s teammate in Milwaukee (AHL), will be holding down the blue line.


    Grade: B+

13. Vancouver Canucks

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    Notable players

    Cody Hodgson, C (10th overall, 2008)

    Alexandre Burrows, LW (Free-agent signing)

    Cory Schneider, G (26th overall, 2004)

    Ryan Kesler, C (23rd overall, 2003)

    Kevin Bieksa, D (151st overall, 2001)

    Daniel Sedin, LW (Second  overall, 1999)

    Henrik Sedin, C (Third overall, 1999)


    Notable prospects

    Nicklas Jensen, RW (29th overall, 2011)

    Eddie Lack, G (Free agent)

    Zack Kassian, RW (Trade with Buffalo)



    The Canucks have developed strong NHLers before, but nobody in Vancouver’s system projects to be a superstar in the NHL.

    Denmark’s Jensen has shown the most promise. He scored 29 goals in 61 games for Oshawa (OHL) last season.

    Lack hails from Sweden and played well over there and was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie team in his first season in North America, but his record was 28-25—far from impressive on a playoff-bound team.

    Kassian played for Buffalo before being dealt at the deadline in the Cody Hodgson deal, but never showed too much promise in Western New York.


    Grade: B+

12. Buffalo Sabres

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    Notable players

    Tyler Myers, D (12th overall, 2008)

    Tyler Ennis, LW (26th overall, 2008)

    Mike Weber, D (57th overall, 2006)

    Drew Stafford, RW (13th overall, 2004)

    Thomas Vanek, LW (Fifth  overall, 2003)

    Derek Roy, C (Currently with Dallas)

    Jason Pominville, RW (55th overall, 2001)

    Chris Thorburn, RW (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Ryan Miller, G (138th overall, 1999)

    Brian Campbell, D (Currently with Florida)

    Henrik Tallinder, D (Currently with New Jersey)

    Clark MacArthur, LW (Currently with Toronto)

    Corey Sarich, D (Currently with Calgary)


    Notable prospects

    Joel Armia, C (16th overall, 2011)

    Mark Pysyk, D (23rd overall, 2010)



    Buffalo has typically relied heavily on prospects to fill out their NHL roster and the Sabres have a lot of depth in the system.

    There are three college guys (Connor Knapp, Bradley Eidsness and Justin Jokinen); three CHL standouts (Daniel Catenacci, Kevin Sundher and Jarome Gauthier-Leduc), and three guys in the minors (Marcus Foligno, Brayden McNabb and TJ Bennan) that all could don the Sabres sweater for years to come.

    When it comes to high-end talent, however, there are only two names that stand out.

    Overseas, Finland’s Armia is the organization’s best scoring talent since Thomas Vanek and projects to be an impact player in the league. North of the border, Edmonton’s Pysyk is a mobile, puck-moving defenseman that had a plus-29 rating in the WHL last season.


    Grade: A-

11. Anaheim Ducks

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    Notable players

    Ryan Getzlaf, C (19th overall, 2003)

    Corey Perry, RW (28th overall, 2003)

    Bobby Ryan, RW (Second  overall, 2005)

    Ilya Bryzgalov, G (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Joffrey Lupul, LW (Currently with Toronto)

    Jake Gardiner, D (Currently with Toronto)

    Dustin Penner, LW (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Lubomir Visnovsky, D (Currently with Islanders)

    Shane O’Brien, D (Currently with Colorado)

    Matt Cullen, C (Currently with Minnesota)


    Notable prospects

    Emerson Etem, RW (29th overall, 2010)

    Kyle Palmieri, RW (26th overall, 2009)

    Peter Holland, C (15th overall, 2009)



    Three staples on the Ducks current squad—Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan—came through the pipe in Anaheim, indicating this organization knows how to develop players.

    Catch management in an honest moment and they’ll tell you the guy they most want see to succeed is Etem, a local kid from Long Beach. The Medicine Hat Tiger (WHL) has a quirky skating style, but gets in open ice and could become a go-to scorer for the team in the future.

    Palmieri, a University of Notre Dame product, showed promise when he suited up last year and Holland came into his own on the power play for Guelph (OHL), scoring 15 of his 37 goals on the man advantage and had 23 goals for Syracuse (AHL) last year.


    Grade: A-

10. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Notable players

    Jeff Skinner, C (Seventh  overall, 2010)

    Justin Faulk, D (37th overall, 2010)

    Jamie McBain, D (63rd overall, 2006)

    Andrew Ladd, LW (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Eric Staal, C (Second  overall, 2003)

    Cam Ward, G (25th overall, 2002)

    Chad LaRose, RW (Free-agent signing)

    Erik Cole, LW (Currently with Montreal)


    Notable prospects

    Victor Rask, C (42nd overall, 2011)

    Ryan Murphy, D (12th overall, 2011)

    Zac Dalpe, C (45th overall, 2008)



    A lot of Carolina’s young stars are already making an impact in the league (see: Jeff Skinner, Jamie McBain, Justin Faulk). Other drafted and developed players were the staples in the 2006 Stanley Cup run (Eric Staal, Cam Ward)

    Still, the organization has three potential superstars in the making with Sweden’s Rask, Kitchener’s Murphy and Zac Dalpe, who plays in Charlotte of the AHL.

    Rask was named one of the Top Three players for Sweden in the U-18 World Junior Championship. Murphy projects to be a power play quarterback in the big leagues, and Dalpe had 23 goals in 61 games for the Checkers last season.

    The team’s biggest weakness is at the goaltender position, where they only have one prospect.


    Grade: A-

9. St. Louis Blues

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    Notable players

    Alex Pietrangelo, D (Fourth  overall, 2008)

    Erik Johnson, D (Currently with Colorado)

    David Perron, LW (26th overall, 2007)

    TJ Oshie, RW (24th overall, 2005)

    David Backes, C (62nd overall, 2003)

    Barret Jackman, D (17th overall, 1999)


    Notable prospects

    Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (16th overall, 2010)

    Jaden Schwartz, C (14th overall, 2010)

    Jake Allen, G (34th overall, 2008)

    Ty Rattie, RW (32nd overall, 2011)

    Philip McRae, C (33rd overall, 2008)



    The Blues have found success as a homegrown team, with drafted and developed players like Backes and Oshie leading the way.

    The next wave is looking pretty solid as well.

    Tarasenko was considered the top Russian-born talent in the 2010 draft. Colorado College’s Schwartz is a slick-passing centerman that makes everyone around him better. Allen has already spent time in the AHL and could become the team’s goaltender down the road.

    Rattie had 28 goals and 79 points in 67 games for Portland (WHL) and McRae is the son of former NHLer Basil McRae and a Missouri native that played in 15 games for St. Louis.


    Grade: A-

8. Boston Bruins

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    Notable players

    Tyler Seguin, C (Second overall, 2010)

    Phil Kessel, RW (Currently with Toronto)

    Brad Marchand, LW (71st overall, 2006)

    Tuukka Rask, G (21st overall, 2005)

    David Krejci, C (63rd overall, 2004)

    Patrice Bergeron, C (45th overall, 2003)

    Tim Thomas, G (Free-agent signing)

    Joe Thornton, C (Currently with San Jose)

    Mark Stuart, D (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Hal Gill, D (Currently with Nashville)


    Notable prospects

    Dougie Hamilton, D (Ninth overall, 2011)

    Alexander Khokhlachev, C (40th overall, 2011)

    Ryan Spooner, LW (45th overall, 2010)



    The Bruins have done a good job identifying talent to fill out their roster.

    Seguin jumped right from the juniors to the pros. Marchand, Krejci and Bergeron, along with the two goaltenders, were drafted and developed by Boston.

    Hamilton is bound to become an impact player in the NHL.

    A member of that powerhouse St. John’s (OHL) squad, the blue liner is tall (6’6”) and should grow into his body (200 lbs). He has the tools to become a No. 1 guy and has been compared to Brent Burns and Rob Blake.

    Windsor’s Khokhlachev and Peterborough’s Spooner could both have an impact next season after producing in the OHL, but neither project to be a volume scorer for the Bruins.


    Grade: A-

7. Washington Capitals

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    Notable players

    Marcus Johansson, C (24th overall, 2009)

    John Carlson, D (27th overall, 2008)

    Karl Alzner, D (Fifth  overall, 2007)

    Nicklas Backstrom, C (Fourth  overall, 2006)

    Michal Neuvirth, G (34th overall, 2006)

    Alex Ovechkin, LW (First overall, 2004)

    Jeff Schultz, D (27th overall, 2004)

    Mike Green, D (29th overall, 2004)

    Alexander Semin, RW (Currently with Carolina)

    Semyon Varlamov, G (Currently with Colorado)

    Sergei Gonchar, D (Currently with Ottawa)


    Notable prospects

    Yevgeni Kuznetsov, RW (26th overall, 2010)

    Braden Holtby, G (93rd overall, 2008)

    Dmitri Orlov, D (55th overall, 2009)



    The Capitals have built a perennial contender via the draft, but have never won it all and do not have much in the system right now.

    Russia’s Kuznetsov has the most potential of any of Washington’s prospects and has drawn comparisons to fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin.

    After that the Washington system lacks both high-upside players and depth at almost every position.


    Grade: A-

6. San Jose Sharks

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    Notable players

    Logan Couture, C (Ninth  overall, 2007)

    Devin Setoguchi, RW (Currently with Minnesota)

    Jamie McGinn, LW (Currently with Colorado)

    Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D (35th overall, 2005)

    Joe Pavelski, C (205th overall, 2003)

    Torrey Mitchell, C (Currently with Minnesota)

    Milan Michalek, LW (Currently with Ottawa)

    Ryan Clowe, LW (175th overall, 2001)

    Christian Ehrhoff, D (Currently with Buffalo)

    Douglas Murray, D (241st overall, 1999)

    Brad Stuart, D (Third overall, 1998)

    Patrick Marleau, LW (Second  overall, 1997)

    Josh Gorges, D (Currently with Montreal)

    Marcel Goc, C (Currently with Florida)

    Scott Hannan, D (Currently with Nashville)

    Miikka Kiprusoff, G (Currently with Calgary)

    Ray Whitney, LW (Currently with San Jose)

    Evgeni Nabokov, G (Currently with Islanders)


    Notable prospects

    Tomas Hertl, D (17th overall, 2012)

    Matt Nieto, RW (47th overall, 2011)

    Freddie Hamilton, C (129th overall, 2010)

    Travis Oleksuk, C (Free agent)

    Matt Tennyson, D (Free agent)

    Taylor Doherty, D (57th overall, 2009)



    The Sharks have typically built their teams around prospects from the farm system, but have dealt away a lot of that talent recently.

    As it stands, they have depth everywhere except for left wing. It is lacking in high-upside players.

    A Prague native, Hertl, is the best player in their system. He projects to be a big-time player in the league. He can play in all situations and excels at all forward positions.

    It should be noted that Nieto and Tennyson are California natives, the former from SoCal and the latter from NorCal.

    Also, as you can see from the list, most of these guys were drafted late or were not drafted at all. San Jose has a history of turning overlooked players into superstars (Pavelski, Murray).


    Grade: A-

5. New York Rangers

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    Notable players

    Michael Del Zotto, D (20th overall, 2008)

    Derek Stepan, C (51st overall, 2008)

    Brandon Dubinsky, C (Currently with Columbus)

    Marc Staal, D (12th overall, 2005)

    Michael Sauer, D (40th overall, 2005)

    Ryan Callahan, RW (127th overall, 2004)

    Artem Anisimov, C (Currently with Columbus)

    Tim Erixon, D (Currently with Columbus)

    Henrik Lundqvist, G (205th overall, 2000)

    Fedor Tyutin, D (Currently with Columbus)

    Manny Malhotra, C (Currently with Vancouver)


    Notable prospects

    Chris Kreider, LW (19th overall, 2009)

    JT Miller, RW (15th overall, 2011)

    Christian Thomas, RW (40th overall, 2010)

    Dylan McIlrath, D (10th overall, 2010)



    Certainly the Rangers have delved into free agency to build their team, but many players on the current roster came from within the system.

    In the system there is not much in terms of defense and goaltending, but New York still has some offensive talent in the pipeline.

    A starter at Boston College, Kreider is expected to be an impact player for the Blueshirts. He is projected to be a power forward that has speed and can find the twine.

    Miller is an Ohio native that committed to North Dakota, but ended up playing with Plymouth of the OHL after a solid campaign with the USNTDP. He’s considered an excellent two-way player with offensive upside.

    Thomas and McIlrath couldn’t be more different in their playing styles. The former is an undersize forward with speed and dangles. McIlrath is a nasty defenseman that likes to clear out the crease.

    Despite being one of the top teams in the league and trading for Rick Nash, New York still has a farm system to be envied.


    Grade: A-

4. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Notable players

    Patrick Kane, C (First overall, 2007)

    Jonathan Toews, C (Third overall, 2006)

    Brent Seabrook, D (14th overall, 2003)

    Duncan Keith, D (54th overall, 2002)

    James Wisniewski, D (Currently with Columbus)

    Dustin Byfuglien, D (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Troy Brouwer, RW (Currently with Chicago)

    Rene Bourque, RW (Currently with Montreal)

    Anton Babchuk, D (Currently with Calgary)

    Tuomo Ruutu, C (Currently with Carolina)


    Notable prospects

    Teuvo Teravainen, LW (18th overall, 2012)

    Brandon Saad, LW (43rd overall, 2011)

    Mark McNeill, C (18th overall, 2011)

    Dylan Olsen, D (28th overall, 2009)



    Tell me if you recognize these names:

    Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

    All four of those players were drafted and developed by Chicago and were cornerstone players in the team’s Stanley Cup victory in 2010.

    The next wave isn’t as talented, but they’re not too shabby either.

    Finland’s Teravainen was the second-ranked European skater in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft. A Pittsburgh-area native, Saad had 27 goals in 59 games for Saginaw (OHL) last season. McNeill topped that with 32 goals and 81 points for Prince Albert (WHL).

    Olsen, a college kid, was paired with Carolina’s Justin Faulk at the University of Minnesota-Duluth last season.


    Grade: A

3. Los Angeles Kings

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    Notable players

    Drew Doughty, D (Second  overall, 2008)

    Anze Kopitar, C (11th overall, 2005)

    Jonathan Quick, G (72nd overall, 2005)

    Dustin Brown, RW (13th overall, 2003)

    Andreas Lilja, D (Currently with Phildelphia)

    Brian Boyle, C (Currently with Rangers)

    Mike Cammalleri, C (Currently with Calgary)

    Mike Smith, G (Currently with Phoenix)

    Olli Jokinen, C (Currently with Winnipeg)

    Joe Corvo, D (Currently with Carolina)


    Notable prospects

    Tyler Toffoli, RW (47th overall, 2010)

    Slava Voynov, D (32nd overall, 2008)

    Andrei Lokionov, C (123rd overall, 2008)



    Tell me if you recognize these names:

    Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick.

    All four of those players were drafted and developed by Los Angeles and were cornerstone players in the team’s Stanley Cup victory in 2012.

    Following a solid season with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, Toffoli joined Manchester for the AHL playoffs as an 18-year-old and scored once in five playoff games.

    Russia’s Voynov has two years in the AHL under his belt and his comrade and teammate, Lokionov, made his NHL debut last year and should be ready for the bright lights next season.


    Grade: A

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Notable players

    Sidney Crosby, C (First overall, 2005)

    Kris Letang, D (62nd overall, 2005)

    Evgeni Malkin, C (Second  overall, 2004)

    Jordan Staal, C (Currently with Carolina)

    Marc-Andre Fleury, G (First overall, 2003)

    Brooks Orpik, D (18th overall, 2000)

    Ryan Malone, LW (Currently with Tampa Bay)

    Maxime Talbot, C (Currently with Philadelphia)

    Alex Goligoski, D (Currently with Dallas)

    Paul Bissonnette, LW (Currently with Phoenix)

    Rob Scuderi, D (Currently with Los Angeles)

    Jaromir Jagr, RW (Currently with Dallas)


    Notable prospects

    Beau Bennett, RW (19th overall, 2010)

    Joe Morrow, D (23rd overall, 2011)

    Simon Despres, D (30th overall, 2009)

    Brian Dumoulin, D (51st overall, 2009)



    Many of Pittsburgh’s players from the 2009 Cup run came from within the system and are a big reason why this team is a perennial contender.

    They have a couple of big prospects. A Southern California native that played at Denver University before singing with the Penguins, Bennett is a creative winger that can also quarterback the powerplay. He is expected to be an impact player at the next level as long as he can add strength to his 6’1” frame.

    The Pens are also expecting big things from Morrow who is currently with Portland (WHL) and two large blue liners that already have playing time in the pros: Despres (6’4”, 225) and Dumoulin (6’3”, 205).


    Grade: A

1. Detroit Red Wings

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    Notable players

    Jimmy Howard, G (64th overall, 2003)

    Kyle Quincey, D (132nd overall, 2003)

    Niklas Kronwall, D (29th overall, 2000)

    Henrik Zetterberg, LW (199th overall, 1999)

    Pavel Datsyuk, C (171st overall, 1998)

    Jakub Kindl, D (19th overall, 2005)

    Darren Helm, C (132nd overall, 2005)

    Johan Franzen, RW (97th overall, 2004)

    Justin Abdelkader, LW (42nd overall, 2005)

    Jiri Hudler, C (Currently with Calgary)

    Tomas Kopecky, RW (Currently with Florida)


    Notable prospects

    Brendan Smith, D (27th overall, 2007)

    Teemu Pulkkinen, RW (111th overall, 2010)

    Tomas Jurco, RW (35st overall, 2011)

    Gustav Nyquist, LW (121st overall, 2008)

    Tomas Tatar, LW (60th overall, 2009)

    Calle Jarnkrok, C (51st overall, 2010)



    Player development has always been Detroit’s strong suit and it looks like there is a decent amount of talent coming through the pipeline to replenish an aging roster when the time is right.

    Smith is the Detroit’s prospect with the biggest upside. He was drafted five years ago, but the Red Wings rarely rush guys to the big leagues and after an accomplished career at Madison and a solid season in the AHL, he could make an impact on the blue line in the near future.

    The future at right wing for the Wings lies overseas in Finland’s Pulkkinen and in Saint John with Slovakia’s Jurco. The help on the other side of the ice should come from Sweden’s Nyquist and Jarnkrok and Slovakia’s Tatar.


    Grade: A


    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.