Top 52 Players in Hockey's Minor Leagues

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IDecember 17, 2012

Top 52 Players in Hockey's Minor Leagues

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    The NHL lockout doesn't appear to be nearing an end anytime soon, so most fans have taken to watching the minor leagues throughout the lockout.

    The AHL and CHL is full of amazing talent that has really risen to the occasion throughout the lockout.

    This slideshow will recognize those players as the top 52 players currently in hockey's minor leagues.

Mark Scheifele

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    Mark Scheifele is a playmaker with skilled and agile hands. He is also a smart, two-way forward who has the makings of a dominant power forward in the NHL.

    During the lockout, the young prospect is playing for the Barrie Colts of the OHL, and he is eighth in the league in scoring with 21 goals and 27 assists for 48 points.

Boone Jenner

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    Boone Jenner is an offensive prospect of the Columbus Blue Jackets who is currently playing in the OHL for the Oshawa Generals.

    He is a player who is an able playmaker and sniper, and his 20 goals and 27 assists place put him ninth in the league with 47 points. With Rick Nash no longer a Blue Jacket, Jenner has the opportunity to become the main man in Columbus once he enters the NHL.

Ty Rattie

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    Ty Rattie has not let the lockout affect his play, and he has really thrived with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

    Rattie is a rugged forward who uses his tenacity to dominate play. He is currently one of the league leaders in scoring with 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points in 30 games.

Justin Schultz

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    Justin Schultz has been the biggest surprise of the AHL this season, and he has really showcased a lot of skills.

    As a defenseman, Schultz is tied the league in scoring with 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points. Once the lockout ends, Schultz will add some top-end offense to the Oilers' blue line.

Hunter Shinkaruk

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    Hunter Shinkaruk is a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, and he currently has 44 points through 31 games.

    He is a player who is looking forward to the 2013 draft after narrowly missing the date of birth cutoff for the 2012 draft.

    Shinkaruk is a talented player, and one of the WHL's best so far this season.

Beau Bennett

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    Beau Bennett is a player who is often forgotten about because he played in the NCAA, but he is a member of the WB-Scranton Penguins who is off to a nice start.

    The 21-year-old forward currently has 21 points in 25 games, and he is a player who could have the potential to play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin very soon.

Mikhail Grigorenko

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    Mikhail Grigorenko likely would have made the Buffalo Sabres' lineup out of training camp, but during the lockout he has played for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

    So far, the QMJHL has treated Grigorenko well as the young power forward is fifth in scoring with 50 points through 30 games.

Connor McDavid

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    Fifteen-year-old phenom Connor McDavid is currently one of the hottest players in professional hockey. McDavid recently signed a mega deal with Reebok, and it isn't a surprise that so many are interested in the youngster.

    He currently has 40 points in 35 games, and he has a lot of potential to become one of hockey's next superstars.

Alex Galchenyuk

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    Alex Galchenyuk is a Montreal Canadiens prospect who has tons of potential, and he might be able to walk into the NHL after the lockout.

    The youngster has had an explosive season to date, and that includes 27 goals and 34 assists for 61 points in 33 games.

    Galchenyuk is going to be a star, and his season to date has shown that his knee is just fine and dandy.

Anthony Mantha

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    Anthony Mantha is a player who has done a great job increasing his draft stock so far during the 2012-13 season.

    He currently plays for Val-d'Or Foreurs of the QMJHL and his his 28 goals and 22 assists for 50 points in 34 games is close to surpassing his 2011-12 campaign in which he netted 22 goals and 29 assists for 51 points.

    Mantha is a player with a lot of potential, and he is currently one of the best players in the minors.

Dougie Hamilton

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    Dougie Hamilton is a big framed defender who has had a great season with the Niagara Ice Dogs during the NHL lockout.

    Hamilton was a defender pegged to make the jump to the big leagues in 2012-13, but this final season of fine tuning should help him in the long run.

    The Bruins' top prospect currently is 15th in league scoring with eight goals and 33 assists for 41 points thus far.

Jonathan Huberdeau

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    Jonathan Huberdeau was named The Hockey News' pick for Rookie of the Year during their annual predictions issue, and it is a prediction that could have held up if the NHL didn't lockout.

    During the lockout, Huberdeau has shined for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, and he has registered 45 points in 30 games.

    He is a dangerous scorer and playmaker, and one of the best players currently in the minors.

Max Domi

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    Max Domi is a 2013 draft prospect who is using the lockout as a way to increase his draft stock.

    The 2012-13 season has already been an improvement for the young forward, as he has recorded 45 points in 34 games up to this point. 

    Last season he only recorded 49 points all season long, so he is a top player who should reap the benefits of this NHL lockout.

JC Lipon

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    JC Lipon is a member of the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL, and he is one of the league's top scorers so far in 2012-13.

    Lipon has 57 points in 34 games, and this is a huge improvement from the 65 points he scored in 69 games last season.

Myles Bell

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    Myles Bell is a talented offensive defenseman in the WHL, but off ice issues have hovered over his career to date.

    He is a player who should have an NHL contract because of his skills, and the New York Rangers even invited him to their development camp over the summer.

    To date, Bell has 48 points in the WHL, a mark that makes him the league's fifth best scorer. Once the WHL season is over, it will be interesting to see if teams are willing to look past Bell's off ice issues by offering him a pro contract.

Jonathan Drouin

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    While Jonathan Drouin's teammate Nathan MacKinnon may have his own entourage of media keeping tabs on him for the upcoming draft, Drouin is a player who is making enough noise himself to get more media attention.

    In 24 games, Drouin already has 48 points, and he is on a hot streak with no end in sight. If the youngster keeps up his pace, he could give MacKinnon a run for his money at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Mathew Dumba

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    Mathew Dumba is a defenseman who possesses a booming slap shot and other offensive skills that will make him a great NHL defenseman one day.

    During the lockout, the 2012 first-round draft pick has been skating for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.

    He is a great prospect and dominant defender who should be playing in the NHL very soon.

Chris Kreider

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    Chris Kreider is a speedy forward who is currently playing for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. He has struggled a bit in Ken Gernander's defense-first system, but Kreider is developing other parts of his game

    Kreider's skill set, maturity and talent makes him one of the best talents in the minors, and he should be on the NHL roster at some point in 2012-13.

Mika Zibanejad

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    Mika Zibanejad is a talented center who may be having a tough time adjusting to the AHL, but he is still a talented forward with great skill and vision.

    With the Binghamton Senators, Zibanejad has struggled, but he will ultimately find his game and thrive in the AHL.

Griffin Reinhart

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    Griffin Reinhart is a sizable defender with a booming howitzer of a slap shot. He is going to represent Team Canada at the upcoming WJC in Ufa, Russia

    Reinhart is a very talented prospect who represents the future of the New York Islanders, and he has the ability to be a franchise defenseman.

Matt Hackett

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    Matt Hackett is a goaltending prospect for the Minnesota Wild who has a big future ahead of him.

    With Niklas Backstrom's contract up this year, and Josh Harding's recent diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Hackett is primed to become the next starter of the Wild.

    So far for the Houston Aeros, Hackett has posted a record of 11-6-3 with a GAA of 2.56.

Nicolas Petan

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    Nicolas Petan has 58 points through 34 games in the WHL thus far, and it is already an improvement upon his 35 point campaign from last season.

    Petan is a member of a Portland Winterhawks team full of talent so far this season.

    The youngster is only in his second full WHL season, so keep an eye on him in the immediate future.

Morgan Rielly

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    Morgan Rielly's stock has risen a lot over the past few months, and he is going to be the next big thing on the Toronto Maple Leafs' blue line.

    The lockout has allowed Rielly to play hockey on borrowed time, and he may be able to make his NHL debut sooner rather than later. 

    He already has size, the skills and potential, so it is only a matter of time before he makes an impact at the NHL level.

    With the Moose Jaw Warriors, he has 26 points in 30 games, and he will also be representing his country at the upcoming World Junior Championships.

Seth Griffith

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    Seth Griffith is a prospect who is property of the Boston Bruins, but he is currently playing in the OHL for Dale Hunter's London Knights.

    Griffith is a player who can play both center and right wing, and this versatility allows him to operate as a scorer and playmaker.

    Through 36 games, Griffith has 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points, and that puts him third in the OHL for overall scoring.

Nathan MacKinnon

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    Nathan MacKinnon is a player who is touted to be a potential No.1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, and he is currently one of the best players in the QMJHL.

    MacKinnon is considered to be the complete package, like Sidney Crosby, because of his offensive instincts and amazing overall play.

    The offensive dynamo currently third in scoring with 52 points in 30 games.

Ryan Strome

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    Ryan Strome is an extremely talented top player and New York Islander fans can't wait until he makes his debut.

    Strome is one of the OHL's best players, and he has continually impressed with his amazing offensive talents.

    The Niagara Ice Dogs' star currently leads the OHL with 62 points, and he has a great chance to have a career year.

Brendan Leipsic

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    Brendan Leipsic is already on pace to have a career year in the WHL, and he is a player with a lot of upside and potential.

    The young scoring-forward already has 54 points in 31 games when he had 58 points in 65 games last season.

    Every night is appears that Leipsic is elevating his game, and he has been a very impressive player to watch during the lockout.

Sean Monahan

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    Sean Monahan is a youngster expected to enter the NHL Draft in 2013, and he is slated to be drafted in the first round.

    Monahan is an offensive center for the Ottawa 67's  who currently has 37 points through 26 games.

    Although he did not make the Team Canada's roster for the upcoming WJC, he has a lot of potential, and is a player with a bright future.

Charlie Coyle

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    Charlie Coyle is a right winger playing for the Houston Aeros of the AHL during the NHL lockout. He is one of the Minnesota Wild's top offensive prospects, and a player with a lot of upside.

    After proving himself in CHL and NCAA, Coyle was a player who was pegged to join the Wild out of training camp. 

    However, the lockout has provided Coyle an opportunity to adapt his game, and play with future teammates like Mikael Granlund.

Gustav Nyquist

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    Gustav Nyquist is a dynamic forward who is going to a member of the Detroit Red Wings once the current NHL lockout is over.

    Nyquist was off to a slow start, but through 24 games he has 21 points with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.

    Although Nyquist has made an impact as an offensive player, he has great defensive abilities that will make him an effective two-way player.

Kerby Rychel

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    Kerby Rychel is a member of the Windsor Spitfires, and he is a player who is trying to use this season to boost his 2013 draft stock.

    He is an average sized forward who currently has 32 points in 34 games, and if he keeps up the pace, he should surpass his 74 points from last season.

Seth Jones

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    Seth Jones is a player who stands to challenge Nathan MacKinnon for the No.1 draft selection for the 2013 NHL Draft.

    Jones is a defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks who has both offensive and defensive skills.

    Offensively, Jones has 28 points through 31 games, but he is making headlines for his defensive abilities and great all-around play.

Joe Morrow

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    Joe Morrow is one of the Pittsburgh Penguins' many talented defensive prospects, and he has made a nice adjustment to the AHL so far. 

    With tons of young NHL talent flocking to the AHL as a result of the lockout, the Pittsburgh Penguins organization wanted Morrow play for the WB-Scranton Penguins.

    He has looked well so far, and don't be surprised to see him in the NHL very soon.

Derrick Pouliot

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    Derrick Pouliot was one of the many talented defenseman who had a tough time making the cut for Team Canada's WJC team.

    There was stiff competition, but Pouliot is one of the best defenders in the WHL. So far with the Portland Winterhawks, Pouliot has 36 points through 34 games.

    He is a young defender on the rise, and a player who is one of the best in the minors today.

Zach Fucale

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    Zach Fucale is the starting goaltender for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, and he is one of hockey's top goaltending prospects.

    Fucale currently has a record of 21-3-1 and a GAA of 2.58, and he is arguably the best goaltender int he QMJHL.

    He is eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, and he could go in the first round because of his talent and upside.

Nino Niederreiter

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    Nino Niederreiter is a New York Islanders prospect who has really looked like a brand new player in the AHL this season. 

    Niederreiter is a player who struggled during limited stints in the NHL, but he has turned his game on so far this season.

    The Islanders' prospect currently has 27 points in 26 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Cam Atkinson

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    Cam Atkinson is off to a great start to his 2012-13 AHL season with the Springfield Falcons.

    He is a player who is holding his own in a league that is currently full of NHL talent, and a player who could join the NHL once the lockout is lifted.

    Atkinson's 29 points in 25 games is an impressive feat, and if he keeps up his above point-per-game pace, he should have a true career year in the AHL.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault

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    Jonathan Audy-Marchessault is another normal AHL player who is has the tough task of battling against players who have significant NHL experience under their belts.

    Even though J.A.M. is a player with limited experience in the AHL, he is one of the league leaders in scoring.

    Through 25 games, J.A.M. has 27 points, and he is on pace to have a career year with the Springfield Falcons.

Nazem Kadri

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    Nazem Kadri is one of the Toronto Maple Leafs top prospects currently playing for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

    Kadri has had limited stints in the NHL, and he is a player with a lot of talent, but he hasn't had an adequate shot at proving himself in the big leagues.

    So far in the AHL this season, Kadri has a point-per-game average through 24 games, and he has stood out as the best player on the Marlies.

    Once the lockout ends, he should have more than earned a chance to compete for a NHL roster spot.

Sven Bartschi

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    Sven Bartschi is an explosive player with good hands, on-ice vision and speed. The Calgary Flames' top prospect is currently skating for the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL, and he has 17 points in 19 games thus far.

    The youngster has already exhibited great offensive instincts, and he great speed is a huge asset to his game.

    He is the future of the Flames' franchise, and he is a player who has a lot of upside.

T.J. Hensick

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    T.J. Hensick is a St.Louis Blues' prospect who is currently 16th in the AHL in scoring with eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points in 26 games.

    He is one of the many young Blues players waiting for the lockout to end so he can start his NHL career.

    The Blues are a young team on the rise, and their bottom-six can surely benefit from having a player like Hensick on the roster.

Peter Holland

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    Peter Holland is a young center, and a prospect Anaheim Ducks, playing for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. Holland is currently leading the team in scoring, and he has tallied 25 points in 24 games up to this point.

    The best part about Holland playing in the AHL is that he is getting the opportunity to develop chemistry with Emerson Etem, another top Ducks prospect playing for the Admirals.

Emerson Etem

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    Emerson Etem is off to a rough start to his career in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals, but he is one of the top offensive talents in the league.

    Last season, Etem lit up the WHL with a 60 goal season that was one for the ages.

    Once Etem adapts to the AHL style of play, he should be able to thrive and produce at a more consistent level.

Mikael Granlund

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    Although injuries have put a damper on Mikael Granlund's first season in North America, he is one of the best players currently in North America's minor leagues.

    Granlund is a creative and gifted playmaker who has been touted as one of the NHL's top prospects.

    Granlund has worked hard so far, and his speed and offensive skills will help the Houston Aeros and the Minnesota Wild in the future.

Braden Holtby

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    Braden Holtby went on an impressive run with the Washington Capitals during the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he was expected to be the starter for the 2012-13 season.

    Although the NHL is locked out, Holtby has been playing for the Hersey Bears of the AHL, and he has been one of the league's top netminders.

    Holtby currently has a record of 10-8-1 with a 2.40 GAA and two shutouts for the Bears thus far.

Josh Currie

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    Josh Currie has really emerged in a huge way for the P.E.I. Rocket of the QMJHL.

    So far, the young forward has 61 points in 34 games, after only posting 46 games in 68 games last season.

    He is certainly a player to keep an eye on in the future, and he certainly has been one of the best players so far during the 2012-13 campaign.

Colin Smith

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    Colin Smith is currently the leading scorer in the WHL with 62 points in 38 games, and he is a player who should be able to beat his career high of 85 points in 72 games.

    Smith is a dynamic scorer and offensive threat whenever he is on the ice, and he could be a diamond in the rough for the Colorado Avalanche once he makes enters the NHL.

Jacob Markström

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    Jacob Markström is currently showcasing his talents in the AHL, and he is a goaltender who wants to be a starter in the NHL.

    He is the future of the Florida Panthers in net, and he could step in as a prepared goaltender once the NHL lockout comes to an end.

    Markström has the talent, and he will eventually make his impact known in the NHL.

Aaron Ekblad

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    Aaron Ekblad is a phenom defender who is only 16 years old, and he is a player who will be eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

    The young defender was the No.1 overall pick in the 2011 OHL Draft, and he has been an impressive player so far during his OHL career.

    He has great all-around instincts for a 16-year-old, and his has the potential to be a very talented player at the NHL level.

Curtis Lazar

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    Curtis Lazar is a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings, and he is going to enter the 2013 NHL Draft. Last season he tallied 31 points, but this season he already has 24 points.

    Lazar is a talented offensive player, but he also plays with an edge and that is what makes him a player that could be valuable during the 2013 Draft.

    In the NHL it is important to be tough and able to score, and Lazar represents the best of both worlds.

Ryan Murray

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    Although he suffered a season ending injury, Ryan Murray is one of the top defenders in the minors.

    Murray was selected No. 2 overall during the 2012 NHL Draft, and he is a defenseman with a ton of skill. He can kill penalties, QB a power play, check, score and do anything else that his team needs him to do.

    Next season Murray will likely come back with a vengeance in a big way.

Jaden Schwartz

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    Jaden Schwartz is one of the St.Louis Blues' top prospects, and he is a currently a member of the Peoria Rivermen. 

    Schwartz is a solid two-way player who projects to be a top-six forward, and his all around skills make him one of the most talented players in the minors.

    He is off to a slow start in the AHL, but he is a player who will take off once he adapts to the learning curve of the AHL.