NHL Prospects Most Likely to Be All-Stars in the Next 3 Years
The lockout cost fans the an All-Star Game in 2013, and the Winter Olympics in Sochi will prevent an All-Star Game from occurring in 2014. By the time we finally get around to having another All-Star weekend in 2015, there will have been a changing of the guard as far as team representatives go.
Will Daniel Alfredsson, Jarome Iginla and Dennis Wideman still be considered among the best players in the game, three years after they were All-Star players in 2012? While it's possible, it's much more likely that Jonathan Drouin, Ryan Strome and Morgan Rielly will have taken their places among the game's elite by then.
For the purposes of this slideshow, anyone who wouldn't be eligible to win the Calder Trophy next season due to games played in the NHL is no longer a prospect. While guys such as Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem are outstanding young players, they're beyond the point of just having a cup of coffee in the NHL.
We're looking to find players that haven't spent more than 25 games in the league and that could make the leap to All-Star status within the next three seasons.
All statistical data, including heights, weights and ages, appears courtesy of Hockeydb.com.
Given the value of puck-moving defensemen in the NHL, it should come as no surprise to see Griffin Reinhart on this list. The New York Islanders liked him enough to make him the No. 4 selection at the 2012 draft and are patiently awaiting the day that he'll be feeding pucks to John Tavares for breakouts.
His point total dropped from 36 in 2012 to 29 in 2013, but there's no question that Reinhart is one of the better all-around defensive prospects around.
No one aspect of Reinhart's game will jump out at you. Instead of taking risks and gunning for the big plays, he's a steady player that doesn't take chances with the puck. Not overly defensive or offensive, Reinhart figures to be an important part of a young and improving Islanders team and could find himself as an All-Star within three seasons.
The Calgary Flames are at the very beginning of what appears to be a long, slow rebuilding process. While Jarome Iginla is gone and Miikka Kiprusoff isn't likely to return, according to NHL.com, the team might have already brought the new face of the franchise on board by drafting Sean Monahan.
There's a good chance that the sixth overall selection from 2013 will be able to make the opening night roster based on the lack of competition and the fact that he's seemingly outgrown the OHL.
After back-to-back 78-point seasons, Monahan could get a shot at centering one of the top two lines for Calgary as an 18-year-old. He's 6'2" and weighs 187 pounds, and Monahan's simple approach to the game will only benefit him if he ends up in that role.
All the guy has done is score at every level. He's likable and will have plenty of opportunities to be the man for the Flames over the next three seasons. If all goes according to plan, he could be an All-Star by his 21st birthday.
The Buffalo Sabres may have landed themselves quite the steal in 2011 when they drafted Joel Armia at No. 16. The bruising forward has rapidly improved since then, playing in Finland's top league for the last three seasons.
He hasn't been taking a backseat with the Assat Pori or playing minimal minutes, either. Armia has been counted on to produce on a nightly basis as a teenager and was the team's third leading scorer in 2013.
Standing at 6'3" and weighing in at 187 pounds, the Sabres would welcome Armia's power forward game with glee should he decide to hit the NHL after his contract with Assat is over after this season. He'll be 21 by then and already have developed his game as a professional.
Sounds like a potential All-Star to us.
Drafted seventh overall in 2012 by the Minnesota Wild as a raw, project-type prospect, Mathew Dumba has slowly been rounding his game into form since then. He brings an energetic and electric style of play to the ice on a nightly basis, capable of bringing fans to their feet with both big hits and bombs from the blue line.
Where Dumba really sets himself apart is with his skating, which is outstanding. He's capable of moving the puck out of trouble by using his feet, is an established puck-rusher and is dangerous once he gets going.
All the pieces are there for Dumba to be an overwhelmingly popular player for the Wild. While the competition for a top-four role on Minnesota's blue line is stiff, Dumba's talents are too outstanding to be left in the minors for too long.
Jonathan Drouin is the kind of player that fans will pay good money to see play every night. He just so happens to be joining two similar players—Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis—with the Tampa Bay Lightning and their explosive offense.
Few prospects come with a more dynamic offensive skill set than Drouin, who is capable of embarrassing defenders in a number of ways. His skating is elite-level, and he's able to wire his shot into the corners from just about anywhere inside the offensive zone.
Drouin's talent level is off the charts, and if he can overcome the challenges of being a mildly undersized player in the NHL, he'll be rocketing up the league's scoring leaderboard before we know it.
Aside from Nathan MacKinnon, there may not be a more can't-miss prospect on this list than Ryan Strome. He was running through his competition in the OHL during his final season in 2013, posting 94 points in 53 games before making his professional debut in the AHL.
A new level of competition didn't slow Strome down one bit, as he scored two goals and added five assists in 10 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Strome is compared to John Tavares frequently and could eventually be every bit as dangerous in the offensive zone. Even if he doesn't meet those lofty standards, Strome is a remarkably talented individual that has the work ethic required to make it to the All-Star level in the NHL.
Morgan Rielly was considered a risky choice when the Toronto Maple Leafs selected him in 2012 with the fifth overall pick. He had only played in 18 games due to injury but still managed 18 points in that limited amount of action.
He rewarded Toronto for their faith with a massive bounce-back season in 2013. Rielly posted 54 points in 60 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors—not half bad for a defenseman.
Given the amount of press and fanfare that offensive defensemen receive in the NHL these days, it wouldn't be surprising to see Rielly make it to the All-Star tier of players within the next three seasons. While it does take defensemen longer to develop than forwards, Rielly's bread and butter isn't in the defensive zone.
He's an offensive juggernaut and will soon have a chance to bring his talents to the ice at the Air Canada Centre.
The Florida Panthers shocked some people when they selected Aleksander Barkov with the second overall selection at the draft this year. In doing so, they passed over the highly rated Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones, and while the pick wasn't a reach, it was surprising.
Perhaps it shouldn't have been considering that Barkov is NHL-ready after playing against grown men for the last two years in the SM-liiga.
Like Joel Armia, Barkov wasn't playing depth minutes for his club in the Finnish Elite League as a teenager. He's been counted on to do some heavy lifting for the Tappara Tampere and posted 48 points in 53 games last year.
It's unlikely that Barkov will require any further seasoning in the SM-liiga or the AHL and could already be an All-Star within the next three seasons given his rapid development as a player.
The Nashville Predators need to start putting the puck in the net with increased frequency, and Filip Forsberg could become a big part of their offense within the next season or two. After getting traded out of the Washington Capitals system, he arrived in Nashville as a well-seasoned junior player that has continued to improve following being drafted.
He hit the ice in the NHL for the first time last season, skating in five contests so the Predators could get a feel for where Forsberg was in his progress as a player.
Forsberg has added strength to his frame over the last year—a necessary step considering he weighed less than 180 pounds at this time last season. His vision is exceptional and he doesn't make bad choices with the puck very often.
Considering Nashville's lack of depth when it comes to capable scorers, Forsberg will have every chance to attain All-Star status over the next three seasons.
No surprise here.
The next not-quite Sidney Crosby is Nathan MacKinnon, who is the most hyped prospect since No. 87 was drafted in 2005. While the expectations of franchise savior can weight heavy on the shoulders of your average teenager, MacKinnon is anything but average.
He scored a video game-like 75 points in 54 games in 2013. That was a year after he scored 78 points in 58 games as a rookie in the QMJHL.
The Colorado Avalanche need all the help they can get at this point, and MacKinnon will be asked to play a top-six role upon joining the team. That shouldn't be a problem for the wunderkind, as his skating will immediately be among the best in the NHL. MacKinnon's hockey IQ is off the charts, and he's surrounded by people whose jobs more or less depend on him developing into the next big superstar.
All things considered, no prospect is more poised to be at an All-Star Game within the next three years than MacKinnon.