2014 NHL Draft

Re-Ranking Every Team's Prospect Pool After 2014 NHL Draft

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2014

Re-Ranking Every Team's Prospect Pool After 2014 NHL Draft

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    All 30 NHL teams entered this year's draft with an eye to improving their prospect base. The draft is the lifeblood of any successful organization, and more than one team added a building block this year that could help lead to a Stanley Cup.

    The teams entered the weekend looking for value, and some found more than others. It will be at least five years from now until we can get a good feel for the draft's winners and losers and which teams improved themselves enough to move up the prospect list.

    Here's an instant analysis of the winners and losers and every team's prospect pool after the 2014 entry draft.

     

    Note: "New Talent" section in each slide restricted to the team's 2014 first-round pick(s).

30. New Jersey Devils

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    New Talent: The New Jersey Devils selected No. 30 in the first round of the entry draft, picking John Quenneville from the WHL. He's a solid talent but doesn't project as an impact prospect.

    Top Players: The New Jersey Devils have some nice young talent bubbling under. Defenseman Damon Severson had a very nice season in junior hockey and capped it off with a quick cup of coffee in the AHL. Stefan Matteau, Reece Scarlett and Steven Santini are other prospects who may have an NHL future.

    Why They're Here: New Jersey doesn't have great prospect depth. Recent grads Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas may be the last plug-and-play types the Devils will see for a while.

29. Colorado Avalanche

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    New Talent: The Colorado Avalanche made an astute pick in Round 1 of the 2014 draft by selecting Conner Bleackley. He instantly becomes their best prospect.

    Top Players: The Avalanche don't have much to get excited about at this time. Their top prospect before the draft was defenseman Chris Bigras. Goalie Calvin Pickard and center Joey Hishon show some promise. Colorado's prospect base is full of future role players.

    Why They're Here: Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog are top talents but graduated to the NHL along with Tyson Barrie. The club needs to rebuild its prospect depth chart in many areas, and Bleackley is a fine addition.

28. Carolina Hurricanes

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    New Talent: The Carolina Hurricanes took defenseman Haydn Fleury in the first round of the draft. As of now, he's the best player in the system and has a chance to be a significant piece of the future.

    Top Players: The Hurricanes recently graduated Elias Lindholm and Ryan Murphy to the NHL, so the overall quality of the prospect group is low. They have some talent on the way in Victor Rask, Brock McGinn and Keegan Lowe, but they are future role players.

    Why They're Here: The Hurricanes have a nice group of young players already on the roster, including Justin Faulk and Jeff Skinner. They'll need to add players over the next couple of years, but Carolina has a nice young cluster.

27. Philadelphia Flyers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    New Talent: The Philadelphia Flyers selected big defender Travis Sanheim at 17th overall. He displays a complete player's skills, as described by Craig Button of TSN.

    Top Players: The Flyers have a gem in Scott Laughton, who gives the club tremendous depth at center. Defenseman Robert Hagg looks like a real find, and first-round selection Samuel Morin is a giant on skates with the potential to be something very good.

    Why They're Here: The Flyers didn't have a sure thing in the system behind Laughton, but they addressed that with the selection of Sanheim. Philadelphia is a tough team to mark; it always seems to have a surprise or two emerge unheralded from the prospect group. The most recent example is Jason Akeson, who had a fine postseason in the NHL.

26. San Jose Sharks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    New Talent: The San Jose Sharks chose Nikolay Goldobin in Round 1 of the draft. He's a brilliant offensive forward with defensive issues, but San Jose is a team that can cover his weaknesses and put him in a position to succeed.

    Top Players: The Sharks elevated Tomas Hertl and Matthew Nieto to the NHL and have some talent on the way. Led by defender Mirco Mueller, the system also boasts Matt Tennyson and forwards Dan O'Regan and Chris Tierney.

    Why They're Here: San Jose's system has delivered some quality talent to the NHL in recent seasons, but the club is going to need a strong year of procurement to get back to previous levels. Goldobin is a nice start.

25. St. Louis Blues

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    New Talent: The St. Louis Blues struck gold when forward Robby Fabbri fell to them at No. 21 overall. He represents a perfect fit for the team. Ivan Barbashev was a steal in the second round and was the best pick outside Round 1.

    Top Players: The St. Louis Blues have a nice array of talent and are covered at most positions. Goalie Jake Allen looks ready to impact the NHL, and defenders Tommy Vannelli and Jordan Schmaltz are on track as prospects. Up front, young wingers Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin look ready.

    Why They're Here: St. Louis has traded away some prospects in the last while in order to address need. The obvious example is Ryan Miller, and it will take some time to restock the assets.

24. Minnesota Wild

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    New Talent: The Minnesota Wild delivered a big part of their future at No. 18 overall at the 2014 draft. Power forward Alex Tuch has a bright future.

    Top Players: Minnesota has elevated several players lately, so the cupboard is bare. Defenseman Matt Dumba is easily the class of the group, and Johan Gustafsson is possibly the most intriguing. Zack Phillips may be the most NHL-ready of the skaters.

    Why They're Here: The Wild have some real issues in their group, but it's also true they have a large number of young players at the NHL level. Aside from goaltending, there are no obvious areas of need. The addition of Tuch adds to the quality and depth in the organization.

23. Ottawa Senators

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    New Talent: The Ottawa Senators were without their first-round pick, having sent it to Anaheim in the Bobby Ryan trade.

    Top Players: The Senators have an exceptional young forward in Curtis Lazar, fresh off a Memorial Cup championship. At the AHL level, forwards Mark Stone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are in the mix for full-time employment in 2014-15 with Ottawa.

    Why They're Here: The Senators are a strong draft and development team, and they have several good players on the way. One of the big advantages they have is that so many of their forwards are NHL-ready. Not having a first-round pick this season will hurt them long term.

22. Los Angeles Kings

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    New Talent: The Los Angeles Kings selected Adrian Kempe in Round 1. He's an aggressive, physical winger with skill, making him a perfect fit for Los Angeles.

    Top Players: The Kings have across-the-board depth at each position. Goaltender Martin Jones became an NHL player this season, but the club has replacement Patrik Bartosak arriving at the pro level. Defensemen include Brayden McNabb and Derek Forbort. Up front, Los Angeles is developing Valentin Zykov and Nikolay Prokhorkin, and there are several intriguing players in Manchester.

    Why They're Here: The Kings are without an impact prospect but have terrific depth. Kempe could develop into one. He's one of the youngest players in the draft at 17 years old and has plenty of room to grow.

21. Vancouver Canucks

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    New Talent: The Vancouver Canucks added two first-round selections and, as a result, moved smartly up the rankings. Jake Virtanen is a budding power forward, and Jared McCann is among the best two-way forwards in the 2014 draft.

    Top Players: The Canucks have some real strengths and specific areas of weakness. The club boasts quality forward prospects in Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk and Brendan Gaunce. Free-agent addition Dane Fox also has a chance to make it. Defensively, Frankie Corrado looks like a player, and in goal, Joacim Eriksson shows promise.

    Why They're Here: Vancouver now possesses one of the very best forward groups among the 30 NHL teams. It may have to wait a couple of years for all of them to arrive, but there's outstanding talent in this group.

20. New York Rangers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    New Talent: The New York Rangers were without a first-round selection in 2014 after dealing it in the Martin St. Louis trade.

    Top Players: The Rangers have quality and depth at the AHL level from names such as Oscar Lindberg, Danny Kristo and Jesper Fast. They also have Adam Tambellini and others developing in junior and college, but there are major holes on defense and in goal.

    Why They're Here: The Rangers have a nice array of young talent on the way, but the lack of development among their defensemen is a concern.

19. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    New Talent: The Toronto Maple Leafs added the brilliant William Nylander to their stockpile of prospects. He is not only their best prospect but maybe the most skilled player available in the draft.

    Top Players: The Leafs have a nice defensive prospect in Matt Finn, who is a good bet to have an NHL career. He is joined by defenseman Stuart Percy and Fred Gauthier, who is a two-way forward.

    Why They're Here: The Leafs added a breakout offensive player in Nylander who gives the organization a new dimension. He should be an impact player and may begin his NHL career in the fall.

18. Arizona Coyotes

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    New Talent: The Arizona Coyotes added a big winger with speed at the draft. Brendan Perlini is a strong addition to their prospect pool.

    Top Players: Arizona has two quality prospects who spent the season in junior, Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson. They also have two defenders at the pro level in Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy who could have solid NHL careers. While the club doesn't enjoy tremendous depth, there's a lot to like about the top of its prospect list.

    Why They're Here: The Coyotes look ready to recall several of their top players to the NHL in the next season or two, meaning procurement will be a major issue in the coming year. Perlini represents the next generation and could use some help. Arizona has time to address its areas of need.

17. Winnipeg Jets

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    New Talent: The Winnipeg Jets selected an outstanding skill winger in Nikolaj Ehlers. For a team that needs help in scoring goals, Ehlers is a welcome addition.

    Top Players: The Jets have done an amazing job of stockpiling talent since arriving in Manitoba. Goalies Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie give the team some depth at the position. Defenseman Josh Morrissey is the gem of the system currently, and he should have a big future. Forwards Nic Petan, J.C. Lipon and Scott Kosmachuk offer hope for the future.

    Why They're Here: Winnipeg delivers value with every pick, and Ehlers is another example. The Jets have been painstakingly slow in their pursuit of excellence, with the draft being their procurement center. It takes forever to build, but they continue to impress with their ability to gather talent.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    New Talent: The Pittsburgh Penguins added to their pool by taking two-way Finnish winger Kasperi Kapanen. He's already playing pro and has a wide range of skills.

    Top Players: The Penguins have a blue-chip defensive prospect in Derrick Pouliot. They also boast defenders Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin as depth. Tristan Jarry is a legit goaltending prospect, but now that Beau Bennett has graduated to the NHL, Pittsburgh is low on good forward prospects.

    Why They're Here: The Penguins have advanced players such as Olli Maatta and Simon Despres to the NHL and have some nice defensive options still on the way. Their forward group is not strong, so the addition of Kapanen represents value and needs addressed.

15. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    New Talent: The Chicago Blackhawks added to their group of skill players by selecting forward Nick Schmaltz in the first round of the 2014 draft.

    Top Players: The Blackhawks lack elite-level prospects—although top prospect Teuvo Teravainen may have something to say about that—but they have solid options everywhere. There's no organization in hockey with more quality centers who project as future NHL players.

    Why They're Here: Chicago didn't score an impact pick at this year's draft, but Schmaltz adds another element to the group.

14. Edmonton Oilers

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    New Talent: The Edmonton Oilers took a "perfect fit" option in big German center Leon Draisaitl. His skill set, which boasts size and puck possession, is exactly what is needed in Edmonton.

    Top Players: The Oilers have drafted high in the last several years, but most players have been placed directly in the NHL. The club has nice depth on the blue line, where Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse represent the future. They are less established in goal and at forward.

    Why They're Here: The Oilers' stable of defensemen bubbling under is among the most impressive in the NHL. Adding an impact prospect such as Draisaitl gives the organization some real sustainability.

13. Florida Panthers

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    New Talent: The Florida Panthers added a huge portion of their future when selecting Aaron Ekblad No. 1 overall. He's not going to be on the prospect list for long, as he'll play in the NHL this fall.

    Top Players: The Panthers have a good young player in defenseman Mike Matheson. This Hockey's Future bio describes a rising star. Beyond that, Florida has some fine prospects in the AHL, including Vincent Trocheck, but nothing earth-shattering.

    Why They're Here: Florida moves way up the list based on the selection of Ekblad. There's a lot of work to be done behind him.

12. Dallas Stars

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    New Talent: The Dallas Stars added a quality defenseman in the first round of the 2014 draft, as Finn Julius Honka joined the team. He's a smart puck-moving defender who can make things happen.

    Top Players: The Stars have some outstanding prospects at every position. Goalie Jack Campbell, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and forwards Devin Shore, Radek Faksa and Brett Ritchie are all on track as future NHL players.

    Why They're Here: Dallas hit a home run at the draft last season with Valeri Nichushkin. Despite elevating him to the NHL, it remains a quality development organization.

11. Boston Bruins

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    New Talent: The Boston Bruins added to their forward skill with David Pastrnak, taken in the first round in 2014. He's an explosive player with a great deal of potential.

    Top Players: The Bruins have talent at every position. Some of them—specifically goalie Malcolm Subban and forward Alexander Khokhlachev—are in pro and developing in the AHL.

    Why They're Here: Boston is one of the league's strongest teams, and one of the reasons is a lush minor league system. The club can overcome injuries with its depth and make deadline deals as needed because of the quality available below the NHL level.

10. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    New Talent: The Columbus Blue Jackets added a quality offensive prospect in Sonny Milano in the first round. He'll take some time to arrive, but he is a worthy pick.

    Top Players: The Blue Jackets have quality and depth in each position. Goaltender Oscar Dansk and defensemen Tim Erixon and Mike Reilly—along with forwards Alexander Wennberg, Marko Dano, Kerby Rychel and Oliver Bjorkstrand—are all impressive prospects.

    Why They're Here: Columbus has an established pool and will be keeping a few players in the NHL this and next season. What makes it unique is it appears to be well-placed to replenish what will be lost.

9. Nashville Predators

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    New Talent: The Nashville Predators drafted a tremendous offensive talent in forward Kevin Fiala. He is their best prospect today.

    Top Players: The Predators have impressive AHL depth in Milwaukee, led by Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson. They have quality prospects at each position and have shown patience in development.

    Why They're Here: Nashville is running on some hard times in the NHL lately, but its procurement department rolls along adding quality every year. Its 2014 draft added Fiala, plus Russian Vladislav Kamenev, and early returns are positive.

8. Detroit Red Wings

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    New Talent: The Detroit Red Wings added a gem in playmaking center Dylan Larkin, who is now one of the two or three best prospects in the system.

    Top Players: The Red Wings knocked it out of the park last year at the draft, picking big scoring winger Anthony Mantha. Goalie Petr Mrazek is also a top-drawer prospect. Detroit has adequate depth at every position and is one of the few organizations who can reach down to the minors and find a player at better than replacement level.

    Why They're Here: Detroit has some of the best talent in the NHL ready to explode on the scene, and that, combined with its depth, means it is one of the best systems in the league.

7. Washington Capitals

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    New Talent: The Washington Capitals added a speed merchant with good goal-scoring ability at the 2014 draft. Jakub Vrana sealed his first-round status with a strong U-18 performance.

    Top Players: The Capitals' best prospect is 22-year-old center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who finally made his NHL debut in 2013-14. Andre Burakovsky had an enormous season in the OHL and is a future player. Defender Madison Bowey and goaltender Philipp Grubauer also show quality.

    Why They're Here: Washington is loaded in the prospect department with at least five legitimate forwards. The addition of Vrana makes it even more impressive.

6. Buffalo Sabres

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    New Talent: The Buffalo Sabres drafted the best offensive player at the draft. Sam Reinhart combines skill with imagination to create a lot of offense.

    Top Players: The Sabres have depth at all positions and top-level talent in a couple of areas. Defender Rasmus Ristolainen and center Mikhail Grigorenko should have a major impact on the future.

    Why They're Here: Buffalo's addition of Sam Reinhart gives it an offensive boost starting now. Added to the other players in its system, it ranks among the best in the NHL.

5. Montreal Canadiens

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    New Talent: The Montreal Canadiens received brilliant value at No. 26 overall, selecting left winger Nikita Scherbak. He's a quality offensive player with a range of skills.

    Top Players: The Canadiens have too many prospects to list, the best of them being goalie Zachary Fucale, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and forward Mike McCarron. Goalie Dustin Tokarski deserves a mention based on his postseason.

    Why They're Here: Montreal has one of the deepest systems in the NHL. Adding Scherbak gives the club its best offensive forward and a player who brings other elements with him.

4. Calgary Flames

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    New Talent: The Calgary Flames struck it rich with their No. 4 overall selection of center Sam Bennett. He's their best prospect and might end up being their best player since a young Jarome Iginla emerged as a star.

    Top Players: The Flames have three outstanding prospects. Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon is a splendid player, and forwards Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk are developing well. Calgary has legitimate options in goal, although none is a lock for NHL employment.

    Why They're Here: Sam Bennett is a potential franchise-changer. Added to the already-impressive group of developing young players, Calgary owns one of the best youth clusters in the NHL.

3. New York Islanders

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    New Talent: The New York Islanders added to their top-end forward group at the draft. The club used its two first-round picks on Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang—both outstanding prospects.

    Top Players: The Islanders possess what might be the best group of prospect defensemen in the league, led by Griffin Reinhart. Center Ryan Strome also represents real quality, and the team now has two excellent wingers in Dal Colle and Ho-Sang.

    Why They're Here: New York has some issues in goal, but after that, it has quality at the highest levels. Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Strome are poised to have a major impact.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    New Talent: The Tampa Bay Lightning added a big time offensive defenseman at the entry draft. Anthony DeAngelo can make things happen and is a game-breaker on the power play.

    Top Players: The Lightning has the best prospect outside the NHL in Jonathan Drouin. Goalie Andrei Vasilevski looks like a future impact player. The rest of the depth chart has some question marks, but there's talent, especially among the forwards.

    Why They're Here: Tampa Bay is a sleeping giant. Its success in 2013-14 is just the beginning, as the impact players in the system are close to arriving in the NHL.

1. Anaheim Ducks

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    New Talent: The Anaheim Ducks added some real quality at the draft. Nick Ritchie is a power forward with skill, and Marcus Pettersson is a giant defenseman with a lot of promise.

    Top Players: The Ducks have so much quality, the mind boggles. Goalie John Gibson, defenseman Shea Theodore and forward Rickard Rakell are all exciting young options. Add in depth at all positions, and this is an elite group.

    Why They're Here: Anaheim is a talent-rich team. It was able to acquire Ryan Kesler from Vancouver while barely touching the prospect pool.

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