Ranking the Top 50 NHL Prospects After the 2014 Draft

Jonathan Willis@jonathanwillisNHL National ColumnistJune 28, 2014

Ranking the Top 50 NHL Prospects After the 2014 Draft

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    With the 2014 NHL draft in the books, all 30 NHL teams have a prospect list freshly bolstered with new players. 

    But how do these fresh draftees fit into the mix of more established prospects?

    To answer that question, we've compiled a ranking of the top 50 prospects in the NHL. To qualify, a player must still be eligible for the Calder Trophy (i.e. under the age of 25 and with 25 or fewer games played in a single season). 

    Our rankings are based on a combination of factors: long-term upside, the amount of risk inherent in that projection and NHL readiness. Obviously, the best prospects are those with a good chance of being impact players in short order and with little risk attached to those projections. 

    Read on for our view of the NHL's 50 best prospects. 

     

50. Mirco Mueller, San Jose Sharks

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    Best-Case Scenario: A great skater with an eye for detail and tremendous patience with the puck, Mirco Mueller is often compared to current San Jose Shark Marc-Edouard Vlasic and has the size and intelligence to play top-four minutes in the NHL.

    Risk Factor: One big difference between Mueller and Vlasic is that Vlasic posted major numbers in junior hockey, while Mueller hasn't. That's a major red flag, even for a defenceman who projects primarily as a shutdown player. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

49. Dmitrij Jaskin, St. Louis Blues

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    Best-Case Scenario: Big winger Dmitrij Jaskin had a great QMJHL campaign in 2012-13, but he had only a mediocre debut in the AHL in 2013-14. He got 18 games with the St. Louis Blues anyway, posting just two points and a minus-three rating, but there are still hopes he could emerge as a first-line player. 

    Risk Factor: Jaskin's tepid AHL performance and difficulties in the NHL open questions about his ultimate offensive potential, but he's a good enough player that he should at least be able to survive in a bottom-six role.  

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

48. Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators

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    Best-Case Scenario: Mark Stone is a big goal scorer who put up better than a point per game in the AHL last season. With his combination of size and offence, a top-six NHL career is a realistic possibility. 

    Risk Factor: The late-blooming Stone has had injury issues over his career and must find a way to stay healthy.

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

47. Sonny Milano

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    Best-Case Scenario: A fast puck-possession player with high levels of creativity and the ability to stickhandle his way out of a phone booth, Sonny Milano has extreme offensive potential and could be a first-line player in the NHL. 

    Risk Factor: At 5'11" and 183 pounds, Milano isn't big, and his defensive game still leaves a significant amount to be desired. 

    NHL ETA: 2017-18. 

46. Emile Poirier, Calgary Flames

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    Best-Case Scenario: A smart winger with a feisty streak, Emile Poirier topped 40 goals and 80 points in the QMJHL in 2013-14 and then managed four points in two AHL games during a late-season tryout. He has a nice set of skills and could end up as a complete player with second-line offensive production. 

    Risk Factor: Poirier still needs to round out his game and add strength before making the jump to the majors, and while he's a hard worker, he isn't as offensively gifted as some of his contemporaries. He's a good bet to make the NHL, but he may end up as a bottom-six forward. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16.

45. Henrik Samuelsson, Arizona Coyotes

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    Best-Case Scenario: A big, physical pivot with a great toolkit, Henrik Samuelsson is the son of famous NHL pest Ulf and, much like his father, plays a chippy, aggressive game. His scoring in the WHL suggests he may find a place in an NHL team's top-six forward group. 

    Risk Factor: Samuelsson's speed is a bit of a concern, but he does so many things well that it's hard to imagine him not ending up in the NHL. The question is how far his scoring will take him.

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

44. Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks

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    Best-Case Scenario: Rickard Rakell hasn't put up massive point totals in junior, but he adjusted very well to the AHL in his first pro campaign, scoring just a hair under a point-per-game pace. He got an NHL cameo too, though the gifted two-way forward didn't have an offensive impact. He could be a top-six NHL forward. 

    Risk Factor: Rakell is ready to go now, and he should contribute in the majors, but it's questionable whether he ends up as a top-six NHLer or if he's better off in a depth role. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15

43. Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings

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    Best-Case Scenario: A smooth-skating two-way pivot, Dylan Larkin fits the profile of a Detroit Red Wings draft pick in that he does a lot of things well and is likely to be a highly polished NHL player capable of more than holding his own at either end of the rink. At 6'1", 190 pounds, he also has pretty decent size for a player his age (17). 

    Risk Factor: The question here is his offensive ceiling—Larkin is a relatively safe pick, but he may not have the high-end offensive potential that some of his compatriots do. 

    NHL ETA: 2018-19. 

42. Julius Honka, Dallas Stars

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    Best-Case Scenario: A high-end offensive defenceman who is cool under pressure, Julius Honka is physical and combative and brings the hockey sense so essential to his position at the NHL level.  

    Risk Factor: At just 5'11" and 181 pounds, Honka is undersized for an NHL defenceman and will need to prove he can handle big forwards in front of his own net. As that's a sizable part of the job, there is some risk here. 

    NHL ETA: 2017-18

41. Brandon Gormley, Arizona Coyotes

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    Best Case Scenario: 2010 first-round pick Brandon Gormley dominated offensively in junior and now has two AHL seasons under his belt, as well as his first NHL recall in 2013-14. He's a two-way player who should evolve into a top-four defender with time. 

    Risk Factor: Gormley has a range of skill, which makes him a relatively safe choice, but he may end up as just an NHL player rather than as an impact NHLer. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16.

40. Brett Ritchie, Dallas Stars

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    Best-Case Scenario: 6'3", 220-pound winger Brett Ritchie took a major step forward in 2012-13, scoring 40 goals for the first time in his junior career. He adapted smoothly to the professional ranks in 2013-14 too, providing good production for the powerhouse Texas Stars. He could be a physical second-line winger. 

    Risk Factor: Texas was so loaded with talent that Ritchie's offence is a little suspect; he was the team's No. 6 scorer, and his track record in junior is up and down. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16.

39. Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings

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    Best-Case Scenario: Petr Mrazek has starter potential in the majors. He's coming off his second consecutive exceptional AHL season, with those following an outstanding junior career in the OHL. He's also looked very good over 11 NHL games.

    Risk Factor: Projecting goalies is witchcraft, but Mrazek hasn't taken a wrong step yet. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

38. Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

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    Best-Case Scenario: Ryan Pulock has decent size, a heavy shot (described as NHL-ready in 2013, his draft year) and is regarded as a character player. He's still somewhat raw defensively, but he has top-pairing potential. 

    Risk Factor: Pulock should be able to play in the NHL, though how high he climbs the depth chart remains to be seen. He should produce offensively, but he may not have the defensive chops to reach his full potential.

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

37. Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals

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    Best-Case Scenario: Jakub Vrana has first-line potential. He is an exceptional skater with a lethal wrist shot, and if it all comes together, he could be one of the NHL's most feared offensive weapons. 

    Risk Factor: Undersized and with an underwhelming defensive game, there are also concerns about Vrana's willingness to fight through traffic the way he will need to if he wishes to excel in the NHL.

    NHL ETA: 2016-17. 

36. Martin Jones, Los Angeles Kings

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    Best-Case Scenario: At the NHL level, the undrafted Martin Jones found his way into the Los Angeles Kings organization, where he's spent most of the last four seasons providing the Manchester Monarchs with superb play. In 19 NHL games last season, he posted a 0.934 save percentage, and he's a reasonable bet as a future starting goalie. 

    Risk Factor: Just the usual goalie stuff here. Jones has a long record in the pro ranks despite his young age (24), and with a 6'4" frame, there isn't much risk of him getting picked apart in the majors. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

35. Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals

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    Best-Case Scenario: Andre Burakovsky has an exceptional offensive touch, scoring 41 goals in his rookie OHL season in 2013-14. He has a big frame and decent strength, though he isn't known as a physical player. He might yet end up as an NHL first-liner. 

    Risk Factor: Burakovsky's numbers are a little suspect because he was playing for the Erie Otters, a team with two triple-digit point scorers and Connor McDavid; in that company, Burakovsky's 87 points were only good for fourth on the team. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

34. Malcolm Subban, Boston Bruins

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    Best-Case Scenario: The highly athletic Malcolm Subban steadily progressed over his OHL career and had a dazzling rookie campaign in the AHL, posting a 0.920 save percentage in 33 games with the Providence Bruins. He could be an NHL starter. 

    Risk Factor: As always, goaltender projection is a higher-risk exercise than projecting skaters, but Subban's pro performance is a big mark in his favour. 

    NHL ETA: 2016-17. 

33. Brendan Perlini, Arizona Coyotes

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    Best-Case Scenario: Brendan Perlini combines size and offensive potential, and better yet, he's a very strong skater. That's a package a lot of NHL teams could use, and if it all comes together, there's no reason he can't play on a top line. 

    Risk Factor: Perlini's defensive game needs help, and his junior numbers are a little concerning because he was highly dependent on the power play to record his offence. He may not have enough five-on-five game at NHL speed to play in the top six. 

    NHL ETA: 2016-17. 

32. Griffin Reinhart, New York Islanders

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    Best-Case Scenario: Big, mobile defencemen are a rarity, even at the NHL level, so it wasn't a big surprise when the New York Islanders grabbed Griffin Reinhart early in the 2012 draft. He was seen as an Alex Edler type in his draft year and might yet emerge as a top pairing option. 

    Risk Factor: There is significant risk here. Reinhart's offence has fallen off since his draft year, and high picks who can't score in junior have a pretty ugly success rate in the NHL. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

31. Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators

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    Best-Case Scenario: Calle Jarnkrok had a definite learning curve in his first North American campaign, but he picked up as the year went on. After posting just 17 points in his first 41 AHL games, he managed 28 in his next 22 contests. For good measure, he posted nine points in 12 NHL games following a deadline move to Nashville. He should play top-six minutes in the majors.

    Risk Factor: That kind of late-season production eases worries about NHL upside considerably. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

30. Kerby Rychel, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Best-Case Scenario: A physical winger with good size (6'1", 202 pounds), Kerby Rychel plays with an edge and generates big offensive totals at the OHL level. He has power forward potential, though his skating needs to be better. 

    Risk Factor: Rychel's ability to contribute in multiple ways makes him a good bet to crack the NHL eventually, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be as effective a goalscorer at the faster major league level. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

29. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

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    Best-Case Scenario: The ridiculously undersized Johnny Gaudreau (5'7", 150 pounds) scored a goal in his first NHL game, continuing a habit he developed in college of producing frankly ridiculous offensive totals. In his last year with Boston College, Gaudreau put up 80 points in 40 games and could be a first-line forward.  

    Risk Factor: Uh, 5'7", 150 pounds. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

28. Alexander Wennberg, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Best-Case Scenario: Alexander Wennberg is a two-way winger with a knack for scoring goals, though his overall offensive game lags behind his defensive awareness. He could be a complete second-line player who excels in tough matchups. 

    Risk Factor: Wennberg's offensive track record suggests that his biggest problem in the NHL is going to be producing enough to stick on a scoring line. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

27. Kevin Fiala, Nashville Predators

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    Best-Case Scenario: A sharp skater with an NHL-ready shot, Kevin Fiala showed he could perform against men with a strong half-season in Sweden's top league. Undersized but creative and always dangerous with the puck, he could be a first-line scorer. 

    Risk Factor: The up-and-coming Swiss winger is awfully small for NHL play and needs to round out his defensive game, so there is some risk here. Even if he does make it to the majors, he may not score enough to stick on the top line, and he's going to have trouble making it in a bottom-six role. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16.

26. Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg Jets

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    Best-Case Scenario: An exceptionally intelligent and mobile defender, Josh Morrissey saw his offensive production explode in 2013-14, jumping from 47 points in 70 games in his draft year to 73 points in 59 games last season. He could be a top-pairing defender. 

    Risk Factor: Morrissey is a little undersized for his position (6'0", 185 pounds), but a deep playoff run in the AHL in which he played regular minutes helps ease worries about his future.

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

25. Andrei Vasilevski, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Best-Case Scenario: Massive KHL starter Andrei Vasilevski has nothing left to prove overseas. In his first full year at hockey's second-highest level, he posted a 0.923 save percentage, won the Rookie of the Month award four times and ended up taking home Rookie of the Year. He could be a top-10 NHL starter.  

    Risk Factor: Now that he's signed to play in North America, the only questions are regarding how he adapts to a slightly different game and all the usual ones associated with projecting goalies. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16 or 2016-17. 

24. Max Domi, Arizona Coyotes

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    Best Case Scenario: Max Domi's return to junior was an up-and-down affair, and he ended up posting pretty comparable numbers to what he managed in his draft year. The small forward might make it to the top line in the NHL as a winger, but he is likely better suited to second-line work. 

    Risk Factor: Undersized and coming off a somewhat worrisome season, a little more risk has entered this projection. 

    NHL ETA: It could be 2014-15, but Domi wouldn't be hurt by being held back until 2015-16. 

23. Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings

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    Best Case Scenario: Tanner Pearson is sort of an odd player to include on this list, as he's played close to 50 NHL games and has a Cup ring. But with only 25 NHL regular-season games under his belt, he's technically a Calder candidate. A creative offensive player who has dramatically improved his skating, Pearson could end up as a first-liner.

    Risk Factor: Very low, given that Pearson was employed in a second-line role for the current Stanley Cup champion. He may not hit the maximum projection here, but he's a top-six NHLer right now.

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

22. Nick Ritchie, Anaheim Ducks

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    Best-Case Scenario: A big, powerful forward who boasts exceptional skating (and not just for a big man), Nik Ritchie racked up the goals, the points and the penalty minutes in 2013-14. He should be a power forward in the NHL, though he may be best suited to a second line role. 

    Risk Factor: The risk factor is always larger with younger players, and Ritchie's two-way game needs significant work. But big guys who can score play in the NHL. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

21. Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets

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    Best-Case Scenario: A brilliantly fast skater as comfortable setting plays up as he is finishing them, Nikolaj Ehlers has legitimate first-line upside and may end up as the most dynamic offensive producer in the 2014 draft class. 

    Risk Factor: There is significant risk here, both because Ehlers is undersized and also because he played with Jonathan Drouin in Halifax. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16.

20. William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Best-Case Scenario: William Nylander might be the best pure offensive talent in the draft; he's a flashy puck-handler with exceptional finishing ability, playmaking vision and a level of unpredictability that makes him difficult to defend against. If everything comes together, he could be a first-line scorer. 

    Risk Factor: Nylander is undersized and checks off a lot of European stereotypes—expect him to get called "enigmatic" at some point in his NHL career. The east-west player could end up frustrating NHL teams.

    NHL ETA: 2015-16, or possibly even 2016-17. 

19. Curtis Lazar, Ottawa Senators

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    Best-Case Scenario: Curtis Lazar combines speed with tenacity and power; he competes hard for pucks and is extremely difficult to knock off of them once he gains possession. Primarily known as a defensive pivot in his draft year, Lazar improved his production by 15 points in 14 fewer games from 2013 to 2014, though he's still seen more as a first-rate second-line forward than a true top-line centreman. 

    Risk Factor: Lazar's complete game makes him a good bet to play in the NHL, though his offensive ceiling remains a question despite his progress in 2013-14. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

18. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

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    Best Case Scenario: John Gibson's debut professional campaign went wonderfully, as he posted a 0.919 save percentage over 45 AHL games and impressed over an NHL cameo that included playoff minutes. He could well be a top-10 starting goaltender.

    Risk Factor: To continue beating a dead horse, goalie is a high-risk position and goalies always come with more risk than skaters. With that said, Gibson's early work is awfully encouraging. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

17. Scott Laughton, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Best-Case Scenario: A character forward with an impressive two-way game and an edge to his play, Scott Laughton has continually improved his offensive production. The No. 20 overall selection in 2012 scored 40 goals for the first time in the OHL last season (in just 54 games) and looks like a high-end second-line pivot in the making. 

    Risk Factor: Laughton's steady progression and strong training camp last fall suggest a safe bet as an NHL player, but his NHL ceiling is yet to be determined. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15.

16. Haydn Fleury, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Best-Case Scenario: The consensus second-best defender in the 2014 NHL draft, Haydn Fleury, lacks top-flight offensive instincts but could end up as a top-pairing shutdown type who logs significant minutes.  

    Risk Factor: With low-offence defenders, there is always a suspicion regarding their ability to make a positive puck-moving contribution at the NHL level. 

    NHL ETA: 2017-18.

15. Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks

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    Best Case Scenario: Bo Horvat, a character forward who plays a responsible defensive game with a physical edge, was returned to the OHL by the Vancouver Canucks last season. He responded with an offensive explosion, improving his point totals by 13 points while playing in 13 fewer games. The Canucks' long-term replacement for Ryan Kesler may already be in-house. 

    Risk Factor: Horvat's scoring prowess is the primary question. While he answered some questions with a strong 2013-14, it's also possible he tops out as a bottom-six NHL forward.

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

14. Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers

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    Best Case Scenario: Edmonton's best prospect has the potential to fill the team's most pressing need: a No. 1 defenceman. Massive, mean and mobile, Darnell Nurse also saw an uptick in his offensive production in 2013-14. 

    Risk Factor: Nurse's offensive game may never reach levels high enough to be a true No. 1 defender in the NHL, and concerns about his defensive game helped keep him off Canada's 2014 World Juniors entry. He could be a home run pick, but he may also end up falling well short. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

13. Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks

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    Best-Case Scenario: A fast, physical player with a heavy shot, Jake Virtanen could well end up spending the bulk of his career on an NHL first line if all goes well. His aggression gives him an edge, but it will be his goalscoring (he tallied 45 goals in the WHL in 2013-14) that will make him a star.

    Risk Factor: Virtanen has significant limitations—hockey sense the foremost among them—and it's fair to wonder about his offensive ceiling in the NHL. He's likely to play, but that first-line assessment comes with a significant caveat. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

12. Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators

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    Best-Case Scenario: Big, fast and with a power forward mentality, Filip Forsberg still needs to add muscle to a projectable frame. He was injured a lot during a debut North American campaign largely spent in the AHL, and his point production wasn't as high as it could have been, but he could still end up as a first-line power forward. 

    Risk Factor: Forsberg needs to demonstrate more of an ability to create offence, and it's arguable he may not end up as a first-line player, but he should be in the NHL for a long time. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15.

11. Derrick Pouliot, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Best-Case Scenario: Derrick Pouliot was drafted thanks to his exceptional skating and offensive toolkit, but he's added strength since his draft year to better handle defensive responsibilities in the NHL. Still, it's his scoring touch that makes him a potential top-pairing rearguard. 

    Risk Factor: Pouliot should play in the NHL, but it will be his ability to control the front of the net and play a responsible game that will determine how high he climbs on the depth chart. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

10. Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Best-Case Scenario: A sneaky skater with exceptional vision and offensive instincts, Teuvo Teravainen scored at just under a point-per-game pace in Finland before making the trip to North America in the latter half of the season. He's undersized (5'10", 185 pounds), but he has top-line potential. 

    Risk Factor: Teravainen's slight build makes him vulnerable to injury, and he didn't make a seamless adjustment to the North American ranks. With that said, he's exceptionally young for a 2012 draftee and has time to get everything figured out. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

9. Michael Dal Colle, New York Islanders

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    Best-Case Scenario: With a projectable frame, an excellent scoring touch and a knack for winning puck battles, Michael Dal Colle has been compared to some of the NHL's best power forwards and could well end up as a first-line winger in the mold of the Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn.

    Risk Factor: Again, there is significant risk that Dal Colle won't reach that high-end projection, and he does need to improve on his two-way game. Reasonably, though, a slot on an NHL second line should be attainable, even if the best doesn't come to pass. 

    NHL ETA: 2015-16. 

8. Nikita Zadorov, Buffalo Sabres

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    Best Case Scenario: The 6'5", 220-pound Nikita Zadorov was drafted as a shutdown defender by the Buffalo Sabres, but he's emerged as potentially more than that after scoring just below the point-per-game pace in the OHL in 2013-14. A high-end skater with a physical edge, Zadorov could be a legitimate No. 1 NHL defenceman. 

    Risk Factor: There is significant risk here, as Zadorov does not have a long history of offensive production, and he still has to translate his newly found scoring to the majors. But he's a safe choice as an NHLer even if he can't quite reach that ceiling. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

7. Anthony Mantha, Detroit Red Wings

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    Best-Case Scenario: After scoring a goal per game in the QMJHL in 2013-14 (and doing better than that in the assists column), the 6'5", 204-pound Anthony Mantha appears to be on the fast track to the NHL. A massive forward with an unreal goalscoring touch, he could be a first-line power forward for the Red Wings. 

    Risk Factor: There are concerns about Mantha's competitiveness and his two-way game, but NHL teams find a way to employ goalscorers. 

    NHL ETA: Perhaps as early as 2014-15, though 2015-16 feels more like a traditional Red Wings timeline. 

6. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals

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    Best Case Scenario: Evgeny Kuznetsov posted nine points in his first 17 NHL games late in the 2013-14 season, showing the kind of scoring ability that has made him a prospect of considerable note ever since the Washington Capitals took him in the first round of 2010. He has the potential to be a first-line NHL forward. 

    Risk Factor: The "Russian factor" is always going to be a consideration, but the bigger worry now that he's finally in North America is mediocre possession numbers in his first NHL stint. Even with the difficult adjustment, it seems a safe bet that he has the talent to play top-six minutes in the NHL. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

5. Sam Bennett, Calgary Flames

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    Best-Case Scenario: Scouts have used names like Doug Gilmour and Jonathan Toews to describe Sam Bennett's upside, which pretty much says it all. For the physically aggressive scoring centre with an excellent defensive game, the sky is the limit.

    Risk Factor: It will be interesting to see if Bennett can translate his game to the professional ranks given his relatively small size, but right now, he looks like a safe bet to be a top-six NHLer. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15 or possibly 2015-16

4. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

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    Best-Case Scenario: A big centre who plays a complete, cerebral game and still manages to put up major point totals, Leon Draisaitl is seen as a quintessential Western Conference centre, a potential power-versus-power pivot in the mold of Anze Kopitar or David Backes.

    Risk Factor: Speed isn't a major strength for Draisaitl, and it remains to be seen if he can produce points at the same level as his lofty comparables. Even so, he should be a top-nine NHL forward. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

3. Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres

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    Best-Case Scenario: With exceptional hockey sense—reputedly the best in the 2014 draft—and a diverse selection of offensive tools, Sam Reinhart has the potential to be a first-line pivot in the NHL. Hard on the puck, he has serious potential as a well-rounded forward. 

    Risk Factor: Reinhart's skating, which is only average, could hold him back, and he's still awfully young at just 18, but there is minimal risk here. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15

2. Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

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    Best-Case Scenario: Already big and mature, Aaron Ekblad has the potential to be a cornerstone defenceman for an NHL team. He combines intelligence, a pro frame and excellent skating to form a complete package on the blue line. 

    Risk Factor: While Ekblad is generally seen as a safe selection, there are concerns that he won't be a high-end point producer in the NHL and may only end up as a competent defender. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15

1. Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Best-Case Scenario: Jonathan Drouin could be an elite first-line NHL forward. He's not overly big (5'11", 192 pounds), but he's fast and creative and has spent his extra year in junior working on refining his two-way game. 

    Risk Factor: There isn't much risk here. The Tampa Bay Lightning exercised patience with an exceptional talent, and the team is about to be rewarded. 

    NHL ETA: 2014-15. 

     

    Statistics courtesy of EliteProspects.comExtraSkater.comHockeyDB.com and KHL.ru. This slideshow also makes use of scouting reports from Corey PronmanRed Line Report and TSN.ca.