Being anointed a team's "top prospect" can be both a blessing and a jinx. Many past prospects have used this added pressure as fuel to become bona fide NHLers.
On the flip side, some have crumbled under the intense scrutiny and have never really panned out for their respective NHL teams.
Pavel Brendl, anyone?
There is no doubt that some of the players on this list will emerge as legitimate superstars in the NHL, for others, this may be the last time you hear of them.
When compiling the eligible players for this list, only prospects who have played less than 25 games in the NHL were considered.
With that said, let's take a look at the top prospects for each team in the NHL.
Drafted: 2009, 26th overall
The 21-year-old Palmieri currently plays for the Ducks' AHL affiliate in Syracuse and has shown great promise in his first full professional season.
At this year's World Junior Hockey Championships, Palmieri had six points in six games to help lead the U.S. to a third-place finish.
While he has great speed and an NHL shot, the one knock on him is his 5'11" frame. The Ducks are hoping he can follow in the footsteps of fellow sub-six-foot forwards and enjoy a successful NHL career.
Drafted: 2008, 54th overall
The centerpiece of the return from the Ilya Kovalchuk deal in 2010, Cormier appears ready for full-time duty in the NHL. While he recorded just two points in his 21-game stint with the Thrashers in 2010-11, he seemed comfortable in his role.
With the legal issues, stemming from an elbow to an opponent's head in January 2010, behind him, Atlanta is hoping Cormier can join the likes of Bryan Little and Evander Kane and form a young offensive core going forward.
Drafted: 2009, 25th overall
Caron started the 2010-11 season in the Bruins' lineup, producing seven points in 23 games, and even earned playing time killing penalties.
Following his stint with the big club, the 20-year-old winger displayed more of his offensive upside in the AHL, scoring 12 goals in 47 games with the Bruins' affiliate in Providence.
Listed at 6'2", Caron possesses the skill to succeed at the next level, but he will need to continue to develop, offensively, if he wants to crack a crowded roster in 2011-12.
Drafted: 2009, 13th overall
The 6'3" winger epitomizes the term power forward, having used his size to dominate the junior ranks for a number of years. A Memorial Cup winner in 2010 with the Windsor Spitfires, he has been compared to Bruins' forward Milan Lucic.
Kassian was one of the final cuts in Sabres' training camp, and responded with career highs in goals and points in just 56 games for the Spitfires this season.
This offensive development should help him transition into the pro game next season, where he can be expected to begin the season with the Portland Pirates of the AHL.
Drafted: 2009, 23rd overall
Not only can Tim Erixon do this, but he has also improved his point totals in each of his three seasons in the Swedish Elite League, registering 24 points in 48 games in 2010-11.
The son of former NHLer Jan Erixon is somewhat undersized measuring in at 6'0", but his strong skating abilities should more than make up for his small stature.
Drafted: 2008, 45th overall
An offensively gifted center with a great shot, Dalpe began the season with the Hurricanes after impressing coaches in training camp. He managed to score three goals in 15 NHL games, to go along with the 57 points he put up in 61 games in the AHL.
The former Ohio State Buckeye appears primed to crack the big club next season after a solid debut in the professional ranks this season.
And with Calder Trophy candidate Jeff Skinner in the fold as well, the future up front looks bright for the Hurricanes.
Drafted: 2009, 45th overall
One of the main pieces of the trade that sent Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta last summer, Morin has shown in his short NHL stints this season that he is ready to become a regular contributor.
The native of Auburn, NY has played for the U.S in the past two WJHCs and was an alternate captain for the 2011 tournament.
Morin possesses a quick release that helped him score 47 goals for the Kitchener Rangers in 2009-10.
It will be interesting to see if Morin, and the other players that the Blackhawsks received in trades last summer, will be able to step in and fill the void left by players like Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd.
Drafted: 2010, 17th overall
Standing at just 5'10", there have always been questions about Hishon's ability to excel at the next level as an undersized center. But his 37 goals in just 50 games for the Owen Sound Attack this season appear to have silenced some of his critics.
While it is clear that the offensive side of his game is there, the 19-year-old is still learning to be more responsible on his own end.
It is expected that Hishon will make the jump to the professional ranks in 2011-12, but with the Avalanche boasting such depth at center, Hishon may be forced to slide to the wing if he wants to challenge for a roster spot next season.
Drafted: 2010, fourth overall
They may have found him.
The 18-year-old Johansen led the Portland Winterhawks this past season with 40 goals and 92 points in just 63 games and played a key role in Team Canada's run to a silver medal at the 2011 WJHC.
Johansen still needs to fill out his 6'3" frame, but the Blue Jackets are expecting him to challenge for a roster spot in 2011-12.
Drafted: 2010, 11th overall
Campbell's play for U.S. at the WJHC makes him one of the most clutch goalies we've seen in a long time. He was named the best goaltender of the 2011 tournament, though the U.S. only took home a bronze medal.
While his first season in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires suffered an bit of a setback, he has elevated his play in the playoffs, leading the Spitfires to the Western Conference final.
Campbell appears to be a long-term project that the Stars are going to have to be patient with, before he is ready to make his mark at the next level.
Drafted: 2007, 27th overall
With Nicklas Lidstrom in the twilight of his career, the Detroit Red Wings will evidently need someone to fill that glaring hole.
Brendan Smith appears to be the answer.
The 6'2" defenseman has yet to fill out his lanky frame, but if his first professional season is any indication, he appears ready for prime time. Smith had 32 points in 63 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2010-11.
Despite some legal troubles while playing at the University of Wisconsin, Smith is in the maturation process and looks ready to make the jump to the Wings' D corps.
Drafted: 2009, 40th overall
Boasting one of the youngest rosters in the league, the Edmonton Oilers had a number of players graduate from prospects into full time NHLers this past season, and Lander is the next in line.
The 19-year-old was the captain of Team Sweden at the WJHC this past year, leading them to a fourth-place finish.
Whereas many of the current youngsters on the Oilers' roster are offensive minded, Lander is a two-way forward who is very strong in the faceoff circle.
Look for Lander to come to North America within the next year and challenge for a depth position on the Oilers roster.
Drafted: 2010, Third overall
Gudbranson edges out goaltender Jacob Markstrom on this list, though an argument could be made for both prospects.
After a strong training camp, Gudbranson was unable to agree to terms on a contract with the Panthers and went back to Kingston (OHL) for another season.
While he's not very flashy offensively, at 6'4" and 195 lbs, he possesses the size to be an effective stay-at-home defenseman in the NHL.
Drafted: 2009, fifth overall
One of the most highly regarded prospects in all of hockey, Schenn had a roller coaster 2010-11 season, in which he played for five different teams. One of those teams was Team Canada at the WJHC, where he absolutely dominated, earning MVP honors.
In 27 games, following a trade to the Saskatoon Blades, Schenn had 21 goals and 32 assists and has since been called up to play with the Manchester Monarchs (AHL) for the playoffs.
With an increased focus on his defensive play, Schenn should be primed for a roster spot with the Kings in 2011-12.
Drafted: 2010, ninth overall
Listed at 5'10", Granlund is a smallish center that has been playing in the professional ranks in Finland for the past two seasons, scoring 40 and 36 points respectively.
Granlund is expected to challenge for a roster spot next season, and fellow Finns Koivu, Antti Miettinen and Niklas Backstrom should ease his transition to North America.
Oh, and these shootout moves won't hurt either.
Drafted: 2009, 18th overall
A native of Quebec, Leblanc has a lot of pressure on him from his hometown fans to be a prime-time player for the Canadiens.
Based on his performance in this year's WJHC, he is clearly ready for NHL duty. One of Leblanc's main strengths is his versatility, and he showed this with Team Canada by playing the wing at times during the tournament.
With the lack of French Canadian representation on the current Canadiens roster, Leblanc should immediately become a fan favorite if and when he cracks the roster next season.
Drafted: 2009, 11th overall
The captain of Team Canada at the 2011 WJHC, Ellis absolutely dominated the OHL during his time with Windsor, putting up 313 points in 226 games.
Questions will always remain, regarding Ellis' small stature, until he proves that he can succeed at the next level, but his ability to quarterback the powerplay can not be ignored.
Ellis should get a good look in camp next year, but may have to compete with fellow rookie Jonathon Blum for playing time.
Drafted: 2010, 38th overall
Though he was just drafted in the second round last year, Merrill's strong season has made him the top prospect in the Devils organization.
In addition to his strong first season at Michigan, Merrill was outstanding for the U.S. at the WJHC this year.
At 6'3" and 210 lbs, Merrill has the size to play at the next level but could benefit from another year or two playing in the NCAA.
Drafted: 2010, fifth overall
"El Nino" earned a nine-game stint with the Islanders to start the 2010-11 season, and while he didn't look out of place, GM Garth Snow decided he would benefit from another year in junior.
In 55 games with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) this season, the 18-year-old had 41 goals to go along with 29 assists.
Following his strong performance for Switzerland in the past two WJHCs, Niederreiter appears ready to make the jump to the NHL next season.
Drafted: 2009, 19th overall
Listed at 6'3" 215 lbs, Kreider compliments his size with quickness that some scouts have compared to Eric Staal.
As one of the leaders of Team USA at the past two WJHCs, he is third on the all-time goals list for the U.S. with 10, and he can also do this.
The Rangers hope that he will follow in the footsteps of fellow American Derek Stepan and leave Boston College to turn pro next season.
Drafted: 2009, 17th overall
The Senators are hoping that both Rundblad and fellow rookie Jared Cowen can step into the lineup in 2011-12 and accelerate the team's rebuilding process.
In three full seasons with Skellefteå AIK (SEL), Rundblad has seen his point total increase from 10 to 50 and he became one of the team's leading scorers as a 19-year-old.
At 6'2" 190 lbs, Rundblad still needs to fill out his frame, but his skating and offensive abilities could earn him a spot on the blueline next season.
Drafted: 2009, 172nd overall
With the Flyers' success in recent years, their prospect pipeline lacks a blue-chip type player, With that being said, Wellwood has impressed team officials since being drafted in the sixth.
Wellwood won two Memorial Cups with the Windsor Spitfires, before turning pro this season. In his first season with Adirondack (AHL), he scored 28 points in 73 games.
Drafted: 2010, 13th overall
Viewed as a shutdown defender, Gormley was expected to get a chance to showcase his skills for Canada at the 2011 WJHC, before a knee injury derailed his season.
Despite that injury, Gormley still put up 48 points in 47 games for the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL). Do not expect the Coyotes to rush him into the lineup, especially with another year of junior eligibility left.
Look for Gormley to challenge for a roster spot in 2012-13.
Drafted: 2009, 30th overall
Listed at 6'4" 225 lbs, Despres is a big, versatile defenceman that can skate very well for a player of his size. He also has been quite productive offensively, putting up 41 points in 47 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs this season.
The Penguins have a lot of money tied up in their current D-corps, so it will be difficult the 19-year-old to crack the roster. Expect Despres to start the 2011-12 season playing in the AHL.
Drafted: 2010, 16th overall
Heading into the third period of the Gold Medal Game at the 2011 WJHC, it appeared Team Canada was just 20 minutes away from another gold medal.
Tarasenko and the Russians had other ideas.
He led the comeback with a goal and an assist in the stunning 5-3 comeback and showed everyone why he was named team captain.
He can't be faulted for not putting up big offensive numbers in the KHL, considering he has been playing with men twice his age since 2008.
Despite appearing ready for NHL duty, Tarasenko's father, who also happens to be his coach, has suggested Tarasenko will stay in Russia for the foreseeable future.
Drafted: 2010, 28th overall
Coyle tied a U.S. team high with 6 points at this year's World Juniors and emerged as a go-to guy for Boston University this season as a freshman.
The 6'2" 205 lbs center has strong NHL bloodlines, being the younger cousin of Tony Amonte. One of his main strengths is his two-way play that often eludes players of his experience level.
As much as the Sharks have been encouraged by his rapid development, look for him to spend at least one more season in the NCAA before turning pro.
Drafted: 2010, sixth overall
Despite having a strong core of forwards, the Lightning have a number of-up-and-coming prospects, including Connolly, Carter Ashton and Richard Panik.
Although he missed all but 16 games in 2009-10, Connolly may still be the most NHL ready of the aforementioned trio. In 59 games this season with the Prince George Cougars (WHL), he scored 46 goals and 73 points.
Look for Connolly to get a long look in training camp next year, though he will probably begin the season in the AHL.
Drafted: 2008, 16th overall
The main piece in the trade that sent Tomas Kaberle to Boston, Colborne is the big center that GM Brian Burke desires.
Though he stands at 6'5" 213 lbs, the main knock against Colborne is that he has shown a reluctance to use his size and would rather play his game on the perimeter.
Still, the Leafs believe that NHL coaching will transform him into a strong power forward. He recorded an assist in his NHL debut in the Leafs' 2010-11 season finale.
With the Leafs desperately searching for a No.1 center, expect Colborne to get a good chance to start next season in the NHL.
Drafted: 200, 10th overall
But on the other hand, numerous injury problems have stunted his development and left many to wonder whether he can handle the rigors of the NHL game.
In 52 games this season with the Manitoba Moose (AHL), the 20-year-old scored 17 goals and added 13 assists. He also looked good in a limited role during a nine-game stint with the Canucks.
Barring anymore injuries, Hodgson should get a legitimate chance to crack the opening-night roster next season.
Drafted: 2010, 26th overall
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Evgeny Kuznetsov.
The 6'0" center was a key part of Russia's infamous comeback in the Gold Medal game of the WJHC, contributing three assists.
Kuznetsov is a quick skater who has been honing his skills against men in the KHL since he was 17.
Judging by his rapid maturation, it won't be long before we see this guy in uniform for the Caps.