1 Prospect from Each Team That Will Play in the NHL Next Season

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIMay 15, 2012

1 Prospect from Each Team That Will Play in the NHL Next Season

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    Four more teams remain in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. While they remain focused on the ultimate goal in the playoffs, the other 26 teams are preparing for next season.

    They're looking at potential free agents they would like to sign, exploring trades that would improve their roster and scouting prospects for the upcoming draft. One thing they're also doing is evaluating their own prospects and seeing if any of them could make the jump to the NHL.

    Some teams have big-name prospects that are ready to take their game to the next level. Others are relying on role player-type prospects to come in and help their team in a different way.

    Big name or not, you can expect to see all 30 of these prospects playing in the NHL next season.

Anaheim: Emerson Etem

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    Position: Right Wing

    Age: 19

    Drafted: 29th overall in 2010

    Emerson Etem enjoyed a 100-point season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL this past season. His offense has improved in every year he has played in junior and the Ducks will need that offense if Teemu Selanne calls it a career. If Anaheim gives itself a mini-makeover, he will be needed even more.

Boston: Dougie Hamilton

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 18

    Drafted: ninth overall in 2011

    Dougie Hamilton was a big part of the Niagara Ice Dogs, making it all the way to the OHL Finals this past season. Although they failed to win that game, Hamilton is still primed to make the jump to the Bruins next season. Adding the 6'5" Hamilton to a defense that already includes the 6'9" Zdeno Chara and the Bruins are going to have a feared blue line for years to come.

Buffalo: Marcus Foligno

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 104th overall in 2010

    After his late-season audition with the Sabres, Marcus Foligno is a sure thing to make the team out of training camp. The son of former Sabre Mike Foligno, Marcus had 13 points in 14 games this season and Buffalo hopes he can continue at the same pace next season.

Calgary: Sven Baertschi

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 19

    Drafted: 13th overall in 2011

    After playing five games with the Flames on an emergency basis late last season, Sven Baertschi has become a fan favorite in Calgary and it will be hard pressed not to keep him on the roster. Another player who made it to the finals of his respective league, Baertschi knows how to make it deep into the playoffs and will bring the Flames there next season.

Carolina: Ryan Murphy

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 19

    Drafted: 12th overall in 2011

    Ryan Murphy was one of the picks of last year's draft where people weren't sure if he would  succeed in the NHL because of his style of play. He then went on to almost make the Hurricanes' roster last season. He will surely make the team this year and help out with offense from the blue line.

Chicago: Brandon Saad

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 19

    Drafted: 43rd overall in 2011

    Brandon Saad made the Blackhawks' roster to start the 2010-11 season and even played two games on a line with Jonathan Toews. When Saad makes the Blackhawks next season, I would expect him to pick up where he started and possibly be a Calder Trophy candidate.

Colorado: Tyson Barrie

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 64th overall in 2009

    For a team that is still at the end of the rebuilding phase, Colorado is pretty deep on defense when it comes to prospects. I believe the player that is most ready to make the jump is Tyson Barrie. He was one of the best d-men on Canada's Silver Medal-winning team at the 2011 World Junior Championship and should bring that to an already impressive Avalanche team.

Columbus: Matt Calvert

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 127th overall in 2008

    The first player on this list who I think is in a "do or die" situation, Matt Calvert has to make the roster of the Columbus Blue Jackets this year. With a team that has so much trouble in the standings, the fact that Calvert has not made the team already is almost laughable.

Dallas: Jamie Oleksiak

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 19

    Drafted: 14th overall in 2011

    While he might still need some development, the Stars might not be able hold back the behemoth Jamie Oleksiak much longer. Having a 6'7" defenseman on your blue line will make anyone think twice, and Dallas might need that type of intimidation factor..

Detroit: Brendan Smith

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 27th overall in 2007

    The Detroit Red Wings are known for grooming their prospects for a long time, making sure they are ready for the NHL. Brendan Smith is ready and should be a fixture on Detroit's blue line for many years. If Nik Lidstrom does in fact call it a career, Smith will be relied upon even more—especially if the Red Wings fail to sign Ryan Suter.

Edmonton: Teemu Hartikainen

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 163rd overall in 2008

    The Edmonton Oilers are in a complicated situation. They already have a great young core and are poised to add another young piece with the first overall pick in the draft next month. What they need now is veteran mentor-ship to teach the youngsters. If any other prospect is going to make the jump, it will be Teemu Hartikainen. He's had a couple stints as an Oiler already and is ready to play full time.

Florida: Jacob Markstom

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    Position: Goalie

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 31st overall in 2008

    The goalie of the future in Florida since 2009, Jacob Markstrom has had success on the international stage and the Panthers are hoping that he can bring that same success to the Sunshine State. He will battle for the starting job with Jose Theodore and if he wins, he'll be another possible Calder candidate.

Los Angeles: Tyler Toffoli

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    Position: Center

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 47th overall in 2010

    Los Angeles has some good depth when it comes to centermen, but it might be hard to keep Tyler Toffoli down much longer. Toffoli had the second-most points in the OHL this past season one season after being tied for the lead. If the Kings can find room for him, Toffoli would be an excellent addition to their roster.

Minnesota: Mikael Granlund

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    Position: Center

    Age: 20

    Drafted: ninth overall in 2010

    For a team like the Minnesota Wild who have such a hard time putting up offense, adding a prospect like Mikael Granlund is a dream come true. The Wild would have liked to have him play this year, but he still had military service requirements in Finland. Next year he will finally make his mark.

Montreal: Jarred Tinordi

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 22nd overall in 2010

    Jarred Tinordi is in the same situation as Jamie Oleksiak. They are both the same height and might be able to help their team now. Montreal would also benefit from having Tinordi match up against Zdeno Chara.

Nashville: Mattias Ekholm

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 21

    Drafted: 102nd overall in 2009

    Mattias Ekholm actually started with the Nashville Predators before going back to play in the Swedish Elite League. Being a puck-moving defenseman, Ekholm will be needed even more if Ryan Suter elects to leave Nashville for free agency.

New Jersey: Alexander Urbom

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 21

    Drafted: 73rd overall in 2009

    The New Jersey Devils have always been lauded for their defense over the last decade or so. There has been a dry spell recently, but with the drafting of Adam Larsson last year, the Devils are starting to rebuild that defensive core. Alexander Urbom will be the second young piece added to that core and could potentially form a pairing with Larsson.

New York Islanders: Calvin de Haan

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 21

    Drafted: 12th overall in 2009

    The second of the New York Islanders' first-round picks in 2009 behind John Tavares, Calvin de Haan has been biding his time in the juniors and the AHL for the past couple years. The Islanders are much like the Oilers in that all their talent is on the forward lines while their defense is lackluster. Having de Haan on their roster will help them turn that around.

New York Rangers: Chris Kreider

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 21

    Drafted: 19th overall in 2009

    With his performance in this year's playoffs, I will be shocked if Chris Kreider is not on the New York Rangers' opening night roster. Behind Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, Kreider will provide valuable secondary scoring to a team that could very well be starting their defense of a Stanley Cup.

Ottawa: Mika Zibanejad

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    Position: Center

    Age: 19

    Drafted: sixth overall in 2011

    Personally, I was shocked when Ottawa decided to send Mika Zibanejad back to Sweden after his nine-game audition. I thought that he was ready for the NHL and would have helped the Senators immensely. Who knows, if they did, maybe they would have had the offense to beat the New York Rangers in the first round.

Philadelphia: Oliver Lauridsen

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 23

    Drafted: 196th overall in 2009

    With Chris Pronger's future in doubt, the Philadelphia Flyers defense could be in shambles with multiple free agents. They are going to need at least one or two defenseman from the minors to step up if their free agents can't be re-signed. One of those prospects will definitely be Oliver Lauridsen. The 6'6" defenseman will at least replace Pronger's size. The other parts of his game will come with experience.

Phoenix: Brandon Gormley

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 13th overall in 2010

    Brandon Gormley is about to join a pretty good young core of defensemen in Phoenix. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson and David Rundblad already on the roster, Gormley will only improve the roster of the Phoenix Coyotes. With the Coyotes already having some surprising success, that can only be good for the future.

Pittsburgh: Joe Morrow

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    Position: Defense

    Age: 19

    Drafted: 23rd overall in 2011

    This one is simple. The biggest problem in Pittsburgh's series against Philadelphia was their defensive play. Having Joe Morrow on the roster will help that a lot.

San Jose: Freddie Hamilton

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    Position: Center

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 129th overall in 2010

    This one is contingent on San Jose starting a rebuild. If the Sharks deal one of Joe Thornton or Joe Pavelski, Freddie Hamilton will be brought in to replace some of the production that will be lost with the departure of one of the Joes.

St. Louis: Vladimir Tarasenko

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    Position: Right Wing

    Age: 20

    Drafted: 16th overall in 2010

    Yet another case of a team wishing a prospect would have come over last season. This one is still all in Tarasenko's hands. If he wants to join the Blues, he will. However, he could still make the decision to stay in Russia.

Tampa Bay: Dustin Tokarski

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    Position: Goalie

    Age: 22

    Drafted: 122nd overall in 2008

    Another case of a contingency plan, Dustin Tokarski will play full time in the NHL if the Lightning are not successful in acquiring another goaltender. Even if they do, Tokarski will be the first one they call up in case of an injury.

Toronto: Nazem Kadri

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    Position: Forward

    Age: 21

    Drafted: seventh overall in 2009

    The other "do or die" situation on this list is Nazem Kadri. In 51 career games, Kadri has not shown that he was worthy of the seventh overall pick. If Kadri is not on the opening night roster for the Leafs next season, he will be traded.

Vancouver: Eddie Lack

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    Position: Goalie

    Age: 24

    Drafted: Undrafted

    Another simple one. Eddie Lack is going to come in and replace either Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider, whichever one is dealt.

Washington: Chris Bourque

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    Position: Left Wing

    Age: 26

    Drafted: 33rd overall in 2004

    This should really say Evgeny Kuznetsov, but since he has elected to stay in Russia for two more years, it falls to a role player like Chris Bourque. Playing a couple games each season for the past three years, Bourque will get a chance to make it full time in Washington's defensive system.

Winnipeg: Mark Scheifele

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    Position: Center

    Age: 19

    Drafted: seventh overall

    Mark Scheifele is another player that I was shocked to see sent back to junior; the Jets could have used a player of Scheifele's talent to help them during their stretch run. There's no chance of him not making the team full time next season.

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