Ranking Hockey's Top 50 Prospects After the 2012 NHL Draft

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJuly 4, 2012

Ranking Hockey's Top 50 Prospects After the 2012 NHL Draft

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    The 2012 NHL draft featured players like Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray and Alex Galchenyuk going in the top three spots. These players have great potential, but where do they rank in hockey's top 50 prospects right now?

    This slideshow will take a look at some of the top players who have tons of potential.

50. Calvin de Haan

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    Calvin de Haan is a New York Islanders defensive prospect who has slid down the charts in recent years. He is only 21 years old and will likely play in the AHL for another season so he can continue to develop.

    He will be a part of a promising core of players, including Griffin Reinhart.

49. Mark Stone

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    Mark Stone had a small impact with the Ottawa Senators during the first round of the playoffs. Stone is a creative forward with a solid shot who generates offense.

    He should be a lock to make the team next year and should get some consideration to make the Sens' top six.

48. Ty Rattie

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    Ty Rattie is a rugged and physical forward who plays in the dirty areas of the ice. He has a solid physical presence considering his size. He has been developing in the WHL the past few seasons and has put up above average point totals.

    Rattie has the potential to be a solid top-nine forward who will bring physicality and other intangibles for the St. Louis Blues. 

47. Filip Forsberg

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    Filip Forsberg is a solid two-way winger who was drafted later than expected this year. Forsberg will be a solid pick for the Washington Capitals because of his versatility. He plays both wings, has a good-sized frame and has impressive speed and hands. 

    Forsberg is a player who really could make an impact in Washington in a few years.

46. Vladislav Namestnikov

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    Vladislav Namestnikov had a solid sophomore season in the OHL. The Russian forward played in three less games than the year before, but he had three more points.

    Namestnikov led the Knights with 49 assists, was second on the team with 71 points and finished with above a point-per-game average..

    Namestnikov has been touted as a solid two-way player with a great wrist shot who will continue to develop in the OHL before cracking the Tampa Bay Lightning's roster. 

45. Matt Hackett

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    Matt Hackett could have easily been the backup goaltender for the Minnesota Wild next season. However, he will take up his crease in the AHL for another season. He looked solid during his brief NHL stint while Josh Harding and Nicklas Backstrom were injured.

    Hackett is a young kid who showed poise and will likely be the backup next year. With Nicklas Backstrom getting older, it could only be a matter of time before Hackett backs up Josh Harding or is traded to a team in need for a young goaltender.

44. Simon Despres

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    Simon Despres possesses a superior hockey IQ that allows him to stick it to opposing forwards. He is a work in progress, but has had marginal success in the minors and AHL up to this point.

    Despres is a multi-tool player, and his legs are his biggest threat and asset.

    He is continually growing into his 6'3", 215-lbs. frame, but he lacks grit to his game. If he can become a more physical player, he will have a larger impact.

    Despres is a solid defender who will continue to fine-tune his skills before becoming a mainstay on the NHL club.

43. Jack Campbell

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    Jack Campbell is a goaltender who could be a true star for the Dallas Stars. He is an athletic goaltender with great reflexes who has a great, compete level. He has gradually improved and has a knack for showing up in big games.

    Campbell has a bright future and, if he continues to develop, could hit the NHL very soon.

42. Tyler Toffoli

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    Tyler Toffoli was a second-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in 2010. He is an offensive-minded player who has posted multiple 100-point seasons for the Ottawa 67s. Toffoli has solid skills and is a year or two away from hitting the NHL level.

    Toffoli's minor flaw is his skating ability, but if he can improve that, he will become an impact player for the Kings in the coming years.

41.Kyle Palmieri

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    Kyle Palmieri is a player who could have a great 2012-13 season. At the AHL level, Palmieri proved himself by scoring 33 goals and assisting on 25 others for 58 points in 51 games.

    He also made the jump to the NHL, where he scored four goals and assisted on three others for seven points in 18 games.

    He also proved himself on an international level when he recorded six points in six games for the U.S. National Team at the World Junior Championships.

    Palmieri has great speed and a developed shot. He is a top prospect for the Ducks and could really go on a tear next season.

40. Carter Ashton

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    Carter Ashton was the Tampa Bay Lightning's first-round pick back in 2009 but was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Keith Aulie. Ashton is still a bit green and needs some more seasoning in the AHL but he has solid potential.

    The Toronto Marlies are coming off a solid year, so that may be the best place for Ashton to polish his skills.

    Ashton has solid size and speed and could project to be a good power forward in a few years.

39. Rickard Rakell

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    Rickard Rakell is a young player with solid upside. He has some good hands and stick skills. However, he is a work in progress who needs to develop more before making an impact.

    Rakell made the adjustment moving from the wing to center seamlessly, so he can play anywhere at the forward position, and that is a plus for Anaheim.

    Rakell can play well in all three zones, so that is a huge plus for a Ducks team that needs quality two-way forwards.

38. Johan Larsson

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    Johan Larsson is a young two-way forward who is property of the Minnesota Wild. He has played overseas in Sweden and has also represented his country in international tournaments. So far, Larsson has shown promise, but there are areas of his game that he will need to improve upon.

    Larsson could be a diamond in the rough and really pan out for the Wild once he makes the jump overseas.

37. Ryan Murray

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    Ryan Murray was selected second overall in the NHL draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is a polished offensive defenseman with great all-around skills. He projects to be a solid puck-moving defenseman who can quarterback a power play,

    His ceiling is so high that Scott Howson felt that he was worth drafting instead of taking all the New York Islanders' entire 2012 draft picks.

36. Gustav Nyquist

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    Gustav Nyquist is off to a great start to his pro career. In his first partial season in the AHL, Nyquist recorded 57 points in 55 games. Before joining the minor club, he had a successful career at the University of Maine in the NCAA.

    Nyquist is an offensive-minded player who can put up points and play defensively-sound hockey. In the preseason, he showed that he likes to go to the net, and as a result, he scored two goals.

    He also added seven points in 18 games with the Red Wings, during a limited stint in 2011-12.

    He is a player of interest that would really fit in. Can you imagine him with fellow countryman Henrik Zetterberg?

35. Nathan Beaulieu

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    Nathan Beaulieu is a natural power-play quarterback who moves the pick with accuracy and ease. His speed helps to complement his great skating abilities. He is a hard worker who has no hesitations in shooting the puck.

    Beaulieu will only get better with age in experience, but he has proved up to this point that he is deserving of being a top draft pick.

    He plays at a similar speed to future teammate P.K. Subban. The Montreal Canadiens are looking to add some youth to their defense corp, and Beaulieu will help them accomplish that.

34. Calle Jarnkrok

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    The Detroit Red Wings love their European prospects, and Calle Jarnkrok is a solid playmaker with offensive skill.

    He was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft and is on the small side. Jarnkrok is still playing overseas and is developing. Jarnkrok's biggest assets are his puck control and his ability to move around the ice and find open teammates.

    He is a player that could become a solid pivot for fellow prospect Gustav Nyquist.

33. Alex Galchenyuk

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    Alex Galchenyuk is a Montreal Canadiens prospect who has tons of potential. A knee injury limited his regular season action, but Galchenyuk is a solid goal scorer with speed and offensive skill.

    He is going to be a piece the Canadiens will continue to build around, and the franchise is in for some better days when he hits the NHL level. Galchenyuk is dying to prove that he is a healthy player. Look for him to be a future Calder Trophy candidate.

32. Cody Eakin

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    Cody Eakin was recently traded to the Dallas Stars in a deal that sent Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals. Eakin is a solid center prospect who has offensive skills and solid speed. He needs to develop more to become a complete player and likely will not crack the starting lineup in Dallas until midseason.

    Eakin has solid top-six potential and is a nice acquisition for the Stars' prospect pool.

31. David Runblad

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    David Rundblad is an offensive-minded defenseman with very good size and puck skills.

    He has great on-ice vision and likes to move the puck into the offensive zone with smooth stick work and finesse.

    Rundblad handles the puck with ease and is very confident in his ability and positioning. He is a great passer who finds his teammates with ease, and he loves to throw his body around.

    Rundblad could become a solid two-way defender if he can develop his talents in his own end. This would only benefit him, as he already fills the niche of power-play quarterback.

30. Zach Kassian

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    Zack Kassian is a very good prospect for the Vancouver Canucks. This power forward has grown accustomed to throwing his body around for quite sometime now.

    Kassian added some grit to the roster when he was acquired from Buffalo.

    This 6'3" dynamo has great potential and is expected to have a larger impact for the Canucks next season.

29. J.T. Miller

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    J.T. Miller was a pick that turned heads for some at the 2011 draft, but now he is starting to look like a steal. Miller plays with some grit in his game and has a good shot.

    He is a decent passer and plays well in his own zone. Miller plays both the wing and center, so he has the ability to be a creative playmaker and solid two-way player.

    Miller needs to spend some more time developing and improving his conditioning before he makes the jump to the high-paced NHL level.

28. Oscar Klefbom

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    Oscar Klefbom is a defenseman who has a good offensive game. He was on the small side but has increased in size since he was drafted.

    If Klefbom can become a bit more seasoned and can complete his game, he can be a dual threat and a future power-play quarterback who would be comfortable from unleashing his shot from anywhere.

    He is a solid prospect and a nice diamond in the rough for a rebuilding Oilers squad with tons of young talent.

27. Jaden Schwartz

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    Jaden Schwartz is one of the St. Louis Blues' top prospects. He is a playmaking center who moves the puck with ease and skill. Schwartz likes to skate the puck into the zone before targeting an open man to pass to.

    Schwartz could improve his shot to become a more complete player because he often defers to teammates. With a some additional developing in the AHL, Schwartz could crack the Blues' top-six for good at some point during the 2012-13 season.

26. Joe Colborne

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    Joe Colborne is a player with skill and size that, when applied, is very effective at his game.

    Colborne is a big body who should be able to play a physically dominating game. The Leafs desperately need some quality centers to emerge, and Colborne could be a solution in their bottom six.

    If he learns to use his size effectively and efficiently, he can be a dominating presence for the Leafs at center ice.

25. Ryan Murphy

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    Ryan Murphy is a top defenseman prospect for the Carolina Hurricanes. Murphy has a lot of tools that make him a great two-way defenseman. He is a solid puck mover and has the ability to successfully quarterback a power play.

    His pinpoint-passing accuracy makes him a dual threat on both sides of the ice. Watch out and don't blink because you just might miss Ryan Murphy. 

    Murphy could crack the Hurricanes' roster in 2012-13, and he could join an up-and-coming team.

24. Joseph Morrow

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    Joseph Morrow is a solid puck-moving defender. He had 64 points last season, 47 of which were assists.

    He stands 6'0 and is 197 lbs. He is a solid player who has a good two-way game.

    Morrow's strengths are his passing and skating abilities, which make him a dual threat on both sides of the ice. Pittsburgh was smart to draft Morrow and they were even smarter to draft his Portland Winterhawks defense partner Derrick Pouliot in 2012. 

    The two 'Hawks will continue to develop in the WHL and will be a solid defense pair when they hit the NHL level.

23. Brandon Saad

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    Brandon Saad is a big-bodied winger, skating at 6'1", 208 pounds. Saad has been scouted and noted for his ability to play exceptionally well at both ends of the ice.

    He finished the season with 34 goals and 76 points in 44 games for the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL.

    Saad is known is for his physical player and his speed, but he also has the finish of a offensive goal scorer, and that makes him a really solid prospect for the Blackhawks.

22. Nick Bjugstad

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    Nick Bjugstad is a top center prospect for the Florida Panthers. Bjugstad is an NCAA player who will make his decision to turn pro likely after the Panthers hold their prospect camp.

    He was considered a top-25 prospect in THN's Future Watch issue.

    Bjugstad is a two-way forward who is smart in his own end but can also chip in secondary offense. The Panthers' future is bright when you look at the center depth, featuring Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau.

21. Justin Schultz

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    Justin Schultz is a defenseman who has the complete package. He has superior offensive skills, a high hockey IQ and is a solid power-play quarterback. He is a developed defender who is secure in his own zone, and his skating ability really helps his overall game.

    Training camp and NHL experience will only turn Schultz into a more complete player. Schultz is going to be a top star for the Edmonton Oilers.

20. Joel Armia

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    Joel Armia is a soft-handed sniper with a big skill set, great legs and impressive wheels.

    The younger winger is a great two-way player with good vision and a laser-quick wrist shot. Armia loves to dig it out below the hash marks in the trenches and shows he can play with skill in both ends.

    He is very similar in style to future Buffalo Sabres teammate Thomas Vanek. If he can play at that same level, that would be great for the Sabres.

    Armia has a bright future and fits in well with the new trend Terry Pegula is ushering in.

19. Robin Lehner

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    Robin Lehner is a promising young goaltender with solid size. Lehner has good lateral movement and uses his frame to challenge shooters from all angles. This allows him to size up well against shooter from different positions on the ice.

    He is a butterfly goalie who could improve his puck handling and rebound control, but he is definitely the goalie for the Ottawa Senators in the near future.

18. Jonas Brodin

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    Jonas Brodin is a defender who is a very solid skater. He is a defensive defenseman who could stand to improve offensively.

    His ability to skate with the puck and move it quickly is a plus, but he is a few years away from joining the NHL. Brodin has the ability to be a top prospect for the Wild, but he needs to continue to develop his all-around game.

17. Tim Erixon

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    Tim Erixon, son of former Ranger Jan Erixon, was rather impressive this season for the Connecticut Whalers of the AHL.

    At the Traverse City prospects tournament, Erixon showed some real promise and that led to his solid position in Connecticut. His skill makes him a top contender for the Rangers' second defensive pairing for the upcoming season.

    Erixon saw limited action with the Rangers this season but will make an impact in 2012-13.

16. Brendan Smith

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    This 6'2" defenseman has yet to fill out his body, but he is a promising work in progress.

    Brendan Smith had 34 points for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL in 2011-2012. He also saw some NHL action.

    Smith also has great vision and hands that complement his overall skating abilities. He joined the Wings for a brief stretch last year but should make the team next year.

    This young defenseman projects as a top-pair defenseman who could fill the the void of Nicklas Lidstrom in a few years. 

15. Charlie Coyle

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    Charlie Coyle is a good-sized forward (6'2", 207 pounds) who's had an interesting year. Coyle started the year with Boston University and then dropped out and joined the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. 

    Coyle is a top prospect in the league and has a lot of offensive potential. He has a good chance of making the Minnesota Wild out of training camp.

14. Sven Bartschi

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    Sven Bartschi has good hands and on-ice vision and is a speedy winger standing at 5'11" and 185 lbs. Bartschi will flourish in the NHL if he is paired with a good center.

    He was a good pick for the Calgary Flames as they were looking to improve offensively, and Bartschi is a good player to invest in. Bartschi shined this season in both Juniors and the NHL. 

    Bartschi has a lot of skills and is still very young so he will be a great player to watch in 2012-13.

13. Chris Kreider

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    Chris Kreider is a speedy forward who played left wing for Boston College. He is a player who could have made the jump to the NHL this earlier than he did, but he elected to return to Boston College to continue his education.

    He made the jump to the NHL level for the Rangers' playoff run and scored five goals and seven points overall.

    He is a prototypical power forward whom Rangers fans would love to see paired up with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik full time next season.

    Kreider has shown that his speed and scoring ability can have a huge impact, and he is one of the league's top prospects.

12. Ryan Ellis

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    Ryan Ellis is one of the Predators' top defensive prospects. He is a player who is being watched very closely, given the situation currently in Nashville.

    The Predators' top four is currently set, and if one of the big two were moved, there could be some shifting that would involve Ellis joining the top pairing.

    Ellis had 18 points with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL and 11 points with the Predators. With Ryan Suter potentially leaving town, Ellis could get his big break very soon. 

11. Jacob Markstrom

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    Jacob Markström is a tall goaltender with an uncanny ability to deceive shooters by appearing larger in net.

    Markström is a skilled goaltender with great mental prowess. He resembles a young Henrik Lundqvist in that he is a cool and collected goalie with a great competitive edge.

    Markström plays the butterfly style with a good glove, like Lundqvist, and has good positioning.  

    If the work with Lundqvist during international play rubs off on Markström, and if he continues to flourish, the Panthers could have a dominant net-minder for the next decade.

10. Brandon Gormley

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    The Phoenix Coyotes are a team with quite a future when you consider the defenseman they have on their current squad and in the system. Brandon Gormley was ranked No. 10 in THN's Top 50, and he was No. 2 among defenseman.

    Standing 6'1" and weighing 185 pounds, Gormley is a midsize defenseman whose strengths include his shot, poise and his puck play. Gormley is an offensive minded defenseman but is also very sound in his own zone.

    When you weigh all the variables, Gormley will be sporting an NHL sweater in 2012-13.


9. Ryan Strome

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    Ryan Strome is a talented top player, and his 106-point campaign last year skyrocketed his value at the draft. What sets him apart from others in this draft is his work ethic.

    What Ryan Strome may lack in size and stature, he compensates with his talent and speed.  

    Strome will make an impact on the New York Islanders very soon and could become a star. The Islanders already have a talented player in John Tavares, so it would to be exciting to watch the two play together.

8. Vladimir Tarasenko

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    Vladimir Tarasenko's greatest asset is his goal-scoring ability, which is complemented by his quick hands.

    His volatile, abrupt speed and acceleration allow him to create space and weave magic in open ice.

    Tarasenko is a feisty competitor who plays with grit and aggression. He is an average 5'11" and 202 pounds, but he has proven himself against older players during his time in the KHL.

    Tarasenko will thrive when he has his opportunity with the St. Louis Blues next season.

7. Mark Scheifele

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    Mark Scheifele is quickly becoming a player whom fans can't wait to see full time. The Winnipeg Jets sent Scheifele back to Juniors instead of keeping him for an entire season. Though he was impressive early on, there were some areas he needed to improve on.

    Scheifele is a playmaker with skilled and agile hands. His speed and legs are essential to his game. He is a smart, two-way forward who has the makings of becoming a dominant power forward in the NHL.

    The return to Juniors certainly paid off because he recorded 63 points in only 47 games.

6. Mika Zibanejad

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    Mika Zibanejad is a strong, competitive center from Sweden and has the potential to become a good power forward because of his soft hands and his great scoring touch.

    He also is a great skater with good on-ice vision, and he isn't afraid to get physical when it is deemed necessary.

    During the 2011-12 season, Zibanejad played for Djurgårdens IF of the SEL.

    Zibanejad is going to fit in with the Ottawa Senators as he is an aggressive puck handler and he will fit in with other players like Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Kyle Turris.

5. Nail Yakupov

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    Nail Yakupov is a player with tremendous skill and has the potential to be the next big thing.

    In the OHL, Yakupov put up some impressive numbers, and his 5'10 189-pound frame will allow him to score with skill and ease. If Yakupov continues to grow and develop at an alarming rate, he could become a household name in as little as two years.

    He has the skills, potential and supporting cast to be a breakout player in 2012-13.

4. Dougie Hamilton

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    Dougie Hamilton is a sizable two-way defender who has a booming shot and good hands. That sound like another defenseman on the Bruins, doesn't it? 

    Adding him to the Boston Bruins makes them an impressive defensive team. He joins a team already stacked with players like Zdeno Chara.

    Hamilton excels in both facets of his game and is NHL-ready. Hamilton is a 6'4" almost 200-pound physical defender whose hands make him able enough to run a power play.

    He was a steal at last year's draft, and he will be a Bruin in 2012-13.

3. Jonathan Huberdeau

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    Jonathan Huberdeau really skyrocketed up the depth chart at the NHL Entry Draft last June. His 105-point season had a lot to do with it.

    Huberdeau has a lot of the tools required to be a top center in the NHL and he is also a serviceable winger. He will fit well with the Florida Panthers as he brings an offensive arsenal that could really turn the Panthers around.

    Huberdeau is a force to be reckoned with on the ice. He is gifted with a great skill set, which is complemented by his agile hands and his size. He has a natural composure that makes him NHL ready. His killer instincts only enhance his lethal shot and hands.

    Odds are Huberdeau will make the jump to the NHL level next season.

2. Mikael Granlund

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    Mikael Granlund is another top-prospect center who has a big upside. Granlund has been playing in Finland the past two seasons. He has worked hard and, sans a whiff during the shootout, impressed at the World Juniors Championship.

    Granlund will join his fellow countrymen on the Minnesota Wild next year. Mikko Koivu is one player Grandlund would love to play with next season. Grandlund has speed, skill and finesse. Look for him to have an impact for the Wild and their top six.

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov

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    The Caps already have Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in the fold, so when they added Kuznetsov, it was easy to see a trend developing. 

    Kuznetsov, a 6'0" center, was an integral part during Russia's comeback in the gold-medal game of the WJHC in 2011, their silver-medal finish in 2012 and gold-medal finish at the World Championships this year.

    Skills-wise, Kuznetsov is a speedy skater who will be working alongside Ovechkin and company in a few years. 

    Kuznetsov was paired with players like Pavel Datysuk and Evgeni Malkin at the World Championship, and it was evident that this kid will be a star.


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