NHL Draft 2016 Results: Re-Ranking Every Team's Prospect Pool

Jonathan Willis@jonathanwillisNHL National ColumnistJune 27, 2016

NHL Draft 2016 Results: Re-Ranking Every Team's Prospect Pool

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2016 NHL draft will shape the fortunes of many teams in the years to come.

    Between trades and selections, no club comes away unchanged from the event. Some of the repercussions will be major and immediate, felt as soon as 2016-17; others will take years to reveal themselves.

    While most of the reaction in the immediate aftermath focuses on those changes we'll see right away, it's worth taking the time to look at long-term ramifications. That's the purpose of this piece, which will integrate what we know about each team's existing prospect pipeline with our knowledge of the players selected on Friday and Saturday. We'll use that combined approach to rank each NHL team's prospect pool.

    For our purposes here, a prospect is defined by eligibility for the NHL's Calder Memorial Trophy. That means we will ignore those players who have accrued 25 or more career NHL games or who have played two consecutive seasons of six or more games. We also ignore anyone who will be older than 26 by September 15.

    Each team's slide will take a three-pronged approach to its prospect pool. First, we'll consider each club's existing talent. Second, we'll look at the players acquired at the draft. Finally, we'll summarize each team's combined prospect list and rank it against its rival teams.

    One further note: While we like to see teams combine system depth with blue-chip prospects, we definitely skew in favour of elite talent. This disproportionately rewards teams with high picks, but teams with high picks also tend to have the most dynamic prospects waiting in the wings.

    Read on for our complete rankings.

30. Los Angeles Kings

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Adrian Kempe is the Los Angeles Kings' top prospect, even though his performance in the AHL this season may be regarded as something of a disappointment after 2015's brilliant playoff work. There's lots of size in the system, but L.A. is short on players with scoring-line potential.
    • Defence: Derek Forbort and Kevin Gravel, a pair of big defenders drafted in 2010, are probably the team's best prospects on the blue line. There's very little in the way of top-end talent at this position. 
    • Goal: This is a wasteland. Patrik Bartosak had an awful season in Europe, and Alex Dillon posted a .871 save percentage in a seven-game WHL cameo this year.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Kings had just a single pick in the top 100 and used it to address their blue line. Kale Clague is a smart, mobile defenceman with offensive upside, and Los Angeles was somewhat lucky the WHLer lasted until their No. 51 pick. However, with only one early pick, the Kings fell further behind the rest of the league in terms of prospects.

    Summary

    The Kings have been good enough at the NHL level the last few years that they start off with worse picks than most teams. Add to that a penchant for trading off picks and prospects, and it is only to be expected that the pipeline suffers as a result.

29. New York Rangers

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    Andreas Hillergren/Associated Press

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Pavel Buchnevich is quick, skilled and should be NHL-ready immediately. Once he graduates, though, there isn't much else in the system. The New York Rangers' 2015 draftees are mostly progressing at an acceptable level, but it's going to be a while before they're ready.
    • Defence: Brady Skjei is knocking on the door of regular NHL employment, having played seven games for the big club (and another five in the playoffs) last season. Again, though, there's a drop behind him. Other than Ryan Graves, there aren't many prospects of note. 
    • Goal: The one position where the Rangers have depth is in net. Magnus Hellberg is a capable No. 3 goaltender and could yet enjoy a major league career, while a trio of recent draftees—Igor Shesterkin, Brandon Halverson and Adam Huska—are all quality prospects. Mackenzie Skapski's unfortunate 2015-16 campaign is the lone sour note here.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Rangers didn't get their first pick until the 80 best prospects in the draft were already off the board, so they fell further behind the rest of the league. Defenceman Sean Day is an intriguing gamble, with an NHL frame and speed, but he has been in free fall as a prospect for years and is nowhere near as highly regarded as he was when he was granted an underage exemption to play in the OHL in 2013.

    Summary

    The Rangers have paid a heavy price for being a contender the last few years. The result is a prospect system with a couple of bright lights and some goalies but no real depth.

28. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: The Chicago Blackhawks have more prospect depth here than at any other position. 2014 first-rounder Nick Schmaltz enjoyed a breakthrough year at the University of North Dakota and is easily the best player in the system. The Blackhawks' first picks in 2011, 2013 and 2015 were all forwards too and all are still with the team.
    • Defence: Ville Pokka, who was acquired in the 2014 trade that sent Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders, is the headliner here. He's a smart player with offensive upside, though he's neither a bruiser nor a brilliant skater by NHL standards. Gustav Forsling had a breakthrough year in the Swedish Hockey League, but after those two, the system drops off quickly.   
    • Goal: Ivan Nalimov and Matt Tomkins cannot reasonably be projected to play in the NHL at this time.  

    2016 Draft Additions

    Chicago didn't have a first-round pick, but it had three in the second round and made some noise. The club's first selection was pint-sized dynamo Alex DeBrincat, who is coming off back-to-back 50-goal, 50-assist seasons in the OHL. Small skill would be a theme, as the Hawks also added undersized offensive defenceman Chad Krys and 5'11" scoring winger Artur Kayumov. 

    Summary

    It shouldn't be a surprise that Chicago has lousy prospect depth; it's the sort of thing that happens to teams that win three Stanley Cups in a span of six seasons. They did, however, manage to give themselves a bit of a shot in the arm at the draft.

27. St. Louis Blues

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Ivan Barbashev remains the most notable forward prospect in the system, virtually be default. After dominating the QMJHL a year ago he had a disappointing pro debut, posting 28 points in 65 AHL contests. Incredibly, that made him the highest-scoring Calder-eligible forward prospect on the St. Louis Blues' farm team. 
    • Defence: Even excluding the graduated Petteri Lindbohm, the Blues are in decent shape on defence. Jordan Schmaltz, a first-round selection in 2012, provided offensive punch as a rookie AHLer, and there's a solid group of four or five secondary prospects worth noting. 
    • Goal: Finnish 'tender Ville Husso may be the best player in the system after a .927 save percentage campaign in his native country's top league. Pheonix Copley and Jordan Binnington both have solid resumes, but neither was especially impressive in the AHL last season.  

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Blues had three picks in the top 60, but made an odd choice with their first-rounder. Tage Thompson added more size to the organization, but a lack of even-strength scoring is a serious concern. One scout complained to the Hockey News that he lacked the motor of an Auston Matthews, while another commented that "all his goals come on the power play."

    Jordan Kyrou will help a weak forward group, while St. Louis added another goalie to a reasonably deep collection when it drafted Evan Fitzpatrick.

    Summary

    The prospect pipeline reflects the Blues' organizational priorities and long-time status as a contender. In other words, its strengths are defensive in nature. But overall, the list is not strong relative to the NHL as a whole.

26. San Jose Sharks

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Timo Meier is the San Jose Sharks' top prospect. The big winger was the ninth overall pick in 2015 and was revitalized by a midseason trade in the QMJHL; he's a nice combination of size and scoring skill. Nikolay Goldobin, a first-rounder in 2014, had a nice AHL debut, while Kevin Labanc was drafted later the same year and had a 127-point season in the OHL.  
    • Defence: Mirco Mueller is no longer eligible for the Calder Trophy, which leaves Jeremy Roy and Julius Bergman as the twin pillars in San Jose's defensive pipeline. There's a nice collection of secondary prospects here but no real blue-chippers. 
    • Goal: Mantas Armalis isn't a famous prospect, but he had a nice year in Sweden and has NHL size (6'3", 200 pounds); he's probably the best of San Jose's half-dozen developing goalies. None of the rest are remarkable at this point, though Aaron Dell would be interesting if he were eligible by our criteria (he turned 27 in May). 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Sharks had just one pick in the top 100 and made a decidedly risky bet with it. Dylan Gambrell had a nice scoring season at the college level, but he's an undersized centre who had passed through the draft on not one but two previous occasions. 

    Summary

    There was a silver lining to missing the playoffs in 2014-15, with the 2015 draft going a long way toward resupplying the Sharks' system. Meier in particular improved the system and, along with Goldobin, brings scoring punch. That duo is supported by a decent collection of secondary pieces. Unfortunately, San Jose fell back in these rankings thanks to what looks like a largely irrelevant 2016 draft.

25. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Brayden Point has eclipsed other prospects in the system, scoring nearly two points per game in his final WHL campaign. The Tampa Bay Lightning have assembled a nice collection of undersized forwards, and there are a handful of bigger players such as 2013 second-rounder Adam Erne, who had a passable first AHL season.  
    • Defence: Slater Koekkoek has not developed as one would've expected from a No. 10 pick, but he's still a decent prospect. There are some decent secondary prospects here but an overall lack of high-potential players.
    • Goal: The graduation of Andrei Vasilevskiy left the Lightning momentarily without a goalie prospect who could realistically be projected to the NHL level.

    2016 Draft Additions

    From a consensus viewpoint, it's hard not to be impressed by Tampa Bay's haul at the draft. The team didn't make its first pick until No. 27 overall but did have four picks in the top 60 and banged off highly touted names: Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh.

    The only downside was the loss of Anthony DeAngelo in trade, though that deal allowed the Lightning to select Hajek, a player they obviously valued higher. 

    Summary

    The Lightning lack elite prospects, though that's largely a function of being a good NHL team, and in terms of depth, the club has done a nice job. However, on a list such as this, which highly values top players it's hard for the franchise to stand out.

24. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Daniel Sprong got into 18 NHL games before being returned to junior, and after finishing his QMJHL season, he scored five goals in 10 AHL playoff games. That's not bad for a 19-year-old. He's the headliner, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have a long list of secondary prospects too. Of the latter, Dominik Simon deserves a special mention after his 25-goal AHL debut, which also earned him an NHL recall. 
    • Defence: In contrast to other positions, the defence cupboard is pretty bare thanks to the graduation of Derrick Pouliot. Tiny Lukas Bengtsson (5'10") brings offensive ability. 
    • Goal: Matt Murray, Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup-winning playoff starting goalie, is still eligible for our list (and to be named rookie of the year next season) because he's played only 13 NHL regular-season games. Tristan Jarry had a tough pro debut in the AHL but remains a strong prospect in the system.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Penguins didn't get to pick until the No. 55 selection and, oddly enough, spent the choice on another goalie, bringing sizable Swede Filip Gustavsson to the organization. Pittsburgh did add some depth with six selections overall but missed out on the majority of the top talent available. 

    Summary

    Murray's presence tips the scales in a big way. Even without considering the goaltender, the Pens have a surprisingly decent prospect system for a team that's a perennial contender—albeit not one that got a lot of high-profile help at the draft.

23. Florida Panthers

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Lawson Crouse, the No. 11 overall pick a year ago, saw his goal total decrease but his point total go up, and he's probably ready to turn pro. Jayce Hawryluk exploded for 106 points offensively in the WHL, and there are a couple of forwards with the Portland Pirates challenging for NHL work. 
    • Defence: Michael Matheson appears to be NHL-ready and headlines a decent group that also includes Ian McCoshen and offensive defender Linus Hultstrom. 
    • Goal: The Florida Panthers' pro-level goaltending prospects are unmemorable, but the club has a trio of quality prospects in other leagues. Samuel Montembeault, Evan Cowley and Ryan Bednard all bring size and shiny save percentages to the mix.

    2016 Draft Additions

    Florida turned a few heads when it selected Henrik Borgstrom out of Finnish junior hockey with its first-round selection. Most outlets had Borgstrom rated much lower, and some even placed him in the third or fourth round. He does have NHL size and put up decent scoring numbers, though. The team's second-round pick, Adam Mascherin, is only 5'10" but put up big numbers in junior.

    Summary

    There's good depth across all positions here but, depending upon how one feels about Crouse, a general lack of blue-chip prospects. The 2016 draft didn't change that much. 

22. Colorado Avalanche

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Mikko Rantanen may not have excelled in the NHL this past year, but the 6'4" 19-year-old scored at better than a point-per-game pace in the AHL and is a blue-chip prospect. On the whole, the supporting cast is only so-so, but J.T. Compher had a great year at the University of Michigan. 
    • Defence: The graduation of Chris Bigras left a hole on the back end. Nicolas Meloche is a nice prospect but is some distance away from being truly helpful, while five years after being drafted 11th overall, Duncan Siemens is more suspect than prospect.  
    • Goal: Calvin Pickard is another graduating player, and there's nobody of similar stature in the system behind him. Sami Aittokallio had a good year in Finland but is in an uncertain situation after heading to Europe, while Spencer Martin had the odd combination of lovely AHL numbers but awful ECHL totals. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Drafting Tyson Jost with the No. 10 pick added another young, high-offence forward to a Colorado Avalanche team that has picked many players in the same vein the last few years. Second-rounder Cameron Morrison faces questions about his ceiling at the pro level but should carve out a career in the NHL. 

    Summary

    Jost and Rantanen are nice pillars for the forward corps, but the graduation of several impact prospects and an overall lack of depth hurt the Avs' ranking on this list. 

21. Minnesota Wild

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: The Minnesota Wild have a nice collection of forwards, with a list of quality prospects too long to name individually. Former first-rounders Joel Eriksson-Ek and Alex Tuch are worth flagging, though the latter hasn't improved his scoring numbers by as much as might have been hoped since being drafted in 2014.
    • Defence: Mike Reilly's graduation left Gustav Olofsson as the team's top blue-line prospect. He's mobile and plays a polished and understated game. 
    • Goal: Steve Michalek made a successful transition to the pro game, splitting time between the ECHL and AHL and faring reasonably well in both leagues. None of the team's other goalie prospects are particularly close to ready.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Wild only had one pick in the top 100 and selected a Minnesota-type player at no. 15 overall in Luke Kunin. Kunin has a reputation as a two-way forward but also brings some scoring punch to the mix.  

    Summary

    Minnesota's strength is a well-stocked forward corps, a group that got a little stronger on Friday with the addition of Kunin. There is, however, a lack of blue-chip talent, and other positions aren't as well off. 

20. Detroit Red Wings

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Two big wingers headline the Detroit Red Wings forward group: Evgeny Svechnikov and Anthony Mantha. Svechnikov was the club's first-rounder in 2015, though his scoring didn't progress as much as might have been hoped last year. Mantha was selected two years earlier and is progressing at the AHL level.
    • Defence: Xavier Ouellet technically doesn't meet our criteria, leaving Detroit with a tightly clustered group of secondary defenders. The system is a half-dozen names deep, with Robbie Russo and Ryan Sproul probably the closest to being NHL-ready.
    • Goal: Jared Coreau took a year to adjust to the pro level, but has turned himself into a prospect with back-to-back strong campaigns in the AHL. Jake Paterson had a decent pro debut in the ECHL, not an uncommon starting point for goalie prospects.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Red Wings made three selections in the top 60. They added Givani Smith, a big, tough forward with an indeterminate offensive ceiling, but two of the three picks were used to restock the blue line. Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek are both undersized puck-movers with offensive skill.

    Summary

    Detroit typically has a good, deep group of prospects, and this year is no different. The trouble is there aren't a lot of elite-level players in the system.

19. Edmonton Oilers

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Most of the Edmonton Oilers' best young forwards are already in the NHL. That means the club's top prospects up front are second-tier players such as Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev and Bogdan Yakimov. 
    • Defence: The Oilers called-up two blue-chip prospects (Griffin Reinhart and Darnell Nurse) this past season. There are still some good second-level players in the AHL system, while later picks such as Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear are trending nicely.
    • Goal: Laurent Brossoit had a nice campaign at the AHL level but stumbled when offered a chance to win an NHL job late in the year. College free agent Nick Ellis was a nice addition at this position, giving Edmonton some depth here.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Oilers dramatically improved their forward depth at the draft. An unconventional choice by the Columbus Blue Jackets led to Jesse Puljujarvi falling to the team at fourth overall; he brings size, skill and a mature game to the organization. Second-rounder Tyler Benson is a boom-or-bust selection and could be one of the draft's biggest steals if 2015-16's injury problems are behind him. 

    Summary

    Puljujarvi and Benson instantly jump to the front of the line of a mostly unremarkable prospect group, and the former alone moved Edmonton forward several spots on this list.

18. Washington Capitals

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Jakub Vrana enjoyed a very good AHL rookie campaign this past season, coming in at just under the point-per-game mark despite missing time to injury. He's at the forefront of a pretty solid group of young forwards at the AHL level and beyond. 
    • Defence: Madison Bowey is a good offensive defenceman, a right shot with NHL size who topped the point-per-game mark in his final year of junior. He had an uneven rookie pro campaign in the AHL but remains a player of interest. The pool shallows out considerably behind him. 
    • Goal: Ilya Samsonov is everything a team could possibly want in a goalie prospect, but there isn't much else in the system.

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Washington Capitals had just one pick in the first two rounds and took defenceman Lucas Johansen, the younger brother of Nashville Predators centre Ryan. The younger Johansen is a standout skater and posted strong offensive totals in the WHL last year.

    Summary

    The top-end talent in Washington's system stacks up well against most teams. The only trouble is an overall lack of depth, and without much in the way of high picks, the Caps weren't able to address that as thoroughly as they would undoubtedly have liked.

17. Vancouver Canucks

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Brock Boeser and Brendan Gaunce are pretty clearly the Vancouver Canucks' best Calder-eligible forward prospects. Not only are they good players, but the system thins out considerably after them.
    • Defence: Mammoth defenders Andrey Pedan and Nikita Tryamkin both got some time in the NHL this season, but improvement is still needed in both cases. The club's best prospect at the position is probably the undersized Jordan Subban (5'9"), who scored 11 goals as an AHL rookie.  
    • Goal: Thatcher Demko is a first-rate goaltending prospect, a 6'4" stopper who has posted increasingly impressive numbers with each passing year. Free-agent signing Michael Garteig added some needed depth at this position. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Olli Juolevi is an excellent defensive prospect and a nice addition to the Vancouver system. There was some understandable disappointment in the aftermath of the pick that the Canucks chose to pass on Matthew Tkachuk, but on the other hand, it's hard to argue with taking arguably the best defencemen in the draft. He's certainly a fit for team need.

    William Lockwood was the team's only other selection in the top 100 picks; he adds some speed to the system. 

    Summary

    With the addition of Juolevi on Friday, the Canucks have four excellent prospects. The problem is they don't have much else beyond those individuals.

16. Calgary Flames

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: There are some high draft picks in the system, but for the most part, the Calgary Flames' forward group is impressive for its depth rather than its blue-chip talent. Players such as Mark Jankowski, Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk have promise but also flaws.
    • Defence: The additions of Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington in 2015 went a long way toward shoring up an otherwise unremarkable pool of defence prospects
    • Goal: There's promise here but reason for worry too. The 6'6" 'tender Jon Gillies is impressive but lost almost all of 2015-16 to injury and needs to come back with no ill effects. Fellow giant Mason McDonald, meanwhile, struggled badly in the QMJHL last year. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Flames were always going to get a shot at a good prospect in the sixth overall slot, and they lucked out when power forward Matthew Tkachuk fell to them. A smart, polished player with high-end scoring talent, he could be a cornerstone piece moving forward.

    Calgary wasn't done, either. Over the next 60 picks, the Flames added a quality scoring centre (Dillon Dube), an offensive defenceman (Adam Fox) and a top goalie prospect (Tyler Parsons). It's dangerous to get too excited about second- and third-round picks, but that looks like an awfully nice haul from a single draft.

    Summary

    Few teams did more to help their cause at the draft than the Flames, with Calgary landing not only a great early pick but also an impressive collection of depth pieces. The team's prospect pool has trended upward since the arrival of Brad Treliving as general manager in 2014.

15. Anaheim Ducks

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: The graduation of Nick Ritchie to the NHL knocked the Anaheim Ducks' top forward prospect off this list, and the depth here isn't what it could be. Julius Nattinen and Nick Sorensen are both good prospects, though neither has been tested in North American pro hockey yet. 
    • Defence: The real strength of Anaheim's prospect group is on the blue line. Shea Theodore is the team's top prospect and won't be on this list a year from now, but Jacob Larsson, Brandon Montour and Marcus Pettersson are all nice pieces too. Montour has been shocking in the AHL, putting up 57 points in 68 games this year. 
    • Goal: Kevin Boyle had a surprisingly good year in his fourth season of college hockey; maybe he'll surprise at the pro level. There's not much here. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Anaheim had a couple of late first-round picks and then nothing else until No. 85 overall. With their first selection, the Ducks took Max Jones, a big, power winger who slipped down to the mid-20s after being projected as many as 10 picks higher. Sam Steel, selected 30th, is a centre with scoring potential.

    Summary

    The Ducks have a group of defence prospects to rival virtually any team in the league and did much to address a weak forward group on the draft floor.

14. Ottawa Senators

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Colin White entered the year with a reputation as a defensive centre but scored at better than a point-per-game pace at Boston College; he's an excellent prospect. The system thins out behind him, though, and key secondary pieces such as Filip Chlapik and Gabriel Gagne had tough years. Max McCormick and Nick Paul both showed flashes in extended NHL cameos. 
    • Defence: Thomas Chabot is a blue-chip prospect who scored at just under a point-per-game pace in the QMJHL during the regular season and then topped that over a long playoff run; he's developing nicely. The Ottawa Senators have a number of good secondary prospects, but with the exception of Fredrik Claesson, none seem especially close to NHL duty. 
    • Goal: Highly touted Matt O'Connor had a disappointing season in the AHL but remains a prospect of interest. His Binghamton Senators partner, Chris Driedger, improved markedly after a rocky pro debut a year ago and will challenge for minutes. Other prospects in the system are still a ways out. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Ottawa improved in a major way down the middle through the draft. The club moved up to take 6'6" scoring centre Logan Brown with the No. 11 pick and then, for good measure, added creative Swedish pivot Jonathan Dahlen in the second round. 

    Summary

    One can poke some holes in the overall depth of the Senators' system, but they have good players coming through, both at forward and on defence. White, Chabot and Brown is a pretty nice trio to have at the top of the prospect depth chart.

13. New Jersey Devils

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Pavel Zacha had a decent if unspectacular campaign in junior but showed well in a professional cameo; he's 6'3" and 213 pounds with skill to burn. After Zacha, the list thins out quickly, with quality young players such as Joseph Blandisi and Reid Boucher no longer considered NHL rookies. John Quenneville enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in the WHL, however, and that's helpful. 
    • Defence: Steven Santini has been a key building block for a few years and has a nice mix of skills, but again, the system is shallow behind him. 
    • Goal: MacKenzie Blackwood had a stellar campaign in junior and is a prospect worth watching, while Scott Wedgewood improved his AHL save percentage by a stunning 30 points year-over-year, finishing 25 points ahead of veteran partner Yann Danis. Just for good measure, free-agent addition Ken Appleby had a nice rookie pro campaign in the ECHL. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Devils made the rather odd decision of trading out of the No. 11 slot, thereby passing on Logan Brown and securing the services of centre Michael McLeod. McLeod's a good player, but it was a surprise to see Brown slip out of the top 10, and New Jersey didn't get much in exchange for the move.  

    The Devils supplemented the McLeod selection with some additional offence, bringing in big scoring winger Nathan Bastian in the second round and small scoring winger Joey Anderson in the third. 

    Summary

    New Jersey has a half-dozen decent scoring prospects after replenishing at this year's draft, with the group headlined by Zacha and McLeod. There's help on the way.

12. Dallas Stars

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: A lot of the Dallas Stars' best young forwards are considered graduated under our criteria, but between Jason Dickinson, Devin Shore and Denis Guryanov, there's a nice group here. Guryanov, the team's 12th overall pick last year, had a disappointing campaign in Russia, and Dallas is undoubtedly eager to get him to North America, where they can be sure he's getting adequate playing time. 
    • Defence: One of the reasons the Stars can afford to be cautious with signing their free-agent defencemen is the quality of the prospect pool. Julius Honka and Esa Lindell are high-end offensive rearguards at a young age in the AHL, Stephen Johns took on regular minutes in the playoffs and Mattias Backman is no slouch, either. 
    • Goal: The Stars have a quartet of goalies, each of whom has potential. But none had particularly great seasons in 2015-16. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Stars had only one early pick, and they spent that No. 25 selection on 6'5" scoring winger Riley Tufte. Tufte is generally well-regarded, but he's never put up big numbers in a quality league, having spent most of his time at the high school level. He recorded only 14 points in 27 USHL games this season, though on the bright side, 10 of those were goals. 

    Summary

    Dallas lost a bit of ground thanks to a lack of 2016 draft picks, but the existing depth and quality of the team's system keeps the Stars in decent shape overall.

11. Nashville Predators

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Even with the loss of Jimmy Vesey, the Nashville Predators are in good shape. Kevin Fiala and Vladislav Kamenev both had strong seasons in the AHL, with Fiala in particular getting close to regular NHL employment. 
    • Defence: Jack Dougherty is progressing nicely, but this traditional strength is a little on the shallow side at the moment. 
    • Goal: Undersized Finn Juuse Saros had a fantastic AHL debut, going 29-8-0 with a .920 save percentage for the Milwaukee Admirals, eclipsing the older Marek Mazanec. Karel Vejmelka is developing nicely overseas. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    In evident cognizance of team need, the Predators expended four of their first five selections on defencemen. Two in particular stand out. College-bound Dante Fabbro is already a smart, two-way blueliner, while 5'10" QMJHL rearguard Samuel Girard is an exceptional scorer.

    Summary

    The influx of defenceman via the 2016 draft addressed the lone significant hole in the Predators' prospect lineup. They have significant prospects and decent depth across the board.

10. Boston Bruins

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    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Zachary Senyshyn climbed from 26 goals a year ago to 45 this season, which represents a nice progression for the 6'2" winger. Unfortunately, fellow 2015 draftee Jake DeBrusk went the opposite way, falling from 42 to 21. DeBrusk has arguably been passed on the team's prospect chart by 2015 second-rounder Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, who had a very good year at Boston University. 
    • Defence: This position has taken a beating. Colin Miller and Joe Morrow both graduated, while 2015 first-rounder Jakub Zboril had a tough year in the Q. Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon are both good prospects, with Lauzon topping the point-per-game mark in junior last season. 
    • Goal: The Boston Bruins' two famous goalie prospects, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre, both struggled badly in Providence this season and didn't do nearly enough to challenge AHL journeyman Jeremy Smith. The only Bruins goalie who did perform well was 2015 pick Daniel Vladar, who made a successful transition to the USHL.

    2016 Draft Additions

    Boston added three good prospects with its top-50 picks. In Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Lindgren, the club added a complete defence pair, while centre Trent Frederic is a two-way talent with excellent size. To pick both McAvoy and Frederic, the Bruins had to pass on more famous names, but it isn't clear at this juncture that doing so was a mistake.

    Summary

    The Bruins have caught a lot of flak for their decisions over the past few years, and while there's a case to be made that the team's selections were suboptimal, that hasn't stopped Boston from putting together a respectable collection of prospects.

9. New York Islanders

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Mathew Barzal had an excellent season in the WHL, jumping from 57 points a year ago to 88 points in 2015-16. The New York Islanders' other top forward prospects had less impressive campaigns, but Michael Dal Colle, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang are all still players of considerable interest. 
    • Defence: Ryan Pulock is the best of the team's prospect blueliners and was one of several to get a cameo in the NHL this season. Unlike Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech, however, Pulock also got into some playoff action in the majors. 
    • Goal: This is a deep position for the Isles. Ilya Sorokin had a stunning KHL season (.953 save percentage) and was named that league's best goaltender; he's a fantastic prospect who doesn't get enough recognition in North America. The 6'4" stopper Linus Soderstrom had a good season in Sweden, Eamon McAdam progressed at the college level and a pair of draft picks (Jean-Francois Berube and Christopher Gibson) are good, young AHL goalies. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Isles didn't have a chance to do much; they picked at 19th overall and then didn't get another selection until 95th overall. Kieffer Bellows, the son of former NHLer Brian (he of 1,022 career points) is a nice forward prospect, but it's tough to project most of the team's other picks. 

    Tiny overager Anatoly Golyshev, who went 95th, had 25 goals in the KHL last year and might have an impact sooner than would normally be expected.

    Summary

    New York didn't help itself as much at the draft as some other teams did thanks to a lack of picks, but it was starting from a strong base. There is both top-end quality and depth at all positions. 

8. Montreal Canadiens

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron are probably the most famous names in the system, with the former struggling in the AHL this year and the latter being slowly broken into the NHL. Keep an eye on Charles Hudon, who scores well in the minors, and small Finn Artturi Lehkonen, who had a big year in Sweden's top league.   
    • Defence: Noah Juulsen is still a good prospect, but it's a little concerning that his 2014-15 offensive totals were basically cut in half this past season. Brett Lernout, Darren Dietz and, most shockingly of all, Morgan Ellis all worked their way into NHL cameos this year. 
    • Goal: Zachary Fucale had a mediocre pro debut and cannot be seriously regarded as a blue-chip prospect at this point. College free agent Charlie Lindgren is a nice addition to a relatively weak goalie system. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Montreal Canadiens only had one early pick, but it was a top-10 selection, and they added dynamic offensive defenceman Mikhail Sergachev out of the OHL. The left-shooting rearguard immediately becomes the best prospect the team has and could be a replacement for Andrei Markov down the road. 

    Summary

    The Habs have drafted reasonably well over the years and have decent depth and a few standout players. McCarron will almost certainly graduate this coming season, but even once he does, the team will have a nice assortment of talent.

7. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Sebastian Aho has progressed by leaps and bounds since being drafted in the second round in 2015, scoring at a point-per-game pace in Finland's top league, the Liiga, and starring for his country at both the World Juniors and World Championship. There's a decent list of secondary prospects too, including trade deadline acquisition Aleksi Saarela.
    • Defence: Haydn Fleury, the No. 7 pick in 2014, hasn't developed as hoped but had his best WHL campaign last year and showed some offensive ability, putting up 41 points in 56 games. Trevor Carrick is close to being NHL-ready and Roland McKeown has rebounded since being acquired from Los Angeles. 
    • Goal: Most of the Carolina Hurricanes goalie prospects are unremarkable. Alex Nedeljkovic is the exception. Although undersized (6'0") for the position by modern standards, he turned heads with a brilliant performance at the World Juniors. We'll have a better idea of his true level of ability when he turns pro next year. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Carolina had six picks in the top 75 at the draft, so there was a significant influx of talent. Power forward Julien Gauthier and offensive defenceman Jake Bean headline a pretty nice group that bolstered a strong pool.

    Summary

    Carolina already had depth at all positions and a couple of top-end prospects; adding two more marquee talents and a plethora of secondary players through the draft only improved the situation. 

6. Buffalo Sabres

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Jimmy Vesey is the biggest wild card in the system; he's technically Buffalo Sabres property but can become a free agent in August. If he signs, it will be a coup for the Sabres. Buffalo also seems to have the market cornered on big guys who can play but don't project to be major scorers. It feels like there are at least a half-dozen good prospects in the system who match that description, though it may underrate Hudson Fasching to include him on that list. 
    • Defence: The Sabres have, through trades and graduation, done a nice job of emptying the pipeline on defence. 2015 second-rounder Brendan Guhle is the best of the group and has come along with surprising speed at a position that generally takes a lot of time to learn. 
    • Goal: Linus Ullmark is still technically a prospect, though he showed very well over 20 NHL games this season. Undrafted addition Andrey Makarov progressed nicely in his third year of pro hockey, Nathan Lieuwen rebounded from a subpar campaign and Cal Petersen improved in his second season with Notre Dame. Jason Kasdorf is a real prospect too, and the only question is where he'll find room in the system to play. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    As has often been the case in recent years, the Sabres had a nice collection of draft picks. Alex Nylander brings more offensive firepower to the system and was a nice return on the No. 8 pick, while Buffalo reinforced across the board with four other selections inside the top 100. Of the latter group, two-way forward Rasmus Asplund deserves a special mention. 

    Summary

    Nylander is instantly the team's best prospect, but the system goes much deeper than him. Despite general manager Tim Murray's penchant for promoting or trading off players with haste, the Sabres still have a rich assortment of prospects.

5. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Travis Konecny was a late-first-round pick a year ago and climbed from 68 points to 101 in the same number of games at the OHL level. He's the best of the lot, but there are a handful of secondary prospects worth keeping an eye on here too.
    • Defence: The backbone of the Philadelphia Flyers prospect system is the blue line. Ivan Provorov is an elite prospect, a top-10 pick a year ago who scored more than 20 goals and 70 points in the WHL. Travis Sanheim and Samuel Morin are good enough that they'd be the best players on many team's lists of prospect defencemen. 
    • Goal: The Flyers have a pile of goalies in the system, but three in particular are deserving of note. Anthony Stolarz is 6'6" and improved markedly as an AHL sophomore; he could compete for an NHL job very quickly. The other two are both college goalies with .930-plus save percentages: Alex Lyon at Yale and Merrick Madsen at Harvard.

    2016 Draft Additions

    Philadelphia already had a pretty nice collection of talent in the system and built on it through the draft, with five top-100 selections. They took Carter Hart, who was perhaps the draft's best goalie, but the other four picks were all spent on forwards. German Rubtsov is a mature two-way talent, Pascal Laberge brings scoring punch and plays with an edge and both Wade Allison and Carsen Twarynski bring some heft to the system. 

    Summary

    What's not to like? The Flyers didn't have a top pick at the draft but managed to restock their shallowest position and add a top goalie to a system already loaded to the gills with defencemen and puck-stoppers.

4. Winnipeg Jets

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Kyle Connor had a stunning season, scoring 35 goals in just 38 games for the University of Michigan and adding 36 assists for good measure. Jack Roslovic, his fellow 2015 first-rounder, was significantly less impressive but has time and is a good prospect. J.C. Lipon and the pesky Brendan Lemieux are nice secondary pieces. 
    • Defence: A lot of the Winnipeg Jets defensive prospects had poor years. Josh Morrissey is quality but struggled a bit in his first season of professional hockey, and the system behind him isn't especially impressive. 
    • Goal: Eric Comrie had a solid pro debut, posting a .907 save percentage for the Manitoba Moose. Jamie Phillips is coming off a promising college career. Connor Hellebuyck would be at the head of the list, but with 26 career NHL games he's just barely ineligible for this ranking. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Patrik Laine is an outstanding prospect, a 6'4" winger with elite scoring potential who is expected to be NHL-ready immediately; it's always nice to have the luxury of adding a No. 2 overall pick. Winnipeg also drafted polarizing defender Logan Stanley 18th overall; the 6'7", 225-pound blueliner is something of a boom-or-bust player.

    Summary

    Connor and Laine both rank among the top-dozen prospects in the hockey world. The collection of secondary talent is decent, but boating two elite scorers goes a long way for the purposes of this list. 

3. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Sonny Milano and Oliver Bjorkstrand both had somewhat disappointing regular seasons in the AHL, but Bjorkstrand at least came on later in the year, scoring 10 times in 17 playoff games. Both are good prospects and sit at the head of a deep system. 
    • Defence: Defenceman Zach Werenski scored at a point-per-game pace in his final college season and followed it up with 14 points in 17 AHL playoff games. The eighth overall pick from 2015 will likely graduate to the NHL next season. Gabriel Carlsson, Michael Paliotta and Dillon Heatherington round out a quality group. 
    • Goal: Joonas Korpisalo has graduated, but there are still good players at this position. Anton Forsberg had an off year but is a strong prospect, while Elvis Merzlikins played well for the Swiss A team HC Lugano. Oscar Dansk has been a disappointment but showed some signs of recovery in Sweden this season. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Columbus Blue Jackets made perhaps the most controversial pick of the draft, taking big centre Pierre-Luc Dubois ahead of consensus pick Jesse Puljujarvi at No. 3. There's no question Dubois is an exceptional prospect, however, and the Jackets added two other good prospects (defenceman Andrew Peeke and winger Vitali Abramov) with their next two selections.

    Columbus may regret the loss of Kerby Rychel in a trade made during the draft, but as he's not Calder-eligible, that decision has no impact on the team's ranking.  

    Summary

    Despite some disappointments, the Blue Jackets have a good system overall, with strong individuals at the top end and depth at all positions. Another high pick makes it better still.

2. Arizona Coyotes

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: The Arizona Coyotes are wonderfully well-stocked. Centre Dylan Strome has elite potential, though he faded a little this season. Christian Dvorak, in contrast, scored at nearly a goal-per-game pace in junior. Ryan MacInnis and Christian Fischer both progressed nicely too. All that wealth makes it a little easier to handle disappointing campaigns from Brendan Perlini, Nick Merkley and Henrik Samuelsson. 
    • Defence: Kyle Wood was a nice addition at the trade deadline to a position of relative weakness, but he's not a high-end prospect. Neither is anyone else in the system. 
    • Goal: With the graduation of Louis Domingue, Adin Hill is the best of a middling group of goalie prospects. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    The Coyotes had some later picks too, but three players stand out as the team's primary haul from the draft. Clayton Keller was the club's first pick, seventh overall, and he is another exceptionally skilled centre for the team's already rich group of prospect forwards.

    Jakob Chychrun slipped to No. 16, and Arizona was able to trade up and grab him; he has the potential to have the best career of any defenceman in the draft. Another defenceman, Anthony DeAngelo, was brought in from the Lightning via a trade, shoring the position up further. Just for good measure, the club added three other rearguards with later picks.

    Summary

    Arizona is bursting with forward prospects, and adding Chychrun and DeAngelo dramatically alters the team's situation on the blue line. 

1. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Existing Talent

    • Forward: Mitch Marner had 44 points in 18 playoff games in the OHL last year; that was on the heels of a second consecutive 100-plus point season. William Nylander scored at a better than point-per-game pace in the AHL and didn't look out of place during a 22-game major league cameo. They are the two best forwards in the system, but they head up a pool that includes Kasperi Kapanen, Frederik Gauthier, Connor Brown, Brenden Leipsic, Tobias Lindberg and others. 
    • Defence: KHL All-Star Nikita Zaitsev is a nice addition to a defence group that is decidedly overshadowed by the forwards. Even so, Stuart Percy, Rinat Valiev, Travis Dermott and Andrew Nielsen (who had a spectacular year) ensure there's talent to come on the blue line as well.
    • Goal: College free agent Kasimir Kaskisuo bolstered a system that already included the rapidly improving Garret Sparks and competent AHLer Antoine Bibeau. 

    2016 Draft Additions

    Auston Matthews is almost unanimously acknowledged as the best player in the 2016 draft, a slick, mature two-way centre with top-line offensive ability. He has NHL size (6'2", 210 pounds) and experience playing the pro game; he will almost certainly jump to the major league immediately.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs' draft didn't end with the first overall pick, though. They made seven of the first 101 selections, stockpiling prospects at all positions. The list is too long to go through individually, but we should at least highlight No. 31 pick Yegor Korshkov, a 6'3" winger who was passed over in two previous drafts but had a strong campaign in the KHL. 

    Summary

    No other team in the NHL can rival the collection of talent the Leafs have in the system.

    This piece made use of Sportsnet's NHL Draft Tracker.

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