Christopher Ralph is THW’s prospect and draft analyst.
To qualify for this list, a prospect has to be drafted or signed as a free agent and is eligible for the Calder Trophy:
1. 26 years old or younger by September 15 of their rookie season.
2. A player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league.
*This criteria results in Top 5 candidate prospects such as Alex Pietrangelo and Nikita Filatov not qualifying for this list.
- POS = Position
- Draft: Year prospect drafted followed by pick number which they were drafted overall
- “One-Timer” heading is meant to be a quick and concise synopsis of each prospect. (Some are taken or are excerpts from my draft profiles for the respective prospect.)
- The list has been compiled with an emphasis on long term, top end potential. NHL readiness is taken under consideration as well.
- The pattern of ranking goaltenders particularly tough is evident in my entry draft rankings and is again the case here.
- When available, prospects are linked to their respective detailed prospect profile, which I have completed over last couple of seasons. Otherwise, the links will take the reader to HockeyDB.com or Hockeys Future.
- As noted above, to qualify for this list, a prospect has to be drafted or signed as a free agent and is eligible for the Calder Trophy
- The Top 100 will be released in a series of 4 articles.
- After the Top 100 prospects have been released, stay tuned for a mega listing of the Top 250 NHL prospects in a searchable and sortable table format. Find out which players narrowly missed getting into the Top 100 rankings.
*This article contains prospects ranked 51 to 75.
*To view prospects ranked 76 to 100, click here for Part 1.
RANK PROSPECT TEAM POS DRAFT
51 Tyler Ennis BUF F 2008-26th
One-Timer: If any arguments are still left out there that Ennis cannot be an effective NHLer given his size, they should be officially put to bed. The fearless, shifty and creative forward has gotten stronger in the offseason and is ready for the primetime – fulltime. He transitioned to the AHL nearly seamlessly, averaging nearly a PPG. Then came late season duty with the big club and how did he do? Again he produced at nearly a PPG clip, notching 9 points in 10 regular season games and was perhaps the Sabres most dangerous forward in a first round series lost.
52 Calvin de Haan NYI D 2009- 12th
One-Timer: From my 2009 Draft Profile:
“The dynamic puck-moving d-man actually increased his production after the trade of Tavares, scoring 17 points in his final 13 games. As a OHL rookie, he finished with an impressive 63 points in 68 games. He was awarded OHL Rookie Of The YearHe actually out-duelled Matt Duchene to win the puck-control relay at the Top Prospects Skill Competition. He does need to fill out physically and although adequate in his own zone, he could improve his defensive play, although he is very poised with the puck. Given his high-end offensive arsenal of passing, stick-handling and shooting skills, de Haan could definitely here his name called even earlier on draft day.”
As NHL.com reports a unique opportunity may have arisen for de Haan:
A first-round pick (No. 12) by the New York Islanders in 2009, de Haan suffered a shoulder injury similar to the one Streit suffered during a scrimmage at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday morning. The injury limited de Haan to just 34 games for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals last season, but he is finally pain free.
Streit, though, likely won’t be for quite some time. (de Haan was sidelined for 6 months)
With Streit out, de Haan has been presented with a golden opportunity. Prior to Saturday, he was probably ticketed for a third junior season. Now, there’s a spot up for grabs — one that involves quarterbacking the Isles’ power play.”
53 Maxim Goncharov PHX D 2007-123rd
One-Timer: I’ll defer to the knowledgeable Alessandro Seren Rosso of Russian Hockey Fans:
“Goncharov is an offensive defenseman with a great shot and an excellent technique. During this season he scored four goals and a career high seventeen points in 51 KHL regular season games, finished +5. In the 2008-09 campaign Goncharov amassed seven goals and as many assists.
In his junior career he won a gold medal in 2007 U18 World Junior Championship in Finland and captured a silver medal in the 2009 WJC, where he scored five goals in seven games, the tournament’s best result for a blue liner.”
The 2009 WJCs is where Goncharov truly landed on my radar as a potential impact two-way blueliner.
54 Simon Despres PIT D 2009-30th
One-Timer: Depres, in training camp, displayed he has perhaps progressed the most of any Penguins prospect. He is actually, at time of posting, currently still in contention for a roster spot on opening day with the big club. He has a greater propensity for the defensive side of things given his size and mobility, but has made impressive gains in confidence and poise with the puck – two things that were definitel question marks in his draft year. The 6’4” blueliner had a very good regular season with Saint John in the Q last season, with an even better playoffs.
55 Quinton Howden FLO F 2010-25th
One-Timer: The promising power forward is an intriguing two-way player, featuring a great mix of size and speed, with his superb skating.
He had a great sophomore season in the “Dub” (WHL) averaging a PPG, which at 17 years old is not an easy task in this league. While Team Canada had an overall miserable WJC-U18s recently in Belarus, Howden actually excelled in the tournament in spite of the team’s 7th place finish.
Quinton’s upside is as a two-way top 6 forward with tremendous skating and offensive upside. He is a relatively safe pick because at worse he can contribute in a defensive role on the bottom two lines of an NHL squad. As Howden spends more time in the weight room, he should else be able to add a more prominent physical nature to his game.
56 David Rundblad OTT D 2009-17th
One-Timer: The good-sized Swedish d-man is a beautiful skater, adept at making “coast-to-coast” plays on the ice. He is first and foremost a puck-moving blueliner, but given time to develop a more efficient defensive side to his game, should be become a well-rounded two-way defenseman.
He had somewhat of an underwhelming last season, but the Ottawa Senators must see something they like in trading their 2010 1st rounder for him, which turned out to be highly touted Russian forward Vladimir Tarasenko. History suggests we suggest maybe we should not bet against them. Their other young Swedish blueliner – Erik Karlsson is pretty damn good!
57 Carter Ashton TBL F 2009-29th
One-Timer: The son of former NHLer, and one of the most traveled players Brent Ashton, who played 2 games shy of 1000 in the NHL, Carter has the “hockey gene” embedded. To go with that, he has a great physical frame (6’4”-ish, 210 lbs-ish) with which to build on. The physical forward doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff and is a capable goal-scorer. He also skates well and has smooth “hockey hands”. He has great character and quite versatile as well. In his draft year he was the VO-2 Max “Champ” highlighting his super endurance level.
He may take longer to reach his potential than many prospects on this list, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will know when the time is right to deploy this new weapon.
58 Dylan McIlrath NYR D 2010-10th
One-Timer: Although I was high on McIlrath heading into the draft, even the Rangers surprise me when they grabbed him at 10th overall with the likes of Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley still on the board. “The Undertaker”, as he has been referred to by more than one scout, had a meteoric rise up the draft rankings of pro scouting services this past season.
To be known as the nastiest and most intimidating player in the WHL is one thing. To gain that moniker as a 17 year is quite another; in fact, simply unheard of. McIlrath accomplished just that.
As I watched McIlrath in the WHL playoffs against the talented Calgary Hitmen, I got a glimpse of what an absolute force this young blueliner can be. Not only is he a freight train of a load physically, the kid can skate and has impressive speed. Carrying the puck, if he can’t go around you, he’s going to go through you! He also has a howitzer of a slapshot and an impressive wrist shot in his arsenal as well.
His defensive skills are already impressive and the ability to deliver momentum shifting monumental hits is reason to get excited. The two-way potential he exhibited this season, especially in the second half, only makes him all the more intriguing.
Worst case scenario, he becomes a shutdown physical defenseman enforcer who can skate. Give him time and have patience and you likely have a guy who can contribute offensively as well.
He has improved leads and bounds over the past two seasons, and I suspect he has just begun to tap into that potential.
59 Derek Forbort LAK D 2010-15th
One-Timer: Forbort already possesses close to an NHL size body. The almost 6’5” towering blueliner skates wonderfully for a big man. While tougher to project how he will contribute at the NHL level, he shows signs of being an all-around talent. At this point, he is more adept on the defensive side, but he has shown he can contribute on the offensive side as well. He has a bullet slapshot and can lug the puck out of his zone efficiently, if not elegantly at this stage of his development. He is a tremendous athlete who reads the game well.
60 Robin Lehner OTT G 2009-46th
One-Timer: As TSN noted, European Scouting states: “Robin looks pretty similar to Henrik Lundqvist. He makes himself look very big in the net and there is not much room to shoot at. He challenges shooters pretty well and his lower net butterfly coverage is good.”
Robin’s father, Michael, actually coached NY Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Lehner is a big goalie already, but is very agile. He will have to work on rebound and puck control and mental toughness to take his game to the next level. Lehner had a great first year in the OHL last season, his first in North America.
61 Zack Kassian BUF F 2009-13th
One-Timer: Kassian is one of the OHL’s toughest players and doesn’t shy away from donnybrooks, but needs to show more discipline after sometimes taking needless penalties. (Since I wrote that portion for my 2009 draft profile, he unfortunately took it to a new level last season.)There is no doubting the size, skill and energy he brings to the table, but he does need to continue to work on his skating and likewise getting quicker. Should he put it all together, the Sabres have the power forward in their grasp that their lineup craves. He has actually showed himself well in the pre-season.
62 Eric Tangradi PIT F 2007-42nd
One-Timer: THW’s Penguins Correspondent, Mike Colligan is all over coverage of Pittsburgh. He recently noted:
“Tangradi had his strongest effort of the preseason in Saturday’s win over Columbus. Even prior to the Jordan Staal setback I’ve felt Tangradi was in line for a spot in the opening day lineup, but his play in training camp hadn’t made it a slam dunk. Against the Blue Jackets he was the best player on the ice. He created opportunities offensively and used his body to open up chances for his linemates. Bylsma said after the game on Saturday, “The best you can do as a player in Eric’s spot is to demand ice time, demand situations, and prove you can play in this league. And every game he’s done that to this point.” Tangradi has a stranglehold on Evgeni Malkin’s wing and he won’t be letting go.”
The potential power forward is a good combination of size and playmaking ability with the flexibility to play on either wing. In all likelihood he will be flanking either Geno or Sid the Kid, setting up an impending breakout year for the Big Dog.
63 Zac Dalpe CAR F 2008-45th
One-Timer: Dalpe was a bit of an unknown commodity coming out of the BCHL in his draft year in 2008. The kid is an unknown no more. After an outstanding sophomore year skating for Ohio State, he lit up the AHL as a late season addition scoring 6 goals in 9 regular season games, followed up with a solid 6 points in 8 playoff contests. The creative offensive forward has an accurate shot and thrives on the powerplay. He likely needs some more time round out his game and to get stronger, and would thus benefit from a further stint in the AHL. But don’t count on him being content to stay at that level for long.
64 Tomas Tatar DET F 2009-60th
One-Timer: Possessing tremendous hands and a great shot, Tatar, who had an unbelievable WJC breakout performance (2 years ago), also has an uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. Tatar made an impressive transition to the NA game.
65 Travis Hamonic NYI D 2008-53rd
One-Timer: Hamonic could be the anchor for the Islanders defense for many years to come. Skating is far from terrible, but could be improved upon. Other than that he has offensive upside possessing a booming shot. He is an intimidating presence on the blueline, welcoming the physical aspect of the game. He has impression on ice awareness and anticipation. Hamonic is highly competitive and loves to dish out big hits.
66 Mark Pysyk BUF D 2010-23rd
One-Timer: Pysyk biggest allure is his simply sublime skating ability. It’s even Niedermayer-esque. In addition he’s an extremely smart kid on and off the ice. He’s very calm with the puck and keeps the game simple, making good decisions in all aspects of the game.
At worst, you likely have a smooth skating top 2 pairing blueliner that can eat up and give you solid minutes. Because of his hockey sense and hockey IQ to go with the skating, he also exhibits hints of very good offensive upside.
Scouts and GMs heading into this summer’s draft would prefer that he was bigger, and he does display some physical edge to his game, but he projects to be one of those efficient d-men who utilizes hockey smarts (positioning, angles and gap control) to get the job done – and completes his tasks with extreme proficiency.
67 Colby Robak FLO D 2008-46th
One-Timer: Robak is likely a surprise to be in the Top 100, let alone having him ranked where I do. Let’s break down Colby’s attributes. Size wise he has a great frame at 6’3” with a long reach, which he uses effectively to poke-check (I’ve also have seen him listed at 6’4” in some sources). The knock on him is that he isn’t physical enough especially given his size. Robak, however plays an effective, intelligent and disciplined defensive game. And I have yet to mention that he is also a great skater. His plus 56 rating with 9 PIMs did not come by accident for Colby this past WHL season with Brandon.
When you examine him on the offensive side of things, Robak exudes excellent all-around potential. His skating – we already touched on. 66 points in 71 regular season games for a blueliner in the dub – not too shabby. 26 points in 27 playoff games over the last 2 years – all the more impressive. Beyond the numbers, Robak possesses a heavy shot from the point, handles the puck well and with poise, good passing ability and very good on-ice vision.
He’ll likely need more time than a lot of defenseman who have made the Top 100, but he will be well worth the wait for the Panthers.
68 Michal Neuvirth WSH G 2006-34th
One-Timer: It seems to be Varlamov job to lose as the #1 keeper in Washington, but Neuvirth has kept the pressure on, making it a heated battle.
As the Goalie Guild reports (They have him ranked as the 4th best goalie prospect in the league):
There’s many reasons why we’re so confident in Neuvy’s fantasy value right now. In just three years, he’s handled more adversity than most others his age. Despite being traded in the junior ranks and suffering tough injuries in the AHL, his ability to simply play his game and remain even-keeled in the playoffs is proof of his mental toughness. He should have a great rookie year.
ESPN on Neuvirth, the young butterfly style netminder, becoming a potential star in goal for the Caps:
“It’s going to be an exciting year for sure,” Neuvirth said. “Of course, it’s a huge opportunity for me.” The 22-year-old acknowledged there is a significant up-grade in speed and skill between the AHL and NHL. “But I think I can handle the speed,” he said.
McPhee describes Neuvirth as being “almost technically perfect.” “He does everything very, very well and with ease, and we think we’ve developed him the right way,” McPhee said. “We’ve given him two years in the American league. He’s won eight consecutive series in that league. I don’t think any other goaltender’s ever done that. It’s time for him to play. We can’t hold him back any longer.”
69 Peter Holland ANH F 2009-15th
One-Timer: The future power forward is a good skater with slick stick-handling ability and a nice shot, and can also be a set-up man. He is no slouch in defensive zone coverage either. He is also noted to be effective in the face-off circle and also focuses on scholastics off the ice, planning to earn a degree somewhere along the line – depending on where hockey takes him. Consistency is probably Holland’s biggest issue at this point along with an apparent “lackadaisical attitude” (via THN). However, other experts are simply saying he is hockey smart and is over-analysing the game at a young age.
70 Marcus Johansson WSH F 2009-24th
One-Timer: Johansson is a smooth skater and possesses very good hockey sense as well. While nothing really stands out about Marcus’ game when you watch him, it is because he is very good at a lot of things with few or no weaknesses. Johansson should develop into a very reliable two-way center. He stated in an interview at NHL.com: “I like to play with the puck. I like to bring the puck from my own end to the offensive end. I think I’m a little more a passer than a shooter. I want to set up my teammates so they can score goals. Of course I want to score goals myself, but I think I am more of a passer than a shooter.” Although not a typical physical player, Marcus is not afraid of the rough stuff. He also possesses good leadership skills and is a great team player.
Marcus has really impressed Capitals brass in training camp and in preseason action.
71 Jordan Caron BOS F 2009-25th
One-Timer: Caron is a good-sized forward with very good pucks skills and mobility, and is a gifted goal scorer. Beyond that though, Caron is a relentless hockey player in terms of his drive and determination. Jordan has shown continuous progress in his 3 seasons in the QMJHL. He posted an impressive 7 goals and 11 assists in 11 playoff contests last season. The strong forward has to stay healthy and continue to work on his skating.
Caron has been impressing Claude Julien and staff and has been tagged as a Bruins kind of player.
72 Patrick Wiercioch OTT D 2008-42nd
One-Timer: Sens fans probably wondered about the selection of their 2008 2nd rounder – the tall lanky blueliner coming out of the USHL, after being in the BCHL. It didn’t take long for him to build up the hype, however, with admirable performances for Univ. Of Denver (NCAA). The 6’4”-6’5”-ish blueliner is still lanky and really needs to fill out and bulk up to handle the rigors of the big league. Even given his size, he’s never likely going to be a menacing presence on the blueline, but more likely to be effective as he learns to use his frame and reach effectively. He has tremendous offensive upside. Patrick is a decent skater with an excellent shot, very good puck-handling, creativity and vision. Though he’s a having a good preseason (he scored the Sens only goal September 28th against Sabres) he’ll certainly benefit at this point from AHL seasoning to grow and hone his skills.
73 Thomas Hickey LAK D 2007-4th
One-Timer: Injuries are obviously the main story with respect to the former surprise 4th overall selection. He looks to be healthy this season and though he was suspected of having a shot at being in the Kings opening night roster, he was actually sent down to the AHL earlier this week – a good move by the Kings. Though undersized, Hickey is a head’s up mobile puck-moving defenseman. He has offensive upside and although may not be an elite point producer, he should eventually post respectable numbers. I see him becoming a solid all around blueliner with very good leadership ability and important cog for the Kings future.
74 Charles-Olivier Roussel NSH D 2009-42nd
One-Timer: From my draft profile of Roussel in 2009:
One of the youngest players eligible for this draft (If he was born three days later, he’d be in the 2010 draft instead). The two-way blueliner is extremely poised and very versatile. Whether you need him to man the powerplay, shut-down the opposing key players, or play a nasty physical game – Roussel will be making the NHL team’s scouting department who decides to select look very good! C.O. had 44 points in 68 regular season games and was 9th in QMJHL with a plus 31 ratings. He followed that up with a monster playoffs – 18 points in 21 games! He is very good skater and possesses a cannon of a shot. I have this kid ranked higher than probably any rankings you find, but if he falls to the 2nd round, as he likely will, I envision Shea Weber Part Deux.
Although not quite the playoffs he would have liked to have had, Roussel had a fine regular season last year with 51 points in 64 games. The Predators will not rush C.O. as they are deep in blueline prospects, but he should emerge soon enough giving Nashville a great problem to have – a wealth of talented young blueliners.
75 Luke Adam BUF F 2008-44th
One-Timer: Adam had a great year in the Q last season, with 49 goals in 56 games, and asserted himself very well at the WJCs. He’s a good sized, versatile forward who’s not afraid to go to the net, with offensive upside. He is a decent skater (but could stand to upgrade his speed), with his shot being his best weapon. He is the consummate team player.
*To view prospects ranked 76 to 100, click here for Part 1
*Follow The Hockey Spy on Twitter as I infiltrate, dissect and analyze happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft.
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