NHL Top 100 Prospect Rankings (Part 4: 1 to 25)

 

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:

*Eligibility rules (as per NHL.com):

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 probable Top 5 candidate prospects such as Alex Pietrangelo and Nikita Filatov not qualifying for this list, as well as others who would’ve otherwise placed in the Top 100.

Legend:

  • 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.)

Notes:

  • 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 1 to 25.

* To view prospects ranked 26 to 50, click here for Part 3.

* To view prospects ranked 51 to 75, click here for Part 2.

*To view prospects ranked 76 to 100, click here for Part 1.

RANK  PROSPECT                              TEAM  POS     DRAFT

1 Taylor Hall EDM    F          2010-1ST

Taylor Hall {Leon T. Switzer - TotalPhoto}

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

One word comes to mind to describe Taylor Halldynamic! He is a unique, but explosive skater and very creative offensively.

Hall is still a cut above the rest, in my opinion, offering up a tantalizing mix of offensive ability with his speed and puck savvy creativity, with an unquestionable passion for the game.

2 Tyler Seguin BOS     F          2010-2ND

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

In comparing Tyler Seguin to projected first overall, Taylor Hall, one could argue Hall has been surrounded with substantially more talent than has Seguin. While I am still of a strong opinion that Hall is the clear cut #1 overall pick, one could argue that Seguin does more with less.

Tyler Seguin possesses a dynamic skill-set and displays outstanding hockey intelligence. Tyler already plays in every situation with the OHL Plymouth Whalers. He displays a maturity on the ice well beyond his years.

3 Oliver Ekman-Larsson PHX     D          2009-6TH

One-Timer: A lot of hockey fans thought I was reaching when I placed him 6th overall in my 2009 Draft Rankings. The Coyotes ended up agreeing with me and snatched him in that very position. The desert ice dogs are the ones laughing now. Here’s an excerpt from my 2009 Draft Preview:

The secret is out. Readers don’t even need The Hockey Spy to reveal this sky-rocketing gem! “OEL” has been called a poor-man’s Nik Lidstrom. That’s actually a compliment! Already possessing a pro-level shot, the fluid puck-moving defenseman might very well land in the Top 5 of this draft. “OEL” also has radar-like passing ability coming out of his own zone, making effortless pinpoint stretch passes.

4 Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson EDM    F          2009-10th

One-Timer: MPS. MSP. MP. Now known as simply Magnus Paajarvi. Call him anything, but call him one of the most talented young players in the game. Even at 10th, the Oilers got a gift. I had him ranked 7th in my my 2009 Draft Preview and here’s an excerpt:

MSP is a super creative winger with speed to burn. Known more of a playmaker, the talented Swede still knows how to finish. The powerful and smooth skating MSP is also very tough to knock off the puck. At 7th overall, he could prove to be a steal even at this rank.

5 John Carlson WSH    D          2008-27th

One-Timer: After dominating USHL, OHL, WJCs and AHL in succession, Carlson is ready and primed to take on the next level. Great size, elegant skate, booming shot, strong passing skills, confident, offensively aggressive, tough and a good puck-handler. Need I say more?

6 P.K. Subban MTL     D          2007-43rd

One-Timer: The fast healer Andrei Markov is ahead of schedule, but Subban still will be thrust into the limelight of QB of the Habs blueline. The phenomenal skating defenseman has the skillset and is in fantastic physical condition. He answered the bell in the playoffs, performing admirably, even with his rookie mistakes. He is ready for primetime, but there may be some growing pains along the way. The offensively aggressive blueliner is a riverboat gambler of sort, but his ability and creativity has to make coaches want to give him the green light more often than not.

7 Jeffrey Skinner CAR     F          2010-5th

Jeff Skinner {Photo: Dustin Hall - Flickr}

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

After a very impressive 50 goal campaign as a 17 year old in the OHL, Skinner absolutely exploded in the playoffs and took his game to an even higher level scoring 20 goals in 20 games and added 13 assists.

He is one of the top snipers in the draft, possessing one of the best sets of hands bar none.

Why then is there such a wide range of opinion on where Skinner will go in the upcoming draft?

Strengths:

*See “One Timer” section above.

  • Natural Born Goal Scorer!
  • A lethal nose for the net.
  • Excellent work ethic and very coachable.
  • Good in the faceoff circle.
  • Skating mentioned as weakness below (see explanation), but his agility and balance are top notch.
  • Elusive puck handling.

Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:

  • Skating –interestingly, Skinner was at one time a nationally ranked figure skater which makes criticism of his skating all the more puzzling. More than anything he could use work on his acceleration.
  • Like many players at this level, Skinner simply needs to fill out physically and work on his defensive play.
  • Size is somewhat of an issue as well with Jeff, but he more than makes up for this in other areas

8 Brayden Schenn LAK      F          2009-5th

One-Timer: From my 2009 Draft Preview:

The talented and enthusiastic two-way forward is the younger brother of the Leafs’ Luke.  He plays even bigger than his size suggests. He possesses excellent leadership qualities as well.  He’s likely the second most complete forward in the draft after Matt Duchene.  While it is way too soon to say the younger Schenn is the next coming of Mike Richards, scouts and GMs alike will not want to let a player with similar potential slip as they did in Richards draft year.  I watched “The Pocket Human Eraser”/”The Force Jr.” for two games live in the WHL playoffs and he did not disappoint against the mighty Calgary Hitmen. His 18 points in 12 WHL playoff games and excellent two-way play is what gave him the slight edge over Evander Kane, who put up 15 points in 17 games in the playoffs. Of course, the latter had the chance to shine for Canada at the WJC-U20s.

Schenn has impressed in training camp and in pre-season and has made the Kings opening day roster (LA Times).

9 Jacob Markstrom FLO      G          2008-31st

One-Timer: From The Goalie Guild, who have him currently ranked as the 2nd ranked goalie prospect:

“Since early-September was his first time hitting the ice in North America, he impressed a lot of scouts and analysts that had the chance to catch his play in Florida’s training camp and pre-season. He certainly has a lot of work to do this season in the AHL, but even if he struggles to start, there’s no denying his legitimate size, skill, quickness and long-term potential.”

10 Erik Gudbranson FLA      D          2010-4th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

Gudbranson might be raw at this point, but he’s the prototypical big, physical, skilled defenseman every GM and scout covets. He had a good sophomore year, but was limited somewhat as he battled a knee injury as well as a lengthy bout with mononucleosis.

While he has tremendous upside, the team that selects him in June will likely have to be patient. Should everything go as expected and planned for the young blueliner, however, that team will be rewarded with an intelligent defenseman with great character who possesses superior leadership ability.

Strengths:

* Plays hard, tough with an edge and a mean streak.

*Good puck mobility and shot from the point.

* Coached by Doug Gilmour and this shines through in his game.

* Exhibits willingness to do what it takes to win.

*It has been said that he perhaps has the most untapped potential in the draft.

Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:

* Coughed up the puck too often in this year’s OHL playoffs.

*Offensive skills still quite raw.

Source: Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Erik Gudbranson will be returned to the juniors because he didn’t sign an entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers.

Wow. How often do you see a rookie get a chance to start the season in the NHL, but blow it because he didn’t sign a contract in time? Coach Pete DeBoer was very happy with Gudbranson’s performance in the preseason and GM Dale Tallon publicly announced his intention to have Gudbranson start the season on the team’s opening day roster. The details of Gudbranson’s contract negotiations aren’t available at this time, so we don’t know what the sticking point was, but this is definitely a surprising and unfortunate turn of events for Gudbranson owners.”

*Did GM Tallon goof on yet another contract situation?!?

11 Jonathan Bernier LAK      G          2006-11th

One-Timer: From The Goalie Guild, who have him currently ranked as the 2nd ranked goalie prospect:

“Last month we said it was just a matter of time before he finally cracked the lineup. Now it’s pretty much a given. Thanks to a few solid performances in the pre-season, Bernier made Erik Ersberg expendable. Combined with an untimely hand injury for Ersberg, the Kings’ coaching staff didn’t have a very hard decision to make when choosing who would be Jon Quick’s backup this year.”

12 Cam Fowler ANH    D          2010-12th

Cam Fowler {Photo: Unkut009 - Flickr}

One-Timer: While I joined the ranks of many a scouting service by thinking Fowler would be nabbed Top 5 or even Top 3 in this past draft, I still hold the Ducks got a steal with the 12th pick. It’s even looking like he has made the Ducks opening night roster, even if it turns out to be just a 9 game audition.

From my 2010 Draft Preview:

While Brandon Gormley and Erik Gudbranson may have narrowed the gap, Fowler is still the clear cut number one blueliner for the 2010 draft class. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Drew Doughty, Niedermayer and Rob Blake, if he can continue to develop his physical play, Fowler has the potential to be a franchise defenseman.

He is an elite skating, savvy puck carrying, two-way blueliner.  Should he tap into all his potential, and his work ethic and attitude suggest he will, Fowler could very well be a top 10 point-producing  blueliner in the big leagues in the not so distant future.

13 Nino Niederreiter NYI      F          2010-5th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

Niederreiter should easily exceed Michel Riesen (14th overall  1997) as the highest Swiss player ever drafted. While destined to be perhaps the greatest player ever to hail from Switzerland, beyond that “El Nino” is simply an extremely talented forward when stacked against the best the world of hockey has to offer – period.

Size. Skill. Strength. Skating. Shot. Creativity. Passion. Desire. Maturity. Great hands. Defensive accountability.

These characteristics all add up to a complete forward destined for greatness.

Neiderreiter is one of the youngest players available in the draft. In fact, if he were born one week later, he would not be draft eligible until 2011.

The World Juniors U20 is typically a tournament dominated by 19 year olds. At 17, “El Nino” became one of the very few elite players to break that mold, reinforcing  just what a special player he is now and will be in the future at the next level.

Nino has already been getting under the skin of veteran NHLers:

14 Brett Connolly TBL      F          2010-6th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

Two word – hip injury.

No one denies Connolly’s high end talent. In actual fact, if not for his serious hip injury that required surgery and caused him to miss nearly the entire season, few doubt that he’d be giving Hall and Seguin a run for the prospect available.

When Brett is healthy, he’s an intensely competitive goal scoring force with good size and very good skating ability.

His recent performance in the scouting combine helped reinforce he is now perfectly healthy. He is sure to undergo more medical scrutiny in the near future by NHL teams physicians to further cement his healthy claim. Even so, GMs and scouts may still have concerns going forward as Connolly embarks on his NHL career and his hip will hold up for the long haul.

While I had him going 7th overall in my Playoff Edition Mock Draft, Connolly could easily land in the top 5 should a team consider his outstanding potential and give him a clear bill of health. By the same token, he could also slip outside the top 10 if there are medical concerns.

15 Ryan Ellis NSH     D          2009-11thRyan Ellis {TotalPhoto: Leon T Switzer}

One-Timer: I’ve taken some heat for ranking Ryan 8th overall for the 2009 draft, and I’m sure to take some heat for his placement here. I’ll make the lofty inter sport comparison to put my feelings on Ellis in perspective. He has the potential to be the Drew Brees of the NHL!

From my 2009 Draft Preview:

The PP QB magician, Ellis is an offensive dynamo from the blueline! Size will also be the biggest issue with Ryan, but having watched him closely at this year’s WJC it is hard to fathom he won’t excel at the next level. His hockey sense and smarts are off the chart, and not surprisingly he was the OHL’s scholastic player of the year last year. He was also OHL defenseman of the year and was a member of the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires this year. Ellis registered an astonishing 89 points in just 57 regular season games to go with 31 points in 20 playoff games. My feeling is at worst, if he is in fact too small to play on the blueline in the big leagues, convert him to forward! It likely won’t be necessary, but in all honesty I’d foresee an extremely smooth transition. He’s one of my favorites in the draft and if he does fall outside the top 10, as most other rankings suggest, the team that selects him will be getting an absolute gift. Even with the likes of Jared Cowen, Dmitri Kulikov and David Rundblad on the board, I’d swing for the fences and grab Ellis.

16 Jordan Eberle EDM    F          2008-22nd

One-Timer: This video just about covers it when trying to explain the clutch offensive dynamo:

17 Brandon Gormley PHX     D          2010-13th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

Gormley is the consensus top rated prospect out of the “Q” (QMJHL) this season and will challenge for the top blueliner taken in June.

Not super flashy, but very smooth skating and has a good head for the game. He has a quiet confidence about him and excels in all facets of the game – PP, PK and 5-on-5 as well as on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.

Gormley may not develop into the prototypical franchise defenseman, but should evolve into an important cog of whatever NHL franchise chooses him and has the ability to log efficient top pairing minutes.

Brandon will join fellow young gun, then enigmatic Kirill Kabanov, this season back with the Moncton Wildcats to further develop his game.

18        Ryan Johansen CBJ      F          2010-4th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

No player in this draft has rocketed up the rankings and charts of hockey scouts like Johansen in the past year. His hockey evolution has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Big and talented 1st or 2nd line centermen are tough to come by and thus Johansen will be a hot commodity come June 25th.

The only cautionary note some scouts might make is the fact that he has come so far so fast – can he really continue on this amazing evolutionary trail. Those close to and know Johansen well, however, will quickly refute this notion.

Ryan actually has a connection to my hometown of Grand Bank, Newfoundland given that he’s a first cousin of a good friend of mind.

Though he was extremely impressive in training camp, the Blue Jackets made the wise choice to send him back to Portland of the WHL.

19 Cody Hodgson VAN    F          2008-10th

One-Timer: Just in from The Province:

“What a difference a year makes.

A few days more than a year ago, Canucks prospect Cody Hodgson left town with a frown on his face and a dark cloud over his head.

He was about to set off on a year-long journey to solve his back problems, a trek that took him through some bleak and frustrating places.

Now, his back feeling good after four preseason games, including one

back-to-back, Hodgson is still with the Canucks – although it’s pretty clear he’ll be sent down to the Manitoba Moose to start the season this weekend after the NHL team finishes its salary cap gymnastics.”

Injury history and lack of an extra gear are the major concerns when it comes to Hodgson. Cody possesses an excellent offensive acumen, outstanding hockey sense, and two-way upside. The Canucks even had experimented with him on defense in training camp.

20 Mikael Granlund MIN     F          2010-9th

Mikael Granlund {Photo: Karhucaari14 @ Flickr}

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

Inevitably when one is an undersized, talented, crafty forward from Finland oozing with potential, that prospect will get compared to Saku Koivu.

In this case, Mikael Granlund deserves the accolades and the comparison is a valid one. In fact, he has a chance, should he reach his full potential, to exceed Koivu offensively. Matching Saku’s intensity, drive and work ethic, however, will not be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

After a not so inspiring WJC U20 Championships performance in Saskatchewan, he had a fantastic WJC U18 tournament. Combined with his superb play in the Finnish top league, the cerebral skilled playmaker could easily sneak into the Top 10 on June 25th.

Granlund is off to a very good start in Finland top league, with 10 points in 8 games.

21 Jack Campbell DAL     G          2010-11th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

In the rare event that I would have a NHL GM or Head Scout position, a goaltender would have to be absolutely spectacular for me to even consider taking him in the first round, let alone being Top 10 worthy.

For every netminder drafted in the first round that has been successful in the big league, I can name you five that were busts.

Having said that, Jack Campbell is one goalie to defy my thinking with respect to the difficulty in projecting goalie prospects. While I have him ranked 12th , I would not be surprised to see him drafted even as high as 4th by a team that wants and needs a true franchise netminder {cough, Tampa Bay Lightning, cough}.

Team USA (Men’s Team) looks to be in good shape well into the foreseeable future. I see incumbent Ryan Miller someday handing the reins over to Campbell.

Yes – he is that good.

He is technically very sound combing with his physical stature and athleticism, he encompasses perhaps a perfect blend of goalie attributes for a prospect. His performance at the recent scouting combine was insane. Not only was he the top performing goalie, but had one of the best performances overall.

What truly sets him apart is his mental makeup – he is extraordinarily confident and cool under pressure. He has proved it in big game after big game on the world stage.

He will be joining the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL next season to further his development.

22 Alex Burmistrov ATL      F          2010-8th

One-Timer: From my 2010 Draft Preview:

While Burmistrov may not reach even 75% of the level with which they play, he might be best described in the mold of former Russian great Igor Larionov and present NHLer Pavel Datsyuk.

He will have to beef up to take on the rigors of the big league, but his work eihic suggests this won’t be a big issue for him.

23 Nazem Kadri TOR     F          2009-7th

One-Timer: From my 2009 Draft Preview:

A fast, creative, versatile forward, Kadri is an offensive spark-plug. He displays very good vision on the ice as well and this bodes well for his puck possession style of play. He has a high compete level and is a good forechecker. He  might even be better suited to playing the wing in the Big Leagues. Most rankings have him going Top 10, and they very well be the case. I simply think his “risk factor” is higher than some of the other prospects I have ranked ahead of him.

24 Jamie McBain CAR     D          2006-63rd

One-Timer: After an outstanding audition last season with the Hurricanes in which the young blueliner notched 10 points in 14 games, McBain has beefed up his already good frame in the offseason. The offensive defenseman has the potential and skill-set to allow him to log huge minutes in the NHL.

25 Jordan Schroeder VAN    F          2009-22nd

One-Timer: Though he fell 22nd to the Canucks in ’09, I actually had him ranked 9th in my rankings.

From my 2009 Draft Preview:

Although most will dwell on his size, Schroeder more than makes up for this deficiency with his outstanding hockey sense and intelligence, poise, pucks skills and blazing speed. He is the ultimate team player, has excellent creativity and is not intimidated by the physical play despite his size. Actually, as noted below in scouting combine notes, he is very stocky and has a rock solid core. He is described as more of a playmaker, but the shot he exhibited at the WJC was just as lethal as his passing.

Schroeder will have a lot to prove this season after, although not surprisingly, being demoted to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

* To view prospects ranked 26 to 50, click here for Part 3.

* To view prospects ranked 51 to 75, click here for Part 2.

*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.

This document is the intellectual property of Christopher Ralph and cannot be used or duplicated in any way without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Christopher Ralph will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.

Christopher Ralph

Christopher Ralph

Managing Editor/Lead Prospect &Draft Analyst at THW
Chris is THW's senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for Chris' regular column "The Next Ones" Prospect Profile series as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphTHW on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com
Christopher Ralph

One Comment

  1. Is the development of the San Jose Sharks so grim that only one player (at 99 overall) deserves to be in the top 100?

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required Email Address * Name Email Format html text mobile