Christopher Ralph is a senior sportswriter here at THW specializing in covering NHL prospects and the entry draft.
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
- The list has been compiled with an emphasis on long term, top end potential. NHL readiness is taken under consideration as well.
- “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.)
- 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.
*To kick things off here are the prospects ranked 76 to 100:
RANK PROSPECT TEAM POS DRAFT
76 Tim Erixon CGY D 2009-23rd
One-Timer: Son of former NHLer, Jan, Erixon is a two-way blueliner, with a greater propensity for the offensive side of the game. Having said that, he might have a better defensive acumen than fellow Swedish defenseman prospects Rundblad and OEL. He does possess very good on-ice vision and hockey sense. He is a mature player and the main thing he has to work on to ensure what will appear to be a smooth transition to the big leagues will be his skating and acceleration.
77 Ryan McDonagh NYR D 2007-12th
|One-Timer: McDonagh came over to the Rangers in last season’s trade of Scott Gomez to the Canadiens. Ryan possesses very good mobility to go with his good size. He has a mean streak and potential to log plenty of ice time in all game situations. He is defensively focused first and foremost, but is not without offensive upside.|
|He recently told Ryan Dixon of The Hockey News:
78 Chet Pickard NSH G 2008-18th
One-Timer: Pikard is a good-sized, confident, consistent and competitive goaltending prospect, who reads the play well. In his draft year he was compared to Carey Price which, at time of print, may or may not be a good thing.
From The Goalie Guild:
“Even though Dekanich is expected to win the backup job to Pekka Rinne, this will allow Pickard to develop a workhorse mentality, durability and reputation in Milwaukee. Either way, he’s steadily rising in long-term potential heading into the season. With Mitch Korn continuing to hone his skills over the summer, Pickard is poised to prove his legit NHL abilities this season.”
79 Marcus Kruger CHI F 2009-149th
One-Timer: Perhaps no other prospect’s stock has risen as much as Kruger’s since being drafted in 2009 after a spectacular year in the SEL. The savvy stick-handler and playmaker has high end offensive potential, but his elite hockey sense makes him effective in all three zones. With a slight build, he will definitely have to bulk up and increase strength to be an effective NHLer and crack the Blackhawks lineup.
80 Joey Hishon COL F 2010-17th
One-Timer: One of the 2010 draft day surprises, the most recent Avalanche forward selected in the first round won’t be making the same impact of a Matt Duchene as he is headed back to OHL.
The somewhat undersized forward is very skilled, but also is somewhat of a sparkplug, playing a highly energetic game. Injuries have plagued him last season and in training camp this year. He thrives under pressure and is also reliable and dangerous on the penalty kill. Hishon has been compared to the Sabres Derek Roy.
81 Maxime Sauve BOS F 2008-47th
One-Timer: Great genetics are not the only thing Sauve has going for him. His father, J-F, uncle Bob and cousin Phillippe all played in the NHL. Maxime is not far behind.
His skating is his forte. Born in Tours, France, Sauve also possesses great stick-handling and able to pull off puck manoeuvres at high speeds. His slight build was once a negative, but he has beefed up this offseason. His hockey intelligence will land him in the big league in the not so distant future as the underrated prospect’s play has been impressive in preseason action.
82 Greg Nemisz CGY F 2008-25th
One-Timer: Nemisz knows winning. He is coming off two consecutive Memorial Cup wins, albeit on two powerhouse teams. The big forward has the potential to be the type of power forward coaches and GMs covet. But like most power forwards, it may take some time for his potential to become reality.
He has a great shot, long reach thanks to his size, strong all around game and can be play in a variety of game situations as well as lineup on the wing or at centre. He has a somewhat passive demeanour (which might prevent him from reaching true power forward status) and although has made huge strides in his skating, will need to continue to focus on that aspect of his game.
83 John McFarland FLO F 2010-33rd
One-Timer: Perhaps no player increased their stock as much as McFarland at the NHL draft scouting combine before the last draft, but it really did not translate on draft day as he fell to the early part of the second round.
McFarland is definitely an enigma and perhaps was one of the biggest boom or bust prospects that were be drafted in the 2010 entry draft; that is, if you take out the Russian Roulette Factor. McFarland was one of the best skaters in the entire draft and has high end offensive potential. This paired with his scouting combine performance I thought might tempt more than one NHL GM and scouting team to take a chance on him even earlier than I ranked him (19th). By the same token, given his less than stellar OHL season and questionable passion for the game, it’s not so surprising GM Dale Tallon and scouting staff were able to snag him in the second. Florida might be the ideal place for him to flourish as Tallon puts his stamp in this franchise though.
84 T..J. Brodie CGY D 2008-114th
One-Timer: The powerful skating 4th round pick from 2008 has raised his stock immensely since being drafted. The two-way blueliner is super poised and has been making it extremely tough on Sutter and staff in terms of where Brodie will play next season. Scoring 2 goals in Saturday night’s preseason win over the Tampa Bay Lightning did not hurt his cause, but it is his all-around play and impressive mobility that has coaches and teammates enamoured with the young emerging defenseman.
85 Nick Bjugstad FLO F 2010-19th
One-Timer: Bjugstad is an amazing blend of size, hockey sense, skill, shot and skating ability. Why then was the winner of Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey award not a sure-fire top 10 pick on June 25th? It is simply for the fact of that he played this past season at the Minnesota high school level, making it difficult to gauge and project how the young gun with very good bloodlines will do against better competition For this reason, he still a bit of a project, but he definitely has an attractive skillset. Nick is headed to Minnesota this season in the NCAA and thus has time to develop there.
86 Jordan Weal LAK F 2010-70th
One-Timer: Weal has a good set of wheels. Given his stature many experts wish he was faster, but he is extremely quick and elusive. Those who have followed him closely know his first couple of skating strides produce high-end acceleration. He was near the top of the crop in that aspect in this year’s draft.
Only Hall and Seguin have compiled more points last season in the CHL amongst draft eligible players. To accomplish this in the toughest of the three CHL leagues, the Dub (WHL) that is, is all the more impressive. In fact, Jordan Weal became the first 17-year-old player in over a decade to record 100 points in a season in the WHL (WHL.ca).
87 Gustav Nyquist DET F 2008-121st
One-Timer: Brandon Peleshok of Hockeys Future sums up Nyquist nicely:
“Nyquist has seen his stock rise considerably on the top 20 list after several strong seasons with the University of Maine. The Swedish winger finished the 2009-10 season as a top three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in his second season of college play, ultimately losing out to senior player Blake Geoffrion (NAS). He finished the season with an impressive 61 points in 39 games.
Nyquist projects as the total package, with great offensive and defensive instincts. He possesses strong playmaking skills, and plays an excellent two-way game. Perhaps his greatest assets are his work ethic and perseverance. The only knock on Nyquist is his lack of size, standing 5’11, 170 pounds. Nyquist will return to Maine for the 2010-11 season, where he will look to develop his offense game even further.”
88 Riley Sheahan DET F 2010-21st
One-Timer: Riley is a playmaking pivot with a great frame who can anchor possibly any of a team’s four lines given his two-way ability. He has the potential to play in all situations at any point in a game.
His offensive output has left hockey scouts and experts alike somewhat puzzled trying to predict how his offensive game will develop and what he is capable of producing at the next level. It should be noted he was one of the youngest players in the NCAA. He also tied teammate Kyle Palmieri, who was a first rounder last year, for the team rookie scoring league.
His defensive ability is not questioned. He already plays a great defensively mature game – a rarity for a player of his age. Sheahan’s production might also have been a victim of the defensive-first style that Notre Dame implements. Sheahan still has to develop his game and improve decision making on and off the ice.
89 Tyler Toffoli LAK F 2010-47th
One-Timer: The Los Angeles Kings might have just gotten a steal of a second rounder this past June. Toffoli got off to a rough start last season with just 3 points in his first 10 games. He worked through it though and rebounded very strongly to produce 76 points in his final 55 regular season games. The poor start might have stemmed from the fact he was miscast as a centerman. He is much more effective on the wing.
While he is still growing, Toffoli won’t be selected for his size or because of his skating. His skating his not at an elite level but he is solid on his edges and strong on the puck. He will likely continue to improve in that area as he has this year, improving his quickness already as the season wore on. His offensive potential is his biggest allure. He already possesses a NHL level shot and soft hands to go with. He is a tireless worker who utilizes superb hockey sense to be in the right place at precisely the right time. He is also not afraid to dig in the corners and does not shy away from physical play.
90 Nick Leddy CHI D 2009-16th
One-Timer: Quenneville and staff have been impressed with Leddy, who was once coached by Phil Housley, this offseason and he’s not making decisions easy for them.
The former “Mr. Hockey”, as the best high-school player in Minnesota high school, is a tad on the small side, but boy is he fast! He is a very poised player and an uncanny ability to make plays at high speeds. He posses very good vision and thus makes intelligent decisions on both sides of the rink, to go with his exceptional skating ability.
91 Kevin Connauton VAN D 2009-83rd
One-Timer: Connauton was somewhat of a surprise selection in the 3rd round of the 2009 entry draft. The surprise has been revealed to the rest of the NHL’s scouting staffs, however, as he put together a superb season in the WHL after being convinced by the Canucks to joining the Vancouver Giants. All he did then was lead the Dub in scoring amongst blueliners and was a 1st team all-star. He has continued to shine in camps and in preseason play.
92 Adam Henrique NJD F 2008-82nd
One-Timer:Henrique requires AHL seasoning, but the former Windsor Spitfire great is a smooth skating, high end hockey IQ, and very good two-way versatile forward. Like many prospects, he needs to get stronger to compete at the next level.
93 Cody Eakin WSH F 2009-85th
One-Timer: After an injury-riddled draft year, Eakin was a man on a mission last year in the WHL notching 47 goals and 44 assists in 70 games. The 19 year old forward has impressed Capitals brass with his play in offseason camps and in preseason play. The slick, all-around forward’s ability to adapt to this next level has been especially impressive.
“We’ll see how he goes,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “He hasn’t looked out of place, I’ll tell you that. It’s not like you can tell he’s an 18- or 19-year-old; he’s hung right in there. . . . His maturity, I think, is beyond his years, too, so that’s really good.”
94 Jake Allen STL G 2008-34th
One-Timer: The potential heir apparent to Jaroslav Halak as Blues starting netminder has an excellent frame, smooth mobility and is technically sound.
As Hockeys Future notes:
“His stellar season earned him the QMJHL’s Jacques Plante Trophy for best goaltender, as well as the CHL’s Goaltender of the Year award. Allen also backstopped Canada’s U-20 WJC team to a silver medal with a 2.06 goals against average and .902 save percentage in 5 games.”
95 Jarred Tinordi MTL D 2010-22nd
One-Timer: Rough-and-tumble hockey is in Jarred Tinordi’s blood – his father, defenseman Mark Tinordi, totaled 1,514 penalty minutes in 12 seasons (1987-1999) with the New York Rangers, former Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals.
The younger Tinordi shares his father’s imposing stature along with the physicality and edge with which he played the game. Jarred, though, is a better skated than his dad.
Jarred played the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons for the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 and Under-18 teams, respectively, where he served as captain for the 2009-2010 season and won a gold medal at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships.
Though he is still attending Habs training camp at present, he almost assuredly headed to the London Knights for this season.
96 Tyler Pitlick EDM F 2010-31st
One-Timer: Pitlick served as Centennial High School’s hockey team captain during his senior year. He led both his team and the Northwest Suburban Conference in scoring that season (31-33-64 in 25 games) and was a finalist for the 2009 Mr. Hockey Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding senior hockey player in Minnesota.
Pitlick posseses a nice blend of size and strength, two-way play and skating ability.
He is moving to the WHL and playing in Medicine Hat this season which should give him more games and more experience at a high level compared with staying at the NCAA level. He might just be poised to breakout more offensively as well.I considered Pitlick one of the safest picks in this past draft and one of the closest to be NHL ready, although will definitely benefit from at least one WHL season.
97 Brett MacLean PHX F 2007-32nd
One-Timer: All Brett MacLean does is score at every level he plays at. Should he be able to withstand the physical rigors of the NHL and overcome his less than stellar skating, MacLean might just fit into the young Coyotes offense, lending his goal-scoring touch to Tippet’s squad.
98 Dustin Tokarski TBL G 2008-122nd
One-Timer: I rarely get excited about goalie prospects. Markstrom, Bernier and Campbell are about as low risk as you might get in terms of panning out at the next level. Tokarski is a wildcard. Whatever Dustin lacks in size, he makes up in spades with skill, quickness and most importantly – heart. The young netminder is a winner. From the Telus Cup (midget hockey), to the Memorial Cup to the World Juniors, he has backstopped championship teams at various high levels of play. My bet is at some point he will take the reins with the Lightning when his opportunity presents itself and he will run with it.
He also has a penchant for making tantalizing saves.
99 Taylor Doherty SJS D 2009-57th
One-Timer: This was my report on Doherty in his draft year with the inevitable Chara comparison:
“The towering 6’7’ defenseman is an imposing figure on the blueline. Doherty failed to improve on last seasons offensive totals, registering 20 points in 68 games with Kingston. He was -14 and totaled 140 penalty minutes. Taylor was impressive at the combine as noted below. He has good skating ability for a big man and is gradually learning how best to use his massive frame to be a force in the back end. He displays a strong work ethic, but will continue to need to work on his mobility and lateral movement. He will not likely be much of an offensive contributor at the next level, but if continues to develop will be a tough shutdown d-man that opponents will hate to play against.”
Although still likely to be limited offensively at the NHL level, Doherty decided to impress he is not one-dimensional this past season producing 16 goals and 44 points in 63 games.
100 Marco Scandella MIN D 2008-55th
One-Timer: Scandella’s fantastic season went off the rails somewhat as he got suspended for a vicious hit in the “Q” in February after his brilliant play for Team Canada at the World Juniors. The aggressive blueliner exhibits all-around upside to go with his excellent size. He averaged a PPG in the regular season and then a PPG as well when he returned for post-season play.
*Stay tuned as the rest of the rankings are revealed throughout this week.
*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.
Chris is THW’s senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for “The Next Ones” Prospect Profile series, exclusive rankings, mock drafts, as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphYQ on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com