2 more down and half way there.  Here we go, #17 and #16. 


#17 - The Toronto Maple Leafs

Very few teams, well only 1 really can give the leafs a run for thier money in the defence department.   Lets start with last years 1st overall NHL pick Owen Power.  A do it all defenceman.  He's the 7th best D on this list and projects as an allstar, #1D.    Him and Dalhen are going to terrorize teams for years to come in the NHL.  I think the Sabre's did the smart thing (take note Montreal) in allowing him to go back to the NCAA for an extra year.  No need to rush it.  Coming in 2nd on the leafs list is a bit of a surprise in Simon Edvinsson.   In his draft year he was touted as a D first defencemen who didn't have much of an offensive game.  With 19 points in 44gp last year in the defensive minded SHL, he kind of put that to rest.  Marco Kasper is next and the leafs only forward on the list.  He was a big riser in this years draft.  Personally from what I read, I'm not a huge fan (for the NEFHL).  He has a great motor but I'm not sure the point totals are going to be there to make him valuable in this league.   Next is Mukhamadullin.  He was a divisive pick in his draft year - with alot of scouts saying he just didn't have the hockey sense to do well in the NHL.   We'll see.  No matter how you cut it, he's a beautiful skater and a very big dude.   That will never change.  Will he have the hockey IQ to excel in the NHL?  The Devils hope so.   If this was my list both Guhle and Niemela would be above Mukhamadullin however it's not so...  Guhle is another point producing D man that can skate.  Finally my favorite prospect on the list Topi Niemela.  A 2nd round steal by the leafs.  Niemela is the #1 Dman in finland for his age.  He quarterbacks their powerplay and plays in all situations.  He's a bit undersized but his offensive output makes up for it.  Look for a NHL Debut in about 2 years from now.   The leafs have a few other players on thier roster worth watching like power forward Zack Ostapchuk and Akil Thomas - Thomas didn't have great numbers in the AHL but he's still only 22.  Finally too old for this list but 23 year olds like Abruzzese (who may make the leafs out of training camp this year) and Tippet should provide the leafs some cheap and playable youth.  Anyway you look at it, the Leafs have an amazing defence corps.  However with nothing more than middle 6 talent up front, the leafs should try and move some of that talent for a top end forward. 

Player Rank/Tier   PLAYER-POS
20/3     Owen Power  D 
32/4     Simon Edvinsson  D
67/5     Marco Kasper C
105/6   Shakir Mukhamadullin D
119/6   Kaiden Guhle  D
140/6   Topi Niemelä  D


#16 - The Los Angeles Kings

Tanking teams, take note!  This is how you go from build a competitor. The last 2 years before this, the kings barely qualified for the stanely cup playoffs.  This year they were in the cup final.  Despite being in the Stanley cup final, the kings still have a decent group of prospects. This list is lead by non other than Mason McTavish.   The leader of the most recent Team Canada World Jr Team.   He's a stud and at worst projects as a 2C and most likley ends up 1C.  I love his game.   Next on the list is Xavier Bourgault.  He can flat out score. I'd like to see how he plays against stronger peers at a high end tournament before I pass judgment.  He'll be playing for the AHL Condors (Edmontons farm team).  This should give us a better baseline.   At 22 years old, Kaut has 4 years of AHL experience playing against grown men. He's had a cup of coffee in the NHL but hasn't done much so far.  This is his year.   Moser has some NHL experience and should be a top 4 D in this league.  Then finally there is JOrdan Spence.   The good news is that Spence is a LA Kings prospect which seems to pump out quality top 4 defence like no other team in the NHL.  He's a bit undersized but after scoring at nearly a point per game in the AHL last year and getting 24 games in at the NHL level, Spence should challenge for full time duty with the kings.  The only problem is the Kings have too many NHL defencemen.  Being wavier exempt Spence may find himself back in the AHL. If he does it won't be because of his ability. 

The kings are in this position mainly because of Mason McTavish.  They do have a nice mix of talent at all positions but outside of this list, the cupboard are pretty bare.   That's ok, they're a win now team and have the best player in hockey - Connor McDavid.  They should have some help coming shortly with Mason McTavish. 

Player Rank/Tier   PLAYER-POS
24/4 Mason McTavish LOS C 
120/6 Xavier Bourgault LOS RW
129/6 Martin Kaut LOS RW
133/6 Janis Moser LOS D
160/6 Jordan Spence LOS D