In this segment of the rankings the prospect lists are larger, the quality much higher or a combination of both. It is to be noted that the biggest gap between teams occurs at the 12 and 13th ranked teams. Teams ranked 12 or above have considerably better rated prospect groups than teams below that.
20. St-Louis Blues - The Blues are basically equal to the Senators on the depth chart. They edged out the Senators on having a slightly better average prospect quality. They've done a solid job picking up a load of respectable prospects with good chances at playing in the NHL. This group won't wow anybody but by our counts, there are about 12 prospects who are likely to be in a top 2 or top 3 line spot in a few years with the potential for a few high risk high reward dark horses to become more than that.
19. San Jose Sharks - The Sharks would be one of the last teams on the list if it wasn't for what they did over the past few months. Their prospect list is much smaller (25 prospects) than teams ranked just below them but they manage to edge them out based on a much higher ceiling for many prospects. Christian Fischer, Rasmus Sandin, Grigori Denisenko, Trent Frederic, Klim Kostin, Jake Oettinger and Kalle Kossila have all shown great potential. All of the Sharks prospects are either signed or drafted in the NHL.
18. Dallas Stars - The Stars had a few major graduations. This team was probably in the top 5 in the league last year but has taken a hit this year. Not big on the free agent signing front, all of the Stars prospects come from the draft. GM Sly is also huge on drafting high risk high reward players after the first two rounds and this means that many of his later round prospects are not signed or drafted in the NHL. Valentin Zykov, Jesse Puljujarvi, Ville Husso, Alexander Nylander, Connor Timmins, Ty Smith and Alex DeBrincat are the highlights of this group. The high risk high reward nature of Sly's drafting means he could have another Jake Guentzel that nobody knows about at this point.
17. Colorado Avalanche - McDavid graduated from this list last summer and the Avalanche have since been in full compete mode. Colorado probably had the best prospect pool in the league a few years ago and while it is still quite respectful, you can tell there's been some sacrificing done to compete. Nonetheless, the Avs find themselves in the top half of the league in this regard. Helping that case was the large chunk of signings that the team completed earlier in the month. Adding this many signed or drafted prospects does probably push them up a few spots on the list. The Avs have some interesting prospects but few with star potential. They are real close with the next group of teams and would've been a few spots higher before trading 5 prospects away last week but that position would've been temporary anyway since they had 51 players on roster at that point.
16. Pittsburgh Penguins - After winning the Cup and depleting the cupboards, GM Brent decided it was time to start restocking. Helping that initiative was trading Claude Giroux for futures. Brett Howden, Will Butcher and 1st round selection Isac Lundestrom and an overall solid 2018 draft have helped push this team back into the middle of the pack.The Penguins boast 35 prospects but their prospect quality just isn't good enough to get them past our next two teams on the list who have less, but better rated prospects.
15. New York Islanders - The Islanders are another team that had a bunch of graduations and have now returned to being a big contender in the East. This has however pushed them down the list from where they would've likely found themselves last year. There are numerous very interesting prospects on this list of 32. At the top we find Oliver Bjorkstrand, Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang, Noah Juulsen, Boris Katchouk, Ilya Sorokin, Tyler Parsons, Isaac Ratcliffe and 2018 first round pick Filip Johansson. That's quite a few significant prospects but the future for some of them isn't as certain so the Islanders couldn't quite beat out our #15 team that also has 32 prospects but slightly higher quality.
14. Boston Bruins - Boston finds itself in a rebuild although they seemed to be competing for much of last year. This affected their position in this year's draft. GM Gallant has acquired most of the talent on his prospect list and has slowly started to rebuild something that was virtually non-existent a few years ago. Boston is now probably about 15 positions higher than they would've been had nothing been since the new GM took over. There's quite a list of signifcant and interesting prospects on their list but standing slightly above the others are Brandon Carlo, Kasperi Kapanen, Victor Mete, Joe Veleno, Jake Bean and Cal Foote. Almost every other prospect on their list has good potential to make it to the next level and this is what gives Boston the edge over the Islanders this year.
13. Carolina Hurricanes - The Hurricanes are the last team before we see a huge jump in prospect quality and quantity. The Hurricanes' list is still very respectable and the 46 prospects they have propels them higher than the team's below despite similar quality. Adam Pelech, Michael Amadio, Lawson Crouse, Troy Stecher, Jakub Vrana, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Sami Niku, Kole Lind, Dante Fabbro, Morgan Geekie and Rasmus Kupari push them to the top of this tranche of teams but still has them quite a step below than the next team on our list.
12. Los Angeles Kings - The Kings lost Auston Matthews to graduation had a modest draft this year in comparison to the previous ones. He's not the only one to graduate since the Kings filled spots on their roster with prospects last year. Having 54 prospects definitely still demonstrates that the Kings are building towards the future and is one of the reasons why the Kings and teams ranked above them are a cut above the rest. The Kings list is a bit top heavy but I wouldn't rule out many of the prospects below that top tier. A top tier consisting of Jordan Kyrou, Nico Hischier, Henrik Borgstrom, Jesper Boqvist, Cayden Primeau, Ian Mitchell, Martin Kaut, Cooper Marody and Adam Gaudette. This group represents some solid draft value on many of these later draft selections.
11. New Jersey Devils - The Devils have been in a seemingly partial rebuild for the last few years and they've improved their prospect list tremendously. There's a lot to like here and a long list of significant prospects. Worth noting are: Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Chychrun, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alex Tuch, Vladislav Kamenev, Samuel Girard, Denis Gurianov, Evan Bouchard and Kyle Connor. A bunch of these have just had tremendous NHL campaigns and this should help the Devils be more competitive this year. Despite having 7 less prospects, the Devils slightly edged out the Kings for the 11th spot.
Stay tuned for the top 10.