10. Toronto Maple Leafs - Toronto cracks the top 10, having the 2nd highest average prospect quality of the group. It is the main reason they do get in the top 10 since they have significantly less prospects than a lot of teams below them in the rankings. The Leafs have one of the most talent rich top 20 groups in the league. Led by Mikhail Sergachev, then followed by Evgeni Svechnikov, Kristian Vesalainen, Owen Tippet and Andreas Johnson. But the list of top tier NHL prospects doesn't end there. Tage Thompson, Julien Gauthier, Shane Bowers, Oliver Kylington, Vitaly Abramov, Evan Rodrigues, Nick Ritchie, Dominik Bokk and Liam Foudy are as solid a second tier of prospects that would rival most teams top tier. The current Leafs are a fraction of the team they could be in a few years and they already won their division last season. Scary!
9. Philadelphia Flyers - The Flyers narrowly edged out the Leafs based on prospect volume. Having 30 prospects more than the Leafs is what pushed them slightly ahead. However, the Flyers could find themselves much lower in the rankings down the road should some of these prospects not develop. Gabe Vilardi is the top prospect in the system. Tom Wilson is also still surprisingly a prospect. Jordan Greenway, Joel Farabee, Jakub Zboril, Alexander Alexeyev, Ethan Bear, Osklar Lindblom, Nicolas Hague and Olle Eriksson Ek are all very interesting prospects with great upside. The Flyers have the second largest prospect pool in the league at the moment. So while this group is not top heavy, there's just so many possibilities for one of the other 60 prospects to develop that it pushes the Flyers to the #9 spot this year.
8. Winnipeg Jets - The Jets are the middle ground between a team like the Leafs and Flyers. Middle ground in terms of prospect quantity and quality but overall, able to edge the #9 and 10 teams ever so slightly. The Jets have about a dozen sure-fire NHLers, some of which are already in the NHL (Travis Sanheim and Joel Eriksson Ek). Very likely to one day be in the NHL are Cody Glass, Vitali Kravtsov, Lias Andersson, Dillon Dube, Jacob Larsson, K'Andre Miller, Shane Gersich, Will Bitten and Rasmus Asplund. Then we see about 20 prospects with very good bottom line potential giving the Jets, probably the largest amount of future NHLers of all the teams we've ranked so far.
7. Montreal Canadiens - The Montreal Canadiens rebuild is starting to take shape. With 56 prospects and some high level prospects, the Canadiens are probably where the Leafs were a few years ago. The Canadiens have also put this list without a pick above 8th overall which is impressive. Noah Dobson was that 8th overall pick. Henri Jokiharju, Luc Snuggerud, Michael Rasmussen, Esa Lindell, Julius Honka, Lucas Johansen, Victor Ejdsell, German Rubtsov, Martin Fehervary, Gabriel Carlsson, Filip Hallander and Jacob Olofsson form a slightly bigger list than the Jets' top prospects. Overall the Canadiens list is quite similar to the Jets but they get the edge on having just a bit better prospect quality.
6. Calgary Flames - The Flames list is pretty good. Lots of prospects and lots of quality prospects. The main reason why the Flames are where they are is a chunk of 20-25 high risk prospects which bring down the prospect quality average for the team. Only one team has a lower average in the top 5. It is probably the largest top heavy group we've listed so far. Clayton Keller, Nolan Patrick, Ryan Pulock, Nick Merkley, Danton Heinen, Adam Fox, Jon Gillies, Nikolay Goldobin, Mitch Vande Sompel, Rasmus Andersson, Aleksi Saarela, Colton Point, Serron Noel, Mike DiPietro and Mario Ferraro are the tip of the iceberg.
5. Chicago Blackhawks - The Flames were the largest top heavy group up until now. The Blackhawks have the highest prospect quality average in the league. They sneak into the top 5 with only 38 prospects which speaks volume into how crazy good the top portion of this group is. Those who favor quality could say this is the best prospect pool in the league. However these rankings do give weight to each prospect. But the top part of a list like this one is something most GMs in this league will never have. Rasmus Dahlin, Thomas Chabot, Brock Boeser, Juuse Saros, Cale Makar, Casey Mittelstadt, Dylan Strome, Tyson Jost, Kevin Fiala, Travis Dermott, Mark Jankowski, J.T. Compher, Anders Bjork and Drake Batherson is unmatched as a top 14. There's no doubt if Anthony had made more than 3 selections in the 2018 draft he could've been at or near the top of the rankings.
4. Vancouver Canucks - Speaking about the team that has a lower prospect average than the Flames, the Canucks are them. The Canucks prospect pool has many similarities to the Flames' pool, it's just better. Matthew Tkachuk, Andrei Svechnikov, Nick Schmaltz, Morgan Frost, Robert Thomas, Martin Necas, Chad Krys, Sam Steel, Logan Brown, Filip Chytil, Miro Heiskanen, Christin Dvorak, Maxime Comtois and the list goes on. The Canucks have also made moves earlier in the season that likely pushed them down from top spot to #4 in an effort to compete. Taking a couple of years to retool is turning this team into a powerhouse. Kyle did a wonderful job and it's about to cause other GMs nightmares for years to come.
3. Florida Panthers - The Panthers narrowly edge out the Canucks and it's due to a larger middle class of prospects. What's amazing is that all of the high draft picks from the Panthers have graduated and we're now left with a list of picks that the Panthers grabbed in later rounds. The amount of gems is pretty surreal. Player's as low as 35-40 on the depth chart could likely fetch the Cats a 2nd or 3rd round pick. The top prospects for the Panthers are Ilya Samsonov, Jack Roslovic, Nicolas Roy, Ryan Donato, Kirill Kaprizov, Zach Aston-Reese, Neal Pionk, Jesper Bratt, Artur Kayumov, Filip Chlapik, Erik Brannstrom, Gustav Forsling, Cam Dineen, Ryan Merkley and Jeremy Bracco. Some of these names don't jump at us as much because of where these players were drafted. They were however able to come out of the weeds of the later rounds and are the reason the Panthers are going to be threat for a long time.
2. Minnesota Wild - Peter falls slightly short of #1. His list and the Predators list is quite similar, in fact the Wild have a slightly higher prospect quality average but have 14 less prospects. Unlike some of the teams above, the teams at #1 and 2 are clearly undergoing large scale and longer term rebuilds. The Wild started a before the Predators and it's probably why they've been able to acquire more quality. They've however been unlucky in the lottery and that alone could be the reason they don't find themselves #1. You probably have no idea who's on this team's pro roster but you probably know a chunk of their prospects. Elias Pettersson, Josh Morrissey, Christian Djoos, Jake Debrusk, Carter Hart, Brady Tkachuk, Kevin Labanc, Michael McLeod, Luke Kunin, Kale Clague, Alex Formenton, Ryan Poehling, Jonathan Dahlen, Roope Hintz, David Kampf, Taylor Raddysh, Janne Kuokkanen, Noah Gregor and Aleksi Heponiemi are names you're likely to recognize on this roster in a few years.
1. Nashville Predators - 84 prospects. How does anybody compete with that? Especially when the guy making the picks is probably spending more time studying prospects than most of us combined. Sylvain doing a rebuild is scary for all of us. Want to know what's the craziest thing here? I'm pretty sure this is the first summer of his rebuild. There's seriously too many quality prospects to list. Some NHL second round picks are probably ranked close to 40-50 on his list. It doesn't rival with Chicago on a top end quality level, maybe not even Toronto. However there's an overwhelming amount of assets and if Sylvain decided to compete tomorrow, he could probably convert this list to become a Cup threat pretty easily. My feeling though is that he'll let them develop and keep a steady stream of prospects flowing in every year so that he can make that Cup push every season, not just once.