Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2019 Organizational Prospect Rankings.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or 25 years old.
2019 Organizational Prospect Rankings (20-11)
After going through the top 10 prospects of every team in the NHL and giving full scouting reports, we will now be ranking each team’s prospect pools.
Note: If you click on the team name, you will get a link to a full prospect report on that team. The snippets here are just a taste of the information available.
20.) Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning prospect group is led by a pair of brothers in Cal Foote and Nolan Foote. They also have the AHL Rookie of the Year and goals leader in Alex Barre-Boulet. Tying Boulet in goals and leading the league in points was Carter Verhaeghe. Meanwhile, Taylor Raddysh and Alex Volkov are also talented forwards as the rich get richer.
19.) Arizona Coyotes
Centres Barrett Hayton and Jan Jenik combine with winger Nick Merkley to give the Coyotes a strong trio of forwards. There is depth in the system on the blue line, where Arizona added first-round pick Victor Soderstrom, to a group including Kyle Capobianco, Kevin Bahl, Ty Emberson and Cam Dineen. In net, Adin Hill could be the team’s goalie of the future.
18.) St. Louis Blues
The Blues have slowly introduced their top prospects into the team in recent years. They still have more on the way. Jordan Kyrou and Dominik Bokk are high-end prospects on the wing. Further down the depth chart is Klim Kostin. Defenders Mitch Reinke, Scott Perunovich, and Nikko Mikkola are also pushing for spots on the team. Ville Husso had a down year, but remains a top goalie prospect.
17.) Florida Panthers
The Panthers drafted top goaltending prospect Spencer Knight in the first round. 2017 tenth-overall pick Owen Tippett is pushing for a spot on the roster. Forwards Aleksi Heponiemi and Grigori Denisenko are undersized but immensely talented. On the other end of the spectrum, Serron Noel gives them a power forward prospect. The defence is a little thin but added Vladislav Kolyachonok in the second round. Maxwell Gildon is advancing through the college ranks.
16.) New York Islanders
Noah Dobson was the best defenceman in junior hockey and won a Memorial Cup for the second year in a row. He joins a strong group on the blue line that also includes Bode Wilde, Sebastian Aho, and Mitchell Vande Sompel. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin is one of the top goalies in the KHL. The Islanders hope to bring him over next year. Wingers Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Michael Dal Colle, Otto Koivula, and Simon Holmstrom provide real depth. The team could use a high-end centre prospect.
15.) Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres had yet another high pick and added a talented forward in Dylan Cozens. He is versatile enough to play either centre or wing. Winger Victor Olofsson had a strong year and is close to NHL ready. Centres Rasmus Asplund and Marcus Davidsson play strong two-way games. The team has real depth on defence with Mattias Samuelsson, Henri Jokiharju, Ryan Johnson, and Will Borgen. They also have CHL Goaltender of the Year Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
14.) Ottawa Senators
The Senators have depth at all positions. Drake Batherson had a huge AHL season and a strong NHL debut last year. He is joined on the wing by speedster Alex Formenton, Latvian Rudolfs Balcers, and Russian Vitaly Abramov. Centres Logan Brown, Josh Norris, and Filip Chlapik are also key pieces. Defender Erik Brannstrom could be part of the Senators power play this year. Newly drafted Lassi Thomson and last year’s picks Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Jonny Tychonick. The Senators have a deep goaltending group that included Joey Daccord, Filip Gustavsson, Kevin Mandolese, and Marcus Hogberg. The main critique is the lack of a true elite prospect. While there is depth at all positions and Batherson, Brannstrom and Brown are all seen as very good prospects, beyond that top three, the remainder of the group have question marks and are seen as depth pieces.
13.) Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina spent a year in the AHL and is now close to NHL ready. Defender Filip Hronek got a taste of the NHL last year and should be a key cog in the Winged Wheel this season. He is joined on the blueline by newly drafted Mortiz Seider and last year’s second-round pick Jared McIsaac. Centre Joe Veleno starred in Drummondville and could hit the AHL this season. Winger Taro Hirose was impressive in his NHL debut last year as well.
12.) Vegas Golden Knights
Centre Cody Glass is one of the top prospects outside the NHL and could contend for the Calder Trophy if he can get enough ice-time this year. An injury just before the draft took Peyton Krebs out of consideration for a top-10 pick and could lead to the Golden Knights getting a real steal at 17th overall. Defenceman Nicolas Hague has a huge slap shot from the point. College free agent Jimmy Schuldt has a slightly lower ceiling but could be in the NHL this year. Dylan Coghlan also put up a lot of points from the blueline with the Chicago Wolves. The team could use a strong goalie prospect.
11.) Edmonton Oilers
Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, Dimitri Samorukov, Ethan Bear, and Caleb Jones represent the future of the Oilers blue line. The team also has quality forwards in Tyler Benson, Raphael Lavoie, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan MacLeod, and Cooper Marody. In goal, the Oilers hope that one of Olivier Rodrigue, Stuart Skinner, or Dylan Wells develops into a future starter. Years of high draft picks has lead to a deep group with plenty of talent.
2019 Organizational Prospect Rankings Main Photo:
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 13: Edmonton Oilers Defenceman Evan Bouchard (75) is pictured prior to the National Hockey League preseason game between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers on October 13, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)