The NHL’s Best Farm Systems Ranked – 2021-22 Midseason Update

If you want to go far and be one of the best teams in the NHL, you have to draft and develop your prospects so you can build for the future. Looking at top teams in the league like the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche, they have developed through the draft and continue to build their prospect system for the future. Having a deep farm system can go a long way for a team’s long-term success. 

Related: The NHL’s Top-100 Prospects

There has been quite a bit of movement and a lot of new faces for each team’s prospect pool. Without further ado, here are the preseason farm system rankings for the 2021-22 season.

Related: THW’s Wall-to-Wall Prospect & Draft Coverage

Much like the top 100 prospects and last year’s farm system rankings, I will use the same definition that Corey Pronman uses to define a prospect: “A skater no longer qualifies as an NHL prospect if he has played 25 games in the NHL in any campaign, regular season and playoffs combined, or 50 games total; or reaches age 27 by Sept. 15. A goalie no longer qualifies as an NHL prospect if he has played 10 games in the NHL in any campaign, regular season and playoffs combined, or 25 games total; or reaches age 27 by Sept. 15.” (From: “Pronman: 2019-20 NHL Farm System Rankings”).

Ranking the NHL Prospect Pools

Final Note: All statistics were up to date before any games were played on Jan. 22, 2022.

32) Pittsburgh Penguins

Previous Ranking: 32

Top 5 Prospects: Joel Blomqvist, Tristan Broz, Jonathan Gruden, Pierre- Olivier Joseph, Samuel Poulin 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Tristan Broz

Once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins start the list off with the weakest prospect pool. It doesn’t compare to the rest of the league as they’re still very bare in terms of depth in all positions. They do have some pieces for the future, but it isn’t going to be enough to push them further up the rankings unless they stop trading away first round picks. 

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Samuel Poulin is still viewed as the team’s top prospect. A versatile player who can make an impact both offensively and defensively, he continues to show his smarts, speed and vision as he prepares to reach the pro level. After a strong showing in the Quebec Major Junior League, he went pro as he’s in his first season with Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton.  

Samuel Poulin Penguins Draft
Samuel Poulin, Pittsburgh Penguins, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Penguins do have some stability in net with Joel Blomqvist as he does have good mobility and vision to be a quality goaltender in the NHL. He’s having a strong showing this season with Kärpät as he has a 1.05 goals against average, .952 saver percentage and a 4-1-1 record.

Pierre- Olivier Joseph remains their top defensive prospect, as he possesses a strong two-way game and can be a threat in transition. He got his first taste of NHL action last season scoring five points, including his first NHL goal, in 16 games played. He is producing very well in the AHL as he has 16 points in 24 games this season.

With Sidney Crosby, Evegni Malkin and Kris Letang getting up in age and a below average prospect pool, now is the time to start stock piling picks and prospects. Drafting Tristan Broz is a good start, as he was under a point per game (51 in 54 games) with the Fargo Force in his draft year. 

Broz is always on the go with his offensive mindset. He’s strong in transition and on the cycle as he’s always generating chances and creating plays at a quick pace. He’s off to a slow start in the NCAA as he has three points in 20 games with the University of Minnestoa, but he does have some upside in his game.

31) New York Islanders

Previous Ranking: 30

Top 5 Prospects: Keifer Bellows, William Dufour, Otto Koivula, Tristan Lennox, Aatu Räty

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Aatu Räty, Tristan Lennox

Back-to-back years without a first-round pick, the New York Islanders traded the 29th pick to the New Jersey Devils for Kyle Palmieri to pursue a deep playoff run. While they found a potential steal with Aatu Räty falling to them in the second round, they lack in depth and talent. 

Aatu Raty Team Finland
Aatu Raty of Team Finland (Finnish Ice Hockey Association)

Räty was once regarded as the top pick in the 2020 draft, but inconsistencies in his play and ability to take the next step in his draft year, played a factor in his declining draft stock. While many– including here at The Hockey Writers­– saw him as a first-round talent, it was a shock to see him fall that late in the second round. If there’s any glimmer of hope, he has been dominant with Jukurit in the Liiga this season with 17 points in 19 games. 

Related: Islanders Top Prospects for 2021-22 Seasosn

Drafted 19th overall in 2016, Keifer Bellows remains one of the Islanders’ top prospects but has a hard time to try and crack a roster spot with the team. He’s gaining more of an opportunity this season as he’s appeared in 18 games and produced nine points. Even though he’s 23 years old, he needs to find a way to stick in the NHL. He has a powerful shot and plays an aggressive style of puck possession game that the Isles emulate.

William Dufour is one prospect that is starting to gain some traction. In his fourth QMJHL season, Dufour is third in scoring with 47 points and goals with 22. The 2020 fifth-round pick does a great job of applying pressure to force turnovers and quickly gain control of the puck and will fit in nicely with the Islanders.

30) Seattle Kraken

Previous Ranking: 31

Top 5 Prospects: Matthew Beniers, Ryker Evans, Justin Janicke, Ville Ottavainen, Ryan Winterton 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Matthew Beniers

The newest NHL franchise is just starting out to build their prospect pool and develop players that will be coming through the pipeline. They have a future top-line centre with strong two-way tendencies in Matthew Beniers. 

Matthew Beniers, Michigan Wolverines
Matthew Beniers Michigan Wolverines (Photo Credit Michigan Photography)

It’ll probably be a few years before he makes the transition to the NHL, but the potential is there. In his second season on a powerhouse University of Michigan team, he’s once again showing his dominance with 30 points in 25 games. He always plays with great pace and is extremely dangerous in transition as he displays excellent vision and control of the puck. 

Ryker Evans is an over-ager with a strong offensive mindset, Justin Janicke brings a physical presence as he always plays with an edge and Ville Ottavainen has some upside as a very sound defenseman, being drafted in the fourth round. The Kraken are starting off their system by having a balance in all aspects of the game.

29) Vancouver Canucks

Previous Ranking: 20

Top 5 Prospects: Michael Di Pietro, Joni Jurmo, Danila Klimovich, Connor Lockhart,  Jack Rathbone 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Vasili Podkolzin

Key Additions: Danila Klimovich

With the likes of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Nils Hoglander and now Vasili Podkolzin graduating to the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks now have a prospect pool that is less than stellar and seen a significant drop from the last time this list was done.

They traded their ninth overall pick to the Coyotes, which could’ve been used to draft the high scoring Dylan Guenther. To me, that’s a situation where you would want to hang onto that pick instead of making a major reach selection like Danila Klimovich in the second round. Although Klimovich does have some upside, he needs to work on being an all-around offensive threat.

I’m very high on Jack Rathbone as he plays a very reliable two-way defender with great hockey IQ. I project him as a top-four defenseman who can drive the play forward from the back-end or even balance out the play of Hughes to be a very strong pairing. 

Connor Lockhart is also one name to keep an eye on as a good sixth-round pick up in 2021. He has a great release and goal scoring abilities and can be very shifty with his movements when he has the puck. While he projects as a possible depth option, he’s definitely worth having in the system to balance out their top players if and when he makes the roster. 

28) Chicago Blackhawks

Previous Ranking: 28

Top Five Prospects: Nolan Allan, Colton Dach, Drew Commesso, Lukas Reichel, Landon Slaggert  

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Nolan Allan, Viktor Stjernborg, Ethan Del Mastro

The Blackhawks prospect pool remains a big question mark. This is a mixed bag for the Blackhawks. 

Nolan Allan was a projected third-round pick and the Blackhawks drafted him over other defenseman with higher upside. While Allan could develop into a good player, it wasn’t the right spot to select him. Colton Dach has some good offensive tools at his disposal, but selecting him over players like Sasha Pastujov or Simon Robertsson probably isn’t the best decision.

Related: Blackhawks ‘Untouchable’ Prospects for 2021-22

Overall, their best picks came in the later rounds. They drafted a gritty player with speed in Victor Stjernborg and shutdown defender Ethan Del Mastro, who I was high on his defensive play and physical presence.

The Blackhawks had an opportunity to strengthen it’s prospect depth and went with a completely different outlook. Despite the questionable decisions, there’s still hope as Lukas Reichel continues to showcase his hockey IQ and skillset that made them draft him 17th overall in 2020. He’s taken a major step forward with his development as he’s leading the Rockford IceHogs with 23 points in 22 games. He’s showing his high skillset and tenacity every game, earning a call-up in the process.  

Lukas Reichel Eisbaeren Berlin
Lukas Reichel, Eisbaeren Berlin (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

The Blackhawks do have depth in goal with Drew Commesso. He posted great numbers with Boston University in 2020-21. He went 6-3-1 with a .915 SV% and a 2.99 GAA. In his sophomore season, he’s posted average numbers having a 9-8-3 record, 2.55 GAA and .909 SV%. He does a good job at tracking the puck, but also tends to be a bit aggressive in the crease. 

27) Arizona Coyotes

Previous Ranking: 29

Top Five Prospects: Josh Doan, Dylan Guenther, Liam Kirk, Jan Jenik, Victor Soderstrom 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Dylan Guenther

Before the 2021 NHL draft, the Coyotes were without a pick after forfeiting it for violating the NHL’s combine and testing rule. 

Related: Arizona Coyotes ‘Untouchable’ Prospects

However, they were able to acquire the Canucks’ ninth overall pick in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson deal to draft Dylan Guenther. An all-around power forward with high-end offensive vision, Guenther immediately becomes the team’s top prospect. His 43 points in 30 games has him in top-20 in the Western Hockey League scoring on a power house Edmonton Oil Kings team. 

Dylan Guenther Edmonton Oil Kings
Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The Coyotes have good complimentary pieces as Josh Doan is impressing with Arizona State with 29 points in 27 games. Jan Jenik and the emergence of Liam Kirk at the World Hockey Championship last year shows that their potential continues to rise. Though their prospect pool lacks any top tier talent– aside from the potential of Victor Soderstrom and his ability to be a reliable top-four defenseman. 

While the team is going to struggle over the next few seasons, the Coyotes have already started to stock pile picks as they have seven in the first two rounds in the 2022 draft. 

26) Boston Bruins

Previous Ranking: 26

Top Five Prospects: John Beecher, Mason Lohrei, Fabian Lysell, Jack Studnika, Urho Vaakanainen 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Fabian Lysell

The last few drafts for the Bruins haven’t exactly been promising as most of their picks could pan out to be depth players. They do have good pieces in John Beecher and Jack Studnicka that could be decent middle-six players. 

Related: Boston Bruins ‘Untouchable’ Prospects for 2021-22

They have also have a great defensive-minded defenseman in Urho Vaakanainen who has looked great in his call-up with the Bruins posting four assists in seven games this season. Their prospect pool was average at best, but the 2021 draft was their best in some time. Selecting players like Brett Harrison, Andre Gasseau and Ty Gallagher gives them some players with good upside with their current group of prospects. 

Urho Vaakanainen (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Their best prospect comes in the form of Fabian Lysell. He is a very creative player with the puck as he’s a strong offensive dynamo. After signing his entry-level contract with the Bruins, he came over and has been a standout on an average Vancouver Giants team as he ranks third in team scoring with 30 points. 

They do have some prospects who can surprise. Mason Lohrei has great size and is a really stronger skater, bringing an offensive mindset on the blueline. Harrison is continuing to produce as a physical scoring winger with the Oshawa Generals.

25) Tampa Bay Lightning

Previous Ranking: 24

Top Five Prospects: Hugo Alnefelt, Dylan Duke, Jack Finley, Roman Schmidt, Jack Thompson 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Taylor Raddysh

Key Additions: Dylan Duke

The reigning back-to-back champs have had to pay a lot in terms of prospects and picks in order to get to where they are. With Cal Foote making the jump and playing well in the NHL, their farm system is starting to look thin. Even though the Lightning dipped slightly, they know how to develop their prospects even without any big-name standouts.

While they have the quality talent of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy, they’re still doing a good job of surrounding them with potentially strong depth pieces for the future. Names like Dylan Duke and Jack Finley are going to play key roles for them.

Jack Thompson Sudbury Wolves
Jack Thompson of the Sudbury Wolves (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Jack Thompson is showing great promise as a mobile, two-way defender. He likes to jump into the rush and be a part of the offense. He has a great shot from the point and can make a strong first pass to stretch the play quickly.

Even though they rely heavily on Vasilevksiy, Hugo Alnefelt is a great option in the crease and could be a serviceable back up to help ease his workload in the future. He has great positioning, reflexes and never seems to panic when a crowd forms in front of him.

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24) Washington Capitals 

Previous Ranking: 25

Top Five Prospects: Alexander Alexeyev, Hendrix Lapierre, Vincent Iorio, Brent Johnson, Oskar Magnusson 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Connor McMichael

Key Additions: Vincent Iorio, Brent Johnson

The Capitals definitely seem to be in a better spot prospect wise than their rival in the Penguins. With Connor McMichael becoming a mainstay on the roster, they still have potential talent that could very well be impactful down the line.

It looked like Hendrix Lapierre may have joined McMichael to make the team past the nine-game tryout. Scoring his first career NHL goal, Lapierre was eventually sent down to the Acadie- Bathurst Titan where he’s recorded 18 points in 11 games. After dealing with concussions, it’s great to see him bounce back and be a dominate two-way threat, as he provides the Capitals with great centre depth.

Hendrix Lapierre, Washington Capitals
Hendrix Lapierre, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While the Capitals may be set up front with McMichael and Lapierre, they added some depth on defense in the 2021 draft with Vincent Iorio and Brent Johnson. Both are promising mobile, two-way defenders and capable of making an impact at both ends of the ice. They both want to be factors every time they’re on the ice.

The Capitals also have some other intriguing names like Alexander Alexeyev and Oskar Magnusson, who play a high tempo with a great drive to the net.

23) St. Louis Blues 

Previous Ranking: 27

Top Five Prospects: Zachary Bolduc, Tanner Dickinson, Joel Hofer, Jake Neighbours, Scott Perunovich 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Zachary Bolduc, Simon Robertsson

If there’s one thing to be excited for as a Blues fan is the emergence of Jake Neighbours. With Scott Perunovich inching closer to losing prospect status, Neighbours appears to be the one to assume that title. He’s a very strong playmaker with a power forwards mentality when driving to the front of the net. Since being returned to the WHL, he’s averaged 1.25 points per game. 

Related: Related: Blues’ 4 Untouchable Prospects for 2021-22 

The Blues added Zachary Bolduc at the 2021 draft and appears to also throw his name into the conversation. A competitive centreman with a great skillset, he plays with such conviction every time he’s on the ice. He has great hands to make quick moves to catch defenders and goalies out of position in a flash.

Zachary Bolduc Rimouski Oceanic
Zachary Bolduc of Rimouski Oceanic (Iften Redjah – Foliophoto)

Tanner Dickinson and Robertsson are two other names that should garner attention. Dickinson has great agility and speed and is having a great season with 43 points for the Soo Greyhounds. Robertsson possesses a booming shot with a lot of power behind it, making him dangerous when he has the time to wind up. 

22) Ottawa Senators

Previous Ranking: 6

Top Five Prospects: Jacob Bernard- Docker, Tyler Boucher, Ridly Greig, Shane Pinto, Jake Sanderson 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Logan Brown

Key Additions: Tyler Boucher

It’s a long drop for the Ottawa Senators. With most of their top prospects getting shots to play in the NHL, they have some great pieces but names start to fall off after two key players.

Defenseman Jake Sanderson is currently the team’s top prospect. The 2020 fifth overall pick is a very mobile two-way player, he knows exactly when to pick his spots to attack. His strong and physical play and has all the characteristics you want to have in a defenseman. He’s definitely close to being NHL ready. Ridly Greig could be a very useful middle-six winger with great energy and tenacity. He has great work ethic and can be a thorn in the sides of many in the future.

Jake Sanderson USNTDP
Jake Sanderson, USA NTDP (Credit: Rena Laverty)

They missed the mark with their picks in the 2021 draft, notably their 10th overall selection of Tyler Boucher was a real reach. He’s going to be a great prospect but drafting a player with third line potential isn’t where you would want to waste a top-10 pick.

He may not have the offensive vision like Sanderson, but Jacob Bernard-Docker has proven to be a very reliable defensive stalwart. He played in seven games with the Senators this season, but will need some more time to develop. 

After recording 32 points in 28 games with the University of North Dakota, Shane Pinto looked primed and ready for a chance to play in the NHL. And he didn’t disappoint. His high-end speed and skill was on full display as he finished with seven points in 12 games last season. Things didn’t go well for him as he’s missed significant time with a shoulder injury.

Whether or not the rest of the 2021 draft class could make significant contributions with this current group remains to be seen. But their pool could be weaker than it was before, once all their top players are in the NHL. 

21) Calgary Flames

Previous Ranking: 23

Top Five Prospects: Matthew Coronato, Rory Kerins, Yan Kuznetsov, Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Matthew Coronato

The team has seen some up and down results during the regular season. However, the Flames still have some talented players coming through the pipeline. 

They had a great selection with Connor Zary at 24th overall in the 2020 draft as his smarts and ability to read plays is his greatest asset. He got a taste of pro level hockey with the Stockton Heat in the AHL, which is beneficial for his development. The previous year, they selected Jakob Pelletier 26th overall in 2019 as he has great skill, speed and intensity when he’s on the ice. He is producing at a very great rate in the AHL as he has 33 points in 32 games. 

Jakob Pelletier
Moncton Wildcats’ Jakob Pelletier (Courtesy of Daniel St Pierre)

Drafting Matthew Coronato 13th overall in the 2021 draft really strengthens their depth up front as he displayed elite level vision. He’s definitely continuing his trend of being an offensive dynamo as he’s averaging just under a point per game with Harvard in the NCAA. They also have some promising names in Dmitri Zavgorodniy, Adam Ruzicka and William Strömgren can really be players that can fly under the radar.

The Flames are stockpiling on defense as well. Yan Kuznetsov is a defensive defenseman that plays with an edge; something that we’ve seen in Rasmus Andersson’s play on a nightly basis. On the flip side of things, Jeremie Poirier is an excellent puck mover but he definitely needs to work on his defensive game. 

Rory Kerins has emerged as one to keep an eye on in the Flames’ system. He’s the third leading scorer in the OHL with 60 points. He does a great job to attack the middle of the ice for quality chances and to unload with his impressive shot. He definitely has some potential if he continues to progress.

20) Vegas Golden Knights

Previous Ranking: 19

Top Five Prospects: Brendan Brisson, Lukas Cormier, Zach Dean, Pavel Dorofeyev, Daniil Chayka 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Peyton Krebs (traded to Buffalo)

Key Additions: Zach Dean

When a team gives up top prospects for immediate help, the depth in your system isn’t going to be as strong. With the Vegas Golden Knights trading Nick Suzuki to the Montreal Canadiens and Erik Brannstrom traded to the Ottawa Senators, the Knights’ depth isn’t where it was when they entered the league. They can now add Peyton Krebs to the list as he was moved to acquire Jack Eichel.

With Krebs out of the system, Brendan Brisson assumes the top prospect label. He displays excellent smarts and awareness and has a really strong work ethic, making his presence felt every shift. On defense, Lukas Cormier has emerged as their top defensive prospect. He’s a dynamic puck mover with great speed and a smooth stride that makes him very dangerous in transition. He’s tearing up the QMJHL as he’s one of the second most productive defensemen with 36 points. 

Lukas Cormier Charlottetown Islanders
Lukas Cormier of the Charlottetown Islanders (Charlottetown Islanders)

Pavel Dorofeyev and Daniil Chayla are also two names to still keep an eye on. Dorofeyev is a very shifty player with excellent puck control. On the flip side of things, Chayka is a responsible defenseman as he’s very sound defensively with some offensive upside to his game. 

While they traded away quality prospects to be Stanley Cup contenders, the Knights still have depth and talent within their system. Drafting Zach Dean in 2021 is a great start as he always plays with a high level of energy and takes charge of every shift.

19) Florida Panthers

Previous Ranking: 11

Top Five Prospects: Grigori Denisenko, Justin Sourdif, Spencer Knight, Evan Nause, Mackie Samoskevich 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Anton Lundell

Key Additions: Mackie Samoskevich

Even though the Florida Panthers have seen their top prospect crack the NHL, they’re still doing their part to keep the cycle going by drafting quality prospects. It starts with future starter Spencer Knight.

Related: Panthers’ Top 10 Prospects Heading Into the 2021-22 Season 

Knight has assumed the back-up role to Bobrovsky after an impressive showing last season. While his numbers have taken a dip this season, he’s still an impressive goaltender with great reflexes and movement in the crease. At some point, it’s going to be his crease. 

Spencer Knight Florida Panthers
Spencer Knight, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Up front the Panthers have two lethal players in Grigori Denisenko and Justin Sourdif. Denisenko displays strong offensive awareness and great foot speed to be a very dangerous player. Sourdif has really jumped off the page and improved his status as a prospect. Drafted in the third round in 2020, he has tremendous strength and a very powerful shot.  

The depth gets better with the quick playmaking abilities of Mackie Samoskevich and the quick skating Ty Smilanic just missed out on the cut. I was very high on Evan Nause for the 2021 draft and the Panthers must have liked what they saw to draft him 56th overall. He displays great patience with the puck and has great speed to be effective in transition. He’s defensively responsible and can be used in any situation.

The Panthers have an abundance of wealth in their system and it can only get better. Even as a playoff team, they continue to find great value wherever they pick.

18) Nashville Predators

Previous Ranking: 16

Top Five Prospects: Yaroslav Askarov, Yegor Afanaseyev, Luke Evangelista, Zachary L’Heureux, Fydor Svechkov 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Philip Tomasino

Key Additions: Zachary L’Heureux, Fydor Svechkov

With Pekka Rinne retiring, there isn’t any doubt that Yaroslav Askarov is going to be the starter once he’s ready. Selecting him 11th overall in the 2020 draft was a smart decision. He has elite vision, reflexes and mobility in the crease as he can make the most difficult saves look easy. 

It’s a tale of two Askarov’s with his play as he’s doing really well in the KHL, but in international tournaments he’s struggled, much in part to poor defense in front of him. With a better team in front of him, he’s the real deal. 

Chaz Lucius was one of the top goal scorers in this year’s draft somehow fell to the Jets at 18thoverall. He’s a dynamic player in the offensive zone as he has slick hands to make moves around defenders and a quick and powerful release. While he’s known for his goal scoring, he’s a very smooth playmaker as well.

Team Russia Yaroslav Askarov
Russia’s goalie Yaroslav Askarov in action during Euro Hockey Tour between Russia and Czech Republic on February 14, 2021 (Photo by ANDREAS HILLERGREN/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)

2020 second-round pick Luke Evangelista has been a dominant threat in the OHL. Known for being a playmaker, he’s taken his goal scoring abilities to new heights as he’s fourth in goals with 25. His play away from the puck is just as impressive, getting into lanes and breaking up quality scoring chances. 

In 2021, they added two potential top-six forwards in Fydor Svechkov and Zachary L’Heureux. Svechkov is a very skilled two-way centreman and L’Heureux is a future power forward in the making. The way he plays reminds me of Brad Marchand and he developed into a really good forward. 

The Predators also added some potential names to watch with Anton Olsson and Ryan Ufko to help out with their defense. They might be a few years away, but the potential is there as the team enters a critical point to remain a competitive team for years to come. 

17) Montreal Canadiens

Previous Ranking: 10

Top Five Prospects: Sean Farrell, Kaiden Guhle, Mattias Norlinder, Jan Mysak, Joshua Roy 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Cole Caufield

Key Additions: Oliver Kapanen

With Cole Caufield graduating to the NHL and this season not going the way many had hoped, the Montreal Canadiens still have quality names in their system that continue to impress. 

It starts with top prospect Kaiden Guhle. The mobile, two-way defender continues to impress with his ability to jump into the play. He’s great in transition to break up plays and has great positioning in one-on-one coverage. He’s very physical and isn’t afraid to step up and play a physical game. 

Kaiden Guhle, Montreal Canadiens
Kaiden Guhle Montreal Canadiens (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jan Mysak continues to possess the qualities of a power forward. He’s great at gaining entry with possession of the puck or even having an aggressive mindset to attack on the forecheck and setup an attack. He continues to thrive in the OHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs as he’s once again with 34 points in 28 games. 

One player to keep an eye on should be 5-foot-9 left winger Sean Farrell. Drafted 124th overall in 2020, Farrell is a very strong playmaker that plays at such a great pace. After dominating the USHL leading the league in points with 101, he’s transitioned to the NCAA and has picked up where he last left off. He’s standing out as a freshman with 19 points in 14 games. He’s very crafty with the puck and knows how to locate his teammates with his crisp passing. He’s going to be fun to watch for Team USA at the Olympics

Joshua Roy was a player whose draft stock has fallen with inconsistent production last season. However, he’s turned the tables as the fifth-round pick in 2021, as he is fourth in scoring in the QMJHL with 47 points. He’s showing his offensive capabilities and using his size to his advantage in every situation. 

16) Columbus Blue Jackets 

Previous Ranking: 21

Top Five Prospects: Corson Ceulemans, Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko, Stanislav Svozil, Samuel Knazko 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakov

Key Additions: Corson Ceulemans, Kent Johnson, Stanislav Svozil

If there was a team that needed to have a strong draft and improve their farm system, it was the Blue Jackets. After a major surprise selecting Yegor Chinakov in the first-round of the 2020 draft, they made their first three first-round picks count.

Kent Johnson is becoming an extremely skilled and creative player with quick hands and the ability to make moves at a very fast pace. He’s able to make the most difficult moves look easy as he pulls them off at full speed. He joined University of Michigan teammates Owen Power (first overall) and Beniers (second overall) as being selected in the top-five in the draft, fifth overall. Once again, he’s having success with 23 assists and 29 points in 22 games. 

Kent Johnson, Michigan Wolverines
Kent Johnson Michigan Wolverines (Jonathan Knight, Jonathan Knight Photography)

The Blue Jackets have two highly talented defenseman in Corson Ceulemans and Stanislav Svozil. Ceulemans was selected 25th overall in 2021 and is an offensively driven defenseman with excellent speed and awareness. Svozil has more defensive capabilities, but isn’t afraid to put the moves on the opposition. That’s a pretty good haul to start rebuilding the team’s defense. 

With those players in the system to an already budding farm system with Kirill Marchenko up front and Samuel Knazko on defense, the Blue Jackets are heading in the right direction as they embark on their rebuild. 

15) Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous Ranking: 17

Top Five Prospects: Rodion Amirov, Roni Hirvonen, Matthew Knies, Topi Niemela, Nick Robertson  

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Timothy Liljegren

Key Additions: Matthew Knies

Despite moving a number of draft picks in the 2021 draft to make a strong playoff push, the Maple Leafs still have a strong farm system that they’ve stockpiled over the last few years. They are still reaping the rewards with their scouting of talent in later rounds.

Nick Robertson is still viewed as a potential top-six offensive point producer. He had a strong showing in his first AHL season with the Toronto Marlies recording 16 points in 21 games. However, his second pro season isn’t going too well as he missed 10 weeks with a broken fibula. He registered two assists in two games, but he has had a hard time to stay healthy. 

Rodion Amirov is in a similar situation as he’s dealt with his fair share of injuries and decreased minutes in the KHL. He’s a very impactful player on both sides of the puck. The two-way winger has great patience with the puck and is reliable to help on the backcheck. Roni Hirvonen is also becoming a standout player. Undersized at 5-foot-9, he’s relentless with the puck and has a really great shot. 

Topi Niemela, the 2021 top defenseman at the World Juniors shows no signs of slowing down as he was on a torrid scoring pace in the Liiga. He has great hockey IQ in the offensive zone. He’s a quick an effective passer but isn’t afraid to shoot when he has an opportunity. Former director of amateur scouting John Lilley said that he has the best defensive instincts when the Maple Leafs drafted him 64th overall in 2020.  

Matthew Knies University of Minnesota
Matthew Knies, University of Minnesota (Image courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

Selected 57th overall in 2021, Matthew Knies has instantly turned heads to be a strong power forward with a scoring touch. He has great power and accuracy and has soft hands to make moves in tight situations, but his vision and play away from the puck is also a great strength to his game. He’s been a standout as a freshman and is only going to get better.

14) Winnipeg Jets

Previous Ranking: 18

Top Five Prospects: Nikita Chibrikov, Ville Heinola, Chaz Lucius, Cole Perfetti, Daniel Torgersson 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Nikita Chibrikov, Chaz Lucius

The Winnipeg Jets have done a great job to add for the future over the past few seasons. With a promising defender in Ville Heinola and landing a cerebral playmaker in Cole Perfetti 10th overall in 2020, the Jets lucked out again in 2021

Related: Winnipeg Jets’ ‘Untouchable’ Prospects

Perfetti continues to improve and elevate his level of play at the AHL level. He was becoming a key producer for Canada at the World Juniors before it was paused, but the patience, skill and vision was on full display when he was on the ice. He earned a call-up and scored his first NHL goal. 

Cole Perfetti, Winnipeg Jets
Cole Perfetti, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Chaz Lucius was one of the top goal scorers in the 2021 draft and somehow fell to the Jets at 18th overall. He’s a dynamic player in the offensive zone as he has slick hands to make moves around defenders and a quick and powerful release. While he’s known for his goal scoring, he’s a very smooth playmaker as well. 

Nikita Chibrikov was also viewed as a possible first round player, falling to 52nd overall, the Jets would get another potential steal as they added two highly skilled forwards to follow in the footsteps of Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor. The Jets have a really lethal offensive trio with Perfetti, Lucius and Chibrikov waiting to make the NHL.

Daniel Torgersson is one player to keep an eye on as he can be another offense weapon in their system. He’s a very smooth skater with strong edges and has a very powerful release. 

13) Edmonton Oilers 

Previous Ranking: 15

Top Five Prospects: Xavier Bourgault, Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway, Matvei Petrov, Carter Savoie

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Evan Bouchard

Key Additions: Xavier Bourgault

The Edmonton Oilers dropped only as a result of other teams getting better, but they still have a talented group. It could be only a matter of time before their top prospects find themselves in the NHL. 

Related: Oilers’ Top 10 Prospects of the 2021-22 Season 

The Oilers need to add some quality depth and it looks like they’ll get it from two key players. Dylan Holloway hasn’t played a game as he recovers from wrist surgery. He’s consistently a factor on the forecheck and has excellent speed in transition. Xavier Bourgault plays a very skilled two-way game as he has great vision with and without the puck. 

Dylan Holloway University of Wisconsin
Dylan Holloway of the University of Wisconsin (Greg Anderson/UW Athletics)

Philip Broberg remains their top defensive prospect, he’s a smooth skater that has a great blend of offensive and defensive instincts. He has great control of the puck and can jump start an offense with his passing abilities. 

The Oilers also have some really great names down their depth chart. Raphael Lavoie has a shoot-first mentality and Carter Savoie are very quick and agile with their puck handling abilities. 

But their potential secret weapon could be Matvei Petrov as he’s been lighting up the OHL with 22 goals and 56 points in 35 games. Let’s not forget about the speedy and tenacious style of hockey that Tyler Tullio brings. There’s also the potential from 2021 third-round pick, Luca Munzenburger as he plays a very steady and reliable game. 

12) Philadelphia Flyers 

Previous Ranking: 7

Top Five Prospects: Emil Andrae, Tyson Foerster, Morgan Frost, Samu Tuomaala, Cam York  

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Samu Tuomaala

In a season mired full of injuries, the Philadelphia Flyers still have a lot to look forward to with a prospect pool that still boasts some quality talent. 

Morgan Frost leads the way for the time being, as he’s looking pretty great early on in his NHL career. He’s an impressive play-making centre with great hands, speed and edges. He’s definitely going to be in the fold for a centre spot come next season as he continues to impress the coaching staff.

Tyson Foerster Philadelphia Flyers
Tyson Foerster, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

They also have a strong offensive weapon in the palm of their hand with Tyson Foerster. A right-handed shot, he boasts great power, especially on his one-timer as he likes to set up in the same office as Alex Ovechkin. He had 10 goals in 24 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL last season, continuing to impress showing his goal scoring abilities. However, he has missed significant time this season with a shoulder injury

The Flyers defense is led by the highly mobile and offensively talented Cam York who was drafted 14th overall in 2019. A strong passer with great awareness, he isn’t afraid to join in and lead the rush. York had a really great 2020-21 season with 20 points in 24 games on a stacked Michigan team, captained Team USA to a gold medal at the World Juniors and had a successful stint with the Phantoms. Starting the season off with the Phantoms, he’s once again seeing some NHL time, recording his first goal and two assists in six games.

Emil Andrae has a work ethic and level of compete that sets him apart from many other defenders despite his size (5-foot-9). He’s always committed to putting his best foot forward and never takes a shift off. 

Even without a first round pick in 2021, the Flyers continued their trend of finding great talent by selecting high flying Finnish sniper Samu Tuomaala. He has blinding speed and will make a dangerous scoring duo with Foerster in the future. 

11) New York Rangers

Previous Ranking: 9

Top Five Prospects: Brett Berard, Vitali Kravtsov, Ryder Korczak, Brennan Othmann, Braden Schneider 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Nils Lundkvist

Key Additions: Brennan Othmann, Ryder Korczak

EDespite a drop in the rankings, the New York Rangers still have a respectful talent pool. They are headlined by some promising names on the back end and intriguing forward options. 

Related: Rangers’ Untouchable Prospects for 2021-22 

Brennan Othmann has quickly become a top prospect for the Rangers as he plays a very hard-nosed offensive game. He can score from anywhere on the ice, be out from the top of the circle or a potting in a loose puck in close. He plays with an edge that makes him extremely valuable.

Brennan Othmann Flint Firebirds
Brennan Othmann of the Flint Firebirds (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Braden Schneider and Vitali Kravtsov are still two names that fall behind Othmann. Schneider is a physical, two-way defender with a booming shot. He’s has great speed and an active stick to defend against the rush and in his own end. He’s able to close gaps on attackers effectively and isn’t afraid to display his physical presence.

Kravtsov is a physical, yet skilled winger that excels in every aspect on the ice. He looked really good in his first 20 games last season with the Rangers scoring two goals and recording two assists. However, after requesting a trade from the Rangers, he has been dominating the KHL with 13 points in 19 games. 

There’s also Ryder Korczak, who possesses great puck skills as he’s very deceptive in the offensive zone. Brett Berard is an under-sized forward, but plays with a high level of pace and skill. He’s deceiving with his hands and skating and has the ability to make plays instantly.

With Igor Shesterkin in goal for the foreseeable future, they have other options in the crease with Dylan Garand. I think he’s a prospect to keep an eye on as he has great lateral and quick movements in net, forming a solid tandem.

10) Carolina Hurricanes 

Previous Ranking: 5

Top Five Prospects: Noel Gunler, Zion Nybeck, Aleksi Heimosalmi, Ville Koivunen, Scott Morrow 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Seth Jarvis

Key Additions: Aleksi Heimosalmi, Ville Koivunen, Scott Morrow

Even though Seth Jarvis has graduated to the NHL, the Hurricanes’ scouts continue to prove once again that you don’t need a first-round pick to have quality talent in your system.

They had three second-round picks in 2021 and all have proven to be great selections. Ville Koivunen has all the makings to be a quality two-way player with great offensive production. He has great IQ either with or without the puck. He does a great job at maintaining possession with his positioning and his control. He’s made a seamless transition to the pro level in the Liiga as he has 24 points in 36 games. 

Related: Hurricanes’ Top 10 Prospects: January 2022 Update 

Aleksi Heimoslami was the best defenseman at the World U18 Championships last year. He’s a fantastic skater with great speed and a smooth stride in transition. Every path he takes, he’s always going to enter the zone with control and set up an attack. 

Scott Morrow has a lot of potential as a really strong offensive defenseman. He instinctively is always in attack mode jumping into a play almost acting as a fourth forward. He has great control and a great shot from the point.

Zion Nybeck is another player who is small in stature but plays a fast pace game with speed. He is very tenacious in pursuit of the puck. It doesn’t stop there as there’s also Vasili Ponomaryov, Jamieson Rees, Ryan Suzuki, Noel Gunler in their system. On defense they have a potential strong defender in Anttoni Honkka and Ronan Seeley.

The Hurricanes are always going to be deep with prospects, as they’ll be competitive for years to come.

9) Colorado Avalanche 

Previous Ranking: 8

Top Five Prospects: Justin Barron, Bowen Byram, Sean Behrens, Martin Kaut, Oskar Olausson 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Alex Newhook

Key Additions: Oskar Olausson

With Cale Makar continuing to do ridiculous things for the Avalanche, they drafted another promising star defenseman in Bowen Byram.

A talented puck mover and distributor, once Byram gets going it’s hard for him to stop as he’s always consistently a dangerous threat on the ice. He has excellent mobility and can skate around everyone with ease. He’s looked really sharp with the Avalanche this season as he makes them deeper at that position. Unfortunately, he’s been dealing with lingering symptoms from a concussion and has since taken a leave of absence to recover. 

Bowen Byram, Colorado Avalanche
Bowen Byram, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A couple of 2021 draft picks have quickly been turning heads as Oskar Olausson and Sean Behrens, the high-flying defenseman, are impressing for the Avalanche. Olausson has taken the OHL by storm as he has 28 points in 27 games. Behrens is a very fluid puck-mover with excellent playmaking abilities. He’s very quick and agile and definitely fits into their vision of getting offense from the backend.

Justin Barron is a strong two-way defender. He displays great awareness to break up plays and has great instincts of when to jump into the rush and be a factor offensively. He hasn’t looked out of place since graduating from the QMJHL as he has 16 points in 26 AHL games.

Martin Kaut is one name that has flown under the radar because of the above names, as a result, he’s fallen down the depth chart. He’s a very responsible forward and he constantly got looks with 20 games of NHL experience.

8) Dallas Stars

Previous Ranking: 13

Top Five Prospects: Mavrik Bourque, Thomas Harley, Wyatt Johnston, Connor Roulette, Logan Stankoven 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Wyatt Johnston, Logan Stankoven

The Dallas Stars saw some success with their prospects joining the NHL. Jason Robertson was a finalist for the Calder Trophy and Jake Oettinger looked really good as the team’s potential starter. 

2020 30th overall pick Mavrik Bourque has become the Stars’ top prospect. His IQ, work ethic and decision making are his best assets. After putting up five points in six games in the AHL last season, Bourque is back in the QMJHL being a big time producer with 20 points in 10 games. He can still use some time to round out his game, but he has the offensive skillset to succeed. 

Despite not, being the top name, Thomas Harley is still a defenseman that’ll make an impact. He hasn’t scored a goal in 2021-22, but he does have 10 assists in 19 games with the Texas Stars in the AHL. He’s a very smooth skater and there’s a lot to like about his production offensively, but he still needs to work on his defensive game. He’s a name to remember on defense as the Stars have a plethora of talented defenseman already in the NHL.

The 2021 NHL draft was a big win for the Stars landing a two-way pivot in Wyatt Johnston. After playing in only seven games in 2020-21, they made a risky selection and it’s paying off.  Johnston has taken the OHL by storm as he’s first in scoring with 63 points and owns a 1.91 P/G average. They took advantage of other team’s mistakes by drafting an explosive skater and high-energy player in Logan Stankoven in the second-round. He shows no fear every time he’s on the ice and possesses an excellent shot. 

Wyatt Johnston Windsor Spitfires
Wyatt Johnston, Windsor Spitfires (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

There’s also the very sleek playmakers in Ayrton Martino and Connor Roulette. Not to mention the addition of Artyom Grushnikov and Jack Bar on defense really improved their prospect pool to replace some of the talent that has already graduated. All of the players have tremendous upside. 

The Stars have managed to improve tremendously by making really great selections. With the depth they have in all positions they appear to be poised to continue the trend of great talent that others may have passed on.

7) San Jose Sharks 

Previous Ranking: 22

Top Five Prospects: Thomas Bordeleau, William Eklund, Benjamin Gaudreau, Tristen Robins, Brandan Coe 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: William Eklund, Benjamin Gaudreau

The Sharks are the biggest riser as their prospects continue to show promise and produce. After a strong 2020 draft, the Sharks continued that trend by selecting two players that can end up being very crucial pieces to their success from the 2021 draft.

William Eklund shoots up as the Sharks’ top prospect and we’re seeing why. He has a great work ethic, quick hands and great speed making dangerous plays in all three zones. He’s constantly scanning the ice looking for the perfect lane to carry the puck or locate his teammates with his crisp and high-end passing. 

William Eklund San Jose Sharks
William Eklund, San Jose Sharks (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The biggest concern for the Sharks was their goaltending situation. They addressed that with Benjamin Gaudreau as he brings a calm and steady presence in net. He was steady in net for Canada at the World U18 Championship as he went 5-0-0 with 2.20 GAA and .919 SV%, winning a gold medal. He owns a 9-5-4 record for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL and a .905 SV% this season.

Three names from the 2020 draft are taking massive strides in their development. Thomas Bordeleau is once against standing out at Michigan of the NCAA. His playmaking is his greatest asset along with his speed skating. Tristen Robins is always displaying his hand and puck-handling skills as he can be both a passing or shooting threat.

The biggest surprise is the play of Brandon Coe. Currently second in OHL scoring with 60 points, Coe brings excellent strength and power. He utilizes that to his advantage very effectively to protect the puck and make a hard drive to the net. He always displays great awareness to help out on the back-check and provide a defensive presence. 

6) New Jersey Devils 

Previous Ranking: 4

Top Five Prospects: Arseni Gritsyuk, Nolan Foote, Alexander Holtz, Luke Hughes, Chase Stillman  

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Dawson Mercer

Key Additions: Luke Hughes

Even with Dawson Mercer in the NHL, there’s no shortage of talent in the Devils system. It all starts with Alexander Holtz. He’s a sharp shooter with great power and accuracy and is always making himself open for a prime scoring chance. He projects to be a top-line scorer and he continues to live up to that expectation.

Next in line is Jack Hughes’ brother, Luke. A stellar two-way defender with great offensive instincts, the fourth overall pick in 2021 displays great vision, confidence and poise when in control of the puck. Another member of a stacked Michigan team in the NCAA, Hughes has nine goals and 22 points in 25 games. He’s going to be a force on defense for years to come. 

Luke Hughes of the USDP
Luke Hughes of the USDP (Photo: Rena Laverty)

Nolan Foote is looking to make his name in the league soon. He’s tallied 16 points in 26 games in the AHL with Binghamton this season. He’s already seen some NHL time after he was called up last season and scored his first NHL goal, finishing with two points in six games. Foote has great size to protect the puck and is always powering his way through his opponents.

Areseni Gritsyuk is one name that continued to impress in the KHL. The speedy winger has an excellent shot that instantly makes him a threat every time in the offensive zone. He’s been outstanding, scoring 16 goals in his first full season with Avangard Omsk.

There’s also Chase Stillman, a quick and tenacious player with the ability to find the back of the net. Drafting Shakir Mukhamadullin in the first-round in 2020 was a questionable decision. While he’s a great puck-mover and may be an important piece, there’s still a lot of concern with his positioning and awareness in his own end. 

Regardless, the Devils are deep with young talent.

5) Buffalo Sabres

Previous Ranking: 12

Top Five Prospects: Owen Power, Peyton Krebs, J.J. Peterka, Jack Quinn, Isak Rosen 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Peyton Krebs

At times, the Sabres have looked great but still show signs that they’re rebuilding as a team. There were fortunate to draft Owen Power as he continues to come as advertised as a strong and mobile, two-way defender. His play with both Michigan and Canada at the World Juniors should give the Sabres comfort knowing that they aren’t rushing him as he continues to excel no matter where he’s at.

Related: Buffalo Sabres’ 5 Untouchable Prospects for 2021-22 

They’re even seeing big strides being taken by their 2020 selections. After a bit of a struggle in his first season, Jack Quinn is showing off his flashes of brilliance and creativity as a dynamic winger. His 35 points has him in top-five in AHL scoring and recently made his pro debut with the Sabres. Krebs came over in the deal for Jack Eichel and has seemed to form great chemistry with Quinn in the AHL. In 16 games he had 14 points, showing his strong and responsible game as a centreman. 

Jack Quinn Ottawa 67's
Jack Quinn of the Ottawa 67’s (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

J.J. Peterka is another standout who is getting a look with the Sabres. There’s already signs that he belongs as he’s displaying his work ethic and skillset. His high compete level is definitely going to be a major bonus for the team going forward. 

Isak Rosen’s agility, speed and shot are big reasons why the Sabres selected him 14th overall in 2021. Similar to Peterka, he plays with great determination and confidence that makes him a factor.

The Sabres have a potential starter Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as he has great size and technical skills in the crease. As he continues to develop, it won’t be long before he finds himself with the Sabres consistently in the future. Let’s not forget Devon Levi as he continues to be a stalwart in goal, having 16 wins, a .953 SV% and 1.39 GAA for Northeastern University.

4) Minnesota Wild

Previous Ranking: 14

Top Five Prospects: Calen Addison, Adam Beckman, Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi, Jesper Wallstedt 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: N/A

Key Additions: Carson Lambos, Jack Peart, Jesper Wallstedt

No Kirill Kaprizov in the system, no problem. The Wild still have a deep pool and they’re starting to reap the rewards.

It starts with the Wild’s next backstop in net with Jesper Wallstedt. Viewed as a potential top-10 pick, the Wild snagged him 20th overall in 2021. His high-end vision to track the puck and calm demeanor in net makes him the top candidate to be their starter for years to come. He’s part of the next wave of young and talented goaltenders to take the league by storm. 

It won’t be long before we see two players get more consistent time in the NHL. Drafted ninth overall in 2020, Rossi has a high-end compete level and drive that just won’t quit. It was a scary year for him as he was dealing with COVID-19 and the complications that followed afterwards as he was diagnosed with myocarditis. It appears that he is healthy and back on the ice training. After recording 26 points in 26 games with the Iowa Wild in the AHL, Rossi made the jump and he fully deserves the promotion.  

Marco Rossi Minnesota Wild
Marco Rossi, Minnesota Wild (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Matthew Boldy also joined Rossi making his jump to the NHL after being a point per game player in the AHL. He has excellent hands, control and speed that makes him difficult to contain. With his skillset and shot in the NHL, the Wild become even more dangerous up front.

Related: Top 10 Wild Prospects for the 2021-22 Season 

There’s also Adam Beckman who brings a shooter mentality and Marat Khusnutdinov and Alex Khovanov who are smart playmakers that give the Wild more depth and balance.

On the blueline, Calen Addison is a dynamic offensive minded player and is very composed when he’s on the ice. I was a big fan of Ryan O’Rourke in the OHL. The Wild have a strong two-way defensemen that likes to get under the opposition’s skin. Add in the smarts and mobility that Carson Lambos and Jack Peart, they have more weapons on the blueline.

The Wild have ample depth throughout their farm system with a great balance of speed, skill and smarts. 

3) Anaheim Ducks

Previous Ranking: 2

Top Five Prospects: Lukas Dostal, Mason McTavish, Jacob Perrault, Sasha Pastujov, Olen Zellweger 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Jamie Drysdale, Trevor Zegras

Key Additions: Mason McTavish, Sasha Pastujov, Olen Zellweger

The Anaheim Ducks find themselves in a really great spot, even with centre Trevor Zegras and defenseman Jamie Drysdale graduating to the NHL.

Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes
Mason McTavish of the Peterborough Petes (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Ducks fans can look no further than Mason McTavish as the top prospect in their system. McTavish brings a great balance of everything to the table. He has great size and strength to protect the puck and has a powerful shot from anywhere on the ice. He has a strong work ethic and is constantly engaged on the cycle or in battles for the puck.

Jacob Perreualt and Sasha Pastujov are next in terms of being offensive powerhouses. Perreault is another strong shooter with offense always on his mind. Pastujov displays great hands and play-making abilities. He’s quick with his movements including an accurate shot as he has 22 goals in 29 games for the Guelph Storm in the OHL.

Related: Anaheim Ducks’ Top 10 Prospects for 2021-22

Olen Zellweger is a fantastic skater when he has possession of the puck. His movements are fluid and has great vision to pick his lanes on the ice. He’s great with his passing, especially when he’s stretching the play forward with long accurate breakout passes. He’s got great awareness without the puck and is a great presence in his own end.

Even though the Ducks have John Gibson in net, Lukas Dostal remains a great back-up option. While he’s not having as strong of a season in the AHL like he did last season, Dostal was able to get a call-up and has answered the call. He went 1-1-0 with .929 SV% and 2.54 GAA. 

2) Detroit Red Wings

Previous Ranking: 3

Top Five Prospects: Jonatan Berggren, Sebastian Cossa, Simon Edvinsson, Theodor Neiderbach, Emil Viro 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider

Key Additions: Sebastian Cossa, Simon Edvinsson

Even with Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider putting themselves in the Rookie of the Year conversation, the Red Wings pipeline remains well stocked.

Related: Detroit Red Wings’ ‘Untouchable’ Prospects for 2021-22

It all starts with Simon Edvinsson. I had some concerns with Edvinsson’s ability to pivot and being beat to the inside or outside, but there is a lot of improvement in that regard. He’s a fantastic skater with great mobility for his size, which was on display at the World Juniors. When he transitions to North America, it’s going to be fun seeing him as a potential partner with Seider.

Jonatan Berggren is a player that seems to be getting lost in the hype around Seider and Raymond. He has very great control of the puck and is very deceptive with his movements as a result of his skating. He plays at a very fast pace and can be very elusive in the offensive zone.

Jonatan Berggren Grand Rapids Griffins
Jonatan Berggren, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Theodor Niederbach, Eemil Viro, Red Savage, Jared McIssac and Donovan Sebrango are also names that should be kept a close eye on. All of which have great upside and continue to show progress with their play. 

The rich keep getting richer and the Red Wings are sitting on top of some valuable pieces for the future. 

1) Los Angeles Kings

Previous Ranking: 1

Top Five Prospects: Quinton Byfield, Brandt Clarke, Martin Chromiak, Francesco Pinelli, Alex Turcotte 

Key Graduates/Subtractions: Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari

Key Additions: Brandt Clarke, Francesco Pinelli

With the names that the Los Angeles Kings have in their system there isn’t any surprise that they remain as the team with the deepest farm system.

Related: Los Angeles Kings’ Top 10 Prospects – January 2022 

It all starts with Quinton Byfield. Byfield had a good chance to make the roster out of camp and make an impact, but an ankle injury kept him out for a significant amount of time. Byfield has everything you want in a number one centreman. He’s quick for his size, has great strength to shield the puck and soft hands being able to make multiple moves in tight spaces. A promising career is about to blossom as he made his NHL debut recently.

Quinton Byfield LA Kings
Quinton Byfield, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

They also have Alex Turotte, who displays excellent play-making abilities and Francesco Pinelli who has great vision and IQ. These three players are going to be major pieces for the Kings up the middle for years to come.

There’s still the skill and speed that Martin Chromiak, Akil Thomas and Samuel Fagemo up front, making them the deepest team at the forward position out there. It’ll be really entertaining to see all of them in the NHL once they make the jump.

The talent continues on the blueline with Brock Faber, Helge Grans, Jordan Spence and 2021 first-round pick Brandt Clarke, who is taking the OHL by storm with his production as a defenseman. The Kings have a great blend of mobility and defensive awareness with their current crop of defensive prospects.

If there’s another bright spot for the Kings, it’s the play of Samuel Helenius. Similar to Byfield, he has excellent strength to intimidate the opposition. More importantly, he’s starting to take more strides in his offensive production. 

What are your thoughts on your favourite team’s ranking? Leave a comment below!