What NHL franchise has the best prospects? That can be a difficult and subjective question to answer.
To give it our best shot, the senior staff at DobberProspects has collaborated to give our personal rankings for each team. With that, we have established a consensus ranking.
Peter Harling (Content Manager) has put together a team consisting of Cam Robinson (Managing Editor), Jokke Nevalainen (Director of European Scouting), Tony Ferrari (Director of North American Scouting), Brayden Olafson (Jr. Associate Editor), and Pat Quinn (Associate Editor).
The process for the final rankings consisted of each writer submitting their team’s prospect rankings. Every NHL team scored no less than a top ten prospects. However, to find organizations that have depth as well as quality, we allowed writers to include additional prospects (up to a top 15) if they felt they were fantasy relevant. Another bonus we awarded teams was if they had roster players under 21-years-old that had established themselves as NHL players, such as Andrei Svechnikov. Players older than 25-year-old were excluded. For the players ranked, they would be scored between 1-10, a ten being a potential franchise player. The total of all the scores determines the overall team score.
This series of articles will release the results in a count down of 5-6 teams per article, revealing the team’s overall score, each writer’s score, top prospects, and an overview or outlook of the future.
In case you missed previous rankings you can find them on our Organizational Rankings Page
In the conclusion of the series, this edition looks at the top three ranked organizations
But before I dive into the three top teams, let’s take a closer look at how the six contributing writers voted. The chart below contains each writes overall score for each team and is ranked from 31st down to number one.
Some observations of note;
- Highest score given – 96.5 by Cam to Carolina
- Lowest score given – 28 by Peter to Washington
- Number of teams with a score less than 50 by each writer:
- Brayden – 8
- Peter – 9
- Tony – 5
- Cam – 9
- Jokke – 7
- Pat – 1 (Pat loves everyone)
- Number of teams with a score higher than 80:
- Brayden – 6
- Peter – 2
- Tony – 6
- Cam – 2
- Jokke – 5
- Pat – 7
The next graph is another example but in bar graph format if you prefer a more visual representation.
I have to admit while researching and preparing this series has been a tremendous amount of work, it has been a very enlightening exercise.
First getting contributions from five additional writers was critical. It is obvious how subjective player ranking can be. Seeing such drastic discrepancies between writers on players and even entire organizations was surprising.
It was perhaps most interesting to see the mid-to-lower ranked prospects as some writers listed prospects I did not consider. Upon researching the articles each week I came to become familiar with several prospects I believe I was undervaluing. Players such as Ilya Konovalov, Ruslan Iskhakov, Cole Schwindt, Antti Tuomisto, and Lauri Pajuniemi.
Conversely, there were a few players I may be grossly overrating as I had several players ranked higher than my peers. Players such as Chase Priskie, Brinson Pasichnuk, John Leonard, Mitch Reinkie, Jack Dugan, and Jimmy Schuldt.
What I found most valuable from this entire process, and is something you as a reader can also value from, is the fantasy hockey takeaways.
First, the obvious. Finding players that were not on your radar, or you never heard of. If you don’t watch much Liiga hockey you probably never heard of the New York Rangers 2018 fifth-round pick Lauri Pajuniemi. Or if you don’t follow college hockey, you may not be aware of John Leonard.
Next is players ranked higher than you would have thought. How this is extremely applicable is because these are not an individual’s ranking. It’s not just Peter Harling’s rankings, it is a consensus of the top writers at DobberProspects. So for a player to be ranked higher than you thought, probably means you are undervaluing him.
This is learning about your own bias towards certain players. Similar to seeing players ranked too low, seeing players you think are great (probably players you own on your fantasy team) that failed to crack their teams top ten. I can say this happened to me with several players (Yegor Rykov, Olof Lindbom, and Caleb Jones) These are probably players I am overvaluing and may need to think harder about their value and upside.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these series as much as I have had writing and researching them. Now without any further ado, the top three teams in the DobberProspects 20-21 Organizational Rankings.
3. LA Kings – 85.4
Brayden – 93.6
Peter – 85
Tony – 93.1
Cam – 70.5
Jokke – 84
Pat – 86
Prospect Depth Chart
Top Ten Prospects
- Alex Turcotte, C – One and done at U. Of Wisconsin. Disappointed at WJC with USA.
- Arthur Kaliyev, LW – OHL sniper produced at WJC with USA, has one more year of junior.
- Tyler Madden, C – Acquired in Tyler Toffoli trade, then signed his ELC. King of cellys.
- Samuel Fagemo, RW – Dominated WJC with eight goals and 13 points in seven games.
- Rasmus Kupari, C – First year in N.A. and WJC cut short to injury.
- Tobias Bjornfot, D – Made the Kings but assigned to Ontario after three NHL games.
- Akil Thomas, C – Scored the Golden Goal for Canada at WJC to highlight Jr. career.
- Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C – Versatile with a high floor, but may top out on the third line.
- Kale Clague, D – Improving defense and adding size as a rookie pro.
- Carl Grundstrom, LW – Sliding in rankings as competition improves.
Other Players To Receive Votes:
Aidan Dudas, C; Jordan Spence, D; Sean Durzi, D; Mikey Anderson, D; Kim Nousiainen, D; Sheldon Rempal, L/R; Johan Sodergran, L/R; Lukas Parik, G; Cal Petersen, G; Matt Luff, RW; Andre Lee, C; Bulat Shafigullin, LW.
Roster Players 21 And Under:
Gabriel Vilardi, C.
After enjoying a very successful Cup-winning run the Kings are now on the downside and in the NHL basement. On the positive side, they have some Stanley Cup banners and a brimming prospect pool. A big question mark going forward will be the health of their 2017 first-round pick Gabriel Vilardi. A serious back injury cost him all but four games of his first pro season. It has been a lingering injury that limited Vilardi to 32 games his D+1 season and 49 in his draft year. The injury also cost Vilardi to miss the team’s training camp and he did not return to play until late November. After playing in 32 games in the AHL he was recalled to the NHL and posted seven points in the final ten games. It was an optimistic outlook for the potential first-line center.
The Kings other option for potential star center is pivot Alex Turcotte, who after his freshman season signed on with the Kings. The 2019 fifth overall pick posted 26 points in 29 games with the University of Wisconsin, but was used in more of a defensive role at the WJC with Team USA and only managed two points. Turcotte compares to Hawks Jonathan Toews as he is a solid two-way player that can play a physical game despite his smaller size. If Vilardi can develop into a healthy number one center, Turcotte would be an ideal support second-line center.
Further centers that may need to convert to the wing or be traded to roster other positions include Tyler Madden, Rasmus Kupari, Akil Thomas, and Aiden Dudas.
The Kings are very deep down the middle. Sniper Arthur Kaliyev is their best prospect on the wing. The American winger has been lighting the lamp in the OHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs to the tune of 31, 51 and 44 goals for the past three seasons. While there may be questions about his ability to score at the NHL level where he will have much less time and space and elite goalies to beat may have been satisfied by his performance with the USA at the WJC where he dominated with four goals in five games.
Speaking of dominating at the WJC, how about Samuel Fagemo scoring eight goals and 13 points in seven games for Sweden to lead the tournament in goals and points! His offense was key to help a defensively strong Sweden score some goals and get them to a Bronze Medal. In fact, Fagemo had a breakout season scoring 13 goals ( most goals in SHL by a Junior) and 22 points in 42 SHL games for Frolunda. He also repeated as Champions League Champion and was denied a playoff and opportunity the duplicate an SHL Championship. Fagemo is signed by the Kings and should come to North America next season, likely developing in the AHL before his energy earns him an NHL roster spot.
The Kings top defensive prospect is Tobias Bjornfot, who started the year in the NHL, but after three games was assigned to the AHL for 53 games of quality ice time and development. The Kings 2019 22nd overall pick has top-pairing upside as he is a good skating and smart two-way player. He is not necessarily a flashy number one defenseman though, and a logical target for the Kings in the 2020 draft would be Jamie Drysdale.
Perhaps the Kings biggest organizational need is in goal. Franchise goalie Jonathan Quick does not have much tread left on the tire. 25-year-old Cal Petersen is the current heir apparent and backup. Beyond that there isn’t much hope in goal within the organization right now, look for the Kings to try to address that either via draft or trade before long.
2. Ottawa Senators – 87.2
Brayden – 88.4
Peter – 75
Tony – 88.6
Cam – 86
Jokke – 92
Pat – 93
Prospect Depth Chart
|| Jonathan Davidsson
Top Ten Prospects
- Eric Brannstrom, D – Acquired in Mark Stone trade, he has Makar and Hughes upside.
- Drake Batherson, RW- 54 points in 44 AHL games, he is ready for the NHL.
- Josh Norris, C – Lead AHL rookies in goals and points. Next stop NHL!
- Logan Brown, C – Split season between NHL and AHL, should be in NHL full time.
- Alex Formenton, LW – Burner spent the first full pro season in AHL, posted 27 goals.
- Vitali Abramov, RW – High energy, high skill, high ceiling, starting to find consistency in AHL
- Lassi Thomson, D – Left WHL to return to Finland, has another year in Liiga at least.
- Shane Pinto, C – Played his way onto Team USA for WJ and won NCHC Rookie of the Year.
- Jacob Bernard-Docker, D – Impressively made Canada WJC roster, will return to NCAA.
- Filip Gustavsson, G – Lots of competition in goal, but has starting potential in NHL.
Other Players To Receive Votes:
Joey Daccord, G; Marcus Hogberg, G; Mads Sogaard, G; Jonathan Davidsson, RW; Filip Chlapik, C; Jonny Tychonick, D; Rudolfs Balcres, LW; John Gruden, LW; Jakov Novak, LW; Olle Alsing, D; Viktor Lodin, LW; Max Lajoie, D.
Roster Players 21 And Under
Brady Tkachuk, LW.
The Sens have the second-best ranked prospect pool and own two lottery picks in the 2020 draft and will make a total of seven selections before the 54th pick!
Imagine if Ottawa ends up with two top-five picks giving them the ability to add two of Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, Tim Stutzle, Lucas Raymond, Jamie Drysdale, or Marco Rossi to their already rich pool of prospects!
Ottawa will need to graduate several players from their AHL ranks soon to accommodate their growing pool of players. Allowing prospects like Brannstrom, Batherson, Norris, Brown, and Formenton to develop in the AHL was the right move. Ottawa is in a rebuild so insulate those young players from a difficult environment of losing, give them lots of ice time and confidence in the AHL. With the Sens farm team only a short drive away in Belleville Ontario, the Sens took full advantage of the proximity and kept a steady stream of players moving between the two teams. This not only allowed for quick injury relief but kept the AHL roster players motivated and engaged with the NHL roster.
Voting among the writers was pretty consistent. Brannstrom received the most votes for top prospect, Batherson, Brown, and Norris were almost always in the top five in some orderer another.
One of the more interesting battles looking forward will be in goal. Ottawa owns several promising prospects in Gustavsson, Daccord, Hogberg, and Sogaard. With Craig Anderson as a UFA and pushing 40, the door is open for a starting goalie. While none of the current prospects are ready for the job they all have the potential. So is a short term free agent the solution, possibly resign Anderson for a one-year-deal? What if the Sens use one of their picks on Yaroslav Askarov? He would instantly be their top prospect but is even further away.
Ottawa has good options on defense as well. Thomas Chabot is an established NHL player and soon to be a star. Brannstrom will join him as the team’s undisputed top pair. Lassi Thomson and Jacob Bernard-Docker have the ability to play a middle-six role helping to insulate the future.
Ottawa ownership has been flat-out awful and is a big reason why the team is at the bottom of the NHL and why roster turnover has been so high. But give credit to GM Pierre Dorion and his scouting staff, this organization is building something special from the ground up!
1. Carolina Hurricanes – 88.2
Brayden – 84.1
Peter – 78
Tony – 87.8
Cam – 96.5
Jokke – 91
Pat – 92
Prospect Depth Chart
Top Ten Prospects
- Dominik Bokk, RW – Key piece in Faulk trade, had a breakout at WJC with six goals.
- Ryan Suzuki, C – Going back to Saginaw to dominate OHL and play for Canada at WJC.
- Jake Bean, D – Dominated AHL as league-leading scorer among defenders. He is ready.
- Jamieson Rees, C -14-game point streak helped season totals of 61 points in 38 games.
- Alex Nedeljkovic, G – Slow cooking since the 2014 draft, it’s now or never.
- Patrik Puistola, LW – Breakout eight-point WJC performance suggests big Liiga is next.
- Joey Keane, D – Acquired in Julien Gauthier trade, he is the best right-shot D in the pipe.
- Pyotr Kochetkov, G – Future starting goalie had breakout WJC with Russia in 2019
- Stelio Mattheos, RW – Lost season to injuries, but will be back 100% healthy for 2020-21
- Anttoni Honka, D – Found stability in Liiga in D+1 season and posted 19 points.
Other Players To Receive Votes:
Tuukka Tieksola, RW; Morgan Geekie, C; Jack Drury, C; Oliwer Kaski, D; David Cotton, C; Kirill Slepets, RW; Roland McKeown, D; Domenick Fensore, D
Roster Players 21 And Under
Andrei Svechnikov, LW; Martin Necas, C
Carolina was rewarded with the best ranking on the virtue of having a very deep pool of quality prospects. Every writer listed several other fantasy-relevant prospects beyond their top ten. In addition to their depth, bonus points were awarded for Svechnikov and Necas. What I found interesting was the disparity of the ranking. Bokk received four votes as the top prospect, one for second and one for third. That’s not bad. But looking at Rees who was ranked first, ninth, second, tenth, third, and fifth as an example of one player who was all over the map. Another surprise for me was only one writer included Tieksola in the top ten after his breakout season. This is not to suggest the writers didn’t notice his season but speaks to the quality of competition to make this team’s top ten.
While some teams like the Rangers and Sent have focused on quick rebuilds, Carolina should give a lot of the credit for being our top-ranked organization to former GM Ron Francis. Ronnie Franchise inherited a sinking ship with empty prospect cupboards and did an admirable job of replenishing via scouting, drafting, trades, free agents, and player development.
While researching Carolina prospects for the DobberProspects Fantasy Prospect Report I noticed Carolina has an affinity for players coming through the Barrie Colts system in the OHL. Barrie has been coached by NHL Hall Of Famer Dale Hawerchuk and former Colts in the organization include Svechnikov, Suzuki, and Keane. Another team that has a similar affinity for an OHL team would have to be New Jersey with the Ottawa 67’s.
Carolina has a balanced age in terms of prospects that should provide a steady flow of development and graduation to the NHL. Svechnikov, Necas, Aho, Fleury, Pesce, Foegele, and Teravainen are all under 25-years-old and already on the roster. Look for Bean, Geekie, and Nedeljkovic to win roster spots for the coming campaign as well. That will open up spots in the AHL for the likes of Bokk, Mattheos, and Keane to play key roles.
Carolina also signed 2015 sixth-round pick David Cotton. The big Texan played four seasons in NCAA with Boston College and his big upside. Suzuki and Rees will return to their OHL teams and should be dominant offensive players in their final season of eligibility before turning pro the following season.
What separates Carolina from the other teams in the top three is that Carolina is already a competitive team and not at the bottom of the standings. With the sustainable prospect pool this organization has developed there should be hope that Carolina can build a strong fanbase in Raleigh by virtue of a long run of success and winning hockey.
That concludes the 2020 DobberProspects Organizational Rankings. The first edition of this was a very successful series but this year has been significantly expanded based largely on the feedback from readers. I hope you have enjoyed reading these as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I want to thank again the writers who contributed their rankings. It is a very time-consuming process and we had a lot of debate about what criteria to follow. But this would not have been possible without the contributions of Brayden Olofson, Tony Ferrari, Cam Robinson, Jokke Nevalainen, and Pat Quinn. Thanks, boys.