2011 NHL organizational rankings
Florida takes home the prize for having the deepest and most talented prospect pool
With another draft behind us and the start of a new season upon us, it's time to rank the 30 NHL teams in terms of the depth of their talent. What teams are in good shape and which are lacking in the talent department moving forward?
When looking at this list it's important to remember that various circumstances can affect each team's talent level, and that the better you finish each year, the later you pick in the draft. In many cases, teams have traded away top prospects in order to be one of the top teams today.
In determining the total number of prospects for each team, we counted draft picks, signed or unsigned, and players on the respective reserve lists who have not cracked an NHL roster on a regular basis. I count a player as a top prospect if I believe he will play a regular role on an NHL team, either this season or in coming seasons.
Even though the total number of prospects may be higher on one team, quality of prospects is taken into consideration when ranking them in the order you see below. If your team has both quality and quantity, then there's a good chance the team will be near the top of this list.
The Panthers have the most blue-chippers coming down the pipeline, and Jonathan Huberdeau (third overall, 2011) leads a long list of players who will play, and well, at the NHL level. He is a leader, loaded with desire and talent, and has a knack for making big plays. Eric Gudbranson (third overall, 2010) is ready to make the jump from juniors to the NHL, and there's also Quinton Howden (25th overall, 2010), and Nick Bjugstad (19th overall, 2010). All the Panthers need now is time to let their top prospects develop.
Also on the radar: Jacob Markstrom (31st overall, 2008), Alex Petrovic (36th overall, 2010) and Rocco Grimaldi (33rd overall, 2011)
Total number of top prospects: 15
Stocking up on top picks year after year pays dividends. For evidence, look no further than the Oilers' roster, which includes Taylor Hall (first overall, 2010), Magnus Paajarvi (10th overall, 2009), and Jordan Eberle (22nd overall, 2008). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the 2011 first overall pick, leads the list of prospects yet to reach NHL ice. But that may soon change. He is an extremely talented centerman with a high-end hockey IQ and an evasiveness that will allow him to find time and space, especially with better players on the ice around him.
Also on the radar: Tyler Pitlick (31st overall, 2010) and Martin Marincin (46th overall, 2010)
Total number of top prospects: 14
With defenseman Erik Karlsson(15th overall, 2008) already shining with the Senators, Ottawa has a number of additional young D-men coming down the pipeline. David Rundblad, formerly the 17th overall pick of St. Louis, has a chance to make this season's team and will battle with highly touted defenseman Jared Cowen (ninth overall, 2009). Mika Zibanejad (sixth overall, 2011) made honorable mention on my list of top 10 prospects who are most likely to play this year, and he will push to stay in Ottawa. His size, skating and overall two-way game will make it hard for the Sens brass to send him back to Sweden.
Also on the radar: Stefan Noesen (21st overall, 2011) and Matthew Puempel (24th overall, 2011).
Total number of top prospects: 14
To read Grant Sonier's full organizational rankings, including the write-ups for top-five teams Chicago and Detroit, you must be an ESPN Insider.