Talking about the prospects is one of my favorite things to do, so seeing that the HF list is now out makes me smile today. Here are the rankings:
I assume that most of you know how the linked listing works but for anyone who doesnt the way it goes is ranking this year, ranking last year, position, grade, likelihood of reaching potential grade. Join me after the jump for a discussion of the rankings and how I might tweak them if I were making the list.The obvious change that was made in this years list was the jump by Chris Kreider to the number 1 spot, passing both Grachev and Stepan along the way. I have no problem with Kreider at number because the upside on his talent is immense and if he can play a full season with the skill level he showed from the World U20 Junior Tourney through the end of the college season we not only have a top prospect for our system but probably a Top 10-15 prospect in the league heading into next year. All the reports on him from the development camp were high and the Rangers believed he was physically ready to come out this year, but he will spend the year at BC and compete for a spot on this squad next year. Remember we do have a few open LW spots with Vinny, Frolov on 1 year deals and who knows what they are going to do with Dubi.
At number 2 I would have put Derek Stepan ahead of Evgeny Grachev probably not based on pure talent but the combination of talent, leadership and all around play. Grachev will certainly have a higher wow factor with individual moves but Stepan will certainly have them by using his amazing vision and touch to create and execute beautiful passing plays. The other reason that I put Stepan ahead of Grachev is something based on the game commentary of this week in Traverse City, which is the consistency of impact on a game. Grachev can be the best player on the ice one night and invisible the next while each game Stepan is a big factor. Finally going for Stepan is a thing we around here hate to talk about but it is the intangibles of playing excellent defensive hockey and his leadership. The biggest weakness in Stepan's game right now is clearly his face-offs, but hopefully being in camp with guys like Dru and EC will help with that some. I dont think either are ready to be with the club out of camp because the club is focused on the dash for 8th again and I would rather see both play together 20 min a night in hartford than play sparingly here.
For me ranking MZA is a difficult thing as is really calling him a prospect just because of how good he was in the 2nd best league in the world. 4 seems like a fine spot to put him.
Of the list Ryan McDonagh is clearly the most NHL ready this year and should make the club out of training camp. He has all the physical tools to be a very solid defensive d this season and we will see how the offense develops. According to all the reports (obviously with Ranger bias) he was very good on the defensive end this week in TC and also found the score sheet a few times.
At 6 I would have put Ethan Werek ahead of Dylan McIlrath because I see Dylan as a few years away where Werek can probably be here in a year, 2 at the most. Werek had a great year last year improving significantly on his weakest areas and he seems so driven to put on the Ranger sweater. All reports have him fully recovered from the knee injury and surgery he had earlier this year. Should be fun to see how he stacks up at camp and would have been fun for him to be in Hartford this year but with the CHL rules he would be headed back to the OHL though another year with Doug Gilmour would not be a bad thing for him.
We have talked a lot about Dylan so not much else to say other than "the truck" will be here to make his deliveries in a few years, slotting in at 7 this year.
In the biggest differential between the HF list and the one I would make is here at 8 with me moving Roman Horak who they listed at 16. Horak to me is at a baseline the protypical checking line center who is very dangerous going the other way. He had a very good year last year in the WHL not only scoring, but scoring big goals for his club in all phases of the game. There is offensive upside there that can certainly push him up onto the 2nd or 3rd line as well. Also he might be the best faceoff man of all our "center" prospects.
At 9 I would put Chad Johnson who I think has already shown he is an NHL capable backup, but better for him to play a full year at Hartford, so I like the Biron move other than I think it is a year too long. CJ will be pushed some this year with the signing of UFA Cam Talbot.
Finally at 10 would be Carl Hagelin the senior from Michigan who took huge strides this past year and will once again play on the top line for one of the top programs in the college ranks. excellent speed, and a toughness you dont see from a lot of euro players makes him an intriguing guy to look out for next year.
Thomas Kundratek (will he stay in NA)
Christian Thomas (question with him is certainly not skill, just being 5' 9")
Andrew Yogan (talent not in question)
Mike Sauer (would be higher on skill but doesnt fit Torts system)
It is fun to make a prospect list where you truly believe on talent that the top 6 guys on the list could all crack the NHL roster by the end of next year. ok, have at it.