Ranking the top 50 prospects in the NHL ahead of the 2021-22 season

Introduction

With the 2021-22 NHL season right around the corner, teams are finalizing their rosters and figuring out which players fit into their future plans. Fans are always excited about their teams top prospects at this time so I have decided to rank the top 50 of them league-wide. To be considered a prospect, a player must be at born in 1997 or later and have less than 50 career NHL games played.

Enjoy the list and don’t be too hard on me if your favourite prospect is three spots lower than you’d like!

1. Quinton Byfield, C, Los Angeles Kings

I had a tough time choosing who to put #1. It was between Byfield, Caufield, and Zegras. Ultimately, Byfield has the highest potential of any prospect in the league. His combination of size, speed and skill makes him a threat all over the ice. It will take him some time to adjust to the NHL but once he sorts out, he has elite 1C potential. I also think an underrated part of his game is his all-around play– he has such a long reach and is quite quick, so he can be a menace in the forecheck and in the defensive zone. A recent injury delays the start to his rookie season, but he should be back and ready to play at some point this season. With Byfield, remember the focus is long-term. It took him a while to adjust to the OHL, to the AHL, and to World Junior play. That’s just the type of player he is. If he struggles at first, don’t be alarmed.

2. Cole Caufield, RW, Montreal Canadiens

Caufield and Zegras are neck and neck in my rankings, but one had to go in front of the other. I think Caufield’s skills will take him to first line levels quickly. He has a more proven goal-scoring ability than Zegras and to me that’s what will set him apart, although the difference is ever-so-slight. Caufield is expected to do big things in his rookie season. I think we’ll see that just that. I also think we will see him score 40+ goals on multiple occasions in his career. The Hobey Baker winner was excellent in his brief stint with Montreal last year, and I see no reason why he won’t be given plenty of opportunity this year to succeed.

3. Trevor Zegras, C, Anaheim Ducks

Zegras finishes third on my list. I have never been as high on Zegras as the general public in the past but last season really changed my mind. In his first season of pro hockey, Zegras was a star at the AHL level and a serviceable efficient middle-six centre at the NHL level. As was expected, he made the highlight reel many times, making some incredible passes and scoring some nifty goals. With only 24 games played last year, Zegras was one short of staying in Calder Trophy eligibility. With Anaheim’s lackluster depth at forward, Zegras should get every opportunity to produce and win the Calder.

4. Owen Power, LHD, Buffalo Sabres

The most recent first overall pick has elected to return to Michigan for his D+1 season.  Power has improved consistently since his slow start for Michigan last year. The argument could be made that he was Canada’s top defenseman at the World Championships in May, on a roster that featured numerous NHLers. Now, he goes back to Michigan expected to contend for Hobey Baker honours. He will also be penciled in as the #1 d-man on Team Canada’s roster for the World Juniors barring an unexpected return from Jamie Drysdale.  Power is 6’5″ but he also can skate very well, defend effectively, and be a contributor offensively. When he starts for Buffalo in 2022-23, he will be an instant top-four defenseman.

5. Moritz Seider, RHD, Detroit Red Wings

Moritz Seider is coming off a huge season in the SHL that saw him win SHL defenseman of the year. In a league similarly as difficult as the AHL, this is an incredible accomplishment for a 19-year-old player. Seider made some headlines around Twitter for getting danced by Patrik Laine in preseason. It was a bad rookie mistake, but don’t be concerned– Seider is going to be an incredible two-way defender right away for the Red Wings. I don’t think he will win the Calder (usually contingent on point production), but I do think he has a chance to be the most impactful rookie in the league.

6. Dylan Cozens, C, Buffalo Sabres

Cozens is pretty much an NHLer at this point. However, he still qualifies for my list because he hasn’t yet reached 50 NHL games. Cozens’ first season on the dysfunctional Sabres was good but not great. He did what he was expected to do but didn’t go beyond that. The good news for Cozens is that the Sabres are looking very thin this year so he will be given lots of opportunity to become a top six player. Look for him to improve significantly on his 26 point pace from last season to somewhere between 40 and 60. Cozens’ size and speed has the Sabres very intrigued by his potential. It’s not hard to see him as a two-way top-six centre who thrived at even strength.

7. Cole Perfetti, LW, Winnipeg Jets

I was very high on Perfetti in his draft season and continue to be to this day. We already know the flaws with Perfetti– size, top speed, and physicality. However, nearly every other skill in Perfetti’s arsenal checks out as above average-to-elite. His offensive awareness is likely his best trait, his hands are magic, and he can rip the puck. I was a little nervous about his transition to professional hockey but after a successful rookie AHL season of 26 points in 32 games, Perfetti looks like he can keep up with the pros. Whether or not he makes/sticks in the NHL this season, he’ll get there eventually and he’ll be a powerplay wizard when he does.

8. Jamie Drysdale, RHD, Anaheim Ducks

I was very impressed with what I saw from Drysdale with the Ducks last season. Rarely does an 18-year-old defenseman at 5’10”, ~160 lbs. succeed or rather, get a chance to succeed in the NHL. However, Drysdale used his best attributes very effectively in his NHL stint, earning almost 20 minutes of TOI per game in the process. He was very poised with and without the puck, used his skating to escape forecheckers and to rush the puck up ice, and created some offense from the point. The way Drysdale thinks the game and slows it down is fascinating because it’s in contrast to some of these other young, small, offensive defensemen we’ve seen come into the NHL recently.

9. Lucas Raymond, RW, Detroit Red Wings

Raymond was a bit of a polarizing prospect for the Twitter world at the 2020 Draft. Some saw him outside the top-10 and others saw him as the 3rd best player in the draft. After limited ice time in his rookie SHL season, Raymond had more opportunity last year and improved his production to 18 points in 34 games. Raymond’s skill is very reminiscent of fellow Swede Elias Pettersson– that being the four-way lateral skating ability, the wide stick-handling technique, the elite offensive awareness, and the deadly accurate shot. He’s not quite on Pettersson’s level nor does he have the height or length of Pettersson, but Raymond should be able to become a top line player for the Red Wings.

10. Bowen Byram, LHD, Colorado Avalanche

Byram didn’t have a chance to do much in his 19-game stint last season with so many talented blueliners ahead of him on the Avalanche. This year, he will be more of a regular. Byram has a brilliant offensive mind and plays with poise so it’s easy to see him being an impact player this season. Makar will rightfully hog a lot of the powerplay opportunity, but I think Byram at least deserves to get a chance to quarterback the second unit. I think this year, we will really see Byram add some confidence and start to break out of his shell. If he played on a team that actually needed defense help, he would be getting a lot more hype and Calder consideration than he’s getting right now.

11. Matthew Beniers, C, Seattle Kraken

Beniers was probably the right choice for the Kraken at 2nd overall. Beniers reeks of two-way top-six centre material. He can push the play forward with his pace and be a disruption to opponents at both ends of the ice. There’s no question Beniers’ transition to the NHL will be smooth. However, another year playing for Michigan certainly won’t hurt his development. I would like to see him take this year to fine-tune his playmaking and goal-scoring abilities. His stat line from last year, although impressive, is not on the same page as recent top-5 picks. If he can take a step forward offensively this year for Michigan, that bodes well for his long-term potential.

12. Alex Newhook, C, Colorado Avalanche

Newhook was my favourite prospect ahead of the 2019 draft. I had him ranked sixth on my final rankings that year and I stand by it. Newhook has had no trouble adjusting to pro hockey after a successful two seasons at Boston College, even earning himself 8 playoff appearances for the deep Avalanche. Newhook has a style of play that can work well on any line, but it’s his quickness, puck control, and offensive awareness that we will see him become a top-6 player down the line. Given the talent that’s available for the Avs up front, I’m not sure how important of a role Newhook will get this season..

13. Jake Sanderson, LHD, Ottawa Senators

Sanderson has been developing quite nicely since he entered his draft season ranked as a borderline 1st rounder. Now going into his second and likely final season at North Dakota, Sanderson will be more than NHL ready by the time he suits up for the Senators. He is a near-lock to be effective at everything at the NHL level except for his offense, which I think he really needs to work on this season to become the complete package defenseman he was drafted as. Should be USA’s top player at the World Junior’s in December and is expected to compete for the Hobey Baker.

14. Spencer Knight, G, Florida Panthers

Occupying the top goalie spot is Spencer Knight, who will make the big transition straight from college hockey to the NHL in 2021-22. Knight was great in his brief debut for the Panthers last season and will look to carry that momentum into his rookie season. How many games will he play this season? It depends if Bobrovsky can get his game back on track after back-to-back underwhelming seasons for his new club. It’s rare for a 20-year-old goalie to play in the NHL, so don’t expect much from Knight this year. Anything over a .900 save percentage would be excellent for the young goalie.

15. Marco Rossi, C, Minnesota Wild

Rossi is tough to rank because he didn’t really play last season, battling complications from COVID-19 the whole season. Other guys had a chance to jump ahead of him because of this but make no mistake, Rossi remains an elite prospect whose scoring potential is sky-high. Rossi will begin his time with the Wild organization in the AHL where he will learn to adapt to pro hockey, since the last full season he played was for Ottawa of the OHL. Rossi’s lower body strength, competitive spirit, and puck control ability make him a monster in tight areas. His vision is exceptional and he can also shoot the puck. He truly is the all-around offensive package. The hope for the Wild is that the COVID complications don’t have any long lasting effects and that Rossi’s size (5’9″) doesn’t hinder him at the NHL level.

16. Brandt Clarke, RHD, Los Angeles Kings

Clarke was one the most talented players available in the 2021 draft. Blending size, agility, and wicked smarts, Clarke flashed his skills off at the U18’s in April. However, his draft season in Slovakia was hit and miss. I would have liked to see more production and consistency out of him. I’ve seen concerns about his skating, mostly bread out of disapproval of his skating style. Sure, it’s awkward, but he moves around the ice exceptionally well, so I can’t say I’m concerned about it. I fully expect Clarke to come back to the OHL in 2021-22 and be by far the best defenseman in the league along with producing over a point per game. He’ll also be Canada’s top RHD at the World Juniors (assuming no Drysdale). The Kings got a good one at 8th overall.

17. Kent Johnson, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets

I thought there wasn’t much separation between Johnson and Michigan teammate Beniers throughout their draft seasons. Beniers started to pull ahead as the season progressed, but the point remains that Johnson is an incredibly talented offensive player. After dominating the BCHL in 2019-20, Johnson racked up 27 points in 26 games for Michigan last year. Johnson brings soft hands, excellent offensive awareness, and has a prowess for being in the right position to get the puck and make productive decisions with it. Johnson will be vying for a spot on Columbus in 2022-23 after a year of developing his game back in Michigan.

18. Yaroslav Askarov, G, Nashville Predators

Askarov has been touted as one of the best goalie prospects of all time. I’m not sure he is that good, but he certainly has posted impressive save percentage figures at many different levels over the past couple years. Before he makes the jump to the NHL, he will likely get a full season of starting in KHL hockey to develop his game. This season, he has only started 4 out of the team’s 16 games, so he will need to earn that starting role before he can even think about playing in the NHL. With that being said, he has a .925 sv% in those 4 games and a .940 sv% in two VHL (KHL farm league) games this year, so he is getting the results needed to earn more starts. Juuse Saros emerging as an elite NHL goalie last season, certainly makes the future goaltending situation in Nashville a competitive one.

19. Dylan Guenther, RW, Arizona Coyotes

After a promising training camp with the Coyotes, Guenther has gone back to the WHL where he will contend for league MVP honours. Originally projected to go top-3, he slid to 9th overall after a mediocre performance at the U18’s in April. Guenther is very talented and while not the fastest player, he plays a pro style game, excelling in the cycle. With both passing and scoring ability, Guenther is a dual threat with the puck in the offensive zone. He will be a key piece for the Coyotes moving forward as they look to rebuild once again. Some thought he played well enough in camp/preseason to earn a spot on the Coyotes this season. However, rushing players is never a good idea and another season in Edmonton can only benefit Guenther.

20. Matt Boldy, LW, Minnesota Wild

Boldy has been knocked out for 4 to 6 weeks with a recent fractured ankle injury. It’s a shame because Boldy was ready to be with the Wild full-time. Boldy started off his NCAA career so poorly in 2019-20 with only 1 point in 11 games. Since then, he has been nothing short of elite, scoring 25 points in his last 23 games that season, 31 in 22 the next, and managing 18 points in 14 AHL games at the end of last season. Boldy is also a two-way winger who will be loved by Wild fans. His hands are incredible and his hockey IQ is above-average.

21. William Eklund, LW, San Jose Sharks

Eklund looks like he will be on the Sharks opening night roster. I was never Eklund’s biggest fan during the draft season last year, but the early returns for San Jose surely look good. Eklund is a smart player who plays a high tempo game, which helped him earn a spot this season. While he isn’t the most physically gifted player, he makes up for it in the way he plays the game, putting himself in a position to be the best possible player he can be. Eklund already has a full season of pro hockey under his belt so the transition to the NHL should be manageable for him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in San Jose the whole season.

22. Mason McTavish, C, Anaheim Ducks

I was surprised at McTavish’s late season vault to the top-5. For me, that’s too much stock to put on the performance in one tournament. Yes, McTavish was great at the U18’s but I’m not completely sold he is in the same prospect tier as the likes of Guenther, Johnson, and Beniers. However, McTavish does play a very pro-friendly style of game and we could see him in the NHL sooner rather than later. If it’s not this season, he’ll go back to the OHL and potentially earn himself a spot on Team Canada’s roster at the World Juniors. Scouts fell in love with his strength, goal-scoring ability, hands, and hockey sense at the U18’s. It makes for an interesting combination, even if his foot speed is just okay.

23. Philip Tomasino, RW, Nashville Predators

Since the 2019 draft, Tomasino has been one of my favourite prospects. Speed, hands, creativity, awareness– Tomasino has it all. In his first pro season, Tomasino scored over a point per game, successfully translating his game to the AHL. Tomasino should be on the Preds’ opening night roster with the forward depth they have. In fact, I don’t think he’d struggle at all in a top-6 winger role for the upcoming season. I’m betting on Tomasino big time- he will show what he can do in due time.

24. Luke Hughes, LHD, New Jersey Devils

Hughes is a gifted but flawed defensive prospect. New Jersey reached on him at #4 to unite the Hughes brothers (minus Quinn). This isn’t the choice I would have made if I were the Devils, but I do understand the allure that Luke Hughes brings. On paper, he should be highly sought after– he’s 6’2″, was one of the youngest players in the draft, and his skating checks out as elite. However, his actual on-ice play has left me wanting more. The decision making, poise, and defense were not on the same level of his skating. If he can put it all together though, he could become an elite puck-moving, offensive defenseman for the Devils.

25. Peyton Krebs, C , Vegas Golden Knights

Peyton Krebs was incredible for the Winnipeg Ice last year in his D+2 season. Developing into a dominant two-way player and elite playmaker, Krebs dropped 43 points (13G/30A) in 24 games last season. The development between his draft season and this most recent one was very visible. His two-way game has really blossomed, while his playmaking has improved even more. You know Golden Knights’ fans are excited about this guy when they’re balking at including him in mock proposals for Jack Eichel. A year in the AHL might be in the cards for Krebs, but he definitely would not struggle in a 3C role for Vegas.

26. Connor McMichael, C, Washington Capitals

Like many of his peers, Connor McMichael had an awesome season in the AHL during the 2020-21 season, scoring 27 points in 33 contests. McMichael has never been a player who “wows” with his skill or speed, he just gets the job done. His offensive positioning is excellent, his shot is very good, and his hockey IQ is elite. With these attributes, I can see McMichael becoming an effective two-way player for Washington. Gaining foot speed would help his development along, but it’s not imperative to his success as a player.

27. Seth Jarvis, RW, Carolina Hurricanes

Seth Jarvis is a difficult prospect to rank at this point. He did so well in the AHL last year but so average in his WHL stint. How do we know where his true talent level lies?  What we do know is that Jarvis has an abundance of speed and skill that has impressed the Hurricane’s staff in camp. Even if he does make the Hurricanes out of camp this year, I suspect he’ll be back in junior at some point. If/when he goes back, he will be one of the best WHLers and should be on Team Canada at the World Juniors. Jarvis agility and motor stand out as his go-to attributes.

28. Alexander Holtz, RW, New Jersey Devils

Relatively speaking, I was low on Holtz in his draft year and a static D+1 SHL season did not impress me much. Holtz failed to improve his scoring numbers from his draft year. Fortunately for Holtz, he still has loads of talent, including a shot that can already beat NHL goalies from a distance. With a good playmaking centre like Hughes or Hischier dishing him pucks, Holtz could develop into a 30 goal winger. He has lots to work on but the goal scoring makes it a lot easier to digest the weaknesses in his game.

29. Anton Lundell, C, Florida Panthers

The two-way centre had an excellent offensive season in the Liiga, scoring 25 points (16G/9A) in 26 games. Lundell’s looming transition to the NHL in Florida’s 3C role depends largely on whether or not his pace will be able to keep up with NHL play. The Liiga is much slower than the NHL, and Lundell is a slow player. We know he will be able to pot a few goals, set up a few teammates, and defend admirably. But will he able to be a factor in transition? Will he able to create space for himself to make plays? These remain question marks with Lundell’s game due to his lack of pace. Outside of that weakness, the Finn is a fantastic player.

30. Nils Lundkvist, RHD, New York Rangers

A first rounder back in 2018, Lundkvist is the first 2000 born player on this list. After two impressive seasons in the SHL, Lundkvist is finally taking his talents to North America. It’s unclear if Lundkvist will start the 2021-22 campaign in the NHL, but he did play well in training camp, earning an award:

I think he should make the team, but some time in the AHL can’t be a bad thing. Either way, Lundkvist and his sneaky good offensive game should see at least 10 games for the Rangers full season. If he isn’t a top-four guy by the end of next season, I’d be very surprised.

31. Vasili Podkolzin, LW/RW, Vancouver Canucks

Podkolzin is going to be a beast of a player for Vancouver. He is a workhorse in the corners, along the boards, and in front of the net. He has a unique style of puck handling and skating that can make him look like an awkward player, but it works. Sometimes Podkolzin seems to play better when he moves up another level of competition. For this reason, he should be a fixture in the Canucks’ top-9 for 2021-22. It might take him some time to start producing, but he will get there eventually. And even if he isn’t producing, he is a safe bet to be a multi-faceted contributor.

32. Ville Heinola, LHD, Winnipeg Jets

Heinola made the Jets right out of camp back in 2019-20. He played really well but got sent down. With an improved defensive corps two years later, Heinola is going to have a tough time finding ice time for the Jets this season. Even if he does have to play in the AHL this season, Heinola still projects as a future top-four defenseman. He’s agile, smart, and reliable. While he doesn’t really stand out in any given area, Heinola doesn’t have any major weaknesses either. This style has him labelled to become an effective, but not elite, top-four defender down the line.

33. Lukas Reichel, LW, Chicago Blackhawks

Lukas Reichel was one of my favourite prospects of the 2020 draft, where I ranked him 14th overall. Nothing has changed my opinion since. With reports of him playing well at the Blackhawk camp, I’m feeling even better about that ranking now. While he has been assigned to Rockford of the AHL for now, I think that’s absolutely the correct call for the 19-year-old. Reichel is a fast player with soft hands, good vision, and a hard shot. He’s an all-around offensive package who will excel in the fast-paced NHL, especially off the rush.

34. Simon Edvinsson, LHD, Detroit Red Wings

Over the course of last season, I cooled on Edvinsson significantly. I really worry about his long-term potential in the NHL the same way I worried about Broberg’s ahead of the 2019 draft. He’s got great physical tools with his size and skating, but his decision-making is his biggest liability. That’s a major red flag for me. With that being said, there is still a lot of potential for Edvinsson to become a good NHL defenseman, there’s just a reason he finds himself lower on my list than the top guys from 2021.

35. Eeli Tolvanen, LW/RW, Nashville Predators

Although he played most of last season, Tolvanen is technically still considered a prospect by my definition because he is six games shy of 50 career games played. Tolvanen finally had a formidable season in North America last season, scoring 22 points (11G/11A). He has certainly lost some steam as a prospect since his monstrous D+1 campaign in the KHL, but last season gives hope that Tolvanen will become a future top-6 winger. As a 1999 born player and one of the oldest players on this list, Tolvanen needs continuous and quick improvement to get there.

36. Jack Quinn, C/RW, Buffalo Sabres

Many, including myself, were shocked at the Sabres’ decision to select Jack Quinn ahead of seemingly better offensive players Cole Perfetti and Marco Rossi when they took him at eight overall at the 2020 Draft. A season later, the pick doesn’t seem any better. He almost made the Sabres this year, but he struggled at the World Juniors last year and hasn’t done anything to improve his stock since being drafted. However, getting picked eight overall and the expectations that come with it isn’t his fault– I’ve always been a fan of his and think he can become an excellent player. Quinn will look to establish himself as a valuable commodity as he transitions to a centre and looks to show the impact his defensive play.

37. Victor Soderstrom, RHD, Arizona Coyotes

Arizona claimed they had Soderstrom ranked as a top-5 player when they picked him at 11th overall in 2019. Since then, he’s had some ups and downs as a prospect. Soderstrom has a solid chance to be a full-time member of the Coyotes this season. One thing that stands out about Soderstrom his is intelligence on the ice. He doesn’t have the luxury of physical tools like size and skating that other defenseman have, but he is able to think his way around the ice. Hopefully that will be enough to impress the Coyotes brain trust and earn him minutes on their rebuilding roster.

38. Tyson Foerster, RW, Philadelphia Flyers

Foerster was perhaps my favourite prospect from the 2020 draft. He had an impressive D+1 season in the AHL despite having just turned 19 as the season was starting. Skating and pace remain his weaknesses, but he showed he can be an effective pro with his heavy shot and high hockey IQ. It’s only a matter of time before his play earns him a shot to play with the Flyers and when he does, I suspect he won’t be going back down to the AHL.

39. Liam Foudy, C/LW, Columbus Blue Jackets

With Foudy not making the Blue Jackets to start the season, I’m a little concerned about this ranking (which was made before that decision). Still, I’m a believer in Foudy’s game. He produced 16 points in 12 AHL games last year, so I’m unsure what more he has to prove there. He can play a versatile role, is an elite penalty killer, and can bring speed and skill to the bottom-six or the top-six. I think he’ll translate his game soon enough and become a very good player for Columbus. As he was when he was drafted, Foudy remains a long-term project.

40. Alex Turcotte, C, Los Angeles Kings

Turcotte has a had a tough time in his two seasons since being drafted 5th overall by the Kings. He has dealt with injuries and he hasn’t progressed at the same level of his peers. However, he remains a top prospect for the Kings and has two-way middle-six centre potential. I’d like to see him put up some big numbers in the AHL this season and then make the NHL jump for the 2022-23 season. If he has another season that just seems average like his last two have been, I’d be seriously concerned about his potential as a prospect.

41. Jesper Wallstedt, G, Minnesota Wild

Wallstedt had occupied the position of top goalie for the 2021 draft for years before Sebastian Cossa swooped in with his awesome play last season to become the first goalie off the board. However, nothing Wallstedt did caused this. He’s still an excellent goalie prospect and I have him slightly favoured over Cossa here. He has held his own in his SHL career to this point, but to reach the next level, Minnesota would like to see Wallstedt become a truly elite goalie in that league before he makes an anticipated jump to North America

42. Braden Schneider, RHD, New York Rangers

Braden Schneider is already very developed defensively for his age, playing a profoundly mature and poised style of game. Because of this, he was the uncontested best defenseman in the WHL last year. I’m confident he would do just fine if he played in the NHL this year although a year in the AHL to develop his all-around game could do him wonders. Schneider plays such a sound game and it’s hard not to envision him becoming an effective two-way top-four defender for the New York Rangers in a couple years.

43. Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Los Angeles Kings

Kaliyev is such a wildly unique prospect. If you watch him sometimes, you’ll wonder how in the hell he even plays at a high level. He often seems slow, sluggish, and disinterested. However, Kaliyev can simply produce. He puts himself in positions to finish plays, he can rip the puck, and he displays high hockey IQ. He’s a weird player who won’t develop into much if he can’t score in the NHL but if he starts scoring and shows he can produce, he will be a valuable commodity for the L.A Kings.

44. Sebastian Cossa, G, Detroit Red Wings

Cossa was the best goalie in the WHL last year and will almost certainly be Canada’s starting goalie at the upcoming World Juniors in December. It’s hard to ignore the size and results combination that Cossa has along with the improvement he has undergone in his WHL career. I can see why the Red Wings jumped on him before Wallstedt. If we see improved numbers out of Cossa in the WHL (more than .941 sv%), it would be hard not to move Cossa up this list next year.

45. Dylan Holloway, C/LW, Edmonton Oilers

An injury to Holloway will have him miss a lot of time early this season. When he returns, I see him playing in the AHL, getting the pro experience before he is ready to play with Oilers. He may end up with the big club by seasons end thanks to his skating ability and tenacity. Holloway’s top-six, scoring potential is unclear but he is destined to be a valuable NHLer in some capacity with his style of play. A high-scoring season in the NCAA last season will have some Oilers fans excited about his potential.

46. Jack Rathbone, LHD, Vancouver Canucks

Alas, at #46 we have Jack Rathbone, one of my favourite prospects in the league. Rathbone was drafted in the fourth round out of high school in 2017. Since then, he has improved every year to work his way up to the NHL level. Now, in his D+5 season, he is ready to be an everyday NHLer and make an impact for the Canucks. Rathbone is an exceptional offensive defenseman who also works hard in own zone. His skating is top-notch, his passing is crisp and accurate, and he can shoot the puck. The Canucks have a good one in Rathbone.

47. Jeremy Swayman, G, Boston Bruins

Swayman was phenomenal in his short stint with the Bruins last year, posting a .945 save percentage in 10 starts. You might expect him to be higher because of that, but he finds himself at 47 because he is the oldest player ranked on this list. I’m projecting that his peak is limited compared to some of the other, younger goalie prospects ranked above him. Still, I think Swayman has a good chance to become Boston’s starting goalie by the end of the year, making him their unofficial “goalie of the future”.

48. Cam York, LHD, Philadelphia Flyers

I was a big fan of York early in his draft year, but since then I’ve cooled off on him. He’s certainly skilled and can be effective but for my liking he needs to do a little more, especially as an offensive defenseman. York is average to above average in many different categories. Developing one of these attributes to elite would help York stand out as an NHL defenseman. Cam York will likely spend the season in the AHL before jumping up to the big club for the 2022-23 season.   

49. Evan Bouchard, RHD, Edmonton Oilers

Will this finally be the year Bouchard gets a chance to prove his worth for the Oilers? I hope so. I feel like Bouchard hasn’t improved his defensive game to the level I’d want it to be at, and that might be what’s holding him back. His offensive game remains elite and I don’t think it would be crazy to put him on that top Oilers’ PP ahead of Tyson Barrie. If Bouchard can just be average defensively and shows he can produce on the powerplay he should be well on his way to a top-four role for Edmonton.

50. Shane Pinto, C, Ottawa Senators

After two pivotal season in college, Pinto scored 7 points in a 12 game stint with Ottawa late last season. The question remains whether or not Pinto will be a full-time player for the Senators in 2021-22. If is in the AHL, he’ll get more opportunity to hone his offensive game, and if he’s in the NHL, he’ll get the opportunity to learn how to be a contributor as a role player. The Sens will have to decide which development path is best for Pinto, who looks to be yet another key young player in their rebuild.

Thanks for reading!

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