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Ranking NHL prospect pools: Top prospects, breakouts and more for all 31 teams

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Hughes-Kakko could be compared to Ovechkin-Crosby rivalry (1:36)

Emily Kaplan reacts to Jack Hughes going to the Devils at No. 1 in the NHL draft and Kaapo Kakko going to the Rangers at No. 2 overall. (1:36)

As the 2019-20 NHL season nears, let's look at the prospect systems for all 31 teams. We rank every pool and identify each franchise's top 10 prospects, a potential breakout candidate for this season and those who might make an NHL-level impact in the next year.

I've broken down prospects for each club into three categories, noted in parentheses in the team prospect rankings:

  • A prospects have a high likelihood of becoming NHL high-impact players (i.e. a top-six forward, top-four defenseman or long-term starting goaltender)

  • B prospects have a higher likelihood of becoming NHL regulars and contributors.

  • C prospects showcase the upside to make the NHL, but either need more development time or are more likely to fill out depth roles.

Systems are most often graded on the backs of their top three or four prospects, but I also place a good deal of value on the depth of systems. While there is often fluidity in these organizational rankings, with players graduating quickly and changing the face of the system sometimes dramatically on a year-to-year basis, this is how the NHL prospect pools stack up as we gear up for the 2019-20 season.

Note: To maintain prospect eligibility, a player must still have rookie status when they enter the NHL. Players who appeared in 26 or more NHL regular-season games last season are not eligible, nor are players with at least 50 career NHL contests. Players are only considered for prospect status if they are 25 or younger.

Jump to a team:
ANA | ARI | BOS | BUF | CGY | CAR | CHI
COL | CBJ | DAL | DET | EDM | FLA

LA | MIN | MTL | NSH | NJ | NYI
NYR | OTT | PHI | PIT | SJ | STL
TB | TOR | VAN | VGS | WSH | WPG

1. New York Rangers

Rehabbed, refurbished, re-tooled ... whatever you want to call it. The Rangers spent a lot on acquiring draft picks and prospects, and this season should provide an even greater glimpse into the fruits of those labors. It starts, obviously, with Kaapo Kakko, but top Russians Vitali Kravtsov and Igor Shesterkin have made the jump to North America, as has promising defenseman Yegor Rykov.

Meanwhile, one of the top collegiate defensemen in the country last season, Adam Fox, joined the team via trade, and 2018 first-rounder K'Andre Miller could very well be one of the best defenders in the NCAA this year. The one area the Rangers still need some organizational help at is center, but this is definitely the top prospect system in the NHL.

Breakout candidate for 2019-20: Nils Lundkvist, D, Lulea (SHL)
Potential NHL impact in 2019-20: Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, Adam Fox, Yegor Rykov


2. Los Angeles Kings

You are looking at one of the best and deepest prospect pools in the entire NHL. It's hard to pick out 10 prospects worth highlighting for most of these teams, but I have a list of eight more players who got edged out for spots here. The Kings seem to have just about every position covered by a handful of prospects with NHL upside.

The top end of this system has elite-level skaters in Alex Turcotte and Rasmus Kupari who can bring speed to the lineup in a few years. Arthur Kaliyev is an elite goal scorer, and Tobias Bjornfot is a potential top-four defenseman. Rob Blake, Mike Futa and the scouting staff have done a very nice job of overhauling a system that was drained amid the Stanley Cup-chasing (and winning) years.

Breakout candidate for 2019-20: Samuel Fagemo, LW, Frolunda (SHL)
Potential NHL impact in 2019-20: Carl Grundstrom, Kale Clague


3. Colorado Avalanche