This unusual 2019-20 hockey season was cut short for most prospects, as the coronavirus pandemic canceled remaining games in multiple leagues around the world. And it may take another twist soon, with the 2020 NHL draft potentially being held before the season is completed or perhaps canceled. With that in mind, it's a good time to take stock of where some systems stand in terms of their prospect pools.
Where do teams stand based on developments of the abbreviated 2019-20 season? Which pipelines made the biggest jumps during the season? Which are in dire need of reinforcements? Let's hand out some pre-draft NHL pipeline awards.
Deepest system: Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have the largest collection of potential impact prospects of any team in the NHL. Not only have they drafted well, they've also made some key depth additions via trade, including Tyler Madden in the Tyler Toffoli deal. Top prospect and 2019 draftee Alex Turcotte had a bit of an underwhelming season but still turned pro, and the Kings can start directly working on his game.
One of the most positive developments of the season, however, was the return to health of Gabriel Vilardi. After missing full seasons with various injuries, he looked great in the AHL this past year and had seven points in 10 NHL contests, proving it was too early to write him off.
But even setting aside Vilardi getting healthy, the Kings would have had one of the best prospect systems in the league. Turcotte, Madden, Tobias Bjornfot, Rasmus Kupari, Arthur Kaliyev, Akil Thomas, Aidan Dudas, Kale Clague, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Samuel Fagemo, Mikey Anderson and Cal Petersen are among the players most likely to make an impact in the near future. That's a long list. But there's even more talent beyond the top of the pool that could figure into the team's long-term plans. The Kings have quality at all positions and could still yet land an elite-level prospect in the forthcoming draft.