NHL: 15 Highly-Touted Prospects You Can’t Wait To Watch
Top Prospects Not In the NHL
Through the first 11 days of the NHL regular season, a number of rookies -- including players such as Tomas Hertl, Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov and Sean Monahan -- have taken the league by storm with their exciting play and high energy levels. Each of these youngsters has brought an added dimension to their team and become players that are can't-misses for fans who are buying tickets or watching games on televisions at home.
For franchises throughout the league, this influx of exciting players cannot be seen as anything but a positive, as it will in turn increase excitement amongst fans and result in greater television ratings and bigger revenues.
But while the group of youngsters that is gracing the NHL in 2013-2014 has brought incredible positives for the franchises they play for, it appears that another equally exciting group of players is biding their time before they hit the big show. This includes players that are plying their trade in junior hockey, the minor leagues or even international hockey, but it is certain that they are out there waiting for their chance to shine.
Some of these talented players may be coming to the NHL during the 2013-14 season, some next season and some maybe even after that. With this in mind, I have developed a list of the 15 highly-touted prospects currently waiting for their shot in the NHL that will be must-watch players once they arrive to the show.
15. Griffin Reinhart
Griffin Reinhart was the New York Islanders no. 4 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and although he didn't stick with the team out of training camp this season, his talents are undeniable. At 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, Reinhart is a lengthy defenseman and he uses this reach and incredible stickhandling ability to serve as one of the best puck-moving defenseman that are not currently in the NHL. Reinhart will spend the 2013-14 season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL, but expect to see him on Long Island either when his season ends, or at the very latest to begin the 2014-15 season.
14. Ty Rattie
Ty Rattie was the St. Louis Blues' second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, and all he has done since then is absolutely dominate junior hockey for two season. During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, Rattie posted 231 points in 131 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, using incredible hands and an uncanny sense of how to get pucks in the back of the net to become a dominant player at the junior level. Rattie will play with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL during the 2013-14 season, and with continued success at this level, it would be no surprise to see him in St. Louis at some point throughout the year.
13. William Karlsson
William Karlsson was the Anaheim Ducks' second-round pick during the 2011 NHL Draft, and since then, he has been playing professionally in Sweden for Vasteras IK and HV71 Jonkoping. Karlsson will again play for HV71 Jonkoping in 2013-14, where he will look to improve upon his defensive play to complement a skating and playmaking ability that is arguably NHL-ready. Look for Karlsson to cross the pond after the season and get his debut in Anaheim sometime throughout the 2014-15 season.
12. Joel Armia
Joel Armia has been playing with Assat Pori of SM-liiga in Finland since being drafted 16th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. During this time, Armia has posted 71 points in 101 games, in turn displaying a scoring touch that truly belongs in the NHL. It seems likely that beginning with the 2014-15 season, Armia will have a chance to develop this offensive skill in the NHL, and he will likely be making life miserable for opposing teams right from the start.
11. Jack Campbell
Throughout his junior and minor league career Jack Campbell has gained a reputation as a supremely athletic goaltender that has the ability to make the highlight-reel play that makes you jump out of your seat. Currently, Campbell is with the Dallas Stars, but it appears as if the team has no intention of letting him see the ice quite yet. Once the 21-year-old does get a chance to shine, it is likely he will become one of the best goaltenders in the NHL rather quickly.
10. Bo Horvat
After selecting Bo Horvat with the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft the Vancouver Canucks had a dilemma on their hands as to whether or not to keep the talented center with the big club or send him back to juniors in 2013-2014. Ultimately the Canucks chose to send Horvat back to the London Knights of the AHL, allowing him to develop his strength so that he is fully ready to play in the NHL in the future. Expect Horvat to use this time wisely, and come back to camp in 2014 with a much stronger frame to complement his already sound play in both the offensive and defensive zones.
9. Magnus Hellberg
Magnus Hellberg stands a towering 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, and seems likely to continue the Nashville Predators trend of rather large and talented goaltenders. Hellberg seems poised to spend a second consecutive season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, although if he posts another 2.14 GAA, it seems very likely that he will be playing in the NHL sooner rather than later. When he does make it to the show, expect to see Hellberg become a dominating presence between the pipes.
8. Andre Burakovsky
Andre Burakovsky may have been drafted 23rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals, but there is no doubting that the Austrian has the potential to develop into one of the best players in the draft class. After previously playing professionally in Sweden, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound left winger came over the pond to play with the Erie Otters of the OHL in 2013-14, and so far he has been lighting the junior league on fire. Through six games, Burakovsky has totaled 12 points, showing the combination of speed, playmaking ability and scoring touch which have made him such an attractive prospect for the future. When Burakovsky does make it to Washington, there is no doubting that he will be aided by playing with Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and company, although he will undoubtedly make some incredibly offensive plays by himself.
7. Calle Jarnkrok
The Detroit Red Wings have a history of developing unheralded European talents into successes at the NHL level, and it appears that they have another gem in Calle Jarnkrok. The diminutive center lit up the Swedish Elite League the previous three seasons, and seems likely to do the same with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL in 2013-14 season. Adapting to the North American style of play may take some time, but when Jarnkrok does make it to the NHL, expect him to become an absolute stud.
6. Max Domi
Max Domi was drafted 12th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, and much like his father Tie, he is a feisty player. Max does possess a bit more skill than his father, although his willingness to go into any spot on the ice aids his playmaking and scoring ability as he pics up some dirty goals. Fans will love this tenacity when Max hits the ice in Phoenix, although that will not happen for at least another season as he is playing a third consecutive year with the London Knights of the AHL.
5. Tyler Toffoli
The name Tyler Toffoli may seem a bit familiar, and it is because he played 10 games in the regular season and 12 in the postseason with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2012-13 season. Despite this success, the 21-year-old right winger was sent to play with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL to begin 2013-14 season, leading fans to wonder what could have gone wrong. Toffoli has immense talent at finding teammates when the puck is on his stick, and complements this ability with a quick and accurate shot that can challenge any goaltender. The absence of Toffoli at this point of the season is mind baffling, and it stands to reason that he will be back in Los Angeles during the 2013-14 to lose his rookie eligibility and impress fans as a legitimate scoring threat.
4. Darnell Nurse
Prior to being drafted seventh overall by the Edmonton Oilers during the 2013 NHL Draft defenseman ,Darnell Nurse gained a larger reputation for being the nephew of Donovan McNabb than for his actual ability on the ice. This extra attention failed to recognize that Nurse is actually an extremely talented defensman, and at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he possesses the ability to put a bone-crushing hit on any player in the NHL. Nurse will surely spend at least an extra season in junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, although bulking up during this time will only result in the ability to make more of the huge hits that make a crowd go nuts.
3. Ryan Strome
Ryan Strome joins a long list of talented young players to come through the New York Islanders system, although he will have to wait a little longer before joining the big crew in Long Island. Strome has been sent to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL to begin the 2013-14 season, where he will be expected to work on his defensive ability. When he does arrive in the NHL, expect Strome to gain mass attention for his ability to undress defenders, which will in turn leading to a number of goals that will make your jaw drop.
2. Jonathan Drouin
Jonathan Drouin was drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2013 NHL Draft for his outstanding ability to make plays and rack up points. While Drouin could likely receive significant playing time on many NHL teams in 2013-14, the front office in Tampa Bay decided to give him more seasoning with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Expect the wait to be worthwhile when Drouin does arrive in Tampa Bay, as he has the potential to win multiple scoring titles and record highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis throughout his career.
1. Evgeny Kuznetsov
Ever since the Washington Capitals drafted Evgeny Kuznetsov with the 26th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, there has been an anxious wait at Verizon Center for the arrival of the talented Russian. During this wait, Kuznetsov has been playing with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL, where he has gained notoriety as arguably the best hockey player not in the NHL. Kuznetsov's mix of size, play making ability and shooting ability has garnered comparisons to Evgeni Malkin, making what were already heightened expectations fly right through the roof. Luckily, it appears that Kuznetsov will come over to the Capitals once his season in the KHL ends, leaving him time to acclimate to his surroundings and contribute during the 2014 playoffs.