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September 19, 2012
From Daigle To Datsyuk
Top 100 NHL Prospects

by Corey Pronman

Welcome to the second edition of our Top 100 NHL Prospects (we did Top 50 NHL Prospects for Hockey Prospectus 2010-11). The full essay will appear in Hockey Prospectus 2012-13, including write-ups on each player.

The Calder Trophy uses a 25 games played cutoff to determine prospect eligibility and that's partly what I've chosen to use. However, to make sure prospects who played a good number of NHL games in previous seasons and were sent down in the next season were not disqualified, I am using 25 GP in the 2011-12 season. I also think the Calder trophy's cutoff of six games in any two seasons was too strict, so I've decided to use 50 games. Also for dealing with Russian transfers, I've decided if a player is signed in the KHL past their age-22 season, they become ineligible for the purpose of these rankings as a prospect until they sign in North America. I use 22 as it's the age most prospects drafted out of the CHL have their entry level contracts end. Also per the Calder requirements, an age cutoff of 26 or younger as of September 15th is used, so a player like Roman Cervenka is eligible. So for example on the GP cutoff, Nazem Kadri, Cam Atkinson, and David Rundblad are ineligible but Brayden McNabb is eligible. For the Russian transfer cut-off, players like Kirill Petrov and Maxim Chudinov are ineligible but Evgeny Kuznetsov is eligible.

The scouting information used to form these rankings was accumulated from my talks with scouts and NHL executives throughout the year. I also have watched every player, but predominantly through video scouting. The rankings are purely my own, though, with no outside influence. The information used is as of the end of the 2012 draft. So any information I've gained from World Junior camps, development camps, or talking to scouts since the draft has not been applied to this ranking.

The ranking process starts by finding out exactly how valuable certain skills are in today's NHL market. Gabe Desjardins explained this pretty clearly here:

" Together, Fenwick/Corsi and Luck account for around 3/4 of team winning percentage. What's the remainder? Goaltending talent - which Tom Awad estimates at about 5% - and special teams, along with a very small sliver that's due to shooting talent and the oft-mentioned "shot quality." So I don't think there's a false dichotomy here - there are five factors in this model, all of which are given credence in proportion to their predictive power."

To those unfamiliar with Corsi/Fenwick, they are basically indicators of possession skill, as Vic Ferrari has shown at his blog, on top of showing the overwhelming importance of possession.

These insights into the modern day NHL and the valuations of certain skills played a huge part in my rankings. Possession skills are the primary factor used in my rankings by a significant margin. While players' shooting percentage drives results, the persistence of shooting percentage is low due to the high degree of luck in shooting percentage in a single season. Thereby players who make their mark by beating the percentages shooting-wise through mid-distance shooting were debited due to uncertainty of the skill due to luck.

Tom Awad has estimated goaltending is worth about 5% of winning percentage, and has done several good columns on the goaltending market and talent distribution here and here to help illustrate the goaltending situation. Combine that with how long goalies take to develop and the development uncertainty, goalies are given very low value in my rankings.

With the possession skill in mind as to what I primarily wanted to focus on, I have polled several NHL executives who also put a focus on possession in their drafting and pulled on my own experience to figure out which tools I wanted to emphasize. In defensemen, the answer was always to put hockey IQ high up there along with puck-moving ability, and for forwards, it is puck skills, along with hockey IQ. Other factors obviously come into play: skating, physical game, and other areas are important. Skating tends to be a little more important for forwards and physical game more for defenders, and this is all scaled accordingly. Everything plays into the possession game, but those aforementioned abilities are qualities that are of a higher importance to that skill, and thus play a larger part in the formation of these rankings.

There has been one major change to my ranking process from last year. Based on talks I've had with Hockey Prospectus writers Tom Awad, Jonathan Willis, and Kent Wilson, I have made a significant systematic change to how I approach defensemen in the draft. While very valuable when you truly hit on them, defensemen tend to have much more uncertainty in their projections coming out of the draft. As Tom stated to me in an email exchange: "It doesn't help you to know that there may be a Duncan Keith somewhere in the draft class if you can't identify him before he's 22." Therefore, I have decided to approach defensemen with much more caution. Due to their value in the NHL, and the persistent production of good defensemen, I have not decided to knock down defense prospects like I have goalie prospects, but if I think it's close, especially in the first round, I will tend to lean the direction of the forward even if the defense prospect in the discussion might have a slightly higher talent level. Forward production out of the draft tends to just be so much more linear than for defensemen and the development time is less as well.

Signability factors were not accounted for as they can be case by case, so for Russian players with transfer questions, for example, I kept the rankings talent-based and not where I would pick them if I was a GM.

I made a mistake while doing Columbus' Top 10 Prospects and included David Savard when he was not eligible per the games played criteria I had set. Therefore, I removed him from this list, but he would have been ranked 73rd behind Matt Donovan and ahead of Calvin De Haan.

With all of that being said, we now present you our Top 100 NHL Prospects. We hope you enjoy it, and while I have explained everything here in as much detail as possible, if you have any questions about anything in these rankings you can reach me at [email protected] or at my Twitter account @coreypronman.

The Top 100 NHL Prospects

1. Nail Yakupov, Right Wing, Edmonton Oilers
2. Mikael Granlund, Center, Minnesota Wild
3. Mikhail Grigorenko, Center, Buffalo Sabres
4. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Center, Washington Capitals
5. Jonathan Huberdeau, Left Wing, Florida Panthers
6. Alexander Galchenyuk, Center, Montreal Canadiens
7. Vladimir Tarasenko, Right Wing, St. Louis Blues
8. Dougie Hamilton, Defense, Boston Bruins
9. Ryan Strome, Center, New York Islanders
10. Filip Forsberg, Right Wing, Washington Capitals
11. Teuvo Teravainen, Left Wing, Chicago Blackhawks
12. Justin Schultz, Defense, Edmonton Oilers
13. Tim Erixon, Defense, Columbus Blue Jackets
14. Brendan Smith, Defense, Detroit Red Wings
15. Mika Zibanejad, Center, Ottawa Senators
16. Jonas Brodin, Defense, Minnesota Wild
17. Matt Dumba, Defense, Minnesota Wild
18. Morgan Rielly, Defense, Toronto Maple Leafs
19. Ryan Murray, Defense, Columbus Blue Jackets
20. Sven Baertschi, Left Wing, Calgary Flames
21. Jaden Schwartz, Left Wing, St. Louis Blues
22. Ryan Murphy, Defense, Carolina Hurricanes
23. Kirill Kabanov, Left Wing, New York Islanders
24. Nick Bjugstad, Center, Florida Panthers
25. Brandon Gormley, Defense, Phoenix Coyotes
26. Gustav Nyquist, Right Wing, Detroit Red Wings
27. Calle Jarnkrok, Center, Detroit Red Wings
28. Mark Scheifele, Center, Winnipeg Jets
29. Stanislav Galiev, Left Wing, Washington Capitals
30. Brandon Saad, Left Wing, Chicago Blackhawks
31. Vladislav Namestnikov, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning
32. Chris Kreider, Left Wing, New York Rangers
33. Tyson Barrie, Defense, Colorado Avalanche
34. Rickard Rakell, Right Wing, Anaheim Ducks
35. Joe Morrow, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins
36. Rocco Grimaldi, Center, Florida Panthers
37. Jon Merrill, Defense, New Jersey Devils
38. Pontus Aberg, Left Wing, Nashville Predators
39. Radek Faksa, Center, Dallas Stars
40. Sebastian Collberg, Right Wing, Montreal Canadiens
41. Mark Barberio, Defense, Tampa Bay Lightning
42. Jacob Trouba, Defense, Winnipeg Jets
43. Cody Ceci, Defense, Ottawa Senators
44. Tomas Jurco, Right Wing, Detroit Red Wings
45. Zemgus Girgensons, Center, Buffalo Sabres
46. Roman Cervenka, Center, Calgary Flames
47. Kyle Palmieri, Right Wing, Anaheim Ducks
48. Charlie Coyle, Center, Minnesota Wild
49. Alexander Khokhlachev, Center, Boston Bruins
50. Brandon Pirri, Center, Chicago Blackhawks
51. Jakob Silfverberg, Right Wing, Ottawa Senators
52. Johan Larsson, Center, Minnesota Wild
53. Zack Phillips, Center, Minnesota Wild
54. Ryan Spooner, Center, Boston Bruins
55. Tomas Tatar, Left Wing, Detroit Red Wings
56. Joe Colborne, Center, Toronto Maple Leafs
57. Nathan Beaulieu, Defense, Montreal Canadiens
58. Brian Dumoulin, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins
59. Mattias Ekholm, Defense, Nashville Predators
60. William Karlsson, Center, Anaheim Ducks
61. Torey Krug, Defense, Boston Bruins
62. Joel Armia, Right Wing, Buffalo Sabres
63. Mark McNeill, Center, Chicago Blackhawks
64. Tyler Toffoli, Right Wing, Los Angeles Kings
65. Emerson Etem, Left Wing, Anaheim Ducks
66. Ivan Telegin, Center, Winnipeg Jets
67. Brock Nelson, Center, New York Islanders
68. Simon Despres, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins
69. Corban Knight, Right Wing, Florida Panthers
70. Mark Stone, Right Wing, Ottawa Senators
71. Reilly Smith, Right Wing, Dallas Stars
72. Matt Donovan, Defense, New York Islanders
73. Calvin De Haan, Defense, New York Islanders
74. Nikita Kucherov, Right Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
75. Griffin Reinhart, Defense, New York Islanders
76. Hampus Lindholm, Defense, Anaheim Ducks
77. Connor Murphy, Defense, Phoenix Coyotes
78. Oscar Klefbom, Defense, Edmonton Oilers
79. Cory Conacher, Left Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
80. Ty Rattie, Right Wing, St. Louis Blues
81. Drew Shore, Center, Florida Panthers
82. Beau Bennett, Right Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
83. J.T. Brown, Right Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
84. Tomas Hertl, Center, San Jose Sharks
85. Derek Forbort, Defense Los Angeles Kings
86. Scott Mayfield, Defense, New York Islanders
87. Shane Prince, Left Wing, Ottawa Senators
88. Nicklas Jensen, Right Wing, Vancouver Canucks
89. Sami Vatanen, Defense, Anaheim Ducks
90. Jeremy Morin, Left Wing, Chicago Blackhawks
91. Damien Brunner, Right Wing, Detroit Red Wings
92. Alex Petrovic, Defense, Florida Panthers
93. Michael St. Croix, Center, New York Rangers
94. John Gaudreau, Left Wing, Calgary Flames
95. Matt Finn, Defense, Toronto Maple Leafs
96. Ludvig Bystrom, Defense, Dallas Stars
97. Olli Maatta, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins
98. T.J. Tynan, Center, Columbus Blue Jackets
99. Michael Sgarbossa, Center, Colorado Avalanche
100. Paul Postma, Defense, Winnipeg Jets

Just missed

Kyle Rau, Right Wing, Florida Panthers
Adam Almqvist, Defense, Detroit Red Wings
J.T. Miller, Center, New York Rangers
Brayden McNabb, Defense, Buffalo Sabres
Eric Gelinas, Defense, New Jersey Devils
Martin Marincin, Defense, Edmonton Oilers
Riley Sheahan, Center, Detroit Red Wings
Brett Bulmer, Right Wing, Minnesota Wild

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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