Future Watch 2021 is now obtainable on newsstands and for digital buy (and free if you subscribe now), and it’d find yourself being an enchanting souvenir. There’s an opportunity it’ll go down because the strangest version of our annual rating of NHL farm programs and particular person prospects.
The youngsters merely aren’t on equal footing this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some waited deep into the winter to play AHL video games. These in Jap and Western Canada noticed major-junior motion, whereas OHL prospects did not, with some looking for motion abroad or as underagers within the AHL. It’s a lot harder than regular to guage prospects’ futures as a result of so many are taking part in far fewer video games than regular and/or not taking part in the place they’d usually play at their given ages, and it’s potential the perceptions of their expertise will change drastically from this 12 months to subsequent in consequence.
For now, although: we’re right here to assist. Earlier than diving into our high 10 rising prospects of the 12 months, right here’s a refresher on how Future Watch will get made:
Future Watch is an annual particular version of The Hockey Information through which we (a) grade each NHL franchise’s pool of 21-and-younger expertise, from gamers within the system to children on the NHL rosters and (b) rank the highest 100 NHL-affiliated particular person prospects, with “NHL-affiliated” referring to all drafted or signed gamers in a staff’s system. A 2021 draft hopeful resembling Owen Energy doesn’t qualify as he doesn’t have an NHL staff but.
How will we construct these rankings? First, we work with NHL staff personnel representing virtually each franchise and provide you with an up to date record of every staff’s high 10 prospects not but in full-time NHL roles. That provides us 310 gamers. We ship that group of 310 to a panel of scouts and/or high-ranking staff executives from across the NHL. They rank all 310 gamers, and we mix the outcomes to create a person record of our high 100 prospects.
The identical scouting panel additionally seems to be at every franchise’s high 10, plus the franchise’s present NHLers aged 21 and youthful, and grades every franchise, serving to us decide top-31 rankings of one of the best improvement programs.
Why do the 21-and-younger NHLers rely as a part of a staff’s “farm”? Effectively, if a staff’s youth improvement is so efficient that its younger weapons are leaping proper to the NHL whereas one other franchise’s prospects marinate within the minors, the staff whose prospects are forward of the curve shouldn’t be “punished” within the rankings, ought to it? An NHL staff desires to have elite gamers aged 21 or youthful in the event that they’re prepared. Sport-breaking children like Brady Tkachuk and Jason Robertson ought to rely towards their staff’s youth-crop rankings given they’re youthful than many prospects.
So which Future Watch prospects have managed to impress our scouts essentially the most and climb within the rankings over the previous 12 months? A number of disclaimers to higher perceive the risers record:
(a) A participant who totally graduated to the NHL since Future Watch 2020 isn’t eligible for this record, as he’s not even ranked in Future Watch 2021. Kirill Kaprizov, final 12 months’s No. 4 total prospect, is a first-rate instance.
(b) Simply because your favourite staff’s prospect had an incredible 12 months doesn’t imply he’s an computerized riser. Take Trevor Zegras, whom I’ve profiled within the Future Watch 2021 journal. He’s our No. 1 total prospect this 12 months, however he was No. 2 final 12 months, that means he solely climbed one spot 12 months over 12 months. This record is about gamers who made important developmental leaps.
(c) A participant drafted in 2020 can’t qualify as a riser. So don’t panic over not seeing Lucas Raymond or Cole Perfetti in these rankings, as an illustration. They weren’t ranked in any respect in 2020, as they weren’t drafted but, in order that they don’t have any quantity to rise from.
(d) The January begin to the NHL season had an odd impact on what defines a prospect. Our scouts flip their closing ballots in after the World Junior Championship annually, and the NHL season is generally virtually half completed by then. The 2020-21 marketing campaign hadn’t even began by the point ballots had been submitted this 12 months, that means some children with yet-to-be-defined roles on the NHL stage appeared as “prospects,” most notably Robertson and Jake Oettinger in Dallas. I’ve omitted them from the risers record for that purpose.
On to the record!
1. CALEN ADDISON, D, MINNESOTA WILD (+32)
Final 12 months: not ranked in high 100
This 12 months: 69th
Final season’s Jason Zucker commerce was Invoice Guerin’s first as Wild GM, and it’s aged properly. The Pittsburgh Penguins gave Minnesota a first-round decide, deferred to this season’s draft, plus Addison, a participant with whom Guerin was acquainted as a result of he was the Penguins’ assistant GM till 2019. Addison brings dynamic puck-moving expertise to the desk whereas not being a legal responsibility within the defensive zone. He retains being promoted, and he retains scoring – in main junior, the 2020 Canadian world junior squad and, this season, the AHL’s Iowa Wild, the place he picked up six objectives and 18 factors in 24 video games. He ‘s even jumped up for 3 video games of NHL obligation. The Wild really feel his smarts and competitiveness greater than trump his below-average measurement at 5-foot-11 and 180 kilos.
2. JAKOB PELLETIER, LW, CALGARY FLAMES (+31)
Final 12 months: 74th
This 12 months: forty third
The Flames have too usually been known as out for listless play this season. Pelletier, then, will quickly present a useful tonic within the type of super character, competitiveness and pure management abilities. He can perform a little little bit of all the things. With shifty puck abilities, a great shot and powerful playmaking capability, he’s a balanced offensive weapon worthy of his first-round draft standing in 2019, however he handles any task thrown at him, together with shutdown obligation for Canada on the 2021 WJC. As a result of he’s so versatile, he doesn’t have to instantly play on a scoring line to make the Flames. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him break camp with them in 2021-22.
3. MATTHEW BOLDY, LW, MINNESOTA WILD (+26)
Final 12 months: forty seventh
This 12 months: twenty first
The 2020 WJC snub from Crew USA is perhaps one of the best factor that ever occurred to Boldy. He heated up down the stretch in his freshman 12 months at Boston School, and he’s lit it up in 2020-21 wherever he performs. He averaged properly north of a degree per sport in his sophomore marketing campaign at BC. He was a vital contributor on Crew USA’s 2021 gold-medal squad on the WJC with 5 objectives in seven video games. He’s transitioned easily to the AHL, persevering with to attain at a premium fee. He’s only a pure scorer wherever he performs, and it seems the Wild obtained a steal once they picked him 12th total in 2019.
4. JONATAN BERGGREN, RW, DETROIT RED WINGS (+24)
Final 12 months: 98th
This 12 months: 74th
A completely wholesome season has let Berggren unfold his, er, wings and present his true potential. He performed extra video games within the Swedish League this season than he had within the earlier two seasons mixed, and he confirmed off some extraordinarily slick playmaking abilities with Skelleftea, ending second within the league in assists. He’s a second-rounder from the 2018 draft shaping as much as ship first-round worth.
5. SCOTT PERUNOVICH, D, ST. LOUIS BLUES (+22)
Final 12 months: ninetieth
This 12 months: 68th
Perunovich will go your complete 2020-21 season with out taking part in, as he was on the Blues’ taxi squad and had season-ending shoulder surgical procedure in February. So how did he rise 12 months over 12 months? Effectively, he gained just a little award known as the Hobey Baker between Future Watch 2020 and Future Watch 2021, including to a loaded NCAA trophy case that features two nationwide championships with Minnesota-Duluth. The Blues have a template for him to observe in Torey Krug. That’s whom they need and count on Perunovich to be: a gifted puck-mover who performs with a snarl that belies his small construct.
6. DAVID FARRANCE, D NASHVILLE PREDATORS (+20)
Final 12 months: not ranked in high 100
This 12 months: 81st
Predators followers already know what it’s prefer to see Roman Josi take over video games as puck-moving “rover” defenseman, and Farrance has a equally thrilling ability set. He piled up 59 factors in 45 video games over his closing two seasons at Boston School and turned professional final month. He’s already gotten one sport of NHL expertise. The long-term query is whether or not he’ll be extra of a one-way risk than a accountable two-way defenseman, however his expertise is plain.
7. JAMIESON REES, C, CAROLINA HURRICANES (+18)
Final 12 months: not ranked in high 100
This 12 months: 83rd
It’s unusual to see a soar for a participant projected to be a checker and one who has hung out as a fourth-liner even within the AHL, however Rees possible obtained a bump from our scouts as a result of his odds of constructing the NHL are so excessive. He performs an intense, team-first sport that makes him an ideal match for Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour’s mentality. Rees has been taking part in the wing and will develop into an efficient bottom-sixer within the NHL inside the subsequent couple years.
8. JEREMY SWAYMAN, G, BOSTON BRUINS (+17)
Final 12 months: not ranked in high 100
This 12 months: 84th
Despite the fact that he’s within the strategy of stealing the 1B goaltending job from Jaroslav Halak in Boston as we converse, Swayman nonetheless makes the record as a result of he’s solely seven video games into his NHL profession. Igor Shesterkin made the record final 12 months below comparable circumstances. Swayman was technically a fourth-stringer when the 2020-21 marketing campaign began, however Tuukka Rask damage his again, Halak obtained COVID-19 and No. 3 Dan Vladar was inconsistent. Swayman, who gained the Mike Richter Award within the NCAA and instantly seemed dominant within the AHL to begin this season, stored the momentum going. He’s been a revelation on a surging Bruins staff and, with Rask and Halak each UFAs this low season, Swayman’s play will power GM Don Sweeney to make some troublesome choices. Swayman’s work ethic, quiet approach and calm physique language encourage confidence in his teammates.
9. CAM YORK, D, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (+17)
Final 12 months: forty ninth
This 12 months: thirty second
Projecting out the Flyers’ long-term core on protection: Ivan Provorov leads the way in which, and it’s simple to image Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers for years to return, however Shayne Gostisbehere now not feels locked into that future. York, who captained Crew USA to gold on the 2021 WJC, will finally develop into a vital participant in Philadelphia. Rising up in Anaheim, he performed youth hockey with Scott Niedermayer as a coach, and the Flyers hope York matures into comparable participant: slick with the puck but in addition tidy and cerebral, limiting errors will nonetheless driving the play.
10. ARTHUR KALIYEV, LW, LOS ANGELES KINGS (+16)
Final 12 months: 67th
This 12 months: 51st
The world juniors’ affect on our scouting panels is at all times current, nevertheless it was much more important this 12 months with the hockey calendar probably not launching till after the tourney. So Kaliyev is the third member of the 2021 USA gold squad to make the risers record. Objectives are the identify of his sport because of glorious shot. With Anze Kopitar locked up long-term, Gabe Vilardi entrenched as an NHLer and elite-level prospects Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte in L.A.’s long-term plans, Kaliyev gained’t have bother discovering somebody to cross him the puck. He wants to enhance his play with out the puck, however he possesses a tantalizing ceiling.