Damien Brunner hugs linemate Zetterberg while wearing his "team leading scorer" helmet

A cold, hard reality for hockey fans is that every single NHL team has prospects. I’m sorry to drop that on you like that. They may not all be A-grade, but somewhere in their farm system is a kid they drafted and have big hopes for, and for the large majority of the teams, it’s someone they drafted high. It allows fans to look at their struggling team and say “But we have Granlund on the way!“, “Once Kadri is ready...” and “Scheifele will save us.” We call it “prospect porn,” or “rosterbation,” or as Jake Goldsbie just came up with, “auto-eroster asphixiation” (sorry, that was too funny to not include). Anyway, the point is, ALL teams have prospects, but not all are created equal.

This year is a particularly bright and shiny one for those hard-mined pieces of gold to become polished, ready-to-wear jewelry, so I figured we’d take a look at some of the Calder contenders heading into the 2013 NHL season.


New York Islanders: Ryan Strome

I think it’s unlikely that he makes the Islanders, but he’s tearing up the OHL right now, with 62 points in 32 games. If he does make the squad and is given the right opportunity…who knows what he could do.

New York Rangers: Chris Kreider

He jumped into playoffs with the Rangers last season and tallied seven points (five goals), and has high expectations on him as a big-bodied dude who was a point-a-game college player. His AHL stats this season, however, have been concerning – 33 games, only 12 points.


Ottawa Senators: Jakob Silfverberg

22 years old, over a point-per-game in the Swedish Elite League last year, and is threatening a point-per-game in the AHL this year.

Boston Bruins: Dougie Hamilton

A 6’5″ defenseman with 113 points in his last 82 OHL games is kinnnnda noteworthy. And since the Leafs traded the pick to the Bruins, he’s bound to tear it up.

Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk

OHL stud who was drafted 3rd overall in last year’s entry draft, currently has 61 points in 33 games. Just won gold at the World Juniors, and has a lot of Habs fans pretty damn excited.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Morgan Rielly

Taken two picks behind Galchenyuk in last year’s entry draft, Rielly is another near PPG WHL defenseman.

Buffalo Sabres: Mikhail Grigorenko

Just had an impressive showing at the World Juniors as well, and already has 50 points in 32 QMJHL games.


Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau

This 6’1″ center went third overall in 2011 and currently has 45 points in 30 QMJHL games. I like his body control, think he can contribute at the NHL level.

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele

6’2″. 50 points in 30 OHL games. Already has some NHL experience. Heading to a weak team. You’ll be hearing his name.


Anaheim Ducks – John Gibson

Who owwwwwnns the World Juniors? (Hint: It’s Gibson.) .930 save percentage and 2.27 GAA in the O for Kitchener this season. He’s really, really good.


Minnesota Wild: Mikael Granlund

So good he had paparazzi following him in Finland (apparently). Over a PPG in the SM-Liga, and has 21 points in 21 AHL games this season. Won’t face top d-pairs w/ Wilds quality top forwards, should fare pretty damn well.

Calgary Flames: Sven Baertschi

Coming off 94 points in 47 WHL games, he’s 20, and has 18 points in 21 AHL games. Guaranteed to stick in Calgary.

Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov

Your number one overall pick from the 2012 entry draft put up 18 points in 22 KHL games this season, including 10 goals. Not bad for a 19 year old.


St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko

This six-foot 21 year old put up 31 points in 31 KHL games this season, and frankly, from watching him, I will add “is nasty good at hockey.”

Detroit Red Wings: Damien Brunner

For context: Joe Thornton put up 36 points in 33 games in the Swiss-A League this year. Brunner put up 57 in the same number of games, and he’s about to get thrown alongside Datsyuk and Zetterberg, according to Mike Babcock. Zetter had 32 points in 23 games as Brunner’s linemate in Switzerland, and was likely a help. Also, he’ll be facing top d pairings now, but still: he’s been getting no love. Could be because he’s 26.

Gustav Nyqvist (36 points in 36 AHL games, left wing, 23 years old), Brendan Smith (20 points in 32 games, defenseman, 23 years old), and Tomas Tatar (32 in 36 AHL games, left wing 22 years old) are all pretty decent too.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad

A 6’1″ 20 year old who saw a couple games with the Blackhawks last year, and will likely get more this year.

Comments (26)

  1. Rielly is not an OHL defenseman! Part of the Dub’s best D class…ever. For shame.

  2. Baertchi also never had 94 pts in AHL, more like WHL

  3. Correction to caption: Team leading scorer helmet (and jersey)

  4. So much wonderful help in this comment section I don’t even know what to do with myself… Thanks, fixed.

  5. Also, Rielly was picked two spots behind Galchenyuk. Griffin Reinhart was in between.

  6. There is a 0% chance John Gibson plays this year.

  7. I love this jerkoff nonsense…Most of these guys won’t last (or ever meet expectations) but, it amuses one to watch the feeding-frenzy.

    Remember Brit Selby? He won the Calder, dammit! Yeah….Yeah. That’s about it.

    The beauty (bullshit beauty, now that you mention it) about advanced stats and all such projections is that they can be manipulated to justify ANYTHING.

    Most of these kids won’t cut the brutality and intensity (and the innate ineptitude of their particular organizations) to survive the “true” NHL – But, it gives beleaguered fans (and copy-hungry bloggers) the opportunity to indulge some pretty insane fantasies…

    Keep on keepin’ on. Or, whatever. Nothing to see, here. Move along.

    • Why are you reading blogs if you hate them so much?

      • Oh, Tom…I don’t hate blogs. Not at all. (And I’ve seen your cheap kind of argument, all too many times.) “If you disagree, why even read this and comment?”

        It’s my right to. That’s my rebuttal.

        I LOVE blogs; just not the ones that reach for pie-in-the-sky nonsense. There are a lot of blogs that “tell you what’s up, and where it’s at, in no uncertain terms”. This *specific* one just isn’t in that class…

        Daydreaming is fine. But, at least have the decency to recognize it as such. Thank you.

      • Some people just want to complain on the internet.

        • what advanced stats were being used here? i dont see any manipulation of anything.. icehound you probably suck balls at NHL 13

    • Yeah, I don’t know what you mean about “advanced stats”. The author uses PPG as his main justification in basically every instance. That’s like, the most basic statistic available.

      I understand your gripe about advanced metrics… basically, your argument sounds like “these number-crunchers come up with some numbers and can make ANY player sound good with their calculator magic”.

      Statisticians don’t sit around jerking off with numbers to make bloggers sound good. They try and find the underlying truths about players that others try to describe with “true solid hungry Canadian heart and grit”. That worked out real well for Cam Neely and all of his Stanley Cup rings.

      Trust science. It’s trying to help people like you.

    • wtf are you even babbling about? This is a post… about prospects. It’s a post about the excitement of watching them try and make the big leagues. I think everyone’s aware that they face a serious uphill battle and not all will make it. But some people may not even be aware that they exist since a lot of fans don’t follow there team’s prospect pool, so it’s nice to have somebody present the cream of the crop with a little bit of background.

      Or, whatever… you can come in here and just shit on everything for no reason.

  8. because if icehound is old enough 2 remember selby….he is 2 old 2 get up and do anything else.

  9. holy shit Icehound, dont worry about coming off as a condescending prick or anything

    also, no mention of Shultz?

    • no mention on schultz because he’s not going to win, problem with being soo damn good offensively is people automatically assume his defense sucks.. green, karlsson, etc.

      • Actually, shameful he’s not mentioned. Let this serve as a replacement: Google “Justin Schultz Backhand Shelf” and I’m sure you’ll notice I’ve been following his progress closely.

  10. but Karlson won the norris, defensive defenceman are the ones who get no respect (Girardi)

  11. Dougie Hamilton has superstar potential and I would love to see him make it this year but being an Ice Dogs season ticket holder past few years and seeing him many times, I think he needs to polish up his defense and I mean big time. He is a very good on the rush and has all the tools but needs to go back to junior to tweek his defensive aspect of the game. Once he does then he will shine. He is still very mistake prone behind the blue line. Once he polishes that up (and he will) sky’s the limit for Dougie.

    • I think people are expecting too much out of Kreider after that playoff run. Every season a guy will seem to pop up out of nowhere and dominate a series. It doesn’t mean the guy is the next coming, it just means that a player got hot at the best time. If he was that great you’d expect him to be tearing up the A right now, which he’s not. He’ll probably be a good mid six guy but he doesn’t strike me as a future star. He’s great on the counter-attack but I don’t see him as a guy you give your top offensive minutes to.

  12. Ryan Strome is another that has all the tools but isn’t there yet. Like Dougie Hamilton he too has all the tools but Strome needs to bulk up and get stronger or he will be mince meat in the NHL and they will be gunning for him. When a team drafts excellent players like Dougie and Strome they need to be patient and let them develop or they could waste a damn good talent. How many times have we seen that happen? Just my opinion.

    • If Strome can help get butts in seats in LI, they’ll bring him along. Personally, I agree with you, I think he could even use a year in the A, but that’s just me, I’m sure the Isles have a handle on where he is.

    • Strome looks very strong this season. I think he could handle it but the Isles will probably give him another season (after the 5 game max). It really doesn’t take much for a player with his skill to hit the next level. I think he’s already up 20 lbs from his draft weight. I’d say 100% he is on the team next year; maybe they ease him in on wing instead of center but he’s too good to stick in the AHL.

  13. I was wondering if Marcus Foligno is still considered a rookie? I have forgotten the games played for rookies as he did play 14 games last year and scored 13 pts.

    Thanks for the listing, there seems to be quite the crop of talented rookies entering the league this year.

  14. What, no Corey Conacher? He made the Bolts roster.

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