This is my ranking of the top prospects that have not played in the NHL yet. Prospects such as Cole Caufield and Spencer Knight are not on the list because they already played a significant role on their teams in the playoffs.
1. Moritz Seider-D Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider is the best prospect not playing in the NHL. Seider played in the SHL this year and exceeded all expectations by winning SHL Defenseman of the Year, having the most assists, points by a junior in the SHL, and capping off the season with an SHL SM Silver Medal. Seider wasn’t done there; he continued his dominant year by being the best defenseman at the World Championships for Germany and was named the World Championship All-Star team. Moritz Seider projects to be a top-pair defenseman that plays in all situations and can log heavy minutes, similar to Shea Weber, but he is more mobile than Weber ever was. Going from a prospect that many experts had pegged as a project to the best prospect is quite an accomplishment, it’s more a testament to the Scouts of the Red Wings to take him with the 6th overall pick.
2. Lucas Raymond-RW/LW Detroit Red Wings
Lucas Raymond is the best forward prospect not playing in the NHL. Raymond can do it all offensively, he has tremendous speed, puckhandling, passing, and shooting abilities, combined with solid two-way play. This lethal combination makes Raymond a dynamic offensive player, but at the same time, he is also reliable enough defensively to play in all situations. Playing in the SHL last year, Raymond scored 6 goals and 18 points in 34 games; that is solid production from a junior player in the third-best professional league in the world. With Sweden at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lucas Raymond scored 5 points in 5 games. Lucas Raymond could make the Red Wings out of camp next year with how thin the roster is, but if the Red Wings want to develop him properly, they should let him play a year in the AHL first, then maybe bring him up towards the end of the year. Lucas Raymond projects at a first-line forward, who can put a ton of points, much like Mitch Marner, but Raymond plays with more grit than Marner does.
3. Anton Lundell-C Florida Panthers
Anton Lundell is every coach’s dream; he can excel in all three zones because of his tremendous hockey sense. Everything about Lundell’s game is methodical and calculated, always thinking two or three steps ahead of his opponents at any given moment. He is not shy to engage in puck battles and Lundell rarely is out of position, which really helps out his teammates on the ice. This season Lundell has a tremendous season in the SM-Liiga tallying 16 goals and 25 points in 26 games in the regular season. Lundell also had 3 points in 8 games in the playoffs, on route to the SM-liiga bronze medal. His play internationally with Finland has been nothing shy of spectacular. As the captain of the team scored 6 goals and 10 points in 7 games at U20 WJC, leading them to a Bronze medal. At the World Championships, he helped Finland win the Silver medal, and was named a Top 3 player on the team. Anton Lundell projects as a top-line center in the NHL, very comparable to Panthers’ Captain Aleksander Barkov.
4. Quinton Byfield-C LA Kings
Blessed with a 6-foot-4 frame, Quinton Byfield has an explosive skating stride and extremely gifted hands. He is a player who always wants the puck on his stick, as he is a fantastic transporter of the puck. While he may be a great skater and puck handler, his bread and butter in the NHL will be his shot and shot accuracy. Byfield is a natural scorer, although he is capable of being a playmaker, he is best when he is being set up. Quinton Byfield was a huge part of the Canadian team at the U20 WJC, where they took home the silver medal; he scored 7 points in 7 games, including a 6 point game against Switzerland. Quinton Byfield has the highest potential of all the prospects on this list, but whether he lives up to that potential remains to be seen. Byfield projects to be a top-line center in the NHL; I see him as an Evgeni Malkin/Eric Lindros hybrid, but I don’t think he will be as good as either one of those players at their peaks
5. Jake Sanderson-D Ottawa Senators
Jake Sanderson is an effective two-way defenseman, that can neutralize other team’s top players and at the same time, chip in offensively. Sanderson recognizes appropriate times to join the rush and pinches on opposing wingers well, sealing off pass options along the boards to prevent breakouts. He’s got a quick wrister as well that can create havoc. Jake is calculated, disciplined, physical, and creative, which is what you what in your top-pair defenseman. There just isn’t much that he can’t do in the defensive zone at an exceptionally high level. Jake Sanderson had quite a season this year, earning NCHC All-Rookie Team, NCHC All-Tournament Team honors, and helped the University of North Nakota to Penrose Cup; He was also an NCHC Champion during the 2020-21 season. Jake Sanderson projects to be a top-pair, two-way defenseman in the NHL, similar to Ryan Suter, but with a better offensive upside.
6. Marco Rossi-C Minnesota Wild
Despite the Health scare, Marco Rossi’s talent is just undeniable and he is still one of the best prospects not playing in the NHL. Rossi has an exceptional sense of spacing both on and off the puck, capable of playing in the most dangerous areas of the offensive zone, and hardly suffers any physical abuse for the trouble. If there’s an opening, then Rossi is going to find it and ruthlessly exploit it. He’s responsible defensively with great off-the-puck positioning and support below the hash marks. Marco Rossi’s height was the biggest thing working against him in the draft, if he was 6-foot, he would have easily been a top 5 pick. Marco Rossi plays very similar to Patrice Bergeron; both are elite, two-way centers that can score and put up points, but at the same time, are reliable defensively, and elevate others’ level of play.
7. Alexander Holtz-RW/LW New Jersey Devils
Alexander Holtz is a natural scorer; His shot is as good as it gets, and it makes him a threat to score from anywhere in the offensive zone. He has quick hands in tight, an amazing release, and can subtly change the angle; additionally, he has great hockey sense and offensive instincts to quickly recognize openings. Holtz is the prototypical NHL sniper, and he has the potential to be a first-line finisher with triggerman utility on the power play. He’s a special, special talent, and if he can refine that talent, then there’s no telling where it might take him. Holtz had a solid year with Djurgardens for an 18/19-year-old player; he scored 18 points in 40 regular-season SHL games and 4 points in 3 playoff games. With Sweden at the U20 WJC, Holtz scored 3 points in 5 games, which was less productive than what he had the previous season as a 17-year-old. Alexander Holtz can be a top-line, goal-scoring winger in the NHL, similar to Phil Kessel.
8. Cole Perfetti-C Winnipeg Jets
Cole Perfetti is a versatile forward, capable of playing center and wing, that thrives with the puck on his stick. He’s a cerebral puck carrier able to create the time and space necessary for himself and his linemates. His ability to scan the ice and break down coverages ensures that possession rarely dies on his stick. He’ll problem-solve his way through incoming variables, advancing play in a threatening posture where most might lose the puck entirely. Perfetti had a great year in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose, tallying 9 goals and 26 points in 32 games. He was a part of Team Canada at the U20 WJC, where they won Silver, and the World Championships, where they won the Gold Medal. Cole Perfetti plays like Patrick Kane, in the sense, they are elite playmakers and puck handlers, that excel in open ice and are very creative with the puck. It’s not likely that Perfetti will have a career like Patrick Kane because Kane is destined for the Hall of Fame, so a more likely comparison would be Clayton Keller.
9. Philip Broberg-D Edmonton Oilers
Philip Broberg is a gifted two-way defenseman. His fluid skating ability allows him to punish over-extension immediately with how quickly he can start plays from his own end. On the fly, he pays close attention to where the puck’s going and where it’s been. This allows him to read the play early and make the most of any time and space found. On the downside, his defensive play could be more consistent, and his release needs to be quicker if he is to become a high-scoring defenseman in the NHL. Broberg had a less than stellar playoff run with Skelletftea AIK, in 12 playoff games, he scored 0 points and was a -3; that is not good considering he was a prospect that was once compared to Victor Hedman at one point in 2019. Even though Broberg hasn’t really improved a whole lot from when he got drafted, I think his skating ability should still make him a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. While it is unlikely that Broberg ever becomes a high-scoring defenseman, I think he could be a tremendous puck-moving defenseman that can log heavy minutes, much like Hampus Lindholm, who is a very solid top 4 defenseman that can play the shutdown role if asked upon.
10. Yaroslav Askarov-G Nashville Predators
Yaroslav Askarov is going to the next great franchise goalie; the question is when he will come over to play in the NHL. What really makes him stand out is the way he utilizes a range of depth management to effectively make the most of his wide stance and fluid movements. He has incredible reaction speed and does a good job of positioning himself in the net, taking away shooting angles from opposing players. Yaroslav Askarov has been the best goaltender prospect for a while not, as he dominated all ranks of hockey from the VHL to the KHL. In 9 games in the KHL, Askarov put up a stellar 1.21 GAA and .951 SV% for SKA St.Petersburg, and then in the MHL, he put up a 2.37 GAA and .927 SV% in the playoffs for SKA-1946 St.Petersburg. Even with Askarov’s Terrible performance against Canada in the Finals, Askarov still finished the tournament with a 2.50 GAA and .914 SV% and was named a top 3 player in the tournament. Askarov was compared to Carey Price during his draft year, and he could very live up to those enormous expectations, with how much pressure playing on SKA St.Petersburg is.
11. Peyton Krebs-C/LW Vegas Golden Knights
Peyton Krebs is a potent point-producer and offensive catalyst that rises to the occasion whenever he’s on the ice. He is a smooth, shifty skater that patrols all three zones with ease and closes the gap on the backcheck quickly. Defensively, his understanding of the game communicates itself through his proactive positioning and an active, lane-disrupting stick.
Below the opposition’s blue line, he is an electric, dominant force that showcases excellent decision-making and undeniable puck skills. Krebs’ hockey sense is on full display when he’s making moves, creating space, and orchestrating opportunities for himself and his linemates. Peyton Krebs is an exciting mix of speed, skill, smarts, and hard-nosedness in all three zones. If not for an injury sustained during his draft year, Krebs would have easily been a top 10 pick. Krebs Captained the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL, and scored 43 points in 24 games, taking home the Bobby Clarke Award for most points in the WHL. Peyton played scored a point per game in the AHL for the Henderson Silver Knights before getting called up to play in the NHL. Although Krebs has seen anytime in the playoffs, he will be a huge part of the Golden Knights’ future for years to come. Comparable to Claude Giroux, Krebs has the potential to be a first-line center, that runs the powerplay and captains the team one day.
12. Alex Turcotte-C LA Kings
Alex Turcotte is a coaches’ dream, that posses everything one could want in a center. He’s a highly competitive, two-way center with elite vision and playmaking ability. His playmaking ability and vision both compliment his ability to read the ice, where he’s capable of making high-end passes at full speed. Turcotte’s Exceptional hockey sense, impressive skating, and compete-level allow him to excel in all three zones and be utilized in all situations. The thing that most coaches and scouts love about Turcotte is that even though he has the elite skill, he is not lazy like many other skilled players. Turcotte tallied 3 goals and 8 points in 7 games at the U20 WJC for Team USA, where they won the Gold Medal. Alex Turcotte projects to be an elite, two-way center in the NHL, similar to ex-King, Mike Richards.
13. Matt Boldy-LW Minnesota Wild
Matt Boldy has a rare mix of size, skill, creativity, and vision; he is a highly skilled winger with impressive creativity, a quick release, and fine playmaking ability. Despite not the fastest of skaters, Boldy’s hockey sense and overall skill level still allow him to be a reliable offensive threat. Boldy possesses a heavy shot, and it is simply deadly from all angles. He can score from a distance, or from in tight. Matt Boldy had a tremendous 2020-21 season starting with Boston College, where he scored 11 goals and 31 points in 22 games. For his efforts, he was named to the Hockey East First All-Star team and First All-American Team, as was a Hobey Baker Award Finalist. With Team USA at the U20 WJC, Boldy scored 5 goals in 7 games, en route to a Gold Medal for the US. After the season was over, Boldy played 14 games for the Iowa Wild, scoring 18 points. Matthew Boldy is comparable to Matthew Tkachuk, in the sense that they are both highly skilled players with size, grit, skill, and playmaking ability, although Boldy is not the power-forward that Tkachuk is.
14. Ville Heinola-D Winnipeg Jets
Ville Heinola is the type of defenseman that doesn’t stick out too much on the stat sheet but is very effective on the ice. The standout aspect of Heinola’s game is his hockey IQ. He is incredibly poised and rarely makes poor decisions with the puck. Offensively, he makes smart decisions with the puck, has excellent vision, and he’s good at getting the puck through on the net. Although Heinola isn’t going to be the type of defenseman who puts up staggering numbers, he can put up respectable numbers for a defenseman. While on Loan with Lukko in the SM-Liiga, Heinola put up 14 points in 19 games and was a +10. At the U20 WJC, Heinola was named the All-Star team, and was named a top 3 player on Team, and was a major reason Finland took home the Bronze Medal. Heinola played parts of the season with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, and thrived there as well scoring 11 points in 19 games and was a +4. Ville Heinola projects as a top-pair defenseman in the NHL, comparable to ex-Winnipeg Jet Teppo Numminen, but I don’t think he will put up as many points as Numminen did.
15. Connor McMichael-C Washington Capitals
Connor McMichael is a smart center with impressive hockey sense. He reads the game very well and plays well in his own end too. Connor has tremendous anticipation skills, and it gives him the ability to put himself in scoring positions by finding soft areas of the ice. His top speed is excellent, and his edges and balance allow him to remain effective in-game situations. McMichael does an exceptional job of breaking up passes and plays in the neutral zone thanks to his positioning and active stick work. He also has good Puckhandling and a decent nose for the net. McMichael had a great year for the Hershey Bears, tallying 27 points in 33 games, earning AHL All-Rookie Team honors. He also played on Canada’s U20 team at the WJC, where they took home the Silver medal; McMichael scored 4 goals and 8 points in 7 games in the tournament. Connor McMichael can be a top-line center in the league, but he is more likely to be a highly productive second-line center because he can be quite streaky. Comparable to Matt Duchene, McMichael is a highly skilled Center, that is ultra-talented but can be inconsistent.
16. Nils Lundkvist-D New York Rangers
Nils Lundkvist is a mobile puck-moving defenseman who likes to make quick decisions and join the rush. Lundkvist displays confidence with the puck on his stick. Lundkvist is a tremendous skater with elite puckhandling skills, passing, and vision. His Playmaking ability and speed as a defenseman joining in on the attack is going to give teams problems. Lundkvist is your ideal offensive defenseman, but by no means is he a slouch on the defensive side of the puck.
Nils shows tremendous anticipation, and IQ, which allows him to be effective on both sides of the puck. He is a great defender, that is not shy to throw a hit to make a play or sacrifice his body to make a block. Lundkvist is coming off two successful seasons in the SHL. In 2019-20, he had the most assists (20) and points (31) by a Junior in the SHL, then in the 2020-21 season, he had the most goals by a defenseman (14), and won the Salming trophy (SHL Defenseman of the Year). At the U20 WJC, Lundkvist had 5 assists in 3 games, but that was enough to earn him the honor of most Assists by a Defenseman. Nils Lundkvist has the same skillset as Erik Karlsson, but I don’t think he will be near as good as Karlsson at his peak.
17. Seth Jarvis-C/RW Carolina Hurricanes
Seth Jarvis is an ultra-talented forward, who is a wizard with the puck on his stick in tight spaces. Jarvis is one of the best attackers in the draft with a defender on his back; he seeks out pressure with gear changes or stops-and-starts, then creatively pulls away with an arsenal of moves. As a gifted passer and shooter, he’s the type of player who wants the puck on his stick.
Jarvis Split scored 27 points in 24 games for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, before joining the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. With the Chicago Wolves, Jarvis tallied 7 goals and 11 points in 9 games. Jarvis is comparable to Martin Necas, both are wizards with the puck on their stick and are very good at find passing or shooting lanes.
18. Dylan Holloway-C/LW/RW Edmonton Oilers
Dylan Holloway is a tremendous two-way forward, who is capable of playing all three forward positions. Holloway can be the Swiss-army knife of a team, he can play up and down the lineup and he can play both center and wing. Holloway has everything you would want in a player; he consistently applies pressure on the backcheck, pickpockets puck-carriers, makes timely hits, wields a disruptive stick, you name it. He never flees the zone early and is a capable east-west attacker who shields the puck from opposing defenders really well. Holloway had a tremendous season with the University of Wisconsin, where he scored 11 goals and 35 points in 23 games. For his efforts, he was named to the B1G First-All Star team and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Holloway also earned a Silver Medal with Canada at the U20 WJC, but he didn’t have that big a role on the team, as he mainly played a fourth-line role. Comparable to Brandon Saad, Holloway could be a game-changing player come playoff time, but he can also play center, which is an added bonus.
19. Vasili Podkolzin-RW Vancouver Canucks
Vasily Podkolzin is not your typical Russian player; he has the skills to be a high-scoring player, but he plays with a nasty streak and an edge to his game. Podkolzin combines his fine hockey sense, puck handling, and shooting with an aggressive, in-your-face, type of game. He competes hard, is very difficult to play against, and has the tools to be a high-scoring player. Podkolzin is a force to be reckoned with each time he is on the ice, his explosive skating and speed help him carry the puck with ease. His size and strength allow him to bulldoze through a defenseman on his way to the net. Podkolzin had a solid regular season for SKA St.Petersburg, but he really shined in the playoffs for them; in the playoffs with SKA, he put up 11 points in 16 games, not bad for a 19-year-old playing against men in the second most competitive pro league in the world. Podkolzin Captained Team Russia at the U20 WJC and was named a top 3 player in the Tournament. Vasily Podkolzin can be a goal-scoring power forward in the NHL, similar to Alexander Radulov.
20. Arthur Kaliyev-LW LA Kings
Arthur Kaliyev’s Offensive game was never in question; he was always supremely talented, and offensively gifted. Kaliyev’s offensive numbers in the OHL were fantastic; in 192 OHL games, Kaliyev scored 126 goals and 248 points, which is 1.29 points per game average. What is in question though is his commitment to play defense and his skating. Many players before him have managed to succeed in the NHL without superior skating or defensive ability. If Kaliyev continues to put up monstrous numbers, it will be tough for him not to be given a shot in the NHL in the next coming years. Kaliyev thrived in his first season with the Ontario Reign in the AHL, scoring 14 goals and 31 points in 40 games. He helped Team USA win gold at the U20 WJC, by scoring 8 points in 7 games, playing on the line with Kings’ prospect Alex Turcotte. Even though Kaliyev might be a liability defensively, his offensive numbers could make him a star in the league. Arthur Kaliyev has the potential to be a top-line goal-scoring winger in the NHL, similar to Brett Hull, in the sense that when they were drafted they both had question marks regarding their skating and defense but had elite offensive abilities.