The dog days of summer are finally here for hockey fans. All the excitement of the draft has finally evaporated and Free Agent Frenzy has passed. As of now, NHL teams are holding their prospect development camps to get an idea of how their new shiny toys stack up versus their other prospects.
October appears to be a light-year away. Fortunately for you, Frozen Futures has you covered. Each day we will be going over the Top 20 Prospects for a team in the NHL. From Arizona to Winnipeg, we have you covered.
We will consider all players who have played in 65 NHL games or less before the age of 24 as prospects.
The Carolina Hurricanes had a strong group of defensemen going into the 2015 NHL Draft and they added to that as shown by the fist prospect listed in these rankings. Along with Noah Hanifin, there are many defensemen who took the college route. Most will continue to take that road, unlike Noah Hanifin who signed his entry-level contracts days ago.Sep 21, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Haydn Fleury (5) gets the puck away from the Columbus Blue Jackets forward Corey Tropp (26) during the 3rd period at PNC Arena. The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Haydn Fleury, the second prospect on the list, played in major junior instead of collegiate hockey. Fleury finished his 2nd year with the Red Deer Rebels this past season. He continued to develop his already mature defensive skills and also gain more offensive skills before making the jump to the NHL. Alex Nedeljkovic played his third season with his major junior team, the Plymouth Whalers.
Nedeljkovic had a rather poor year on a very poor Whalers team. He stilled showed many reasons to listed as the third best prospect in the organization. His reflexes are very quick and the Parma, Ohio native can move in the crease at high speeds with such ease.
Fellow OHLer Sergey Tolchinsky may come as a surprise at #4. The 20-year-old playing with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds proved that last season was not just a fluke. He has now put up two 90+ point seasons and two 30 goal seasons. Tolchinsky was also a big key for Russia’s success at the 2015 World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal.
A newcomer rounds out the top 5 in Sebastian Aho. The Finnish Aho was a strong choice for the Canes in the 2nd round. He is known for wearing down opponents but brings an offensive element to the table as well. Aho adds to the impressive depth the team has at the left wing position.
Roland McKeown was acquired in a trade with the L.A Kings involving Andrej Sekera. I felt that McKeown was a bit overrated this year for Kingston. His play was quite sloppy and did not produce to his full potential, but that goes for the entire Frontenacs defensive core.
On the other end of the spectrum, Lucas Wallmark was one of Sweden’s better players at the World Juniors and held his own across the ocean with Luleå. All eyes will be on him this season in Charlotte with the AHL Checkers.
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Come back to Frozen Futures tomorrow for the Top 20 Prospects of the Calgary Flames