Ranking the Atlantic Divisions Prospect Pools

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Ranking the Atlantic Divisions Prospect Pools

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Ranking the Atlantic Divisions Prospect Pools

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The 2022 National Hockey League Draft and the beginning of free agency are over, bringing all NHL fans to the calm before the storm of the regular season. With development camps wrapping up recently, prospects are a hot topic. I will be starting a four week series, ranking every team’s prospect pool by division. Buckle your seatbelts, as we will visit a new one every Tuesday. Today we tackle the Atlantic division:

8. Boston Bruins

  1. Fabian Lysell
  2. Mason Lohrei
  3. Jack Studnicka
  4. John Beecher
  5. Jake Schmaltz

The Boston Bruins have one of the worst prospect pools in the National Hockey League. That is a product of years of being a contender and selling the farm and draft capital to compete. They also take a hit because I am not considering Oskar Steen a prospect as he has already played 23 games in the NHL and will be a mainstay on the roster next year. The undisputed number one in this pool is 2021 first-round-pick Fabian Lysell. Playing with the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League, Lysell recorded 62 points in 53 regular season games. He really showed out in the playoffs, with 21 points in 12 games. Lysell is a playmaker, and he can dish the puck. He looks to potentially pair well with David Pastrnak on the wing. Mason Lohrei is a potential stud on the blue line. Lohrei weighs in at 6’4” and 194 pounds. He is a physical defenseman that also has offensive prowess. He registered 29 points in 31 games for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA. John Beecher was a 2020 first round choice, and he has been up and down through his collegiate career with the University of Michigan. He is a big power forward and still projects as an NHL player. The most intriguing prospect in this pool is Jake Schmaltz. Schmaltz was a seventh round pick back in 2019, but just completed his freshman season at the University of North Dakota. At the perennial collegiate powerhouse, Schmaltz was tasked with centering the top line in his first season. He did not disappoint with 24 points and winning a NCHC division championship. The Bruins are nearing the end of their run, but still have some pieces in place. The start of a retool would benefit them sooner rather than later. 

7. Tampa Bay Lightning

  1. Isaac Howard
  2. Hugo Alnefelt
  3. Jack Thompson
  4. Dylan Duke
  5. Jack Finley

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in a similar situation as the Bruins. They are a team that has been a dynasty for the past several years. Because of this, they have also given up draft capital and the farm to compete in the present. They do have one thing the Bruins do not though. That is Isaac Howard. To say that people are underrating Howard is an understatement. He fell into Tampa Bay’s lap at the 31st pick of this year’s draft. I had him penciled in as a top 15 lock that has the potential to highly outperform his draft slot. Enough about what I think about Howard and into the facts. He is a high motor player, who wants the puck and will hunt it down to get it. He has a deceptive release and quick hands, to go along with smooth edge work. He has no defensive knocks and his hockey IQ is exceptional. Scouts knock on him is that he is undersized and needs to put everything together in an above average way. My rebuttal is that Howard will attend University of Minnesota-Duluth, a program that runs an NHL style system and has a coaching staff that develops players very well. As for his size, this league is getting smaller. Players like Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Hughes dominate despite being considered undersized. I think Isaac Howard could be one of the best players in the league during his career, even if most don’t see it yet. The rest of Tampa’s pool is underwhelming. They lack depth, which is expected given their contender status. Hugo Alnefelt will be a great NHL goaltender, but with Andrew Vasilevskiy in front of him, it’s hard to see the Lightning keeping him once he starts to reach his potential. Outside of the top five, a player I want to highlight is defenseman Nick Perbix. Perbix put in all four years at St. Cloud State and got progressively better every year. Not only defensively, but by his senior season he became a point-per-game player. Already at 25-years-old, Perbix looked like a natural in his 12 game cup of coffee with the Syracuse Crunch last season. I’m excited to see him perform in his first full year. 

6. Florida Panthers

  1. Mackie Samoskevich
  2. Grigori Denisenko
  3.  Michael Benning
  4. Justin Sourdif
  5. Logan Hutsko

The Florida Panthers are contenders now, so their prospect pool has taken a hit from graduation and trades. They still have some interesting prospects, including Mackie Samoskevich and Grigori Denisenko. Denisenko has gotten a few games in the NHL and has had plenty of ice time in the AHL, but has yet to produce what was expected. At 23-years-old, he has plenty of time to break out and put together his skill set. Samoskevich had a very productive freshman year at University of Michigan, and his next few years of development should set him up to be a big piece on the big league roster. Alexis Heponiemi was highly regarded when drafted, but he has not materialized. For a player with so much potential, do not write him off yet. AHL defensemen Matt Kierstad and Max Gildon both have the potential of being staple Panthers. Kierstad was an underrated free agent out of University of North Dakota where he was routinely one of their best players. Gildon played at a smaller school in University of New Hampshire where he was a force in the HockeyEast. Both have the tools to be regular NHLers. In the 2022 Draft, the Panthers continued their trend of taking United States Developmental Program goaltenders, this time selecting Tyler Muszelik. Muszelik may be the long term partner for Spencer Knight, giving Florida one of the future goaltender tandems with the most potential. Muszelik will start at the University of New Hampshire as a 18-year-old true freshman, which is unheard of in the NCAA where players are on the older side. This is especially true of goalies, who take longer to develop. The Panthers have some pieces in place that may make a difference during their window of success in the coming years.

5. Ottawa Senators

  1. Jake Sanderson
  2. Shane Pinto
  3. Ridley Greig
  4. Roby Jarventie 
  5. Egor Sokolov

The Ottawa Senators’ prospect pool has taken a hit due to graduation. Gone are the feeble Senators, and in is their new youthful lineup full of talent. That doesn’t mean they still have some players lurking in the shadows. University of North Dakota defenseman Jake Sanderson was taken fifth overall in the 2020 draft, and he should be a future staple on the blue line with Erik Brannstrom. Finnish winger Roby Jarventie crossed the pond from Liiga’s Ilves to the AHL’s Belleville Senators for his first full North American season last year. It took some adjusting, but he put it together across the stretch of the year. Jarventie is a power forward with a combination of size and speed. If he is developed right, the Senators will have a great middle six winger built for future playoff runs. Taking Tyler Boucher at tenth overall was head scratcher in 2021, and it still is in 2022. Boucher had a disastrous first half of the season with Boston University, before jumping ship from the NCAA to the OHL and having a decent campaign for the Ottawa 67s. Boucher needs to show a lot more this upcoming season to redeem his status as a top prospect with the Senators. A player that has blossomed is Egor Sokolov. Sokolov is a hulking 6’4” winger that weighs in at 223 pounds. After tearing up the QMJHL for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, he has put together two solid seasons in a row for the Belleville Senators of the AHL. If he continues to produce this year, expect to see him up in Ottawa because every team needs a giant power forward with a heavy shot like Sokolov. The last few pieces in the farm system are what the Senators need to truly become a dominant team in the league. The immediate future is bright for the Senators.

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