We hit you with the Top Ten Fantasy Prospects from the 2012 NHL Draft the other day but now we're moving on to the big guns as we tackle the overall Top Ten Fantasy Prospects.
A few things to note:
- Our definition of a prospect, for this purpose, is a player who has played 75 or fewer NHL games... if that seems like a randomly chosen cutoff, you'd be right.
- The rankings are based on long-term fantasy potential but we tend to give an edge to players that are older & closer to making the NHL.
- We're mostly looking at offensive production potential but we do upgrade/downgrade some players slightly based on other stat categories (PIMs, Hits, Blks, etc.) or if they seem to be a multi/one-dimensional player for fantasy purposes.
Here's our top ten as we ranked them this summer... our top 500 will be available in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings DB:
#1 Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia (OHL), 42 GP 31+38=69
Yak shoots to the top of list despite conceding at least a few years to most of the other guys on the list as he should step into the NHL immediately and we think his package of speed & skills is a step above the rest.
#2 Brayden Schenn, LW, Philadelphia (NHL), 54 GP 12+6=18
It wasn't a Calder Trophy type season for Schenn last year but he stepped up in the playoffs with 3+6=9 in 11 games and should have more opportunity to show his stuff after the departure of Jagr & JVR. We love the all-around potential as he isn't afraid of getting physical either.
#3 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton (NHL), 62 GP 18+34=52
Some may think that he should be higher as he's already shown that he can put up points in the NHL but we have some questions about his ability to be a big-time contributor in pretty much every category other than A & PPPs.
#4 Cory Schneider, G, Vancouver (NHL), 33 GP 20W, 1.96 & .937
We were high on his long-term upside last year when we had him ranked 10th so he moves closer to the top after another stellar season and due to taking over the #1 job in Vancouver. Should be one of the top five goalies in the league as soon as this season.
#5 Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Novosibirsk/SKA (KHL), 54 GP 23+24=47
Has signed and will join the Blues for this coming season after four years in the KHL, including a sparkling playoff performance this spring with 10+6=16 in 15 games. The only concern is that the Blues have a lot of talent so he won't be spoon-fed a large dose of ice-time and Hitchcock has a spotty track record of developing prospects.
#6 Brendan Smith, D, Grand Rapids (AHL), 57 GP 10+24=34
Our top Dman prospect has the look of an all-round fantasy stud... he scores, hits, fights and so on. Has been patient but at 23 he is ready to take on a major role and the Wings will need him to do just that.
#7 Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL), 47 GP 33+61=94
A very smart little player who put up 2.00 ppg in the WHL last year and then showed he was ready for the NHL with three goals in a late season five game stint with Calgary. Should be in a top six role from the day the Flames start training camp.
#8 Mikael Granlund, RW, HIFK (Fin), 47 GP 20+31=51
Had another productive season in the SM-Liiga and should step into the Wild lineup immediately but the questions remain regarding whether his lack of size & quickness will keep him from becoming an NHL star.
#9 Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Saint John (QMJHL), 37 GP 30+42=72
Another one that some surely have ranked higher due to his decorated Jr. career but I'm not fully convinced and want to see how he does when he's not surrounded by high-end talent.
#10 Justin Schultz, D, UofWisconsin (NCAA), 37 GP 16+28=44
He certainly comes in with enough hype and we think this kid can back it up as his numbers in college were crazy good and he joins a great young team in Edmonton where he should see top 4 minutes immediately.