After a couple of dry years in terms of prospect graduations, the Canucks have begun in recent years to graduate prospects again. Last year Bryan Bickell established himself as a legitimate top nine forward, Brandon Yip played a full season, and Jason Demers solidified his presence as a two-way regular. This year, a large number of players could make it as rookies: Forwards Luke Adam - The reigning AHL Rookie of the Year has a good chance to crack the Sabres, probably as their third line center. What's not in doubt is that Adam can score, has a good work ethic, and wants to be an NHLer, however his skating continues to hold him back. Kyle Palmieri - Another top AHL rookie, Palmieri has a decent shot at cracking the Ducks, again probably in a third line capacity. Last season was revealing for Palmieri, because after scoring at a nearly 40-goal rate, his projection has changed, and he now profiles more as a scorer than a two-way sparkplug. Zack Smith - Basically an NHLer already, Smith has a one-way deal with the Sens. The only question is what line he plays on and how much offence he contributes. Should see regular PK time as well. Maxime Sauve - Another player who had a strong AHL rookie season, Sauve has a chance to make the Bruins, but would have better odds elsewhere. The skills and skating are certainly there, but durability remains an issue. Could be a real breakout candidate with a full, healthy AHL season though. Tommy Wingels - Broke camp with San Jose last year, but didn't light it up in the AHL. Still only 23, and well-rounded, but competition for a bottom six job with the Sharks is always steep. David McIntyre - An often forgotten prospect, McIntyre plays with sandpaper and speed, and has enough skill to surprise on a relatively weak Minnesota squad. The depth: John McCarthy, Alexandre Bolduc and Travis Morin all have chances to make the NHL full-time, having played some at the NHL level last year. Realistically though, none of them will ever be a big-time HFNHL contributor regardless, although all could be useful role players. Defencemen David Rundblad - Coming off one of the best seasons ever by a defenceman in Europe (any league, any age), Rundblad has the ability to compete for the Norris, but if his game doesn't adjust quickly, could start in the AHL. The Sens have too many one-way deals, but rebuilding teams don't tend to demote top prospects who earn spots. Rough first pre-season game but had a great rookie camp. Jeff Petry - A fairly good bet to crack the Oilers, after playing most of the second half in Edmonton last year, Petry is in an interesting position because he's the top defensive prospect on a club with a dynamic core of forwards. With the right development, he could end up the right place at the right time, although that group should peak in a few seasons, not 2011-12. Mattias Ekholm - The reigning SEL Rookie of the Year, Ekholm has at least a 50/50 shot at cracking the Predators blueline on the third pairing, with his main competition being Roman Josi and Jack Hillen. Ekholm brings size, hockey sense, good position play and smart offensive ability, and may have come further in the last two years than any prospect in hockey. Alex Urbom - After cracking the Devils out of camp last year, Urbom is probably on the bubble this year, with the third pairing up for grabs, but Adam Larsson likely to take one of those two spots. Most likely he'll split the season between the NHL and AHL, regardless of where he begins in October. Justin Braun - Heading into the off-season, Braun was considered a near lock to make the Sharks out of camp, with Doug Wilson commenting that he was a key piece of the future. However the acquisitions of Burns, White and Vandermeer leaves little room for Braun on a healthy squad. The dark horses: Brenden Dillon, Drew Schiestel and Justin Faulk are all in the conversation for spots. Oddly enough, Dillon may have the best chance, because the Stars are extremely high on him. Faulk is only 19, and Schiestel is coming off a knee surgery, but both will get a better chance next year.