I've been working on these for about a month now [very slowly!], and I thought I'd start posting them here. I'm actually down into the mid 20's, but I thought I'd split them up into parts, since they are extremely long posts. I'll post 11 through 20 later on. Anyways, tell me what you think about the rankings, and if I've made any mistakes, let me know. Apart from what I'd normally have you believe, I'm not perfect. I am using HF's prospect criteria. I am assuming the amount of games is as of before the season started, so while I am factoring the performance of those games, I am not factoring them in when I am considering if a player is a prospect or not. #1 - Washington Capitals While General Manager George McPhee is on the hot seat, Jaromir Jagr is whining over his girlfriend, Caps owner Ted Leonsis bellyaching over how he doesn't understand how you can't buy a winner in the NHL, one thing for the Caps is just fine. Yes, the Washington Capitals have the best group of prospects in the NHL. While perhaps no top 5 prospect, Maxime Oulette is a top 5 goaltending prospect in this league and projects to be a franchise goaltender. Steve Eminger is already logging huge minutes for Washington at a very young age, and projects to a top 2 defenseman. Alexander Semin, an absolute dandy with the puck has top line offensive upside. There are no key weaknesses in the Caps system either, as it shows amazing depth with names such as Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Maxime Daigneault, newly aquired Jonas Johansson, and towering defenseman Nolan Yonkman. #2 - Philidelphia Flyers It's funny what a good day in June can do for an organization. Bobby Clarke has been accused of many things as a General Manager, but you could tell as day #1 of the draft came to a close, Clarke & his scouting team had recognized the problem - they lacked good, young centreman! To this end, Clarke took Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, two OHL centreman who both have already impressed the scouting staff in Philidelphia - so much so, Mike Richards nearly earned a roster spot out of camp. Adding those two peices to an already strong core, featuring arguably the best prospect in the world, Finnish blueliner Joni Pitkanen, and former Red Deer Rebels blueliner Jeff Woywitka, the Flyers have perhaps the best top 4 group of prospects in the league. And while the depth in the Flyers system doesn't extend all the way down to the bottom, there are some quality guys who get less attention than those top four such as Patrick Sharp, Colin Fraser, and Antero Nittymaki. #3 - Florida Panthers Even with Bouwmeester losing his 'prospect' status, the Panthers have developed an impressive stable of youngsters that should be able to surround Bouwmeester and perhaps someday give the Cats some claws and make some noise in the playoffs. Heading the group of Panthers prospects is 3rd overall pick of the 2003 draft, Nathan Horton. He, alike Anthony Stewart, another 2003 1st rounder, project to be power forwards with some serious attitude. Stewart is a beast on wheels, and has a knack for scoring timely goals. As well, defensemen Lukas Krajicek and Fillip Novak have a bevy of offensive tools that will surely help the listless Panthers offense down the road. Beyond their top prospects, there is a deep group of very interesting depth prospects, such as Rob Globke, Petr Taticek, Gregory Campbell, Kyle Rossiter, and Kamil Kreps. Perhaps the only weakness in the Panthers system is their lack of good goaltender prospects. #4 - Los Angelas Kings Remember when Kings prospects used to be the butt of everyones jokes? Okay, you don't? Well, they were at one point to some. Gone are those days. Kings GM Dave Taylor has, if nothing else, done an amazing job at compiling Kings prospects considering what he had when he came into the job. Deals like the Rob Blake deal and the Mattheiu Schneider have given the Kings good picks in the drafts lately, and Mr. Taylor and his scouts have made the right moves. Heading the class of Kings youngsters is Russian defenseman, Denis Grebeshkov, a very smart puck moving defenseman who has already played 50 games in the Russian Super League. The first of LA's 3 1st rounders in 2003 was used to select OHL'er Dustin Brown, a hardworking goal scorer that has already cracked the Kings lineup. Looking down from there, you see quality & quantity that few teams can match. Jared Aulin, Mike Cammelleri, Petr Kanko, and Jeff Tambellini posses some scoring capabilities, and if their lack of size is a problem, just put them on lines with the underrated Jens Karlsson, first round pick in 2001, or Brian Boyle, the 6'5 1/2 behemoth. Boyle, while a project, could be the kind of centreman that other teams have nightmares about the night before playing. All this, without even mentioning defenseman Tim Gleason, aquired in the Bryan Smolinski trade! The Kings are solid in all positions but in goal. #5 - Pittsburgh Penguins When you think 'Pittsburgh Penguins Prospects' you think .. alliteration! Well, you might think of that second, after the outstanding Cape Breton/Pittsburgh Penguin goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins obviously were high on him, making sure to get the #1 overall pick as to not miss out on getting him. Fleury has no discernable weaknesses, and is possibly the best goaltending prospect in the league - only Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen could challenge him now. Fleury is obviously the franchises key prospect and the player the future Lemieux-less Penguins will build around for years. Players that will be making sure pucks don't get into the net with Fleury should be defenseman Ryan Whitney and Brooks Orpik. Both project to top 4 defenseman, and are both very big and strong, particularly Orpik who is a vicious open-ice hitter in the Scott Stevens mold. Beyond those top 3 guys, the Penguins have a bunch of 'great potential, but not there yet' guys, such as Michal Sivek & Kris Beech, brought over from the Jaromir Jagr trade, Tomas Surovy who dissapointed at training camp this season, and highly skilled offensive defenseman, Ross Lupaschuk. Beyond those questionable guys, there are still a third layer, including Noah Welch, Konstantin Kozlov, Erik Christiansen, and Ryan Malone. #6 - Chicago Blackhawks With the borsche sipping, vodka drinking, alleged communist Mike Smith out of the powderkeg that is Chicago, incoming GM Pullford's first great idea was to fire off the scouting staff. Good idea, Pullford, those guys would rather work in another city, anyways. And yes, they will all be back to work for other NHL teams in the near future. Perhaps the biggest reason is that the Hawks scouting staff is not only good at picking the sure-bets as of late, but also at finding diamonds in lumps of coal. Obviously the first guy that leaps to mind in the Chicago system is current Hawk, Tuomo Ruutu. While his agent would probobly think otherwise, Ruutu is not yet the best player in the league.. but he could be one day. Ruutu has an unbelievable set of skills & intangibles that you rarely see on an NHL player. His play is reminiscent of Mike Peca with more skill, and his potential could possibly be similer to that of another Peter Forsberg. Ruutu alone throws the Hawks into the top 10, but it's the bevy of the supporting casts that keeps them there. Gritty & gifted Russian (*gasp*) Pavel Vorobiev has yet to bust out, but could be another Olli Jokinen-type case - needs more time. Russian (*shocking*) defenseman Anton Babchuk has top 4 defensive potential, whereas Russian (*amaze*) centre Mikhail Yakoubov is a guy who's got it all, but his recent struggles have seen his stock drop a little bit.. but he's still very young. Another Russian (*okay, I'll stop now*) Igor Radulov is a case of 'Where did he come from', and has very good scoring potential. Young goaltenders Michael Leighton and Craig Anderson give the Hawks some depth in goal, and 2003 first rounder, Brent Seabrooke, brings another stud defensive prospect to the table which was a concern last year. There are few weaknesses in the Hawks system, though perhaps Pullford should spring for a few 'Russian/English' dictionaries. #7 - Montreal Canadiens This summer, the Habs brought in Bob Gainey, but did the very smart thing in retaining Savard as a scout. Savard is already well known in hockey circles to be a good judge of talent, and the Habs prospect system has improved since he was hired as GM. Who the #1 prospect in Montreal is up for debate, but that doesn't seem to matter, as the Habs have a pretty solid top end group of kids. RSL winger Alex Perezhogin scored 15 goals in the RSL last year, and had a great WJC tournament, and he might have the best potential of the lot. A blistering scoring winger, Perezhogin has perhaps an equal in the Habs system in 2003 1st round pick, Andrei Kastsitsyn, a highly skilled Belarussian with some health concerns that probobly won't be a problem, but likely had some effect on his draft positioning. As well, young Chris Higgins who was a great player for Yale in the ECAC of the NCAA last year. There are some questions as to weather or not Higgins offensive talents will translate into the NHL, but Chris should make the NHL anyways. Rounding out the top four, towering Mike Komisarek who has a good overall game and projects to be a top 4 defenseman. And while there are some questions to the depth of the Habs organization, there are some potential bright spots in the incredibly skilled, but small, Cory Locke, newfoundlander Michael Ryder, offensivly skilled Cory Urquhart, and small, but solid Tomas Plekanec. The key issue for the Blue & Blanc prospects, as with their big club, is a real lack of size & grit up front. #8 - Buffalo Sabres It seems every year as of late, Buffalo is amongst the team with the best prospects. In the past, this could be attributed to making solid trades. However, with so many poor seasons bring forth high draft picks, more pressure is on Buffalo scouts than ever. This year, they used their 1st round pick on Tomas Vanek, an Austrian playing for the top team in the NCAA, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Vanek is an out-of-this-world offensive threat, but has been accused of going to sleep. Boosters compare Tomas to Ottawa's Marian Hossa, but detractors are quick to point to Pavel Brendl. And while Vanek is perhaps the standout talent wise, there is a lot to be happy about in the Sabres organization. Outstanding goaltending prospect Ryan Miller is very young and projects to be a franchise goaltender for the Sabres, though perhaps not quite to the level of a Roberto Luongo or a Marc-Andre Fleury. Perhaps the most underrated prospect in the world is Derek Roy, an extremely talented offensive player without much size but a whole lot of heart. Also of note is 1st round pick in 2002, Daniel Paille, and big-time QMJHL scorer, Jason Pominville, could perhaps have NHL potential if he can fight through traffic. While you could accuse the Sabres of swinging for the fences in the draft lately, you surely can't argue with the sheer potential of this group. Other Buffalo prospects of note include Michael Ryan, Paul Gaustad, Jakub Klepis, and Jiri Novotny. #9 - New Jersey Devils Peirre Maguire's draft day whining aside, Zach Parise should not have fallen to 17th overall, and into Lou Lammerello's lap. Noted as perhaps the best scout in the NHL, David Conte refuses to dissapoint. Year after year, although sometimes not in the spotlight, Conte & his staff continue to draft future NHL'ers. And a talent like Parise's, Conte recognized, was just too good not to get considering where he was at the time. Parise has extremely high potential offensivly and while not big, plays with grit and intensity. Behind Parise, Ari Ahonen patiently bides his time until Martin Brodeur stops being a top goaltender in the NHL, or until either he or Brodeur doesn't play in New Jersey anymore. Paul Martin and David Hale form an interesting one-two punch on the blueline, perhaps the heir apperants to Scott Neidermayer & Stevens respectivly. Other very good prospects such as Anton Kadeykin, Tuomas Pihlman, Adrian Foster, and Matt DeMarchi, among others, gives the Devils perhaps the deepest pool of kids since the mid 90's. #10 - Nashville Predators If you asked the casual hockey fan about prospects in the Preds system, the only name they could probobly come up with is Rankin Inlet native, Jordin Tootoo. And that's a real shame, since Tootoo is not even close to the top prospects the Preds management has pooled together. Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the system is 2003 1st rounder Ryan Suter. Suter's got #1 defenseman written all over him talent-wise, and the question is not if Ryan Suter makes the NHL', but when. But the top-end talent does not end with Suter. Dan Hamhuis is playing a large role for the Predators already this season, and ought to be considered a top notch defensive prospect as well. Hamhuis has played big roles wherever he's gone in his career, and it's very likely he'll play a big role for the Predators someday, as he certainly projects to a top 4 defenseman, and maybe more. There is some talent up front too. Former Kamloops Blazer, Scottie Upshall, is a talented, gritty forward that, if he doesn't make the NHL as a top 6 forward, will certainly make an above-average 3rd liner. The aforementioned Jordin Tootoo is already making an NHL impact as a demolishing hitter, pest, and all around public enemy #1 to whomever the Preds are playing that particular night. But the real wildcard in all this may be Russian Timofei Shishkanov. Shishkanov has great offensive abilities, but has been accused of being disinterested too often. In fact, one scout even said Shishkanov displayed a, 'complete lack of character'. Other notables in the Preds system include Brian Finley, Kevin Klein, and Darren Haydar.