Researching the roles of the top NHL prospects (1-25)

Updated: October 12, 2010 at 11:25 am by Alexander Monaghan

With pre-season predictions becoming stronger and stronger, we turn to one of the most important wildcards in fantasy hockey: the Rookie.  A good rookie can add depth to your squad and in some cases help you win your League.  A personal favorite site of mine, Hockey’s Future, recently released their top 50 prospects for the Fall of 2010 with several interesting names probably already littering the sleeper lists.  We intend to tell you where these youngsters will play and what opportunities they will be given as the season progresses.

For the sake of clarity, the 2010-2011 upside will refer to the highest role these players could see on the team this season.  It does not, however, project whether or not they will succeed in those roles.  Lets take a look at the top 1-25 prospects in the League and where they will likely play this season.

1. Taylor Hall – LW – Edmonton Oilers

Hall will start the season on the left side of recently appointed captain Shawn Horcoff and former teammate Jordan Eberle– otherwise known as the Oilers’ second line.  It will only be a matter of time that every line he plays on will be known as the first line as this year’s first overall pick establishes himself in the League.  He is rated the first overall prospect for a reason so make sure to pick him up in any keeper/dynasty league.

2010 – 2011 upside: Top line LW

2. Jacob Markstrom – G – Florida Panthers

Markstrom starts the season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL as the Panthers will carry two veteran goaltenders.  The decision will help the young Swedish goalie learn the North American game before the team inevitably replaces Tomas Vokoun.  His earliest projection would have him backing up down the stretch.

2010 – 2011 upside: AHL G / post-deadline call-up

3. Tyler Seguin – C – Boston Bruins

Seguin will start the season with the club as one of six 2010 NHL Entry Draft 1st round picks.  With the injury to Marc Savard he will likely see some time at center, even though the team wanted to use him on the wing alongside Mark Recchi.  Regardless, the second overall pick was slated to make the team and should have a very bright future with the Bs.

2010 – 2011 upside: 2nd/3rd line C

4. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – D – Phoenix Coyotes

Ekman-Larsson made the team but we will need to wait and see what type of role he will play.  By all means he seems like the type of well-rounded defender who would fit in nicely next to Keith Yandle on the blue line, which is why the Yotes selected him so high.  He signed his contract at the end of last season and made his NHL debut on the first game of the year, substituting for an injured Derek Morris.  The future looks bright for Ekman-Larsson as he already gained his first NHL point.

2010 – 2011 upside: top 4 D

5. Jonathan Bernier – G – Los Angeles Kings

Dubbed the Kings’ goalie of the future, Bernier will start the season on the bench.  If incumbent starter Jonathan Quick falters, this youngster should have the inside track but it appears for now that the team will keep the guy who won them 60 games over the past two seasons.

2010 – 2011 upside: ’1A’ powerhouse team backup G

6. Semyon Varlamov – G – Washington Capitals

Due to an injury, Varlamov will not start the first few games for the Caps.  Unfortunately for him this season marks the second in a row where he suffered an early year setback– which not only hurt his chances at starting off on the right foot but also keeps the door open to his competitor Michal Neuvirth.  If you own or drafted Varly, hope for a quick recovery and no more trips to the IR.

2010 – 2011 upside: ’1A’ powerhouse team backup G

7. Brayden Schenn – C – Los Angeles Kings

Schenn makes the team only one year removed from being drafted.  At 19-years-old he seems to be taking baby steps at the professional level and will start the season on the fourth line.  Not sure if Schenn returns to Juniors following his 9th game but the team looks like they will give him an opportunity to try and stick.  If not, the team should have plenty of options to fill his role.

2010 – 2011 upside: 3rd/4th line C

8. Alex Pietrangelo – D – St. Louis Blues

After a disappointing season where Pietrangelo both lost the WHJC with Team Canada and failed to last longer than nine games in the NHL, he made the team out of training camp.  He will be expected to contribute at both ends of the ice and gain more playing time as the season progresses.  If he cannot, then he would likely receive a ticket to Peoria with another one of the Blues’ talented d-man prospects coming back up.

2010 – 2011 upside: top 4 D

9. John Carlson – D – Washington Capitals

Carlson starts the season in the top four paired with the team’s top defensive defenseman Tom Poti.  He should get the opportunity to spread his wings both on the powerplay and with plenty of time during even strength.  After a fantastic season last year, he should be fully NHL ready and a perfect compliment to the team’s secondary scoring.

2010 – 2011 upside: top 4 D

10. Magnus Paajarvi – LW – Edmonton Oilers

Paajarvi played 15 minutes in his season debut, playing on the third line alongside Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule.  Our very own Ryan Campbell thought he would be the most likely to succeed on the team and this list puts him higher than the sniping Jordan Eberle.  Of the three super-rookies he may take the longest to develop but his upside could be as high as Hall’s.

2010 – 2011 upside: 2nd/3rd line W

11. Jordan Eberle – C – Edmonton Oilers

Standing in at just 5’10” this talented winger just looks like a natural fit in the NHL.  He will be a sniper and will be aided by reuniting with Hall, which explains already scoring two points in his first game.  That first goal, by the way, is one that might be talked about for a while.

2010 – 2011 upside: 1st/2nd line W

12. Nikita Filatov – LW – Columbus Blue Jackets

About a week ago, we reported that Filatov would start the season on a scoring line.  Since that time his linemates have slightly changed — flipping Voracek for Huselius — but he seems likely stuck with Derrick Brassard as a pivot.  Although he naturally plays the left side, he could in theory see time with the captain Rick Nash before the season ends.

2010 – 2011 upside: 1st/2nd line W

13. Erik Gudbranson – D – Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers missed the deadline to sign their third overall pick, as we discussed a few days ago.  See you next year, kiddo.

2010 – 2011 upside: Junior player

14. Erik Karlsson – D – Ottawa Senators

Karlsson registered the second most ice time on the blue line in the season’s opener.  Under the tutelage of veteran Sergei Gonchar, the young Karlsson should improve his point totals of last season and continue his post-Olympic tear.  Once the Sens’ offense begins to click, his numbers should only climb which is why we thought he would be the most likely to succeed.

2010 – 2011 upside: #2 D

15. P.K. Subban – D – Montreal Canadiens

For the majority of his NHL career Subban has gained ice time because of an injured Andrei Markov.  He played during the regular season and playoffs last year because of the injury and has started on the second pairing again this year.  Nothing about that statement should deter you from Subban, he truly is an excellent defender with a booming shot from the point and the ability to be a leader.  In his only game so far he played an overwhelming 22 minutes while paired with Jaroslav Spacek.  When Markov and Roman Hamrlik return his minutes should decrease with him remaining the trigger man on the powerplay.

2010 – 2011 upside: top 4 D

16. Cody Hodgson – C – Vancouver Canucks

A few days ago, Hodgson was demoted to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.  As a natural center, it was a tough task asking him to beat Manny Malhotra, Ryan Kesler or Henrik Sedin for a spot so he will spend some time honing his game in the minors.  Considering the depth in Vancouver, this young center man might only get an opportunity if an important player goes down to injury and might force his way out as trade bait.  Keep in mind that only two years ago, Hodgson sat at the top of this list.

2010 – 2011 upside: Injury call-up

17. Nazem Kadri – C – Toronto Maple Leafs

Kadri lost his spot on the team during training camp and will start the year with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.  At only 20-years-old he holds a wealth of offensive talent but must show more to earn a full-time NHL job.  He most likely will succeed in the A before receiving a call-up as a reward or due to injuries.  However, for now it looks like Tyler Bozak will remain the number one center.

2010 – 2011 upside: Mid-season call-up

18. Ryan Johansen – C – Columbus Blue Jackets

In the beginning of October the team sent the young playmaking center back to the Portland Winterhawks of the AHL.  The fourth overall pick will need at least one more year in juniors before coming back to compete for a spot during training camp.

2010 – 2011 upside: Junior player

19. Nino Niederreiter – LW – New York Islanders

Even though the team has been decimated by injuries, the Isles planned on starting Niederreiter on the big club. Due to those injuries he will get every opportunity to shine in the NHL as the team will need to scrap each and every game without Kyle Okposo, Mark Streit and now John Tavares.  Slot this year down as a learning experience, similar to the rookie year of Okposo.

2010 – 2011 upside: 1st/2nd line LW

20. Tyler Ennis – C/LW – Buffalo Sabres

This diminutive winger has started the season on the top line alongside Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.  His results have been turning Roy into a sniper, totaling three assists over his first two games.  If this trend continues he could put up similar numbers to JP Dumont of a few years ago, good for a 20-50-70 season from the wing.

2010 – 2011 upside: 1st/2nd line LW

21. Luca Sbisa – D – Anaheim Ducks

It’s only one game into the season the blue line Ducks has been decimated by injuries; with their latest comes to tough guy Andy Sutton.  Sbisa now forces himself back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in their first tilt, which speaks volumes of the trust level from the coaching staff.  Sbisa is one of the youngest players to ever play for the Ducks but has likely been surpassed on the depth chart by the recently drafted Cam Fowler.  Should be an excellent opportunity to prove himself once again, although the team looks like they will sign veteran Andreas Lilja to fill the gap.

2010 – 2011 upside: #6/7 D

22. Jamie McBain – D – Carolina Hurricanes

At the end of last season, McBain burst onto the scene with an impressive 10 points over the final 14 games.  He spent most of his time working the point on the powerplay as the team was decimated by injuries and gave him as long of a look as possible.  This year he will need to fight veterans like Tim Gleason, Anton Babchuk, Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen to gain time in the top four but has already earned some powerplay time and posted an assist.  His production is legitimate and he should eventually make Corvo obsolete to the team.  A big time sleeper if not for this season, then the next as the Canes will look good once all their prospects develop.

2010 – 2011 upside: top 4 D w/powerplay time

23. Chris Kreider – LW – New York Rangers

Kreider won both the NCAA National Championship and the World Junior Hockey Championship last season while playing in his first season for Boston College.  Due to NCAA restrictions, he did not attend training camp and will go back to school for at least one more season.  Keep the name in mind next season as his unique combination of size and speed give him an excellent chance at making an impact in the NHL.

2010 – 2011 upside: College player

24. Mikael Granlund – C – Minnesota Wild

Granlund will stay in Finland where, at 18-years-old, he centers the top line for IFK of SM Liiga.  The Wild have high hopes for the youngster and expect to play him either as the pivot to Martin Hanzal or alongside Mikko Koivu in the future.  That future will need to be next season at the very least.

2010 – 2011 upside: SM Liiga player

25. Vladimir Tarasenko – RW – St. Louis Blues

Reports indicate that the Blues rated Tarasenko 8th overall on their draft board, which is why they traded away David Rundblad to acquire him.  Unfortunately he returned to Sibir of the KHL with his NHL status somewhat up in the air.  If the team can bring him across the ocean he will be a talent, but at this point that is a big if (Ed Note. although Blues’ faithful remain positive).

2010 – 2011 upside: KHL player

We hope you enjoyed our latest top-prospect related material.  As a sidenote, all positions are based off what Yahoo! currently assigned current players, which may be confusing when they actually play a different position in real life.  Make sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyfaceoff and let your voice be heard below.

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