Ok, so right off the bat, a couple things: First off, I hope you had excellent, safe summers and are looking forward to an exciting season of hockey around the world. Second, I'm absolutely, 100% ripping this idea off of the infamous Steve Dangle, because it just makes too much sense to not steal. All the credit for the idea goes to Steve. That idea is to organizing young players in NHL prospect pipelines into a pyramid of tiers, with franchise-transforming level players at the top, to core players, to fringe/depth players, to longshots, and "Everyone Else" at the bottom. I felt it was prudent to start this season off with a general and casual overview of pipelines around the league as we get into another season.
What constitutes each tier? A franchise-transforming player is exactly what it sounds like. Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby, perhaps Connor Bedard one day? Either that or there is potential that the player could reach that point with development. These are very rare, and would only likely last on my drafted prospect sheet for one, dominant NHL season. A core level prospect is a player that will most definitely be a valuable piece to a team. A player you wouldn't want to trade unless you're getting quite a bit in return. A player that may not be dominant, but certainly one you reeeeeally like to have. Think Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, Owen Power and others. This is where most high end draft picks will land who still qualify as a prospect in my tracking document. Depth level players are likely destined for at best 2nd line roles on any given NHL team, and may be players that may bounce around a little in their careers, but ideally above replacement-level. There are certainly many more of these, as the majority of drafted prospects usually end up somewhere around this range on most NHL teams for a time. The maybe level is for players I'd consider projects or longshots. These are players who may have shown some level of promise but leveled off, or are players who are a step or two behind players that may be further along in their development. The rest get dumped into the "Everyone Else" category, which are players that I struggle to see a path to the NHL for relative to their peers. Could any of these players work up or down the tiers over time, even from the bottom to the top? Absolutely! The name of the game in this line of work is always probability, however, and many drafted players never even get a sniff in the NHL, so the pyramids must reflect that. On each team, I'll be highlighting who I believe is the "best" prospect in the team's pipeline, as well as a player who I've either loved watching in the past and will have my eye on often this season, or simply a fascinating case study that I'll want to keep in the back of my mind. They may not be the "best", but their success would bring me great joy and/or self-reflection.
In case you're wondering, these pyramids are hosted on my Team Prospect Tracker sheet, available at the $15 a month Patreon tier which comes with all perks of lower tiers. Detailed statistics for each team's prospect pipelines are available and updated daily. These pyramids will also be updated accordingly throughout the year.
The last thing is that I want to define what I consider a "prospect" for the purposes of this work. Any player that was first eligible in the 2017 draft or later appears on my lists, putting them in their 5th year of development. Any player who has played more than 41 NHL games or more is also removed from the list, so no Alexis Lafreniere, but yes to Quinton Byfield or Zac Jones. Of course there will be some players on the fringes, or technicalities, but this is just my methodology for tracking purposes, and it generally seems to line up with reality. With all that out of the way, let us begin in alphabetical order with the Anaheim Ducks!