UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
Home Ice

Tampa Bay Lightning prospects rated tops in NHL; St. Louis Blues last

The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted winger Jonathan Drouin third overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.Jonathan Drouin, the third pick in the 2013 draft, joins GM Steve Yzerman's formidable pile of prospects. (Getty)

By Allan Muir

Over the weekend, a columnist in the Tampa Tribune considered Steve Yzerman's brief tenure as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and said the time has come for him "to deliver."

Fair enough. A couple of years on the playoff sidelines has a way of making folks antsy. And Lightning fans have had their fill of hope-and-change talk from the past few administrations that promised much and delivered little.

But the Bolts, like Rome, can't be built overnight. It's a process, and Yzerman has taken considerable strides in the right direction.

Need proof? Take a look at the talent pipeline.

Not only has Tampa's AHL team played in the last two Calder Cup Finals, winning it all in 2012, but the Lightning's prospect pool was just named best in the NHL by Hockey Prospectus.

"The Yzerman era has not yet been too successful at the NHL level, but at the prospect level, the Bolts have built the best system in hockey," Corey Pronman says. "Elite prospect Jonathan Drouin leads the way, and Tampa Bay has a ton of top talent elsewhere in their minor league affiliates and in the amateur ranks. The Lightning have a lot of very good prospects to go with their high-end quality depth, and that is true even with the fact that former sixth overall pick Brett Connolly no longer qualifies as a prospect. The future is bright for this organization."

MUIR: Lightning get A in 2013 NHL Draft grades

Along with Drouin, the third-overall pick in this year's draft, the Bolts have Andrey Vasilevskiy, arguably the top goaltending prospect outside the NHL, defensemen Slater Koekkoek, Andrej Sustr and Mark Barberio, and forwards Alex Killorn, Matthew Peca, Richard Panik and Nikita Kucherov in the system. All are within 24 months of stepping into the NHL.

Pronman rounds out his top 10 with the Islanders, Sabres, Ducks, Panthers, Predators, Red Wings, Stars, Blackhawks and Flames.

Of course, anytime there's a winner, there has to be a loser. He ranks the St. Louis Blues as having the least promise in their system. "Jordan Schmaltz and Tommy Vanneli, among a few others, could be interesting in a few years, but right now, the Blues' system is very thin," Pronman says.

Joining the Blues in the bottom five were the Sharks, Kings, Devils and Flyers.

More Home Ice

Close

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Bookmarks.
  3. Select Bookmark manager.
  4. Locate your current Sports Illustrated bookmark, click the Organize menu, then select Edit. You can now easily update the web address of your Sports Illustrated bookmark.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Click the Safari bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
Don't Show This Again