This fall, I decided to change things up and look across all three New York/New Jersey teams and come up with one top 10-prospect list. This does not mean that each team will lose their own top prospect list, but I just thought that it would be fun ranking them and seeing if any one local team dominated. Turns out, the Rangers and Devils have three players in the rankings and the Islanders have four. It’s actually closer than that, was the tenth player on the list may never play in North America so, it’s pretty much even. Without further ado, here’s the list.
- Nico Hischier, C, NJD
I don’t think that there is any question that Hischier is the top prospect in these here parts. Yes, 2017 was a weak draft, and, yes, maybe if Nolan Patrick had been healthy by June, he would have been the first overall pick in this draft. But, if you have seen Hischier play, you would have realized that Hischier can skate, think the play, dangle the puck, play defense (some), win faceoffs, while at the same time having an all-star shot. In other words, he can do it all. He’s the number one prospect in the New York area–by far.
- Mathew Barzal, C, NYI
Barzal was great at the U-20 WJCs last year and posted about 2 points per game in the WHL last season. An excellent playmaker, with decent speed and outstanding vision, Barzal is a top six center in Brooklyn this season. Watch for him to create sparks in the offensive zone, even as he adjusts to his new role on the NHL team.
- Filip Chytil, C, NYR
Coming out of obscurity, few people had heard of Chytil (pronounced (HEETil) before September. The Rangers selected him 21st overall in this past June’s draft, and it was expected that he would be quickly returned to the Czech Republic after training camp. Except that he was the star of the camp and continued to perform in the pre-season. A sniper, with a great release, Chytil just turned 18 and probably will not stay with the Blueshirts the entire season. But, watch for him in the future.
- Igor Shestyorkin, G, NYR
The heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist’s throne between the pipes, Shestyorkin has been putting up incredible numbers in the KHL for a couple of seasons. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has registered a 44-4-1 record, along with a 1.53 GAA, a .94.2 save percentage, and 11 shutouts in 52 appearances since the start of the 2016-17 season. Shestyorkin leads the KHL in wins (13), GAA (1.17), and save percentage (95.7), and is tied for the league lead in shutouts thus far in 2017-18.
- Will Butcher, D, NJD
Butcher was a highly prized free agent signed by the Devils this past August. The winner of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player, during his final collegiate season, Butcher ranked second in points among collegiate defensemen. Expected to contribute much needed offense on the power play, he should be a bright spot on the Devils back end this season.
- Kieffer Bellows, LW, NYI
A first round pick of the Islanders in 2016 (16th overall), Bellows is a very good skater and excellent two-way winger. Fearless around the net, Bellows left collegiate hockey at the end of last season and is skating for the WHL Portland Winterhawks in 2017-18. He is at least one more year away from taking the ice for the Isles, when he has the potential to begin dominating games.
- Lias Andersson, C, NYR
An excellent two-way forward, Andersson was the Rangers first pick (seventh overall) in the 2017 draft. Andersson can take face offs, make plays, score, and play a physical game. He is an all-around player that needs to tie to mature. He will be playing in Sweden this season, but expect him to be on the ice for the Rangers in 2018-19.
- Linus Soderstrom, G, NYI
At this time, Soderstrom is considered the Islanders goaltending prospect most likely to be between the pipes in coming years. A 2014 fourth-round selection, he was named the best goaltender at the 2016 World Junior Championships. Last season, in the SHL, Soderstrom backstopped HV71 to the 2017 Swedish Hockey League Championship as a rookie—he started all 16 playoff games and posted a 12-4 record, with a 2.11 GAA and a 92.2 save percentage.
- Jesper Bratt, LW, NJD
A sixth round selection in 2016, Bratt makes a surprise appearance on this list—mostly as the result of his play in the pre-season. He has made the Devils’ roster to open the season and can play in all situations. He is a very hard worker and has a big offensive upside.
- Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI
Sorokin was the Islanders third round selection in 2014. Had he not just signed a three year extension in Russia, he would be higher on this list. But, alas, he is signed through the 2020 season in the KHL. Thus far this season, he has appeared in 12 contests for CSKA Moskva with a 1.56 GAA and a 92.8% save percentage.