Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 UFHL Farm Ranking: #10-18

10. Los Angeles – GM: Eugene
Top 5 farm players:
Jonathan Bernier (G), Mattias Tedenby (F), Joe Colborne (F), Simon Despres (D), Bobby Sanguinetti (D)
Strengths: Bernier really helps solidify the goaltending position while Despres, Sanguinetti and Gilroy stabilize an aging blueline. Forwards have a lot of potential with Tedenby, Colborne and Bennett being top 6 potential NHLers in the future.
Weakness: Eugene has a good blend of talent but no pure first line forward or a pure first line defenseman. The depth also starts to tail off after the top 12.
Analysis: Eugene has a strong farm with a good blend of talent. Outside of Bernier there might not be anything who has franchise potential. Tedenby’s lack of size makes him a risk since he’s either top 6 or bust. Colborne is big enough to play all four lines and has size and skating to be an effective NHLer but his offensive game is in question on a deep Boston team. Surprise pick is also Rajala, who is a Tedenby-lite. Bennett and Despres, being on Pittsburgh’s team also basically boosts their value due to Pittsburgh’s lack of quality wingers in their system and defensemen of Despres’ potential.

11. Philadelphia Flyers - GM Paul
Top 5 Prospects:
Jon Blum, Erk, Gudbranson, Cory Schneider, Karl Alzner, Stefan Elliott
Strengths: The blueline in, all of the top prospects in the Flyers organization primary position is inside the blueline. Endras and McCollum are probably 1-2 years out of the NHL.
Weakness: High end forward prospects, the Flyers have some decent forward prospects but they do not have a high end forward. A few prospects are still at least 2-3 years out which could force the Flyers to fill their rosters with Free Agents until their prospects are ready.
Analysis: With the development of a few prospects the Flyers will hopefully continue to climb in the UFHL standings, however with the lack of two starting goaltenders the Flyers might have to wait a few years to make the playoffs.

12th – Calgary Flames - GM: Adam
Top 5 farm players:
Matt Duchene, Zach Boychuk, David Rundblad, Joey Hishon, Carl Gunnarson,
Strength: The Flames have 5 guys that every team in the league would make an inquiry call on if they were known to be available. Duchene may be franchise-eligible in the near future. The forwards on the farm like McRae, Weal, and Beleskey are worth waiting on to find out if they can make the pros, but they are nothing that the Flames can plan their future around. Gunnarson and Rundblad on the other hand, are two slick Swede defensemen who should soon fill two of Calgary’s defense spots.
Weakness: Calgary seems to think that having Bryzgalov and Price on their pro roster means they don’t need to have any legitimate goaltending prospects. While they may be right, it does hurt their farm ranking to not have a promising goaltender (sorry Jeremy Smith, but you don’t even have a lock on an AHL job). It would be nice however, for the organization to have a third goalie turtle-heading his way into the pro roster. Recently the Flames dealt one such goaltending prospect in Alexander Salak to the Leafs and watched Anaheim draft Calvin Pickard with their first round draft choice. To give the Flames some credit, Joni Ortio did well in a prospect development camp in late July, and he has a decent chance of taking over one of the spots in Turku to continue his development.
Analysis: The Flames are successfully converting farm players into pro players. Their pro roster is young at every position so the need to bring in farm players is not as extreme as most other UFHL clubs. One significant concern for the Flames is that they have no draft picks for next season and as a result should see a significant drop in next season’s farm ranking unless they are extremely productive in the free agency market.

13th - New Jersey Devils - GM: Jay
Top 5 farm players:
Nino Niederreiter (F), Tyler Ennis (F), John Moore (D), Kyle Beach (F), Jason Demers (D)
Strength: The Devils made a bold splash leading into the 2010 Draft by dealing the 2nd overall pick in return for Ennis, Moore, and Beach. Even after dealing that pick, New Jersey was able to land highly touted Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter. After a 52 goal and 186 PIM season in the WHL, Kyle Beach will be taking his talents to the professional level. It wouldn't be shocking
to see Beach crack the NHL by Opening Night. The dimunitive Ennis continued to produce even after jumping a level to the AHL last season. He even had a cup of coffee in the NHL and impressively notched 9 points in 10 games. Despite being a surprise cut from the 2009 US WJC squad, the swift skating John Moore had an impressive campaign for the Kitchener
Rangers. Like Beach, Moore will be looking to earn a spot in the NHL in the coming months. In addition, 2009 draft choices Kyle Palmieri and Jordan Caron remain
on track to contribute in a few years.

Weakness: The Devils were likely one of several teams disappointed to see Jack Campbell selected fifth overall by the Avalanche. With veteran #1 Nikolai Khabibulin likely in the twilight of his career, the Devils will undoubtedly be on the lookout for a successor. Currently the Devils have four farm eligible goaltending prospects led by 21 year old Braden Holtby showing some potential after making his pro debut in 2009-2010.
Analysis: With its NHL core in flux, the Devils have begun to retool their farm system. The forward depth is impressive and their defense has some under the radar blueliners.

14th - Montreal - GM: Joe
Top 5 farm players:
Chet Pickard, J.Schwartz, J.Enroth, M. Pacioretty, R. O'Reilly
Strength: two future NHL goalies; Schwartz could be elite fantasy forward.
Weakness: Defence and Forwards
Analysis: Set in goal for years, Montreal can entertain offers for a goalie to strengthen other positions. Joe has a lot of potentially strong defensive depth but needs to think more offensively and get players to help compensate the top 6 and make them stronger.

15th – Chicago Blackhawks - GM: Jerome
Top 5 farm players:
Artem Anisimov, Zack Kassian, Nathan Gerbe, Louis Leblanc, Brock Nelson,
Strength: The Hawks have some promising blue-chip forwards in Anisimov, Kassian, Gerbe, Leblanc, and Nelson as well as some other intriguing players drafted in early rounds like McMillan, Deschamps, and Shore. While these guys may not project to be first line all-stars, many of them have to be similar in production and value to the Umberger-, Stewart-, Malone-, and Bourque-type players they have on the pro team.
Weakness: While the Hawks have depth at pro-goaltending, they do not have an heir-apparent for Kiprusoff. Pasquale, Hutchinson, and Wentzel are all a long way off. Pasquale and Hutchinson have a shot at the AHL or ECHL this year but are most likely to return to their respective CHL teams. Wentzel may be a sleeper, but this will depend on how well he transitions into the SEL. On defense, Vishnevskiy should continue to evolve into a legitimate pro player this season, but beyond him there is not a lot of promise for offensive production from the blueline beyond Alexander Sulzer.
Analysis: Chicago is one of the stronger teams in the UFHL. The only thing they lack is a star forward. If Artem Anisimov can become an all-star, this problem will be solved, but it is likely that Anisimov is at least two seasons away from being able to flirt with point-per-game numbers. The Hawks farm has some valuable pieces, but the team must continue to explore free-agency and trades to fill some of the holes in the organization.

16th - Colorado Avalanche - GM: Paul
Top 5 farm players:
Hickey, Campbell, Robak, Repik, Vatanen
Strength: Defense is probably the strength of this group. Hickey, Robak and Vatanen are in the top 5 for Colorado and all 3 have good potential. The Avs
definitely need to improve their Defense so this focus on Defense is deserving.
Weakness: The forwards have some question marks. While Repik is a solid prospect, it is hard to gauge the exact potential of prospects like Sonne,
Wahl, Ross, etc. Goaltenders Campbell and Cheverie are good but this team could use another solid goalie prospect with only Elliot playing in the NHL.
Analysis: Colorado has some decent prospects but probably lacks another one or two high end prospects, especially at Forward.

17th - St.Louis Blues - GM: Ryan
Top 5 farm players:
Strength: Forwards seem to be the strenght for the Blues. Glennie,Boedker,Bjugstad all have intriguing potential. Abdelkader is already in the NHL.
Weakness: The Blues do not have any Defense prospects that really stand out. Also, aside from Hackett, the goalie prospects are just ok.
Analysis: The Blues have a solid group of prospects but could use help on Defense and in net(especially with Nabokov going to the KHL).

18th-Vancouver GM: Kyle
Top 5 farm players:
Brandon Gormley, Cody Franson, J. Blacker, C. Kreider, S. Shirokov
Strength: strong D prospects, Shirokov could make an impact this year. Gormley and Fransson might not be high NHL point producers but their games will make them solid NHLers for years upon years.
Weakness: Needs help at forward. Outside of Kreider, not many others look to be top 6 NHL forwards, but may surprise.
Analysis: With Ryan Miller and Lehtonen, set in goal for years so there is not much need for a goalie. Kreider leads the group offensively but outside of that Kyle could use more talent upfront. Defense looks set with the acquisition of Hamhuis and the drafting of Gormley. Just focusing on forwards for a few years should most definitely replenish his crop.