The beginning of the hockey season is filled with optimism and hope for fans of all 30 teams, and nothing helps to raise the level of sanguinity quite like the arrival of a top prospect to give one’s favorite team a boost. It’s for this reason that the NHL Entry Draft is greeted with great anticipation every June, and why a strong preseason performance from an up-and-coming player can give fans reason to believe that this could be the year that their team makes a glorious run at Lord Stanley’s cherished chalice.
In what will hopefully become an annual tradition, here’s a look at Inside Hockey’s Top 50 Prospects for the 2010-11 NHL season. Prospect rankings vary dramatically from site to site, with no clear distinction regarding what constitutes a prospect. Here at Inside Hockey, we’re using Calder Trophy eligibility to determine which players can be considered prospects:
To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in each of two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league. The player also cannot be older than 26 as of September 15th of their rookie season.
For this reason, you won’t see names like Alex Pietrangelo, Nikita Filatov or Kyle Turris on this list. All of them have had too much NHL experience to qualify for the Calder Trophy, though given how limited their experience actually is, an argument could certainly be made that the Calder Trophy eligibility rules are too stringent.
Leading off our rankings is dynamic Edmonton Oilers winger Taylor Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Given the ice time and the proper support from his teammates (particularly on the power play), it wouldn’t be a stretch for Hall to finish amongst the NHL’s top 20 goal scorers in his rookie year. He performed at an elite level throughout his junior hockey career, raising his play in the biggest games (OHL playoffs, Memorial Cup, World Juniors), and the only real question about Hall’s future is whether his body can withstand his all-out playing style.
So without further ado, here are Taylor Hall and the rest of our top 50 NHL Prospects…