The first installment of our Top 100 NHL Prospects list features a good mix of players. There are players selected as high as the second round of the NHL Draft and free agents that were passed over completely in the NHL Draft. Most of the players in this installment are younger players that have shown potential to make it to the next level, but haven't quite reached it yet.
Here are the first ten names on this year's list.
91. Connor Hurley, Forward, Notre Dame(Buffalo Sabres)
Hurley already possesses NHL-caliber speed, and his ability to stickhandle in one-on-one situations in intriguing. It's going to take him a few years at the college level, however, to develop more muscle so that he can take advantage of that speed without being held to the perimeter and knocked off the puck so easily.
92. Chris Calnan, Forward, Boston College(Chicago Blackhawks)
The right wing has taken on more responsibility in his second season at the Heights. After scoring just four goals as a freshman the Blackhawks prospect has 11 this season, including four game-winners. That's what a lot of fans will notice, but the Nobles product is really becoming an impact player in all three zones. Jerry York has entrusted him with key situations late in the game.
93. Avery Peterson, Forward, Nebraska-Omaha(Minnesota Wild)
Peterson has made the increasingly rare jump straight from Minnesota high school to the NCAA season, and has been effective in his first season, earning conference player of the month honors in January. Peterson is a big forward, but relies more on his offensive skills and scoring touch than playing a physical game.
94. Zach Sanford, Forward, Boston College(Washington Capitals)
A true power forward, the former Pinkerton High star has improved leaps and bounds since October. He's more of a presence on the ice and has really learned to use his size to get into the scoring area and generate chances.
95. Drake Caggiula, Forward, North Dakota(Free Agent)
(photo by Matt Dewkett)
Caggiula isn't a big player, but certainly packs a punch. His relentless puck pursuit and willingness to initiate contact makes him a tenacious forechecker and a very effective defender. He's shown improved scoring touch over each of his three seasons at North Dakota, but his skating ability and tenacity is his ticket to the next level.
96. Mike Vecchione, Forward, Union(Free Agent)
(photo by Matt Dewkett)
Only RIT's Matt Garbowsky has won more face offs than Vecchione. The Saugus, Mass. native has more than proven he can produce without Daniel Carr and company. He doesn't have as many points as linemate Daniel Ciampini, but he's a very complete player. He's very responsible in the defensive zone and has two shorthanded goals among his 15 tallies on the year.
97. John Hayden, Forward, Yale(Chicago Blackhawks)
An alternate captain for the U.S. team at the World Juniors, his offensive game hasn't really taken off at Yale, but he's a presence on the ice even when not factoring in the scoring. The notion that what a player does away from the puck can be just as impressive as what he does with the puck applies to Hayden, a former prep star at Brunswick School.
98. Derek Pratt, Defenseman, Connecticut(Free Agent)
The Northfield Mount Hermon alum has played in all but one game for Mike Cavanaugh's Huskies this winter. Described as a rink rat by his teammates, he's a student of the game who plays well in his own end and is very sound defensively. He plays a quiet but effective game. A free agent, he was coached by his dad, a BGSU alum, in prep school.
99. Doyle Somerby, Defenseman, Boston University(New York Islanders)
(photo by Bill Rapai)
Perhaps no player in the country has improved as much as the Marblehead, Mass. native has from his freshman to sophomore year. He's a big, physical shutdown defender, but his mobility has gotten better and he has learned to reel in his emotions and play more in check this season. He's the type of player that if he continues to work on his skating, he could be a force at the next level. His game certainly is more oriented to the pro style than NCAA.
100. Ryan Fitzgerald, Forward, Boston College(Boston Bruins)
The Boston Bruins prospect has been somewhat streaky offensively this season, but when he's on, his skill set is very apparent. He's still working on improving his game defensively, but it's gotten better. His vision, creativity and hockey sense in the offensive zone is certainly an asset.