Welcome to the first installment of our annual list of the Top 100 NHL Prospects. This project is the culmination of a year of scouting and looking for the college hockey players that could some day make an impact in the NHL.
The first ten players on this year's list features a number of quality free agent targets that could provide depth to an organization, along with a few younger players with high potential that haven't quite reached their peak yet.
91. John Hayden, Forward, Yale (Chicago Blackhawks)
Hayden is a true power forward that uses his size in front of the net to be an effective goal-scorer. His lopsided 16-7-23 scoring line in 31 games this season shows that he's more of a finisher than a set-up guy. Hayden is also a smart, effective player on the defensive end of the ice. Foot speed will be the biggest issue to overcome for the big forward at the pro level, but he might be a smart enough player to overcome those issues and be an effective third or fourth line forward at the NHL level.
92. Aidan Muir, Forward, Western Michigan (Edmonton Oilers)
(photo by Matt Christians)
Muir has gone through a bit of a sophomore slump in his second year at Western Michigan. He has been equally as productive, if not more so, in terms of creating scoring opportunities, but he's seen his shooting percentage drop from 8.4% as a freshman to 2.7%, which accounts for his drop in goals. Though the offensive production hasn't come along as hoped, Muir is still an intriguing prospect given his size and excellent agility, which makes him a strong defensive player and good on the cycle.
93. Nick Lappin, Forward, Brown (Signed by New Jersey Devils)
Lappin is a strong, tough two-way forward that showed good goal-scoring ability in his final three years at Brown, hitting double digits in goals. His pro upside is likely a bit limited, but his ability on the defensive end could allow him to be effective in a bottom six role, and his early effectiveness with Albany in the AHL suggests he may compete for a roster spot with the big club sooner rather than later.
94. MacKenzie MacEachern, Forward, Michigan State (St. Louis Blues)
The Blues took a gamble on MacEachern in the third round of the 2012 Draft, hoping that the big, skilled, but extremely raw forward coming out of Michigan high school could develop into a home run pick. Four years later, MacEachern has developed into a solid player--he's at 14-15-29 in 36 games with a bad Michigan State team--and continues to show progression in his development every year. He still has room for improvement on the defensive end, and could use his size more effectively. He hasn't quite become the dominant college player the Blues might have hoped for, but is still a nice asset.
95. Ryan Collins, Defenseman, Minnesota (Columbus Blue Jackets)
(photo by Matt Christians)
This year has largely been a disaster for Collins. With the departure of defensive partner Brady Skjei to the pros, Collins has struggled in taking on a larger role on the Minnesota defense. He did not make the US World Junior team despite being a returning player, and has frequently found himself a healthy scratch in the second half of the season due to frequent ugly turnovers. Still, the potential is there for the big defenseman to be a shutdown defender if he is ever able to cut down on the mistakes.
96. Gavin Bayreuther, Defenseman, St. Lawrence (Free Agent)
Bayreuther is a slick offensive defenseman that led his team in both goals scored and points this past season. His offense, highlighted by a tremendous shooting ability has always been the biggest strength in his game. He's worked hard to improve on the defensive end, and while that area could still use some work, his play in the offensive zone cancels that out a bit. It was a surprise when Bayreuther was passed over in his last year of draft eligibility after being highly ranked by NHL Central Scouting. That mistake will likely be rectified by an NHL team at some point this year or next.
97. Dakota Joshua, Forward, Ohio State (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Joshua was drafted by the Leafs for his intriguing mix of of being a potential power forward, but still having the skills to make plays in open ice. He was always considered a bit of a project, and in his rookie year at Ohio State, he's shown he has a long ways to go, but is making forward progress. After scoring six points in the first half of the season, he's scored 11 in the second half. Joshua is still a few years away from being a finished product, but if he continues developing, he could be an exciting power forward prospect.
98. Sam Anas, Forward, Quinnipiac (Free Agent)
Anas is the type of player that wouldn't have even received a look from the NHL a decade ago. He's generously listed at 160 lbs., but it's impossible to ignore his scoring ability. He has a very strong stick and tremendous shot which has allowed him to score over 20 goals in each of his first three NCAA seasons, something no other NCAA player has done. Anas will likely have to keep scoring at that pace at the pro level because he's not as effective in other areas due to his size, but his offensive instincts are difficult to teach.
99. Tony Cameranesi, Forward, Minnesota Duluth (Toronto Maple Leafs)
(photo by Matt Christians)
Cameranesi has quietly led the Bulldogs in scoring. His best asset remains his elite speed which gives him the ability to beat defenders wide to gain zone entry and set up in the offensive zone. He's still not a big player, but he has tremendous leg strength that makes him strong on the puck, and defenders can't hit a player that they can't catch. He's more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, and likely doesn't project as a huge scorer at the pro level, but his skating ability could make him an effective player at the NHL level.
100. Drake Caggiula, Forward, North Dakota(Free Agent)
(photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Caggiula is putting up big offensive numbers for the second straight season. He is excelling on the wing of North Dakota's 'CBS' line along with first round draft picks Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz. Caggiula is a high-effort, high-energy player that is tenacious in puck pursuit and moves the puck effectively on the offensive end. It's unlikely he'll score at the same rate at the pro level, but his scrappiness could make him an effective in a bottom six role, despite being a smaller forward.