Welcome to​​ The Athletic’s dive into the prospect talent for all 31 NHL organizations.

This is a snapshot of the current state of NHL farm systems and the top prospect outside the NHL.

It is based on thousands of hours watching players across the hockey world, by way of live scouting and video, statistical analysis, and background work talking to scouts, coaches and executives.

These are my opinions on the players evaluated, as well as the systems those players are a part of, based on my own research. These opinions may differ at times from some NHL sources, even at times significantly.

I tend to value top talent much more than depth of decent players. Depth is incorporated though, as there is value to filling out your roster with young, cheap talent rather than looking to the marketplace; but significant weight is placed on prospects who could be stars or even upper half of the lineup players. All except one of my top 15 systems have a player who I label as a high-end prospect or better and that one system has incredible quality depth.

I value goalie prospects very conservatively. In the past 10 years or so, I’ve only rated one goalie who I thought would be a top-tier player (Andrei Vasilevskiy) and only a handful who I’d project to be a starting goalie in the NHL.

This overview of the NHL prospect world will be divided into 31 columns going deep into each team’s farm system, counting down each day from the worst system to the best. This page will be updated after each team’s analysis is published.

Each teams prospects will be ranked within its respective system. There is no designated number I’m cutting team rankings off at. Rather, I list all the prospects I think are NHL prospects within a system. That ranges from 25 for the deepest system, to 13 for the thinnest.

I also split players up into tiers that will be seen throughout this feature. Here is how you should interpret them:

  • Special prospect: Projects to be one of the very best at their position in the league
  • Elite prospect: Projects to be top 10 percent of the league at their position.
  • High-end prospect: Projects as a legit top-line forward who can play on your PP1/top pairing defenseman.
  • Very good prospect: Projects as a top-six forward/top-four defenseman/starting goaltender.
  • Legit NHL prospect: Projects to play, probably not in a top role, but is close enough that he could realistically get there.
  • Have a chance: Probably not an impact guy but could play in the league and has the toolkit to have an outside chance to be a real player. Have a chance refers to probability to be a good player, not his probability to play NHL games.
  • Depth: Player who doesn’t have the skillset to play high in your lineup but could fill out your roster and/or be an injury call-up option.

A player is no longer considered an NHL prospect if he has played more than 25 NHL games in any single season, 50 career NHL games or is older than age 27 as of Sept. 15, 2018. All other players are considered eligible.

In addition, I discuss what impact the prospects could have in the upcoming season.  And I rank the organization’s top 10 for all players under 23 as of Sept. 15, 2018.

And now for the rankings …

20. New Jersey Devils

21. Colorado Avalanche

22. Edmonton Oilers

23. Pittsburgh Penguins

24. Anaheim Ducks

25. Columbus Blue Jackets

26. Nashville Predators

27. Boston Bruins

28. Winnipeg Jets

29. Calgary Flames

30. Tampa Bay Lightning

31. Washington Capitals

Check back daily to countdown to the best system in the league.

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(Top photo credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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