First the logistics: To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons nor six or more games in each of the any two preceding seasons. As with baseball, it’s tricky to know exactly when a prospect will be called up, I’ve seen some players come up for a brief taste and then spend over a year until they are back again.
After a shortened offseason, it will be interesting to see what teams do with their prospects: Do they bring up some more in light of potential injury risk for vets or do they fear that they weren’t provided enough development late last year and they hold off a bit?
Here are 20 prospects that I’m optimistic about seeing time this year in the NHL.
Prospects who might play in 2021 Season
|1||Trevor Zegras||Anaheim Ducks||C||I'm excited to see what the Red Wings have in store with all the young talent|
|2||Bowen Byram||Colorado Avalanche||D||Given how well he skates, he will thrive in the faster NHL|
|3||Kirill Kaprizov||Minnesota Wild||RW||He can hold his own at the higher league; been waiting for him to come to the big leagues for a while|
|4||Alex Turcotte||Los Angeles Kings||C||One of a number of talented prospects for the Kings, he and Cole are fun to watch at Wisconsin|
|5||Alexis Lafreniere||New York Rangers||LW||If they pair him up with Panarin, look out|
|6||Ty Smith||New Jersey Devils||D||He will emerge as a top defender for the Devils who can head up their PP unit, good scoring upside here|
|7||Dylan Cozens||Buffalo Sabres||C||Elite level talent, I fear for Sabres recent success cultivating their draft picks|
|8||Gabe Vilardi||Los Angeles Kings||C||7 points in just 10 games played last year, I am very optimistic on the impact he can make|
|9||Barrett Hayton||Arizona Coyotes||C||Good well rounded player whose had exposure all around, he will be a center for top 2 lines at Arizona|
|10||Quinton Byfield||Los Angeles Kings||C||I don't anticipate much out of the gate from Quinton, he's still building and maturing|
|11||Grigori Denisenko||Florida Panthers||LW||He's smaller but he skates well and should grind out some goals|
|12||Tim Stuetzle||Ottawa Senators||LW||Arm surgery is delaying progress from the #3 overall pick in 2020|
|13||Arthur Kaliyev||Los Angeles Kings||LW||Among the many talented Kings prospects, Arthur has an elite scoring ability|
|14||Nicholas Robertson||Toronto Maple Leafs||LW||Great shot, good puck possession, needs some work on his skating|
|15||Philip Broberg||Edmonton Oilers||D||Offensive upside for this talented D; he's surprising people with his skating and scoring; a bit weak on defense|
|16||Morgan Frost||Philadelphia Flyers||C||He's small but he sees the ice well and can make an impact on scoring sheet, can be inconsistent|
|17||Joseph Veleno||Detroit Red Wings||C||Good skater with good puck possession skills; to be seen if Red Wings will be bringing up all of their young talent this year|
|18||Evan Bouchard||Edmonton Oilers||D||Could be manning up the Oilers PP soon|
|19||Liam Foudy||Columbus Blue Jackets||C||He's strong with skating and maintaining the puck, Jarmo Kekalainen has an eye for prospects|
|20||Peyton Krebs||Vegas Golden Knights||C||He is a well rounded player with leadership qualities, he could thrive on a talented Vegas team|