To kick off my coverage of the top prospects outside the NHL heading into the 2017-18 season, I begin with a ranking of each NHL team's organizational prospect depth, sometimes referred to as its farm system or pipeline.
The state of the current NHL prospect crop is a little down after graduations from two great draft classes and a mediocre 2017 class. The two orgs that are nearly tied for first would have been around the No. 4-5 slot for me with the same group of talent in my 2016 farm rankings. In terms of tiers, there is a small drop-off after the No. 2 and No. 8 systems.
Two caveats to keep in mind:
For purposes of this ranking, a player is no longer a prospect if he has played 25 or more games in any NHL season, or 50 total in his career. Ultimately, the inclusion or exclusion of one player doesn't move a team up or down 12-15 spots, unless you're talking top-10 overall prospects.
If a player is not mentioned in the profile of the farm system, this does not mean that I failed to consider him. These profiles are brief summaries, with more detail to come in the team overviews.
How are these rankings devised? Star power is what drives NHL teams, and thus, my farm system ranking reflects that. Elite prospects provide substantially more value than high-end prospects, who provide substantially more value than above-average prospects, and so on. I also discount top goalie prospects more than the industry, so elite young goalies like Nashville's Jusse Saros and Washington's Ilya Samsonov aren't incredibly valuable in my eyes, but still provide a fair amount to their respective systems.
1. Philadelphia Flyers
Previous rank: 6
The Flyers don't have as much game-breaking talent as our No. 2 team does at the top of their system, but 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick is right up there; after Patrick, the Flyers have the cupboards lined with talent at every position. The group includes solid first-round picks, middle-round selections who have trended up, and an undrafted free agent in Philippe Myers who is one of the very best defense prospects in hockey. Not too long ago, the Flyers' farm system was a laughingstock, with C-grade college free agents making it into their top five. Today, they are in the best position of any NHL team in terms of adding young premium players to their roster.