The late-season NHL prospect pipeline rankings are always tough. With so many players graduating from prospect status over the course of the season, there isn't a ton of separation among most teams at this point, especially at the top. Plus, many teams have their best young players already in the NHL, so despite really solid young cores, the actual pipelines are barren.
Expect quite a bit of movement when we grade all 31 farm systems this summer, but it's still worth taking a look at where things stand heading into the end of the season, especially after an active trade deadline.
Just a quick note: I tend to value pool depth as much as the top end. But if a team has multiple potential impact prospects, it is going to get an extra bump. Each of the teams that made the top 10 had at least one player listed among the top 31 prospects, but the upper tier also had depth to surround those higher-end players. OK, let's get to those rankings.
Top prospect: Erik Brannstrom, D
Based on sheer volume, the Sens have a lot of options at their disposal for their rebuild. At the top of the list is the recently acquired Brannstrom, a top-10 prospect with a chance to make an impact as early as next season. Three other players were listed among our top 40 prospects, with Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton and Logan Brown all showcasing abilities that could put them in prominent roles down the line.
But there's also a good second tier of prospects, including newly acquired Vitaly Abramov, 2018 first-round defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker, solid goaltending prospect Filip Gustavsson, two-way center Josh Norris and skilled winger Rudolfs Balcers. Even with this haul of prospects, the Senators have a hard road ahead, but they've given themselves some legitimate assets to use as building blocks. Not having that potential top-three pick this June will still sting, though.