Who said the only good hockey is in the NHL? Prospect teams all over North America offer a good look at the next wave of young talent. There are a few farm, college and junior teams that stand out for their high-end rosters, and I circle and star games on their schedules every season.
For example, Friday's game between Boston College and the University of Wisconsin featured more than 20 NHL draft picks, including five of the first 16 selections from 2019. You're always going to see a higher number of NHL-connected players in the AHL and men's college hockey, and there are few better places to watch upcoming draft talent than Canadian junior. There's an abundance of options across North America to get a glimpse of the future of the game.
Here's a look at five of the most exciting, prospect-packed teams outside of the NHL to watch this season -- and a spotlight game to check out for each team.
1. Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL
Because of the way the Detroit Red Wings have drafted recently, and due to the circumstances of this being a rebuilding year, fans can see five of the organization's past six first-round draft picks in one place. The Griffins' roster includes 2019 first-round defenseman Moritz Seider, 2018 selections Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno, 2015 first-rounder Evgeni Svechnikov and 2017 first-rounder Michael Rasmussen, who spent all of the previous season with Detroit but was sent down to get more reps at his natural position of center.
All of that talent in one place provides a unique glimpse of the organization in its development phase, reminiscent of the traditional Red Wings model of overripening prospects by using all the tools at the team's disposal. Detroit needs pretty much all of these guys to hit in one way or another. Svechnikov is older, and the time for him to maximize his value seems to be dwindling, but the rest are absolute keys to the next era of Red Wings hockey.
In addition to the first-rounders, Grand Rapids is home to the Red Wings' top goalie prospect, Filip Larsson, who spent last season with the University of Denver. Among the other notable prospects currently marinating on the farm are Finnish import Oliwer Kaski, college free agent Ryan Kuffner and recent second-round pick Gustav Lindstrom.
Game to watch: vs. Rockford IceHogs, 7 p.m. ET Nov. 15 (AHL.tv)