Taylor Hall - The National Post

Three weeks ago I listed off the five best teams to draft multiple players from for the 2010-11 season (Five Teams to Invest In). This column will take a longer-term approach to the same issue. Below are the five teams to invest in over the next five years. My ranking system isn’t perfect, but I have tried to identify five of the most important factors when it comes to evaluating both a team’s offensive ability and potential.


1. St. Louis Blues

Coaching/management philosophy:  9/10

Davis Payne is a tremendous coach. He will have this young Blues team playing an aggressive offensive system, and they have the right players to play it.


Quality of prospects: 7/10

St. Louis has a trio of barely-graduated forward prospects on the roster – David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and TJ Oshie. Erik Johnson is one of the best young defensemen in the game. Not counting those four, the Blues still have an impressive collection of talent. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has star upside, and there are four forward prospects with scoring upside – Vladimir Tarasenko, Philip McRae, Brett Sonne, and Jaden Schwartz.


Quality of scoring depth: 9/10

The Blues may lack a high-end superstar, but they are nine or ten deep in potential top six forwards. On the back end, Johnson will welcome some offensive help from Pietrangelo. Carlo Colaiacovo is a solid puck-mover who gets underrated because of his injury issues.


NHL ready prospects: 8/10

Pietrangelo is ready. None of the four forwards I listed are ready, and even if they were, there aren’t any open roster spots available. The Blues are deep, young, and talented.


Player age: 10/10

Andy McDonald is the only core forward over the age of 30.


Overall: 8.6/10

Armed with an elite goaltender, St. Louis is going to emerge as a new force in the Western Conference.


2. Edmonton Oilers

Coaching/management philosophy:  6/10

Tom Renney preaches patient, defensive hockey. However, he understands that offense is essential to win in the NHL. He won’t bottleneck Edmonton’s young talent.


Quality of prospects: 10/10

Taylor Hall is the best prospect in the world, and Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle are not far behind. After those three, there still are a number of quality prospects (Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, Linus Omark, Toni Rajala, Teemu Hartikainen, Jeff Petry, and so on).


Quality of scoring depth: 7/10

The Oilers have a few solid veterans to help complement their young talent. On defense, the core players are relatively young (Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney). However, there are no standout defensive prospects on the horizon.


NHL ready prospects: 10/10

Paajarvi, having spent the past three seasons in the SEL, is the most NHL ready. Eberle may need some time to adjust to the pace of the NHL game. Hall already has NHL speed and he’ll make more than a few defensemen look foolish with it this season.


Player age: 9/10

No core players are over the age of 30 (which isn’t old by any stretch of the imagination, but it just highlights how young this team is).


Overall: 8.4/10

The Oilers have capable puck movers who are on the right side of 30. They boast the best crop of offensive prospects in the NHL by far. All of their depth prospects will benefit from having such high quality linemates and teammates.


3. Los Angeles Kings

Coaching/management philosophy: 8/10

The Kings have the defensemen to play an up-tempo game for the next decade, and Dean Lombardi seems committed to surrounding his young stars with the right players to produce.


Quality of prospects: 8/10

Like the Blues, Los Angeles has had some tremendous prospects recently graduate to the NHL level – Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Wayne Simmonds, and Jack Johnson most notably. Jonathan Bernier is arguably the best young goalie in the world. Brayden Schenn projects as a solid top six center, and there are a handful of solid prospects after him (Thomas Hickey, Kyle Clifford, Andrei Loktionov, Derek Forbort, and so on).


Quality of scoring depth: 7/10

The Kings don’t have a ton of proven talent on the second and third lines, but that will change over the next few seasons.


NHL ready prospects: 8/10

Schenn is close and Hickey is ready. After those two, the rest of the prospect group needs a bit more seasoning.


Player age: 10/10

The key players for the Kings are all just entering their primes.


Overall: 8.2/10

It will be interesting to see how quickly (pun intended) Bernier steals the starting job.


4. Colorado Avalanche

Coaching/management philosophy:  8/10

Joe Sacco was a revelation to the entire hockey world with his impressive debut as an NHL head coach. He put his young players in positions to succeed, and they did.


Quality of prospects: 8/10

Colorado has built up an impressive crop of prospects over the past four or five NHL Entry Drafts. They boast a collection of young offensive defensemen rivaled by no other clubs – Kevin Shattenkirk and Stefan Elliott being the most notable in the group.


Quality of scoring depth: 8/10

The Avs have a solid top six filled with young talent. The injury to Peter Mueller sets them back as he was a huge part of their power play last season after coming over from Phoenix. The team has a nice balance of speed, size, scoring, and physical play.


NHL ready prospects: 7/10

Shattenkirk will be in the NHL this season. Ryan Stoa might as well. At the worst he should develop into a big third line role player. At best, a 25-30 goal forward capable of playing in a variety of situations. He may have to move to the wing to reach his offensive upside at the NHL level with Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny firmly entrenched on the top two lines.


Player age: 10/10

Youth is served for the Avalanche. The big question revolves around Craig Anderson. Can he prove last season wasn’t a fluke?


Overall: 8.2/10

5. Carolina Hurricanes

Coaching/management philosophy: 7/10

Paul Maurice preaches a patience, two-way brand of hockey. However, the Hurricanes play in a notoriously offensive division.


Quality of prospects: 10/10

The Hurricanes are loaded with talent at both forward and defense. Jeff Skinner is one of the best prospects in the world and he projects to be a 40+ goal scorer at the NHL level. After him, Zach Boychuk, Drayson Bowman, Bobby Sanguinetti, Jamie McBain, Zach Dalpe, Riley Nash, and Jerome Samson factor in.


Quality of scoring depth: 5/10

The lack of talent on Carolina’s roster may work in two ways. One, it makes the team worse in the short-term. I am a big Brandon Sutter fan, but he won’t have much help on the second line this season (assuming Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu play with Eric Staal).


NHL ready prospects: 10/10

Of the prospects I listed above, all have a shot at playing NHL minutes this season (due in part to Carolina’s lack of veteran talent, but it also highlights how close they all are to being NHL players).


Player age: 9/10

No veterans fill key positions. Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, Eric Staal, and Cam Ward are all still relatively young.


Overall: 8.2/10

Expect the Hurricanes to get a lot of offense from their young players in 2010-11.


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Steffen said:

Comments Great pair of articles Mr Angus. And the comments they've generated have been great too. Personally, I think offense by committee situations can be fertile grounds in keeper leagues.
September 27, 2010
Votes: +0

donions said:

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it I enjoyed both articles. But the worst thing is, is you could make a case for Washington being 1st on both lists; with the likes of Carlson, Alzner, Perrault joining such young stars like OV, Backs and Green this year, and exciting euros like Johansson and Kuznetsov in development. Damn you Caps!!!

I really liked the inclusion of Carolina, they have very quietly rebuilt in the last 2 years despite going as far as the conference finals 2 playoffs ago with many of the same players from the current roster. Staal, Skinner, Sutter is gonna be a deadly trio at Center in a few years, rivaling the likes of Sid, Malkin and young Staal.
As an Oiler fan it took 4 long years to stop hating the Canes, but it's finally happened.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

... It's hard to quantify a lot of the measures above. It depends on what aspect of your fantasy team you are building. You generally don't want to draft top line players early on from teams with depth (like St. Louis). It means the quality of internal competition is high, and their ice time security isn't.

Contrary to that, you want to get stars from teams with a huge talent drop off. Hello Pittsburgh.

This column is mostly designed to promote discussion. There are a half-dozen other teams who could easily have an argument made for their inclusion among the top five. Long Island, Columbus, and so on.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

... Yeah, I dunno how to approach this article...

In a way I agree in the "real world", teams that are deep generally do pretty well because they have scoring depth, but following along what donions said too, I don't really see that offensive leader to just go out and carry the team.

If you kinda look at the teams that have won recent cups, Hawks have Toews/Kane, Pits had Crosby/Malkin, Detroit had Datsyuk/Zetterberg, and Anaheim had Selanne/Getzlaf/Perry. I still think its a bit early to judge Oshie and co., but I don't really see that cup winning potential that I see in the other stars.

Also if you kinda look at their team structure. I don't know if they'll be green lighting the young kids as a top-line guy for awhile. If you look at the numbers, McDonald is still signed till 2013, with him still there and earning $4.7 per year, he'll always be a roadblock for the young kids. Same could be said for Steen signed till 2014 at $3.3 per year. It's not a bad cap-hit, where you could put him in a third line role in 2-3 years time, but he takes a top-six spot away from the young up and comers for the next couple of years.

With that said, teams that are "offense by committee" generally don't do well for fantasy owners. The scoring is just too spread around. With guys like McDonald, Steen signed for the long term, you have to think whether or not they're going to shift that mentality in the next 5 years...

But who knows, FLA might tank the next 2-3 years grab a couple of "Kane" and "Toews" like players and with the D they already have, could follow in the exact footsteps of the Chicago model they had in the mid 2000's... With Seabrook (2004) vs Kulikov, Barker (2005) vs Gudbranson.

Or Isles with their "spray and pray" approach... Okposo, JT, El Nino, Kabanov, Bailey, if they land another top 3 pick they could be very good once everyone develops...

Either way it's damn near impossible to predict the future, but thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Angus.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

donions said:

Blues hype? I dont know if i'm buying into the Blues hype. I think they'll be a team that contends for the playoffs year in and year out for the foreseeable future. But they don't have the high-end talent upfront to be a cup contender, or a team that dominates offensively. Maybe it's too early to judge guys like Oshie, Perron and Berglund, but I dont picture them as future studs like I do with Hall/MPS/Eberle, Duchene, Skinner, or in the Canes and Kings case who already have young stars like Staal, Kopi and DD.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0
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