As NHL training camps prepare to open for the 2021-22 season, it is time to highlight the most interesting prospect for each NHL team.
This is not meant to be every team’s top prospect, although at times it will be. This will identify the player whose progress will be the most fascinating to follow this fall.
For a complete ranking of every team’s best prospects and young players, check out my NHL Pipeline Rankings and my ranking of the best players under 23.
Anaheim: Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, San Diego-AHL
Groulx was a solid all-around player in the AHL as a leading player for San Diego. He’s not a true high-skill type, but he can make and finish plays to go with his strong compete level. Anaheim was 31st in the NHL in goals per game, so any type of forward help would be appreciated. I could see Groulx, whether at center or the wing, make a strong push in the preseason to get a roster spot.
Arizona: Barrett Hayton, C, Tucson-AHL
There’s no getting around the fact that Hayton had a very disappointing 2021 season. The fifth pick in 2018 has a ton of skill and is still a highly thought of prospect, but the clock is ticking for him to show some returns for the Coyotes. Preseason isn’t the time to do that, but you still want to see him come in and show without doubt that he’s ready to help the team. If his pace leaves doubt, at age 21 that will really start to raise some flags.
Boston: Jakub Lauko, LW, Providence-AHL
Lauko was very impressive in the AHL last season. He plays with a ton of speed and compete, which will translate to the NHL and will certainly appeal to coaches. There might not be a clear roster spot for him, but I could see him have a strong camp and make some veterans nervous if he looks close to ready.
Buffalo: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Rochester-AHL
There are prospects who are more highly touted than Luukkonen at Buffalo’s camp, but given how chaotic their goaltending situation was last season, and how up and down his play has been through his first two pro seasons, it would be a huge boost to the franchise if the former OHL most outstanding player looks like an NHLer in camp and is ready to take some starts this season.