In part two of our Top 100 series (part one ranking the defensemen can be found here), we will take a look at the top 100 center prospects that have been drafted by NHL teams. It is important to note that some players are listed as center prospects, but may not play as centers at the NHL level. Take, for example, Emil Bemstrom, a Columbus prospect who will likely start his NHL career as a winger but has played as a center primarily in his career. Time will tell, and it is hard to predict what an NHL coach might do to warrant a positional change.
1. Jack Hughes (New Jersey Devils) 5’10” 170 USHL 50-25-75-100-23
Hughes is a franchise center who will make the jump directly into the NHL next season. He is an elite skater and has elite hockey sense. Look for him to make an immediate NHL impact next season.
2. Cody Glass (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’2″ 185 WHL 38-15-54-69-18
After a long, successful WHL career, Glass made the jump to the AHL at the end of last season. It was there that Glass truly showed how NHL ready he is. Playing for the Chicago Wolves, Glass made a long playoff run and was one of the league’s top scorers in the playoffs. Glass projects as a playmaking #1 center at the NHL level. Look for the 6th overall pick in 2017 to start the season in the NHL next year.
3. Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings) 5’11” 185 USHL 37-27-35-62-22
Turcotte was the #2 center behind Jack Hughes on the U.S. National Development Team. Turcotte does everything at a high level and is an extremely well-rounded player. He projects as a #1 center at the NHL level. The 5th overall pick in last year’s draft will likely spend one year in the NCAA before making the jump to the NHL.
4. Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks) 6’0″ 170 USHL 60-26-61-87-94
Zegras is an elite playmaker. The 9th overall pick in the 2019 draft possesses excellent hockey sense and passing ability. Zegras projects as a #1 center. Look for Zegras to play one year of NCAA before making the NHL jump in 2020-2021.
5. Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’0″ 185 OHL 58-37-72-109-45
Frost has been a revelation at the OHL level. With back-to-back 100 point seasons, Frost has proven he is an elite point producer and can play a strong two-way game. Though he may begin his NHL career on the wing, look for Frost to eventually become a top six forward with high offensive upside. He will likely play in the NHL next season.
6. Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens) 5’11” 183 OHL 61-34-60-94-12
Suzuki is a fun player to watch. He possesses amazing puck skills and can really slow down play for his teammates. Suzuki projects as a top 6 forward and a playmaking center at the NHL level. He may start the year in the AHL, but will likely be an early call-up for the Montreal Canadiens this season.
7. Kirby Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) 6’4″ 200 WHL 62-25-48-73-40
Some might be surprised to see Dach, the 3rd overall pick in this past year’s draft at #7. While Dach may bump himself up on this list later in the year, his point production and overall inconsistency have prevented him from being a part of my top 5. At 6’4″ 200, Dach boasts a long reach, and he uses his frame to create offensive opportunities. Dach has #1 center upside if everything comes together. Dach may begin the year in the NHL, but it is likely he needs one more year in the WHL.
8. Martin Necas (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’1″ 167 AHL 64-16-36-52-36
Necas adjusted well last season to the AHL and even played a handful of games for Carolina. With 52 points in 64 games and another 13 points in the playoffs, Necas showed his strong offensive ability. Necas projects as a top six forward at the NHL level and will likely start in the NHL next season.
9. Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres) 6’3″ 180 WHL 68-34-50-84-30
Cozens is a speedy, two-way center that posted excellent numbers in the WHL last year. The #7 pick in the 2019 draft, Cozens projects as a top six forward and will likely begin the year in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres.
10. Alex Newhook (Colorado Avalanche) 5’11” 195 BCHL 53-38-64-102-21
Newhook has played all over Canada the past few seasons, but he seemingly found a home in Victoria of the BCHL last season. Newhook is a speedy center with strong offensive instincts and playmaking ability. He is likely two years away, but he projects as a top six forward with offensive upside.
11. Barret Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) 6’1 191″ OHL 39-26-40-66-42
Hayton was a surprise pick in last year’s draft when Arizona took him fifth overall. However, Hayton has proven that this was a legitimate position to take him. He is a two-way center with elite hockey sense. Hayton projects as a #2 center at the NHL level and may start the season in the NHL.
12. Peyton Krebs (Vegas Golden Knights) 5’11” 180 WHL 64-19-49-68-63
Krebs draft stock dropped in this past year’s draft due to an injury. This didn’t stop the Vegas Golden Knights from taking him 17th overall. Krebs projects as a top six forward at the NHL level. He is highly skilled and has a strong work ethic. Look for him to be in the NHL in a year or two.
13. Rasmus Kupari (Los Angeles Kings) 5’11” 163 FIN 43-12-21-33-65
In his draft year, scouts were divided as to what type of player Kupari might be. However, after this past season, Kupari looks like a #2 skilled center at the NHL level. Though small in stature, Kupari is a quick skater and has strong offensive ability. Look for him to make the jump to the NHL in a year’s time.
14. Alex Texier (Columbus Blue Jackets) 6’0″ 187 FIN 55-14-27-41-36
Texier might be the least recognizable name on the list so far. The French native and 2017 second round pick of Columbus put up excellent numbers in Finland’s top league, then put up a point-per-game at the AHL level, and then managed to produce for the Blue Jackets in their playoff push and short run. Texier has shown he has strong hockey sense and playmaking ability. He projects as a top six forward. He will likely begin the year in the NHL next season.
15. Emil Bemstrom (Columbus Blue Jackets) 5’10” 190 SWEHL 47-23-12-35-8
Another unheralded Blue Jackets prospect, Bemstrom managed to score 23 goals as a teenager in Sweden’s top league last season. Not many players in history have done this, and Bemstrom has shown an uncanny ability to find space to score goals. Like Texier, Bemstrom projects as a top six forward and will likely start the season in the NHL.
16. Jesper Boqvist (New Jersey Devils) 6’0″ 179 SWEHL 51-13-22-35-14
Like the other two prospects ahead of him, Boqvist may not be a household name, but he likely will be very soon. Boqvist, a second round pick of New Jersey in 2017, is a strong two-way player that has produced in Sweden’s top league as a teenager. He is a quick, mobile skater and has silky smooth hands. Boqvist is great in-tight and uses his edges well to create space for himself. He may play some NHL games next season, but also don’t be surprised to see him in the AHL or back in Sweden for at least one more season.
17.Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) 5’11” 186 AHL 53-20-21-41-24
Steel managed to play 22 games in the NHL last season for the Anaheim Ducks. He also put up a decent 11 points in those appearances, and 41 points in only 53 games to start the year. Steel is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. An elite skater, Steel uses his speed to find open space. He also has high-end hockey sense and easily finds the open man. Steel projects as a top six forward and is likely to start the season in the NHL.
18. Bobby Brink (Philadelphia Flyers) 5’8″ 160 USHL 43-35-33-68-22
There is no hiding that Brink is one of my favorite prospects. He is a heart and soul player with a strong skill set. Brink’s biggest knock is his wonky skating stride, but he makes up for it with work ethic and hockey sense. The 34th pick in last year’s draft, Brink will need 2-3 years of development before he is NHL ready.
19. Phil Tomasino (Nashville Predators) 6’0″ 180 OHL 67-34-38-72-32
Tomasino is an excellent 5-on-5 point producer. He is a fast skater and creates offense using his speed and creativity. Tomasino also has a deceptive shot. He projects as a top six forward. The 24th pick in last year’s draft will likely need 2-3 years of development before being NHL ready.
20. Isaac Lundestrom (Anaheim Ducks) 6’0″ 187 SWE 17-2-7-9-2
Lundestrom managed to play for three different teams last year: the Anaheim Ducks, their AHL affiliate, and then back in Sweden. He had the rare distinction of making the jump directly to the NHL after being drafted late in the first round, a rather uncommon experience in today’s NHL. Lundestrom showed a strong level of compete and two-way ability in every league he played in. In his draft year, he was affectionately referred to as a Swedish Patrice Bergeron, not a bad comparison. Lundestrom may start the year in the NHL, but he will likely need at least one more year of development before rounding into a solid middle six forward.
21. Ryan Poehling (Montreal Canadiens) 6’2″ 183 NCHC 36-8-23-31-34
Many fair-weather hockey fans know who Ryan Poehling is, thanks to a hat trick in his one and only NHL game played last season. Poehling was also the MVP of the under-20 World Junior Championship. While Poehling has shown he is a strong two-way center, he is unlikely to produce at the rate he did last season. He projects to be a #2 center at the NHL level. He is likely to start in the Montreal Canadiens’ bottom six next season.
22. Jared Anderson-Dolan (Los Angeles King) 5’11” 188 WHL 32-20-23-43-15
Anderson-Dolan began the season in the NHL before being sent back to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs where he served as team captain once again. Anderson-Dolan possesses strong leadership qualities and plays an excellent two-way game. Though he has put up points at the WHL level, he projects as a more 2nd/3rd line center type at the NHL level. He will likely start the year in the NHL with the LA Kings.
23. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) 6’0″ 190 OHL 60-22-41-63-51
Dellandrea is a similar player to Anderson-Dolan. Dellandrea is a heart and soul type player who has nothing left to prove at the OHL level. A bit of a surprise in last year’s draft, scouts have become obsessed with Dellandrea’s work ethic and overly positive demeanor, even though he has played on a terrible Flint team in the OHL. He will likely never be a big point-getter at the NHL level, but nonetheless, Dellandrea projects as a middle six forward and may find himself in a 3rd line role for the Dallas Stars to begin next season.
24. Joe Veleno (Detroit Red Wings) 6’1″ 191 QMJHL 59-42-62-104-19
Veleno is often a household name in prospect circles, especially considering he received special status to play in the QMJHL as a 15 year old. While Veleno dropped to 30th overall in last year’s draft, he made up for it with an excellent season, scoring over 100 points. Veleno’s point totals suggest he could be a potential top six forward, but his overall skill set is likely more of a middle six, two-way forward. Veleno doesn’t have much to prove in the QMJHL and may start the season in the NHL.
25. Ryan Suzuki (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’0″ 176 OHL 65-25-50-75-14
Many thought Suzuki would be higher on this list at the beginning of the year, but Suzuki had a bit of a disappointing year. The Carolina first rounder managed to put up 75 points on a weak Barrie Colts team in the OHL. Suzuki’s biggest knock is that he is a “perimeter” player and doesn’t like to go into hard areas to retrieve pucks. However, there is no questioning his overall elite skill set. Suzuki is likely still 2-3 years away from NHL duty.
26. Liam Foudy (Columbus Blue Jackets) 6’1″ 182 OHL 62-36-32-68-32
Foudy is an elite skater, one of the top on this list. Foudy is at his best when he is attacking forwards and using his speed and tenacity to produce points. At the NHL level, Foudy projects as a middle six forward, likely more of a third-liner who kills penalties, but he can also contribute a bit offensively. The Columbus first rounder needs at least one more year before being an NHL regular.
27. Akil Thomas (Los Angeles Kings) 6’0″ 180 OHL 63-38-64-102-40
Thomas point up insane point totals in the OHL last season. That being said, it is unlikely for him to repeat these numbers at the NHL level. With his point totals, it would seem as though Thomas should be closer to a top 10 center, but his skating holds him back a bit. Thomas projects as a middle six forward with offensive upside. More of a playmaker than a goal scorer, the LA Kings second rounder is likely a year away from NHL minutes.
28. Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators) 6’6″ 220 AHL 56-14-28-42-24
Brown took a while to adapt in his first year in the AHL, but he averaged over a point-per-game during a month long stretch late in the season. The Ottawa first rounder from 2016 has found a way to produce at every level, despite some skating struggles. Brown uses his reach to create offensive opportunities, though many scouts would wish he would use his frame more to his advantage. Look for him to start the year in Ottawa.
29. Gabe Vilardi (Los Angeles Kings) 6’3″ 201 AHL 4-0-1-1-0
If it wasn’t for a potential career ending injury, Vilardi would be significantly higher on this list. Limited to just four games of action last season, Vilardi has struggled with back and knee injuries the past few seasons. When healthy, Vilardi has shown an uncanny ability to produce points at every level at which he has played. If he finds a way to come back, Vilardi could find himself in a top six role in LA next season.
30. Josh Norris (Ottawa Senators) 6’1″ 192 BIG10 17-10-9-19-10
Norris spent a good amount of time sidelined by injuries last season. Norris starred for Michigan in the NCAA last season, putting up over a point per game. A key part of the Erik Karlsson trade, Norris signed with Ottawa and may start the year in a bottom six role in the NHL, though he is likely a year away from true NHL contention. Norris projects as a #3 center at the NHL level.
31. Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames) 5’11” 187 AHL 37-15-24-39-24
Dube started the year in the NHL and didn’t look out of place in a bottom six role. In the AHL, Dube put up over a point per game and dominated most nights. He is an elite skater and has excellent hockey sense, making him a solid two-way threat. Dube is penciled in to start the season with the Flames next season.
32. German Rubtsov (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’0″ 190 AHL 14-6-4-10-0
Like a handful of prospects on this list, Rubtsov spent a long time on injury reserve last season. The Flyers first rounder plays a strong two-way game and is likely a middle six forward at the NHL level. Because of injury, Rubtsov is likely to play another year in the AHL, but don’t be surprised if he’s an NHL call-up at some point due to injuries.
We won’t look into detail for the rest of the top 100, but feel free to reach out to @QuibellTyson on Twitter to find out more about anybody else on this list.
33. Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) 5’11” 174 OHL 67-36-36-72-19
34. Ilya Nikolayev (Calgary Flames) 6’0″ 183 MHL 41-10-15-25-26
35. Jacob Studnicka (Boston Bruins) 6’2″ 175 OHL 30-24-25-49-24
36. Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’0″ 180 ECAC 32-9-15-24-14
37. Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’2″ 190 AHL 73-19-27-46-22
38. Tanner Laczynski (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’1″ 190 BIG10 27-10-20-30-14
39. Sasha Chmelevski (San Jose Sharks) 6’0″ 185 OHL 56-35-40-75-36
40. Alex Barre-Boulet (Tampa Bay Lightning) 5’9″ 167 AHL 74-34-34-68-18
41. Shane Bowers (Colorado Avalanche) 6’2″ 182 HE 37-11-10-21-25
42. Michael McLeod (New Jersey Devils) 6’2″ 188 AHL 55-6-27-33-43
43. Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning) 5’11” 190 AHL 32-11-13-24-6
44. Tyler Madden (Vancouver Canucks) 5’11” 150 HE 36-12-16-28-8
45. Lucas Elvenes (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’1″ 173 SWEHL 42-3-17-20-4
46. Phil Kurashev (Chicago Blackhawks) 5’11” 192 QMJHL 59-29-36-65-33
47. Robert Mastrosimone (Chicago Blackhawks) 5’10” 160 USHL 54-31-29-60-28
48. Jamieson Rees (Carolina Hurricanes) 5’11” 172 OHL 37-10-22-32-38
49. Ruslan Iskhakov (New York Islanders) 5’7″ 165 HE 32-6-15-21-20
50. Nic Roy (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’4″ 208 AHL 69-17-19-36-28
51. Riley Damiani (Dallas Stars) 5’10” 173 OHL 58-30-55-85-27
52. John Beecher (Boston Bruins) 6’3″ 210 USHL 63-15-28-43-88
53. Nathan Legare (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’0″ 205 QMJHL 68-45-42-87-52
54. Eetu Luostarinen (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’2″ 190 FIN 54-15-21-36-79
55. Aleksi Saarela (Chicago Blackhawks) 5’11” 200 AHL 69-30-24-54-12
56. Brett Leason (Washington Capitals) 6’4″ 200 WHL 55-36-53-89-28
57. Samuel Walker (Tampa Bay Lightning) 5’10” 179 BIG10 37-10-16-26-16
58. M. Emilio-Petersen (Calgary Flames) 5’10” 170 NCHC 40-6-24-30-16
59. Albin Grewe (Detroit Red Wings) 5’11” 187 SWEHL 15-0-0-0-16
60. Matt Phillips (Calgary Flames) 5’7″ 155 AHL 65-13-25-38-2
61. Trent Frederic (Boston Bruins) 6’2″ 203 AHL 55-14-11-25-67
62. Rasmus Asplund (Buffalo Sabres) 5’11” 176 AHL 75-10-31-41-26
63. Marcus Davidsson (Buffalo Sabres) 5’11” 192 SWEHL 52-10-17-27-16
64. Pavel Shen (Boston Bruins) 5’9″ 183 KHL 20-0-1-1-0
65. Matej Pekar (Buffalo Sabres) 6’0″ 176 OHL 33-14-22-36-38
66. Connor Dewar (Minnesota Wild) 5’10” 175 WHL 59-36-45-81-60
67. Rem Pitlick (Nashville Predators) 5’11” 176 BIG10 38-21-24-45-30
68. Alex Khovanov (Minnesota Wild) 5’11” 176 QMJHL 64-25-49-74-94
69. Evan Barratt (Chicago Blackhawks) 6’0″ 188 BIG10 32-16-27-43-55
70. Morgan Barron (New York Rangers) 6’3″ 214 ECAC 36-15-19-34-26
71. Shane Pinto (Ottawa Senators) 6’2″ 192 USHL 56-28-31-59-63
72. Otto Koivula (New York Islanders) 6’5″ 190 AHL 69-21-25-46-28
73. Ben Jones (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’0″ 192 OHL 68-41-61-102-82
74. Nate Schnarr (Arizona Coyotes) 6’3″ 190 OHL 65-34-68-102-58
75. Benoit-Oliver Groulx (Anaheim Ducks) 6’2″ 194 QMJHL 65-31-49-80-56
76. Oscar Steen (Boston Bruins) 5’9″ 188 SWEHL 46-17-20-37-49
77. Jachym Kondelik (Nashville Predators) 6’6″ 230 HE 33-4-22-26-12
78. Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers) 6’3″ 205 OHL 63-19-43-62-33
79. Cooper Marody (Edmonton Oilers) 6’0″ 184 AHL 58-19-45-64-40
80. Jacob Olofsson (Montreal Canadiens) 6’2″ 192 SWEHL 34-3-6-9-2
81. Joni Ikonen (Montreal Canadiens) 6’0″ 178 FIN 13-5-5-10-6
82. Curtis Hall (Boston Bruins) 6’3″ 197 ECAC 24-5-6-11-16
83. Jay O’Brien (Philadelphia Flyers) 5’10” 174 HE 25-2-3-5-10
84. Filip Chlapik (Ottawa Senators) 6’1″ 196 AHL 57-16-18-34-28
85. Justin Almeida (Pittsburgh Penguins) 5’11” 160 WHL 64-33-78-111-14
86. Alex True (San Jose Sharks) 6’5″ 200 AHL 68-24-31-55-45
87. Zac MacEwen (Vancouver Canucks) 6’3″ 205 AHL 69-22-30-52-75
88. Nikita Alexandrov (St. Louis Blues) 6’0″ 183 QMJHL 64-27-34-61-36
89. Jake Leschyshyn (Vegas Golden Knights) 5’11” 191 WHL 68-40-41-81-48
90. Dylan Gambrell (San Jose Sharks) 6’0″ 195 AHL 51-20-25-45-18
91. Ivan Morozov (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’1″ 178 KHL 11-0-0-0-0
92. Kevin Stenlund (Columbus Blue Jackets) 6’4″ 210 AHL 59-15-10-25-12
93. Karl Henriksson (New York Rangers) 5’9″ 170 SWEHL 2-0-0-0-0
94. Mason Shaw (Minnesota Wild) 5’8″ 180 AHL 76-8-25-33-43
95. David Cotton (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’3″ 204 HE 39-23-13-36-20
96. Martin Pospisil (Calgary Flames) 6’2″ 181 USHL 44-16-47-63-118
97. Jack McBain (Minnesota Wild) 6’4″ 205 HE 35-6-7-13-39
98. Artur Talvities (New Jersey) 5’10” 198 BIG10 17-5-11-16-2
99. Nikita Pavlychev (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’7″ 211 BIG10 39-14-15-29-57
100. Fil Hallander (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’1″ 190 SWEHL 45-7-14-21-4