Throughout the summer, we have looked at the top 100 prospects at particular positions. We have already covered defensemen and centers. In part 3 of our Top 100 Position Rankings, I took a look at wingers who are NHL prospects. There is one franchise player on this list (Kaapo Kakko), and a lot of really solid NHL prospects overall. When you get to the lower end of the list, be aware that some may never play an NHL game. Here are the top 100 wingers who are not currently in the NHL.
1. Kaapo Kakko (New York Rangers) 6’1″ 180 FIN 45-22-16-38-10
Kakko, the 2nd overall pick in last year’s draft, is a franchise player and budding power forward. Some have compared his game to Sidney Crosby, and while the comparison might be a stretch skill wise, it isn’t stylistically. Kakko plays a strong game down-low and dominates older opponents using his strength and skill. Kakko will likely have the luxury of playing in the Rangers’ top six next season.
2. Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) 5’7″ 162 USHL 57-58-24-82-35
I am unashamedly a Caufield fan, and I think he will be an elite goal scorer in the NHL for many years. The 15th overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens in this past year’s draft, Caufield has an NHL ready shot. Though an average skater, Caufield finds a way to create space for himself and to get open to receive passes. His release is lightning fast. While only 5’7″, in today’s NHL, this shouldn’t be a hindrance, and I expect Caufield to star in the NHL in the very near future. Look for him to make the jump from the NCAA to the NHL by next season.
3. Filip Zadina (Detroit Red Wings) 6’0″ 196 AHL 59-16-19-35-18
Filip Zadina is a goal scoring winger who found himself as one of the youngest players in the AHL last season. Similar to Caufield, Zadina has an NHL ready shot. He is at his best teeing up one-timers and snapping wristers from the hash marks in the offensive zone. Transitioning from Canadian Major Junior to the AHL proved a bit difficult at times for Zadina last season, but he had a strong finish to his year, even playing in a few NHL games. Zadina has a shot to start the year in Detroit, but don’t be surprised if the 6th overall pick in 2018 finds himself starting out again back in the AHL.
4. Vitali Kravtsov (New York Rangers) 6’2″ 170 KHL 50-8-13-21-6
Kravtsov set playoff records in the KHL in his draft year, and the Rangers nabbed him with the 9th overall pick in 2018. At the time, some thought the pick was a stretch, but Kravtsov proved last season he is top-line talent with high offensive upside. Kravtsov has excellent hockey sense and vision. He is likely to start the year in the NHL, playing in the Rangers’ top six.
5. Grigori Denisenko (Florida Panthers) 5’11” 176 KHL 25-4-2-6-58
The second in a long line of Russian wingers, Denisenko is an offensive minded winger with excellent compete level. Denisenko is highly skilled but also has a mean streak and forechecks with tenacity. This will likely help cement him as a top six winger in the NHL. Denisenko had a stellar World Junior Championship last season and is likely NHL ready. He may play another season or two in the KHL in Russian before coming over to North America.
6. Vasili Podkolzin (Vancouver Canucks) 6’1″ 190 Rus2. 14-2-3-5-4
Podkolzin is a modern day power forward. He plays with a high level of compete and tenacity. He loves to rush the puck and uses his size to create space for himself and teammates. The 10th overall pick in last year’s draft projects as a top six forward. He is likely a year away from being NHL ready, but like other Russian prospects on this list, won’t make the jump until 2020.
7. Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild) 5’9″ 190 KHL 57-30-21-51-16
Hockey fans have been waiting for years for Kaprizov to make the jump from the KHL to the NHL. Unfortunately, it looks like fans will have to wait (again!) until at least the very end of this season. Kaprisov has produced at an obscene rate in the KHL over the past few years. He has won Olympic Gold and dominated the KHL scoring race. Kaprizov projects as a creative top six winger. He was likely NHL ready last season and will contribute immediately whenever he decides to head to North America.
8. Joel Farabee (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’1″ 170 HE 37-17-19-36-57
Farabee has rocketed up my prospect rankings over the past year. After a stellar second half in the NCAA, Farabee signed an NHL contract and may play NHL games next season. Farabee is a tenacious offensive minded player. Likely more a playmaker than a goal scorer at the NHL level, Farabee is used to playing with highly skilled players and makes those around him better. While he may be NHL ready now, he is likely to start the season in the AHL.
9. Matt Boldy (Minnesota Wild) 6’2″ 187 USHL 57-30-39-69-28
Boldy, the 12th overall pick in last year’s draft, is another player in the modern day power forward mode. At 6’2″, Boldy uses his frame well to create space for himself in the offensive zone. He also possesses an NHL ready shot, and he is extremely creative in one-on-one situations. Boldy needs to round out his game a bit. He needs at least one year of NCAA play before making the NHL jump.
10. Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers) 6’2″ 205 OHL 54-33-41-74-18
Goal scorer. That is Tippett in a nut shell. He has an NHL ready shot and sick hands to match. Tippett is at his best cutting around defenders to generate scoring opportunites. Over the past year, Tippett has shown improvement in his overall game. He may start the year in the NHL, but he is likely in need of some AHL seasoning before becoming a top six winger in Florida.
11. Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) 5’10” 147 FIN 50-16-30-46-8
The third Panther to crack the top 100 list, Heponiemi is a playmaker with elite vision and puck skills. While diminutive in stature, Heponiemi uses his mobility and creativity to create scoring opportunities for himself and teammates. Heponiemi has bounced around in different leagues the past few seasons, but showed last year he could dominate against men in Finland’s top league as a 19 year old. He will likely start the year in the AHL, but look for him to get called up at some point later in the season.
12. Drake Batherson (Ottawa Senators) 6’3″ 188 AHL 59-22-40-62-39
Batherson has emerged as a stellar prospect, despite being a late round pick a few years ago. Batherson does everything well and has added a strong offensive element to his game over the past few seasons. As a 20 year old, Batherson averaged over a point a game and excelled in NHL action. He projects as a two-way winger, likely a second line supporting cast type player. Look for him to play in Ottawa’s top six to start the season.
13. Max Comtois (Anaheim Ducks) 6’2″ 207 QMJHL 25-31-17-48-32
Comtois was a revelation in most leagues he played in last season (and he played in three!). Starting in the NHL for the Ducks, Comtois had 7 points in 10 games, then managed to put up some decent statistics in the AHL during a conditioning stint, followed by captaining Canada’s World Junior team and then dominating the QMJHL offensively. Comtois is a modern day power-forward with a mean streak. His skating has improved immensely, and he knows how to find open space to create offense. Comtois will likely be more of a goal scorer than a playmaker. He is likely a 2nd line winger at the NHL level and may start the year in the NHL.
14. Artur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings) 6’2″ 190 OHL 67-51-51-102
While NHL teams seemed to have soured a bit on Kaliyev (he dropped into the second round of the draft this past season), I think he will still be a solid top six goal scorer at the NHL level. Kaliyev scored 51 goals in the OHL as a draft eligible player, a rare feet accomplished by just a handful of players in history. Kaliyev’s biggest knocks are his work ethic, drive, and skating. However, there is no questioning his shot and his offensive instincts. He makes playing the game look easy. He is likely 2-3 years from NHL duty.
15. Oliver Wahlstrom (New York Islanders) 6’2″ 210 HE 36-8-11-19-28
Wahlstrom was somewhat of a disappointment last season. The Islanders’ first rounder last season had high expectations going into his first season of NCAA action. However, Wahlstrom struggled to produce, and the projected top six winger with goal scoring ability opted to leave college and play in the AHL at the end of last season. It was here that Wahlstrom played his best hockey and showed flashes of brilliance that had him ranked so high on everyone’s draft boards last season. Wahlstrom will most certainly spend the next year in the AHL. If all goes according to plan, he may be NHL ready in a year.
16. Domink Bokk (St. Louis Blues) 6’1″ 180 SWEHL 47-8-15-23-10
Some people might be asking “Domink who?” However, it won’t be long before the playmaking winger shows his silky hands and offensive creativity at the NHL level. Bokk was a late round pick by St. Louis in the 2018. The German winger has found a way to produce in every league he has played in. An excellent skater, Bokk has a knack for finding the open man in high traffic areas. He is likely two years away from NHL action.
17. Eeli Tolvanen (Nashville Predators) 5’10” 191 AHL 58-15-20-35-24
The Finnish goal scorer had a difficult transition from the KHL to the AHL last season, but still managed to show why scouts are so high on his goal scoring ability. The Nashville Predators’ 2017 first rounder, Tolvanen has an NHL ready release. His skating still needs some improvement, but there is no questioning his offensive ability and his elusiveness in the opposing team’s zone. He will likely start the year in the AHL, but look for him to get some NHL minutes if injuries hit the Predators lineup.
18. Jordan Kyrou (St. Louis Blues) 6’0″ 175 AHL 47-16-27-43-10
Speed, speed, and more speed. This is what makes Jordan Kyrou a potential middle six NHL forward for years to come. Kyrou has also developed his offensive game the past few years, and it showed in the AHL as a 20 year old last season. Kyrou played a handful of NHL games and is likely to start the season on the Blues third line.
19. Kristian Vesalainen (Winnipeg Jets) 6’3″ 207 KHL 31-6-11-17-0
Similar to Tolvanen, Vesalainen projects as a goal scoring winger at the NHL level and his skating needs a bit of work. Last season, Vesalainen began the year on the Jets, but eventually decided to take the KHL route once the Jets made the decision that the winger wasn’t quite NHL ready. Vesalainen has an NHL ready frame and shot. The Jets need scoring depth, and Vesalainen will likely start the year with the Jets. He projects as a middle six forward at the NHL level.
20. Martin Kaut (Colorado Avalanche) 6’2″ 176 AHL 63-12-14-26-34
Kaut spent most of last season on the third line of Colorado’s AHL affiliate. As an 18 year old, He didn’t look out of place. The jury is still out as to what type of NHL player Kaut is. At best, Kaut is a second-line winger. At worst, a third-line winger. Regardless, Kaut will play, with a strong two-way game as his calling card.
21. Nick Robertson (Toronto Maple Leafs) 5’9″ 160 OHL 54-27-28-55-24
“Water bug” is a term often used to describe Robertson, and honestly, it makes sense. Robertson has an uncanny ability to find open teammates in open ice. He projects as a top six playmaking winger at the NHL level. Robertson also plays with a high level of compete. He is likely three years away from NHL duty.
22. Nils Hoglander (Vancouver Canucks) 5’8″ 183 SWEHL 50-7-7-14-22
Hoglander is a YouTube highlight reel. He possesses excellent hands and puck skills. He is also a fitness fanatic and strong for a man of short stature. Hoglander projects as a creative, playmaking middle six winger. He will need 2-4 years of development before hitting the NHL.
23. Janne Kuokkanen (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’1″ 193 AHL 48-12-26-38-16
The Finish winger has excelled in Finland’s top league the past few seasons. Kuokkanen has shown flashes of offensive brilliance and plays a strong two-way game. Kuokkanen will likely need some time in the AHL before making the NHL jump in a year. He projects as a middle six forward.
24. Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs) 5’11” 171 AHL 75-22-57-79-16
Another small skilled playmaking winger on the list, Bracco was the AHL’s leading point getter last season as a 21 year old. Bracco is a quick, mobile skater who uses his edges well. He excelled given greater responsibility last season and is likely NHL ready if the Leafs can find room for him on their roster.
25. Jason Robertson (Dallas Stars) 6’2″ 200 OHL 62-48-69-117-42
Robertson dominated the OHL last season, leading the league in scoring. The brother of Nick, Jason is a dominant offensive player. At 6’2″, Robertson uses his frame to his advantage to create offensive opportunities. Robertson may not have one attribute that stands out in his tool kit, but his overall package makes him a potential middle six forward at the NHL level. He may see NHL games next season.
26. Pavel Dorofeyev (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’0″ 184 KHL 23-1-1-2-4
Dorofeyev is a prospect that has grown on me this season. He is a highly skilled forward with excellent speed and hockey sense. It was a surprise to many that he dropped to the second round, where Vegas happily snatched him up. Dorofeyev’s skill set makes him a potential top six forward at the NHL level. He is a few seasons away.
27. Kirill Marchenko 6’3″ 190 MHL 20-8-15-23-4
Marchenko boasts an intriguing skill. At 6’3″, Marchenko has a big physical tool kit. However, he is not viewed as a power forward type of player. Marchenko has excellent hockey sense, and he is creative. While not as dominating as Podkolzin, both prospects play a somewhat similar game. Marchenko has struggled to stick in Russia’s top league. Hopefully next season he can make the jump. He is still a few seasons away.
28. Victor Olofsson (Buffalo Sabres) 5’11” 181 AHL 66-30-33-63-12
Olofsson is one of the older prospects on the list, but he is deserving of a top 30 placement. Olofsson tore up the Swedish league for years before making the jump to North American last season. A Buffalo Sabres prospect, Olofsson posted 30 goals in his rookie season in the AHL. He managed a few NHL games and did not look out of place, scoring 2 goals and 4 points in 6 games. Look for Olofsson to make the Sabres next season and play a potential top six role.
29. Brayden Tracey (Anaheim Ducks) 6’0″ 177 WHL 66-36-45-81-28
Tracey is a the definition of “late bloomer.” After failing to crack a WHL lineup last season, Tracey burst onto the scene and managed an impressive 81 points in 66 games. Tracey is a silky smooth skater with excellent hands. He boasts above average hockey sense and is creative. Overall, Tracey needs defensive work and will likely spend another three seasons developing.
29. Alex Formenton (Ottawa Senators) 6’2″ 165 OHL 31-13-21-34-50
It might be a suprise to some to see Formention this low on the list. Formenton played NHL games for Ottawa last season and had an excellent season in the OHL. However, it is Formenton’s upside that has him at 29. Formenton projects as a third-line winger at the NHL level. He seems to be very much a Darren Helm type. He is an elite skater, and he may score 20 goals. Overall, his bread and butter is his two-way play. Formenton will likely start the season in the NHL.
30. Jacob Pelletier (Calgary Flames) 5’9″ 160 QMJHL 65-39-50-89-24
Pelletier is a fun prospect to watch. At 5’9″, Pelletier uses his mobility and edges well. Scouts are a bit torn as to what type of player he may be at the NHL level. At best, he is a top six forward. At worst, a bottom six. Regardless, the Flames first rounder boasts strong hockey sense and an ability to make those around him better. Pelletier will need 2-3 years of development before making the NHL jump.
31. Carl Grundstrom (Los Angeles Kings) 6’0″ 200 AHL 55-16-23-39-32
Grundstrom split his first season in North America between the Toronto Marlies and the Ontario Reign in the AHL. He also managed to play 15 games in the NHL, where he netted 5 goals in a bottom six role. Grundstrom projects as a modern day power forward at the NHL level. He uses his frame and size to create space for himself and dominate down low. Grundstrom’s offense was a nice surprise last season, and he may find himself jumping into a top six role next year in LA. Grundstrom projects as a middle six forward at the NHL level and will play next season.
32. Kiefer Bellows (New York Islanders) 6’1″ 200 AHL 73-12-7-19-101
33. Samuel Poulin (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’1″ 208 QMJHL 67-29-47-76-46
34. Jonathan Berggren (Detroit Red Wings) 5’9″ 170 SWEHL 16-0-3-3-4
35. Simon Holmstrom (New York Islanders) 6’1″ 193 SWEHL 1-0-0-0-0
36. Serron Noel (Florida Panthers) 6’5″ 211 OHL 65-34-47-81-54
37. Nick Merkley (Arizona Coyotes) 5’10” 194 AHL 45-10-24-34-26
38. Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’6″ 204 OHL 65-50-32-82-36
39. Ivan Chekhovich (San Jose Sharks) 5’10” 176 QMJHL 66-43-62-105-38
40. Kim Kostin (St. Louis Blues) 6’3″ 212 AHL 66-10-14-24-102
41. Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay Lightning) 6’3″ 190 WHL 66-36-27-63-62
42. Wade Allison (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’2″ 205 NCHC 22-8-7-15-20
43. Samuel Fagemo (Los Angeles Kings) 5’11” 190 SWEHL 42-14-11-25-6
44. Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) 5’8″ 153 AHL 27-10-8-18-16
45. Denis Gurianov (Dallas Stars) 6’2″ 195 AHL 57-20-28-48-12
46. Alex Nylander (Chicago Blackhawks) 6’1″ 192 AHL 49-12-19-31-12
47. Jack Dugan (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’2″ 192 HE 41-10-29-39-48
48. Albin Eriksson (Dallas Stars) 6’3″ 196 SWEHL 44-9-7-16-29
49. Anatoly Golyshev (New York Islanders) 5’9″ 172 KHL 54-19-21-40-14
50. Vitali Abramov (Ottawa Senators) 5’9″ 171 AHL 70-16-13-29-36
51. Michael Teply (Chicago Blackhawks) 6’2″ 185 CZE 15-0-2-2-2
52. Vlad Firstov (Minnesota Wild) 6’1″ 181 USHL 62-26-32-58-24
53. Evgor Afanasyev (Nashville Predators) 6’4″ 200 USHL 58-27-35-62-36
54. Kirill Maksimov (Edmonton Oilers) 6’3″ 195 OHL 63-40-39-79-118
55. Patrik Puistila (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’0″ 170 Mestis (FIN) 22-15-11-26-2
56. Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers) 6’0″ 190 AHL 68-15-51-66-44
57. Jesse Ylonen (Montreal Canadiens) 6’0″ 167 FIN 53-13-14-27-8
58. Steleo Mattheos (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’1″ 200 WHL 65-44-52-96-77
59. Balut Shafigulin (Los Angeles Kings) 6’1″ 164 KHL 31-0-2-2-14
60. Jonathan Davidsson (Ottawa Senators) 5’11” 185 SWEHL 37-10-11-21-18
61. Julien Gauthier (Carolina Hurricanes) 6’4″ 225 AHL 75-27-14-41-57
62. Brandon Kruse (Vegas Golden Knights) 5’9″ 155 WCHA 41-10-31-41-30
63. Adam Mascherin (Dallas Stars) 5’9″ 197 AHL 75-18-26-44-30
64. Kirill Slepets (Carolina Hurricanes) 5’10” 165 KHL 10-1-0-1-2
65. Zach Senyshyn (Boston Bruins) 6’1″ 192 AHL 66-14-10-24-20
66. Aaron Huglen (Buffalo Sabres) 5’11” 165 USHL 28-4-10-14-14
67. Gabriel Fortier (Tampa Bay Lightning) 5’10” 172 QMJHL 68-35-48-83-27
68. Dmitri Zavgorodny (Calgary Flames) 5’9″ 165 QMJHL 67-28-36-64-14
69. Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks) 6’1″ 186 AHL 51-5-12-17-20
70. Ryder Donovan (Vegas Golden Knights) 6’3″ 185 USHS 23-12-25-37-37
71. Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay Lightning) 6’2″ 209 AHL 70-18-28-46-34
72. Mackenzie Entwistle (Chicago Blackhawks) 6’3″ 181 OHL 57-30-27-57-48
73. Blake McLaughlin (Anaheim Ducks) 6’0″ 162 BIG10 35-5-15-20-36
74. Dillion Hamaliuk (San Jose Sharks) 6’3″ 190 WHL 31-11-15-26-32
75. Trey Fix-Wolansky (Columbus Blue Jackets) 5’7″ 188 WHL 65-37-65-102-52
76. Alex Volkov (Tampa Bay Lightning) 6’1″ 192 AHL 74-23-25-48-61
77. Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning) 6’2″ 200 AHL 75-11-12-23-58
78. Nik Kovalenko (Colorado Avalanche) 5’10” 174 KHL 33-5-1-6-14
79. Alex Beaucage (Coloardo Avalanche) 6’1″ 193 QMJHL 68-39-40-79-44
80. Max Cajkovic (Tampa Bay Lightning) 5’11” 185 QMJHL 60-22-24-46-40
81. Fabian Zetterlund (Detroit Red Wings) 5’11” 195 SWEHL 16-2-2-4-8
82. Sheldon Rempal (Los Angeles Kings) 5’10” 165 AHL 59-15-25-40-25
83. Artur Kayumov (Chicago Blackhawks) 5’11” 176 KHL 46-5-8-13-59
84. Matthew Strome (Philadelphia Flyers) 6’4″ 210 68-28-51-79-55
85. Kesper Bjorkqvist (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’1″ 198 HE 42-17-13-30-20
86. Sampo Ranta (Colorado Avalanche) 6’2″ 190 BIG10 36-6-10-16-29
87. William Lockwood (Vancouver Canucks) 5’11” 172 BIG10 36-16-15-31-24
88. Rhett Pitlick (Montreal Canadiens) 5’9″ 160 USHL 7-1-4-5-2
89. Taro Hirose (Detroit Red Wings) 5’10” 160 BIG10 36-15-35-50-12
90. Mikhail Maltsev (New Jersey Devils) 6’3″ 200 KHL 13-1-1-2-0
91. Nik Nordgren (Chicago Blackhawks) 5’9″ 170 FIN 15-4-3-7-2
92. Johan Sodergran (Los Angeles Kings) 6’3″ 200 SWEHL 42-8-5-13-4
93. Jan Jenik (Arizona Coyotes) 6’1″ 180 OHL 27-13-17-30-49
94. Logan Hutsko (Florida Panthers) 5’10” 165 HE 36-6-20-26-10
95. Alex Campbell (Nashville Predators) 5’10” 151 BCHL 53-21-46-67-6
96. Graeme Clarke (New Jersey Devils) 5’11” 175 OHL 53-23-11-34-34
97. Oscar Safin (Edmonton Oilers) 6’5″ 204 QMJHL 15-3-8-11-14
98. Sam Miletic (Pittsburgh Penguins) 6’1″ 196 AHL 49-12-23-35-14
99. Joachim Blichfeld (San Jose Sharks) 6’2″ 180 WHL 68-53-61-114-70
100. Alexei Toropchenko (St. Louis Blues) 6’3″ 187 OHL 62-17-26-43-33