August 30 2016 01:55PM
"AUSTON MATTHEWS NOT #1? WOW, he must be wrong about everything!" might be your first reaction to Corey Pronman's Top 120 NHL propsect rankings for 2016-17, but if that's where your analysis ends, you're probably missing the point.
A day after ranking the Leafs 1st in his team prospect pool rankings, Matthews was ranked #2 by ESPN's Pronman behind, well, a certain Finnish Winnipeg Jet forward who went second behind Matthews in the draft.
It shouldn't come as a surprise really, considering Pronman was one of just two major scouting services/outlets to rank Matthews second in his 2016 draft rankings, again, behind the guy who was ranked 1st.
It also doesn't really matter all that much.
At this point, we're mostly splitting hairs between the two top talents coming into the 2016-17 season, and a specific ranking or projection is just that: an educated guess about how a player will perform moving forward.
Eight Leafs were named in total, and the first three Leafs named were no surprise: Matthews second, Mitch Marner (at #5), and William Nylander (at #7).
Further down the list was #58 Kasperi Kapanen, #67 Jeremy Bracco, #90 Travis Dermott, #93 Connor Brown, and #105 Carl Grundstrom. In our projections, they went 5th, 11th, 9th, 6th, and 14th, respectively.
The list itself doesn't showcase any real new information on any of the players, as they match up heavily with Pronman's and other's previous scouting reports. There's no real "hot take" opinions on any of the Leafs prospects, but it's interesting to see the notable omissions: Nikita Zaitsev, Andreas Johnson, and Dmytro Timashov, to name a few that ranked higher in our rankings than #105 Grundstrom.
Pronman describes the tiers for prospects as "The top two, then No. 3 (Puljujarvi) on his own tier,
followed by a tier of No. 4 through No. 13 and then a gradual decrease from
Again, none of this should come as overly surprising, as that's how most prospect rankings of the current group of NHL-ready players go. Beyond the top few, it's a matter of valuing different ranking systems, opinions and an extremely challenging puzzle of trying to predict the future from players developing in many different leagues around the world.
There's three main takeaways from Pronman's rankings, and they're very similar to just about every other neutral, legitimate prospect ranking out there:
- The Leafs have a great prospect pool that's either the very best or one of the top few
- There are three very very good Leafs prospects
- After the "big 3", there's a bunch of talented players with loads of question marks
If anything, perhaps the list serves as some kind of validation for the hype around the Leafs prospect pool, coming from a neutral source.
The full list is available with an insider account here.