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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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Connor McDavid is carrying the Edmonton Oilers again.

Stop us if you’ve heard that before.

The Oilers nipped the Toronto Maple Leafs, last year’s No. 1, for top billing in TSN Hockey’s 2018 Core 4 Under-24 rankings on the back of the top player in the NHL. Edmonton is one of four Canadian teams in the top five of our rankings, proving that there’s a benefit to bottoming out in the standings.

That is, of course, depending on what the Maple Leafs’ Core 4 looks like on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. - or Decision Day for restricted free agent William Nylander.

The only non-Canadian club in our top five is the Colorado Avalanche. No team rocketed up the rankings like Colorado, powered by Hart Trophy runner-up Nathan MacKinnon and his second-brain linemate Mikko Rantanen.

Four teams – Vancouver, Winnipeg, Florida and Detroit – each finished with 'A' level core players across the board.

The Canucks were last year’s ‘wild card’ Core 4. The Ottawa Senators earned that same title this year, and check-in at the same spot at No. 10 overall.

Methodology: We went through every organization, from top to bottom, isolating the top players 23-and-under who are now Core 4 players or are authentic candidates to become Core 4 players. In the case of closely graded players, teams with players currently in the NHL earned the edge over others with prospects in the minors or junior.

Legend

Embedded Image No. 1 goalie, 1st pair defenceman, 1st line forward

Embedded Image No. 1 goalie, 2nd pair defenceman, 2nd line forward

Embedded Image Depth goalie, 3rd pair defenceman, 3rd/4th line forward

Here is the third annual TSN Hockey Core 4 Under 24 rankings for 2018:

 

THE CORE FOUR

 

Embedded Image 1. Edmonton (2017: No. 2)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Connor McDavid, C Embedded Image Edmonton 21 18 10 16 26
2. Leon Draisaitl, C Embedded Image Edmonton 23 18 11 9 19
3. Evan Bouchard, D Embedded Image London (OHL) 19 3 2 1 3
4. Darnell Nurse, D Embedded Image Edmonton 23 17 2 4 6
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: The Oilers and Maple Leafs have traded spots this year, with the Oilers ascending to No. 1. Both teams have players with identical grades (three A’s and one B), but Connor McDavid has the clear edge over Auston Matthews. The Oilers improved this season with A-level prospect Evan Bouchard replacing Jesse Puljujarvi in the Core 4.

 

 

Embedded Image 2. Toronto (2017: No. 1)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Auston Matthews, C Embedded Image Toronto 21 11 10 6 16
2. Mitch Marner, RW Embedded Image Toronto 21 18 5 17 22
3. William Nylander, LW Embedded Image Toronto 22 - - - -
4. Kasperi Kapanen, RW Embedded Image Toronto 22 18 6 6 12
 

Aged Out: Morgan Rielly

Scoop: When balancing the Leafs’ books, the attention has been on contracts for William Nylander and Auston Matthews of late. The reality is that it’s Mitch Marner who could tear apart the team budget as he could be knocking on the door of a 100-point season in the final year of his entry-level deal.

 

 

Embedded Image 3. Colorado (2017: No. 18)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Nathan MacKinnon, C Embedded Image Colorado 23 17 11 13 24
2. Mikko Rantanen, RW Embedded Image Colorado 22 17 6 20 26
3. Cale Makar, D Embedded Image UMass-Amherst (NCAA) 20 9 4 9 13
4. Samuel Girard, D Embedded Image Colorado 20 17 1 6 7
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have taken the NHL by storm. Cale Makar might be the second best player (to Elias Pettersson) in the 2016 Draft by the time it’s all said and done. Add in Conor Timmins, Tyson Jost and Ottawa’s likely lottery pick in June and the Avs are set.

 

 

Embedded Image 4. Vancouver (2017: No. 10)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Elias Pettersson, C Embedded Image Vancouver 20 14 10 7 17
2. Brock Boeser, RW Embedded Image Vancouver 21 13 4 7 11
3. Bo Horvat, C Embedded Image Vancouver 23 20 9 8 17
4. Quinn Hughes, D Embedded Image Michigan (NCAA) 19 9 3 6 9
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: It’s fitting that Pettersson started the season scoring goals at a Teemu Selanne-like pace because Selanne was the last runaway Calder Trophy favourite this early. With a superstar like Pettersson, just about anything seems possible now in Van City.

 

 

THE NEXT FIVE

 

Embedded Image 5. Winnipeg (2017: No. 3)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Patrik Laine, RW Embedded Image Winnipeg 20 16 8 2 10
2. Kyle Connor, LW Embedded Image Winnipeg 21 16 7 6 13
3. Josh Morrissey, D Embedded Image Winnipeg 23 16 1 7 8
4. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW Embedded Image Winnipeg 22 16 4 4 8
 

Aged Out: Jacob Trouba

Scoop: Paul Maurice says Josh Morrissey took the biggest year-over-year leap last year he’d seen in his two decades behind an NHL bench. He also jumped into Winnipeg’s stout Core 4, and is now averaging north of 23 minutes a night with just a nibble of second-unit power play time.

 

 

Embedded Image 6. Buffalo (2017: No. 14)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Rasmus Dahlin, D Embedded Image Buffalo 18 18 1 6 7
2. Jack Eichel, C Embedded Image Buffalo 22 18 4 15 19
3. Casey Mittelstadt, C Embedded Image Buffalo 19 18 2 4 6
4. Sam Reinhart, RW Embedded Image Buffalo 23 18 2 11 13
 

Aged Out: Rasmus Ristolainen

Scoop: Budding superstar Rasmus Dahlin, touted as 'Half Karlsson, Half Lidstrom,' has jumped Jack Eichel. What if the Sabres could get Alex Nylander to take the next step? Nylander fell out of the Core 4, but adding another high-skill forward to a group loading up could take Buffalo to a different level.

 

 

Embedded Image 7. Boston (2017: No. 6)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. David Pastrnak, LW Embedded Image Boston 22 17 16 7 23
2. Charlie McAvoy, D Embedded Image Boston 20 7 1 5 6
3. Jake DeBrusk, LW Embedded Image Boston 22 17 5 2 7
4. Brandon Carlo, D Embedded Image Boston 21 16 0 2 2
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: Is Brandon Carlo the Bruins’ X-factor for a deep playoff run? He averaged 20 minutes per night over the final month of last season before a gruesome leg injury on March 31 ended his campaign prematurely, a loss that the Bruins surely felt in their second-round loss to Tampa Bay.

 

 

Embedded Image 8. Florida (2017: No. 11)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Aleksander Barkov, C Embedded Image Florida 23 15 5 9 14
2. Aaron Ekblad, D Embedded Image Florida 22 15 1 2 3
3. Aleksi Heponiemi, C Embedded Image Karpat (Sm Liiga) 19 19 4 13 17
4. Grigori Denisenko, LW Embedded Image Yaroslavl (KHL) 18 14 3 0 3
 

Aged Out: Mike Matheson

Scoop: That the Panthers are No. 8 with two players – Aleksi Heponiemi and Grigori Denisenko – playing outside the NHL speaks volumes. The scary part is having a boom-or-bust prospect like Owen Tippett nipping at their heels. Tippett is an elite sniper, but needs to develop a complete game.

 

 

Embedded Image 9. NY Islanders (2017: No. 21)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Mathew Barzal, C Embedded Image NY Islanders 21 17 2 14 16
2. Ilya Sorokin, G Embedded Image Moscow (KHL) 23 17 10-3-3 1.37 .930
3. Noah Dobson, D Embedded Image A-Bathurst (QMJHL) 18 19 6 6 12
4. Kieffer Bellows, LW Embedded Image Bridgeport (AHL) 20 15 6 2 8
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: Few know better than Lou Lamoriello the value of a franchise netminder. That’s why he’s made it a priority to get to know Ilya Sorokin. Will he sign with the Islanders? Sorokin is already in his sixth KHL season (career .935 save percentage) and he’s under contract through 2019-20 with CSKA Moscow.

 

 

THE WILD CARD

 

Embedded Image 10. Ottawa (2017: No. 23)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Thomas Chabot, D Embedded Image Ottawa 21 18 5 17 22
2. Brady Tkachuk, LW Embedded Image Ottawa 19 7 4 4 8
3. Maxime Lajoie, D Embedded Image Ottawa 21 18 5 4 9
4. Drake Batherson, RW Embedded Image Ottawa 20 - - - -
 

Aged Out: Cody Ceci

Scoop: The Sens are a classic wild-card entry because as quickly as Thomas Chabot has allowed Ottawa to forget Erik Karlsson, Brady Tkachuk is the only known commodity in their Core 4. Can Chabot sustain his explosive start? Max Lajoie, Drake Batherson and even Alex Formenton - who was a close call for No. 4 - have shown great potential but came from out of the woodwork in the last calendar year.

 

 

THE BEST OF THE REST

 

Embedded Image 11. Detroit (2017: No. 25)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Dylan Larkin, LW Embedded Image Detroit 22 18 7 11 18
2. Dennis Cholowski, D Embedded Image Detroit 20 16 3 6 9
3. Michael Rasmussen, C Embedded Image Detroit 19 15 3 2 5
4. Filip Zadina, LW Embedded Image Grand Rapids (AHL) 18 13 4 4 8
 

Aged Out: Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou

Scoop: Dennis Cholowski had more than his fair share of doubters. He didn’t crack the Wings’ Core 4 last year, now sliding into the No. 2 spot as he’s rounded into the player Detroit saw when they picked him at No. 20 in 2016, averaging 21 minutes a night for the big club as a rookie.

 

 

Embedded Image 12. Carolina (2017: No. 16)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Sebastian Aho, C Embedded Image Carolina 21 18 5 17 22
2. Andrei Svechnikov, LW Embedded Image Carolina 18 18 4 4 8
3. Martin Necas, C Embedded Image Charlotte (AHL) 19 10 1 6 7
4. Brett Pesce, D Embedded Image Carolina 24 17 2 1 3
 

Aged Out: Jaccob Slavin, Teuvo Teravainen

Scoop: There was a time there was confusion between Finnish forward Sebastian Aho and Swedish defenceman Sebastian Aho. Not anymore. Now the big question for Carolina is whether it can sign 20-year-old Harvard defenceman Adam Fox, who is just outside the Core 4.

 

 

Embedded Image 13. Calgary (2017: No. 8)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Matthew Tkachuk, LW Embedded Image Calgary 20 18 7 12 19
2. Juuso Valimaki, D Embedded Image Calgary 20 17 1 1 2
3. Elias Lindholm, C Embedded Image Calgary 23 18 9 9 18
4. Noah Hanifin, D Embedded Image Calgary 21 18 0 5 5
 

Aged Out: Sean Monahan, Mark Jankowski, Adam Fox (traded)

Scoop: The Flames had been searching for a fit to play alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan and it’s scary how well Elias Lindholm has complimented those two. The Flames appear solid on the blueline with a pair of defenceman in its Core 4 in Juuso Valimaki and Noah Hanifin.

 

 

Embedded Image 14. Tampa Bay (2017: No. 5)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Brayden Point, C Embedded Image Tampa Bay 22 18 9 10 19
2. Mikhail Sergachev, D Embedded Image Tampa Bay 20 17 0 6 6
3. Cal Foote, D Embedded Image Syracuse (AHL) 19 11 0 3 3
4. Mathieu Joseph, RW Embedded Image Tampa Bay 21 18 4 2 6
 

Aged Out: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scoop: Imagine, for one second, this defence corps of the future: Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and Cal Foote. Not bad, huh? The best part for Foote is that he doesn’t need to be anything more than No. 4. Meanwhile, Brayden Point has earned No. 1 centre status.

 

 

Embedded Image 15. Arizona (2017: No. 7)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Clayton Keller, RW Embedded Image Arizona 20 17 5 7 12
2. Barrett Hayton, C Embedded Image S.S. Marie (OHL) 18 14 8 13 21
3. Christian Fischer, RW Embedded Image Arizona 21 17 4 0 4
4. Jakob Chychrun, D Embedded Image Arizona 20 - - - -
 

Aged Out: Max Domi (traded)

Scoop: Before making his return from ACL surgery, Jakob Chychrun missed 62 games in less than three seasons. The Coyotes made a bet on pedigree, signing him to a $27.6 million deal on Tuesday. He has proven to be a legitimate top-four defenceman but his health must be an X-factor.

 

 

Embedded Image 16. Philadelphia (2017: No. 12)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Ivan Provorov, D Embedded Image Philadelphia 21 19 2 5 7
2. Carter Hart, G Embedded Image Lehigh Valley (AHL) 20 7 3-2-1 3.50 .883
3. Nolan Patrick, LW Embedded Image Philadelphia 20 14 5 4 9
4. Travis Konecny, RW Embedded Image Philadelphia 21 17 3 5 8
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: The goalie graveyard is still a real thing in Philadelphia. Team Canada world junior star Carter Hart is being looked upon as the saviour and that’s a lot of weight for 20-year-old to bear. The X-factor for Philadelphia is 2017 No. 2 pick Nolan Patrick.

 

 

Embedded Image 17. Columbus (2017: No. 4)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Zach Werenski, D Embedded Image Columbus 21 18 3 8 11
2. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C Embedded Image Columbus 20 18 8 5 13
3. Liam Foudy, C Embedded Image London (OHL) 18 14 7 3 10
4.Vitali Abramov, RW Embedded Image Cleveland (AHL) 20 14 2 2 4
 

Aged Out: Seth Jones, Alexander Wennberg

Scoop: It’s boom or bust for Liam Foudy. He can skate like the wind, but the question is whether he can score at the NHL level. Meanwhile, ace defenceman Zach Werenski and strength-down-the-middle centre Pierre-Luc Dubois have answered virtually every challenge about their enormous potential.

 

 

Embedded Image 18. Montreal (2017: No. 20)

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The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C Embedded Image Montreal 18 18 3 6 9
2. Max Domi, C Embedded Image Montreal 23 18 10 12 22
3. Jonathan Drouin, LW Embedded Image Montreal 23 18 5 9 14
4. Nick Suzuki, C Embedded Image Owen Sound (OHL) 19 18 16 14 30
 

Aged Out: Alex Galchenyuk (also traded)

Scoop: Defenceman Victor Mete fell out of Montréal’s Core 4. It’s legitimate to wonder whether Mete is a bottom-pair blueliner or if he can play a top-four role. Mete looked like a real find as a 19-year-old, now he’s trying to find himself in the NHL as a 20-year-old.

 

 

Embedded Image 19. Vegas (2017: No. 24)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Cody Glass, C Embedded Image Portland (WHL) 19 16 7 27 34
2. Shea Theodore, D Embedded Image Vegas 23 18 2 5 7
3. Erik Brannstrom, D Embedded Image Chicago (AHL) 19 12 3 8 11
4. Alex Tuch, RW Embedded Image Vegas 22 10 4 5 9
 

Aged Out: Nick Suzuki (traded)

Scoop: The parallels between Cody Glass and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele – from being the first entry draft pick of a new team in a new city, to their style of play and maybe even development path – are uncanny. Those parallels put the Golden Knights in a good place.

 

 

Embedded Image 20. NY Rangers (2017: No. 17)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Igor Shestyorkin, G Embedded Image St. Petersburg (KHL) 22 13 11-2-0 1.30 .946
2. Vitali Kravtsov, RW Embedded Image Chelyabinsk (KHL) 18 24 3 8 11
3. Neal Pionk, D Embedded Image NY Rangers 23 16 3 7 10
4. Lias Andersson, C Embedded Image NY Rangers 20 14 4 8 12
 

Aged Out: Brady Skjei

Scoop: United Nations headquarters are just up the street in Manhattan and there is a new UN ready to star on Broadway, as the Rangers have the only all-Euro Core 4 contingent in the NHL. It’s headed by goaltender Igor Shestyorkin, who is primed to be the heir to King Henrik’s throne.

 

 

Embedded Image 21. Dallas (2017: No. 28)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Miro Heiskanen, D Embedded Image Dallas 19 18 2 6 8
2. Ty Dellandrea, C Embedded Image Flint (OHL) 18 20 8 13 21
3. Jason Robertson, LW Embedded Image Kingston (OHL) 19 22 22 11 33
4. Jake Oettinger, G Embedded Image Boston University (NCAA) 19 7 2-4-1 3.43 .894
 

Aged Out: Esa Lindell, Radek Faksa

Scoop: With Ben Bishop signed long-term and fellow prospect Colton Point already under contract, many wonder if Jake Oettinger will wait out the clock until after his senior season (2019-20) at Boston University to qualify for free agent status and call his own shot.

 

 

Embedded Image 22. Chicago (2017: No. 27)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Alex DeBrincat, RW Embedded Image Chicago 20 18 9 7 16
2. Adam Boqvist, D Embedded Image London (OHL) 18 13 1 10 11
3. Henri Jokiharju, D Embedded Image Chicago 19 18 0 9 9
4. Nick Schmaltz, C Embedded Image Chicago 22 17 2 6 8
 

Aged Out: Ryan Hartman (also traded)

Scoop: It could be boom-or-bust for Adam Boqvist, taken at No. 8 overall in June. The 6-foot Swedish defender has all of the requisite tools to be a star – and models his game after superstar Erik Karlsson’s – but for him it’s all about his playing attitude and whether he wants to dig in.

 

 

Embedded Image 23. Washington (2017: No. 30)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Ilya Samsonov, G Embedded Image Hershey (AHL) 21 8 3-5-0 3.73 .875
2. Alexander Alexeyev, D Embedded Image Red Deer (WHL) 18 19 7 17 24
3. Jakub Vrana, LW Embedded Image Washington 22 17 4 4 8
4. Andre Burokovsky, LW Embedded Image Washington 23 17 2 2 4
 

Aged Out: Tom Wilson

Scoop: Picking Alexander Alexeyev at No. 31 in June gave the Caps’ system a big shot in the arm. He’s has the arsenal to be a top-pair defenceman with his puck skills and a high hockey IQ. Ilya Samsonov is one of two ‘A’ level prospect goalies - the Rangers’ Igor Shestyorkin is the other – to head up his team’s Core 4.

 

 

Embedded Image 24. Anaheim (2017: No. 19)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Sam Steel, C Embedded Image San Diego (AHL) 20 4 0 2 2
2. Ondrej Kase, RW Embedded Image Anaheim 23 1 0 0 0
3. Troy Terry, C Embedded Image San Diego (AHL) 21 8 5 6 11
4. Isac Lundestrom, C Embedded Image Anaheim 19 15 0 2 2
 

Aged Out: Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Montour

Scoop: 2016 first-round pick Max Jones, 20, didn’t make the Core 4 cut behind a decent crop of young prospects. Jones has an impressive blend of skill and power. The question is: Can Jones harness it enough to be an impact NHLer?

 

 

Embedded Image 25. San Jose (2017: No. 31)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Timo Meier, LW Embedded Image San Jose 22 19 12 6 18
2. Ryan Merkley, D Embedded Image Guelph (OHL) 18 17 4 21 25
3. Kevin Lebanc, RW Embedded Image San Jose 22 19 2 9 11
4. Mario Ferraro, D Embedded Image UMass-Amherst (NCAA) 20 9 0 1 1
 

Aged Out: Tomas Hertl

Scoop: Ryan Merkley’s future is a source of great fascination: He is an all-world talent who slid to the Sharks at 21st overall in June because of questions about his character and maturity. He’s a brilliant playmaker who is averaging well over a point per game in the OHL this season.

 

 

Embedded Image 26. New Jersey (2017: No. 9)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Nico Hischier, C Embedded Image New Jersey 19 15 3 9 12
2. Will Butcher, D Embedded Image New Jersey 23 17 1 6 7
3. Ty Smith, D Embedded Image Spokane (WHL) 18 16 2 23 25
4. Jesper Bratt, RW Embedded Image New Jersey 20 3 0 2 2
 

Aged Out: Damon Severson

Scoop: There are no questions about 2017 No. 1 pick Nico Hischier’s offensive flair, but there are about Ty Smith’s. The 17th overall pick in 2018 is an elite point producer in the WHL, netting 73 points in 69 WHL games last season. What will be his top end in the NHL?

 

 

Embedded Image 27. Nashville (2017: No. 15)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Eeli Tolvanen, LW Embedded Image Milwaukee (AHL) 19 16 3 7 10
2. Juuse Saros, G Embedded Image Nashville 23 10 7-3-0 2.94 .903
3. Kevin Fiala, LW Embedded Image Nashville 22 17 2 7 9
4. Dante Fabbro, D Embedded Image Boston University (NCAA) 20 7 3 5 8
 

Aged Out: Filip Forsberg

Scoop: It’s been a time of adjustment for elite goal-scorer Eeli Tolvanen, but the Preds are taking their time with the prized prospect since he arrived with much fanfare last March. Tolvanen could eventually make a top team more lethal, slotting in behind Filip Forsberg.

 

 

Embedded Image 28. Minnesota (2017: No. 22)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Kirill Kaprizov, LW Embedded Image Moscow (KHL) 21 24 10 7 17
2. Jordan Greenway, LW Embedded Image Minnesota 21 17 2 4 6
3. Filip Johansson, D Embedded Image Leksands (SWE) 18 15 0 1 1
4. Joel Eriksson Ek, C Embedded Image Minnesota 21 12 1 1 2
 

Aged Out: Matt Dumba

Scoop: Kirill Kaprizov is good enough to step into Minnesota’s top six now, but will he sign? New Wild GM Paul Fenton traveled to Russia recently to reopen the lines of communication with the ultra-talented Kaprizov, who is under contract with CSKA Moscow through 2019-20.

 

 

Embedded Image 29. St. Louis (2017: No. 26)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Robert Thomas, C Embedded Image St. Louis 19 11 0 4 4
2. Robby Fabbri, LW Embedded Image St. Louis 22 5 1 1 2
3. Jordan Kyrou, RW Embedded Image San Antonio (AHL) 20 9 0 1 1
4. Vince Dunn, D Embedded Image St. Louis 22 13 3 4 7
 

Aged Out: Tage Thompson (traded)

Scoop: Prospect Klim Kostin didn’t make the cut, but he could add something the Blues don’t have as a big and strong physical presence. Kostin, 19, is in his second season with AHL San Antonio. The only change from last year’s Core 4 is swapping out Tage Thompson – who was traded to Buffalo - for Vince Dunn.

 

 

Embedded Image 30. Los Angeles (2017: No. 29)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Gabe Vilardi, C Embedded Image Los Angeles 19 - - - -
2. Rasmus Kupari, C Embedded Image Karpat (SM Liiga) 18 18 6 7 13
3. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C Embedded Image Spokane (WHL) 19 2 2 0 2
4. Adrian Kempe, C Embedded Image Los Angeles 22 17 2 1 3
 

Aged Out: None

Scoop: Gabe Vilardi has all the talent to be a significant contributor, but is hampered by a chronic back injury. Vilardi missed a combined 55 games over the last two OHL seasons and missed all of training camp and the preseason with the Kings. When he plays, though, he produces.

 

 

THE FINAL FOUR

 

Embedded Image 31. Pittsburgh (2017: No. 13)

The Core Four

 
Player Rating 2018-19 Age GP G A PTS
1. Tristan Jarry, G Embedded Image W-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 23 9 3-4-1 3.20 .900
2. Daniel Sprong, RW Embedded Image Pittsburgh 21 12 0 4 4
3. Calen Addison, D Embedded Image Lethbridge (WHL) 18 18 4 16 20
4. Jordy Bellerive, C Embedded Image Lethbridge (WHL) 19 18 9 14 23
 

Aged Out: Matt Murray, Jake Guentzel, Olli Maatta

Scoop: It’s all about the present in Pittsburgh as the Pens try to squeeze out as many Stanley Cups as possible with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins haven’t picked in the first round in four consecutive drafts and it’s reflected in their Core 4.

 


 
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli