Top 20 Hockey Prospects Who Will Play in the NHL This Season

05_NHL_Shield_svgTop 20 Hockey Prospects Who Will Play in the NHL This Season – It’s no secret that rookie players drive the sports card market and hockey is no different. Every year a new talent pool of players have the opportunity to not only impact the success or failure of their teams but the overall health of the hockey card market, as well With that in mind, here is a look at the Top 20 hockey prospects, who have the best chance of playing in the NHL this coming season. (Not listed in any particular order.) Each could have a significant impact on the hockey card market.

All of these players will, or already have rookie cards by Upper Deck. This includes, the always popular and short-printed Young Guns cards. In addition, with the exception of Jack Eichel, who has an exclusive autograph deal with Leaf Trading Cards, Upper Deck will also feature these player’s autographed rookie cards in several products. Find out more information about 2015-16 Upper Deck Hockey trading card products.

Eichel will still have base rookie and memorabilia cards in Upper Deck products but as mentioned, the only place to find his autographed cards will be in hockey card products manufactured by Leaf Trading Cards.

The early part of release calendar for the upcoming Upper Deck 2015-16 hockey products is currently as follows but subject to change. Click on the links for specific product details.

In addition to the listed products above, collectors will have the opportunity to chase exclusive hockey cards of this year’s top prospects through the GTS/Upper Deck Overtime Pack Promotion. These exclusive packs are only available through GTS clients so make sure your local card shop is ordering their 2015-16 Upper Deck hockey products from GTS Distribution.

Additional Resources

At, we try to produce content to help collectors and our customers make educated ordering and purchasing decisions. Below are links to some recently published posts relevant to the upcoming 2015-16 hockey card season.

The Top 20 Hockey Prospects Who Will Play in the NHL This Season

Connor McDavid – 6-1, 187 – Center, 2015 1st Overall Pick –  He’s the most exciting prospect to come down the pike since Sidney Crosby. He has similar vision, quick hands and great speed through the neutral zone. He is a can’t miss NHL future star. He will make the Edmonton Oilers right out of training camp and he should be a contender for next year’s Calder Trophy. Collectors can’t wait to get a crack at his first NHL cards. Upper Deck has gone so far as to produce a dedicated box set of the young superstar. Titled the 2015-16 Connor McDavid Collection, it is scheduled for release on December 9th, 2015.

Jack Eichel – 6-2, 194 – Center, 2015 2nd Overall Pick – He’s already big and strong enough for the NHL and in any other draft year he would have been the first overall pick. He has exceptional hands and vision and the fact that he’s playing with men at the IIHF World Championships illustrates that point. He will make the Buffalo Sabres roster to start the season and he will be a favorite among USA Hockey fans.

You can read a more complete player profile here: Future Watch: Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres

Leaf Trading Cards is scheduled to debut their first trading cards of Jack Eichel in 2015 Superlative Hockey, releasing sometime this November.

Max Domi – 5-10, 198 – Center, 2013 12th Overall Pick  – The son of legendary heavyweight, Tie Domi, plays the game his own way. He doesn’t take after his dad except for the fact that he will play in the NHL like he did. He has great speed, great hands, and he never gives up on a play. He will be a solid player for the Arizona Coyotes and a possible Calder contender.

Ryan Pulock – 6-1, 212 – Defenseman, 2013 15th Overall Pick – This New York Islanders blue-liner has a slapshot that has been clocked at over 100 MPH. He’s deadly on the power play and will drill you into the boards if you have the puck in the corner. He scores goals and erases scoring chances.

Kerby Rychel – 6-1, 203 – Leftwing,  2013 19th Overall Pick – His dad Warren Rychel had a nice NHL career and now Kerby is ready to breakout for the Columbus Blue Jackets. This power forward works hard for every goal and shows off a great hockey I.Q. He appeared in five games last season and has rookie cards in the following hockey card products:

Anthony Mantha – 6-5, 205 – Right Wing, 2013 20th Overall Pick – This big bodied winger can flat out score goals. He has size, speed, a long stick and torque on his shot that would make a lot of pros jealous. At some point he will make his debut with the Detroit Red Wings and he’ll be an instant hobby favorite.

Morgan Klimchuk – 5-11, 185 – Left Wing, 2013 28th Overall Pick – At 20, this speedy left winger will get a chance to join a young, fast, Calgary flames team at some point next season. He has the maturity on and off the ice and he can ignite an offense.

Jake Virtanen – 6-1, 207 – Right Wing, 2014 6th Overall Pick – If not for injuries this all-world prospect would have already played this past season for the Vancouver Canucks. He can skate like the wind, score quickly and lay some big hits.

You can read a more complete player profile here: Future Watch: Jake Virtainen Hockey Rookie Cards, Vancouver Canucks

Nikolaj Ehlers – 6-0, 176 – Left Wing, 2014 9th Overall Pick – This versatile prospect may be the best player not currently playing in the NHL. This tricky, sneaky, speedy player completely dominated junior hockey with 100 points in 51 games and is ready for the next step.

Kevin Fiala – 5-10, 187 – Left Wing, 2014 11th Overall Pick – After just a two game cup of coffee (1 regular season, 1 playoffs) with the Nashville Predators he should get a shot to make the team out of training camp because of his pro experience and all-around play for the past two seasons.

You can read a more complete player profile here: Future Watch: Kevin Fiala Hockey Rookie Cards, Nashville Predators

Dylan Larkin – 6-0, 214 – Center, 2014 15th Overall Pick – This talented pivot will decide whether or not to go back to the University of Michigan or report to the Detroit Red Wings. His decision will certainly make one of these organizations very happy. However, it might be collectors that will be stuck waiting for this sniper to turn pro.

You can read a more complete player profile here: Future Watch: Dylan Larkin Hockey Rookie Cards, Detroit Red Wings

Josh Ho-Sang – 6-0, 170 – Right Wing, 2014 28th Overall Pick  – This speedy prospect of the New York Islanders has been dominating junior hockey for more than a season and is ready for the next step. Can he play full-time in New York? He has the offensive skills but time will tell.

Ivan Barbashev – 6-1, 194 – Center, 2014 33rd Overall Pick – After three seasons of dominant play in junior hockey the St. Louis Blues need this rugged, fast sniper to play in the NHL and possibly on the same line as Vladimir Tarasenko.

Christopher Gibson – 6-1, 190 – Goalie, 2011 49th Overall – At 22, he has a great chance to be the backup goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. He’s a “steady as he goes” player with upside. He has seen action in a couple of games and has rookie cards in 2014-15 Upper Deck AHL Hockey, 2014-15 SP Authentic and 2014-15 Upper Deck Series 2.

Miikka Salomaki – 5-11, 198 – Right Wing, 2011 52nd Overall Pick – This Finnish prospect has now figured out how to play in North America and he could make the Nashville Predators roster next season. At 22, he’s a slipper, sneaky player who can score. He showed that by scoring a goal in his one and only NHL game last season. As a result, he has rookie cards in 2014-15 SP Authentic and 2014-15 Upper Deck Series 2.

Shane Prince – 5-11, 190 – Center, 2011 61st Overall Pick – This scorer has a lot of energy and can score in the crease. His play in Binghamton will earn him a call up to the Ottawa Senators sometime this season. He tallied an assist in two games with the club late last year.

Andrey Makarov – 6-1, 178 – Goalie, Undrafted – This Russian goalie got in his first NHL game this past season for the Sabres and shined. He can handle an NHL backup job next year and may be a future #1. He has rookie cards after serving as the team’s back-up in 2013-14. Collectors can find his cards in the following sets:

Jordan Binnington – 6-1, 176 – Goalie, 2011 88th Overall Pick – This beanpole of a goalie is strong, fast and is ready to handle NHL play. He could be the St. Louis Blues goalie of the future. He has several rookie cards in 2014-15 Upper Deck hockey sets after serving on occasion as the team’s back-up including:

Mike Reilly – 6-1, 182 – Defenseman, 2011 98th Overall Pick – This all-around defenseman has a booming shot and impending free agency. After starring at the University of Minnesota he is expected play for some NHL team when he gets signed this offseason. However, it will most likely not be with the Blue Jackets who drafted him.

Sam Bennett – 6-1, 181 – Center, 2014 4th Overall Pick – Since he only played in one NHL regular season game, late in the year and then the playoffs with the Calgary Flames, his rookie cards will be in 2015-16 season products. He has a high hockey I.Q. and a knack for getting to the net. He is a future star.

While collectors wait for many of these Top 20 Prospects to make their NHL debut and subsequently their official rookie cards, most all of them have several pre-rookie cards. These cards can be found in several products by In The Game and Leaf Trading Cards including:

The 2015-16 NHL season promises to deliver some of the most memorable rookie moments in history. Collectors have a lot to look forward to and an abundance of players worthy of speculation and investment.


Russ Cohen