Introducing The-Rink’s prospect pyramid: Blood, sweat and tiers


The-Rink holds a keen interest in the future of the Chicago Blackhawks and the development of their prospects, as prospects play an important role in determining a franchise’s success down the road.

After another season of hockey, the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and July’s development camp for the Blackhawks, The-Rink has assessed where each prospect in the system stands in terms of their ability to make an impact moving forward.

Many outlets piece together a prospect rankings list to show who may be next in line for NHL stardom. However, The-Rink believes a mere rankings list proves inadequate of truly judging a prospect’s ability to make a mark at the game’s highest level. As such, The-Rink has developed a system of placing prospects into tiers based on their potential.

To be clear, this project has been a group effort. Six of The-Rink’s staff members most in tune with prospects—Eric Andrews, Aaron Goldschmidt, Ron Luce, Ray Napientek, Juliana Nikac and Mario Tirabassi—poured many hours of thought, discussion and compromise into the development of the tiers.

The process began with determining which players would be eligible. After some debate, The-Rink settled on skaters 24 and under with 40 or less NHL games played and goaltenders with 10 or less NHL games played.

From there, tiers needed to be established to place the eligible prospects in. Again, after some debate, The-Rink decided on six different tiers, ranging from high-end NHL players to minor league depth players. The complete list of tiers is as follows:

Tier one = First-line forward, top-pairing defenseman, elite goalie

Tier two = Top-six forward, No. 2 or 3 defenseman, starting goalie

Tier three = Middle-six forward, second-pairing defenseman, backup goalie

Tier four = Bottom-six forward, third-pairing defenseman, fringe goalie

Tier five = Fringe forward, fringe defenseman, AHL goalie with a chance to play in the NHL

Tier six = Organizational depth player or goalie with little to no chance to play in the NHL

The six staff members involved in the project then placed the prospects into the tiers they felt were most appropriate. Of course, each staffer’s ratings varied, resulting in the necessity to debate where players belonged. In fact, just three players received an identical rating from each of the six staffers involved—those players will be denoted when their tier is released. The final tiers reflect the agreed-upon consensus following a debate about each player.

In the coming weeks, The-Rink will be unveiling its prospect tiers along with a brief synopsis of each player and why they fell into the tier they did, starting with tier six and building up to tier one.

Stay tuned to see how each prospect fared in The-Rink’s prospect pyramid: Blood, sweat and tiers.

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