A player will be considered a prospect until he meets the following criteria:
If a prospect is a skater (forward, defenseman) and has played in 65 NHL games or more before the completion of the season of his 24th birthday; or, if a goaltender has played in 45 NHL games before the completion of the season of his 24th birthday, that player will be considered graduated to the NHL. Conversely, if a player completes the season of his 24th birthday without passing those milestones, then that player will no longer be considered a prospect by Hockey’s Future, regardless of the player’s status with his NHL club.
An NCAA player who signs his first contract at or above the age of 22 has three years to meet the above criteria (65/45), while those NCAA players that turn pro under the age of 22 will be subjected to the criteria above.
European players who sign their first NHL contract at or above the age of 22 have three seasons from the time they sign that contract to meet the above criteria. Those European players below the age of 22 that have signed a NHL contract will be subjected to the criteria in section one.
Section one is the meat of the criteria as it will govern the majority of players that vie for a NHL roster spot. Sections two and three are simply an acknowledgement that some prospects arrive on the scene a bit later than their peers, thus needing some time past their 24th birthday to develop into an NHL-caliber player.
The graduated list on team pages will consist of players who are considered graduated to the NHL. A skater prospect may sit on the graduated list until he has played 130 games in the NHL. A goalie prospect may sit on the graduated list until he has played 90 games in the NHL.
NOTE: These are general guidelines and should be followed the majority of the time but certain players may still be listed as prospects if circumstances warrant.