The Dean’s List is back and ready to get straight to the point with some report cards. After four intense games of competition, there were several players that impressed at the Canada-Russia Challenge, a series put in place to commemorate the 1972 Summit Series. Below, drafted prospects that I feel are fantasy relevant in standard leagues (top-six forward/top-four defensemen) are graded from A+ to D- based solely on how I feel their play at the Canada-Russia Challenge (CRC) reflects their future fantasy value.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW (Florida Panthers)
CRC Grade: A-
Game one was forgettable for the 3rd overall pick as Huberdeau was at fault for trying to do too much and turnovers resulted. He sat out in game two but returned to wear the captaincy in the final two games. Huberdeau elevated his game to the level that’s expected of him tallying three points en route to Canada’s win. His vision and playmaking remains his strongest assets but I especially enjoyed seeing Huberdeau add more grit to his game showing that he could drive to the net as well as anyone.
Ryan Strome, C/W (New York Islanders)
CRC Grade: B
Strome was the heroic figure as the four-game series came to a close after scoring the overtime winner executing a toe-drag around a sprawled out defender and firing one beyond the Russian tender. Strome displayed his crafty hands and creativity on that play but his game was pretty erratic over the four games. He was awful in the opening game as he continuously coughed up the puck after trying to do too much himself. He remains a valuable asset to own in fantasy leagues but his 5th overall draft status (2011) may have some owners overestimating his upside. I see Strome in a similar mold as Sam Gagner and Nazem Kadri, two very creative forwards that need to play alongside a natural finisher to reach their upside. Luckily for Strome, John Tavares could be that perfect player if Strome eventually moves to the wing. Don’t write Strome off completely as he possesses some filthy offensive skills but I question how well he will be able to translate his game to the next level.
Mark Scheifele, C (Winnipeg Jets)
CRC Grade: A+
Personally, I had some reservations about Mark Scheifele after last season. He was impressive during Jets camp and in the brief stint he had with the Winnipeg Jets to open the season. In a few live viewings last season, Scheifele was somewhat mediocre playing for the Barrie Colts. It’s possible that he had “off games” but he left me wanting more. My opinion changed drastically as soon as he stepped on the ice for this series. Scheifele looked bigger, stronger and played with great confidence. His finesse game was noticeable as his puck handling skills were immediately on display, feeding teammates with saucy passes and executing plays at top speed. In addition, Scheifele’s power game was evident as he used his frame to box out opponents, creating space and then driving hard to the net. His intensity was a bonus as well.
Ty Rattie, RW (St. Louis Blues)
CRC Grade: A
Disclaimer: Huge fan of Ty Rattie and his scoring prowess. Playing in a top-six role, Ty Rattie was crucial to Canada’s success as the team won in each game he scored. With a two-goal, three-point effort in game four, Rattie fought hard to earn his points battling defensemen in the crease for positioning. Rattie showed a new level of physicality that I hadn’t previously witnessed venturing into the dirty