Saturday, October 12, 2013
Our latest installment of NYNTK focuses on the Florida Panthers. The Panthers have a deep and talented prospect pipeline, even if you don’t include current NHLers Jacob Markstrom, Drew Shore and Alexander Barkov. Here are some of the best fantasy prospects, sleepers and duds, the Names You Need to Know.
Alexander Barkov – If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the start of the NHL season, you already know Barkov’s name and the fact that the 18-year-old rookie cracked the Panthers top six out right out of the gate. He is the total package folks: size, skill and speed. Barkov uses his size effectively and really does have Malkin-type potential. Your window of opportunity to get him, if open at all, is closing rapidly.
Nick Bjugstad – I have been watching Bjugstad play since he was in high school in Minnesota, and he has an impressive array of skills and is huge (6-5, 215) and still growing into his frame. Even in college at the University of Minnesota he often looked like a man among boys. Still, something is missing to me. I’m sure if it’s consistent effort or just productive, but the sum doesn’t equal the parts. Bjugstad has too much raw ability to be a complete bust, but I think he’ll always leave his fantasy owners wanting more.
Vince Trocheck – At the other end of the spectrum from Bjugstad is Trocheck, the classic over-achiever. Trocheck has decent skills and isn’t a great skater, yet his production is that of someone far more talented. He makes up for his mediocre skills with excellent vision and an unsurpassed work ethic. His unexpected performance at the WJC makes me believe that he can do the same in the NHL. I drafted Trocheck this past summer in my main keeper league and expect him to be a fantasy contributor. The only red flag is the surplus of forward prospects in the Florida organization.
Quinton Howden – Howden would probably be better known if he was with another organization rather than the prospect-rich Panthers. Howden is a solid two-way player who utilizes his size very well and has held his own quite well as a young player in the AHL. I don’t anticipate Howden being a star, but offensive production similar to Ryan Callahan is not out of the question.
Rocco Grimaldi – Grimaldi showed what he is made of at the WJC, where he went from being benched to being an unlikely hero. That being said, he is very small and I think the comparisons to Martin St. Louis are a bit outlandish. Grimaldi is very good with the puck, but that size is going to be a factor in the NHL. To me a Nathan Gerbe comparison is much more realistic, despite Grimaldi’s admirable determination.
Michael Matheson – Matheson has good instincts and puck skills and is likely to project that ability to the NHL. He has good vision and makes a great first pass, as well as the ability to quarterback a power-play. He will likely be a secondary offensive defenseman when he reaches the show.
Kyle Rau – Another small,quick forward in the Grimaldi mold, Rau’s creativity sets him apart. He is a great playmaker who uses his vision, quickness and great hands to make plays that seem to come out of nowhere at times. If he had even average size, he would be on top prospects lists, but like Grimaldi, his size makes him a question mark. It remains to be seen whether he can overcome his lack of bulk to make it, but he is an intriguing prospect worth keeping an eye on.
Ian McCoshen – McCoshen is a very solid defender who limits his mistakes with an above average hockey IQ, and is virtually a can’t-miss NHL prospect. He can move the puck, but really isn’t a fantasy prospect because he is very defensive-minded. McCoshen won’t be a point-producer in the NHL, but will be an effective defenseman.
John McFarland – While McFarland’s talent is rarely in question, his character often is. Some unfortunate off-ice decisions have made him a big question mark and he will have to demonstrate proven maturity on and off the ice before he will be taken seriously. But the kid does have serious skills and if he is able to focus himself properly he will surprise a lot of people with what he can do. Much like the Panthers, if you have a deep prospect list, he may be worth taking a flyer on as he is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward player.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to leave feedback or questions below or on Twitter @RichDillon17.