Prospect Ramblings [September 23]

Dean Youngblood

2014-09-23

 

Tuesday, September 23rd

 

Hockey is almost into full swing and exciting is building, especially in the hockey prospect world where everyone is rooting for their favourite youngsters to crack NHL lineups. The direct result of such an accomplishment is huge in the fantasy hockey world giving those successful prospects an immediate boost in value. It’s the ole’, “What have you done for me lately?” situation. Prospects close to reaching the big leagues hold more value than their equals years away. So pay attention to DobberProspects and we will attempt to keep you in the loop on who to target.

 

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Jonathan Drouin will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a slight fracture in his right thumb….Damn, that’ll hurt his Calder Trophy chances.

 

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Coyotes first rounder Brendan Perlini will miss some OHL time with a broken hand. He was a long shot to make Arizona’s roster. Man, this kid can absolutely skate. If you’re able to see a Niagara game this year (once he’s back of course), check him out. One of the most natural gifted skaters I have seen. My beer-league skating can’t shake a stick at it.

 

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Anthony Mantha stood a chance of cracking the Red Wings’ opening day roster but after breaking his leg, fantasy owners will have to wait for his arrival.

 

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Habs first rounder Nikita Scherbak has been traded to Everett but he’s not a sure-bet to return to the WHL as Montreal wants to give him a long look. The lanky playmaking forward has some really nice offensive potential. I doubt that he ends up on the main roster all season but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play a few regular season games.

 

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I fully expect Curtis Lazar to be one of the more impactful rookies. He’s going to be an outstanding NHL player but I do feel he’ll hold more value in real life than in your fantasy leagues. I am not saying he won’t be valuable because he will be a valuable contributor but not to the level of importance that his presence will be on the Ottawa Senators.

Lazar talks about his rookie camp.

 

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An excellent read by Michael Traikos on Maple Leafs’ first rounder William Nylander and why he’s got some Pat Kane-ish qualities. The piece also talks to William’s strong relationship with his father, Michael Nylander, who had a very admirable NHL career.

 

“I’m close to William and his brother,” said Anders Sorensen, a family friend and William’s longtime coach in both the U.S. and in Sweden. “For him it’s always been, ‘I’m going to the NHL.’ Two years ago, we had a discussion about the draft and he was convinced he was going No. 1. He truly believes he will be the best player”

 

“When he has the puck on his stick, it just seems so natural, like he was born with it. He’s always had that,” Sorensen said. “He’s a 10-times better skater than his dad ever was.”

 

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Be sure to check out a few recent pieces I have released over at McKeen’s Hockey as well as some other great pieces from my colleagues….

 

Late Monday evening I released a preseason Top 30 ranking for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (includes 40-50 notables). By now, hockey fans are well aware of the epic Mac vs. Jack Battle (Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel) that is slated to begin this evening as McDavid makes his season debut in Saginaw.

 

Eichel’s Boston University doesn’t start up until early October but he will be front and centre at the All-American Prospect Game Thursday evening (rosters can be found here) in Buffalo (which is always an awesome event). The Americans are expected to send 10 or more players through the first round of the draft and a few of these could be fantasy studs (Eichel, Hanifin, C.White, K. Connor, Z. Werenski, Jeremy Bracco, etc. lead the list of top Americans).

 

 

Read more on American defenseman Noah Hanifin in TSN Bob McKenzie’s article Ready to Shine

 

“There’s not a huge gap between McDavid or Eichel and Hanifin but there is, to start the season anyway, a gap between those top three and everyone else,” said one head scout of an NHL team. “(Hanifin) is at a disadvantage simply because he’s a defenceman and the other two guys are centres. But (Hanifin) could be Scott Niedermayer. He skates like him”

 

“Hanifin is a shade under 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds. The scouting report says he has world-class wheels, elite offensive skills, can run a power play and use his size effectively to play physically when it’s required. He’s not quite as big as Nashville Predator Seth Jones, the last prospect, before Hanifin, who went into his NHL draft year billed as the next great American defenceman. Some scouts like Hanifin better than Jones at the same stage of development. Others think the jury is still out on that.”

 

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You can always give my recent article on OHLers Primed for Breakout which highlights over 20 players who could experience a huge breakout. An Erie Otter not-named Connor McDavid tops the list….

 

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McKeen’s Andy Levangie was in Penticton for the Young Stars tournament and he’s got a great piece outlining his thoughts on Flames Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Canucks’ Hunter Shinkaruk, Jordan Subban, Oilers Bogdan Yakimov, Darnell Nurse, Jets’ Nikolaj Ehlers and Josh Morrissey, among others…

 

Nikolaj Ehlers — Boasting an extremely high-end skill level, Ehlers dazzled the highlight reel at the Young Stars with a few amazing goals .. there is no denying his elite speed and acceleration – and that Ehlers would quickly become one of the fastest skaters in the league if he stepped into the NHL this season …

 

Johnny Gaudreau — We’ve all heard the hype and seen the highlights of ‘Johnny Hockey’ even earning himself highlight-of-the-night honours on TSN. This weekend was no exception for the former Boston College star .. possesses calculated offensive instincts with an ability to think that split second ahead of defenders…his skill could put him into the NHL especially as the Flames need offence although he will likely require some AHL seasoning as well.

 

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Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons certainly has his critics (myself included at times) but he absolutely nailed this piece on Connor McDavid from a scouting standpoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece – Hockey phenom Connor McDavid wants to be No. 1 at NHL draft

 

“Most great players have some of those qualities,” said Jay McKee, the former NHL defenceman who is on the Erie coaching staff. “Connor has all of them. He has the highest level of skill in every single category.”

 

“He has that two-second advantage. He sees what’s going on two seconds before anyone else does. If you’re open, you’ll get the puck, because he’ll find you at the highest speed, with his feet moving. He just does things other people aren’t capable of. And his burst, his first few steps, are like a 100-metre sprinter coming out of the blocks.”

 

Spot on analysis!

 

In the pre-season game on Sunday against the Mississauga Steelheads, McDavid scored once and set up four other goals. Had his linemates been older or more seasoned — a number of Erie players are at NHL rookie camps — he might have had eight points instead of five.

 

When the game was over, Mississauga coach James Boyd referred to him as “the best player on the planet.”

 

It’s going to be fun watching McDavid in his draft year especially since Erie’s lacking a lot of offensive depth. Imagine what he could do playing alongside some of the league’s best? I hate tanking but if I’m an NHL team with a realistic shot of not making the playoffs….I’m tanking for McDavid.

 

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If you are reading this, you should also be reading the ramblings by Jason Banks as he breaks down prospects team-by-team.

 

Last friday, we had our annual keeper league hockey draft to restock our rosters. I decided that after six straight champions to change things up and make a bit of a youth movement. League members were tired of my dominance and quite frankly, I was getting bored and frustrated that I couldn’t deal some of my aging players. I opted to deal Henrik Sedin (traded his brother last year at the trade deadline) for 1st overall because you can’t own one Sedin brother without the other ;).

With the 1st overall pick in my hands I was planning on taking a rookie although there were other good players available (Trouba, Seth Jones, Ribeiro, Tanguay to name a few). I didn’t have a defence slot open to fill so I knew I would be taking a forward and targeted Teravainen, Gaudreau or Sam Bennett.

 

As the draft started I ended up taking Teravainen (love his upside and skill set and even if I have to wait a year or two, I think it’ll pay off huge). Brendan Gallagher went 2nd overall, Sam Reinhart 3rd, Jacob Trouba 4th, Seth Jones 5th, Aaron Ekblad 6th, Beachemin 7th (huh, ya…thats what we said), Kucherov 9th and then Mike Ribeiro 9th.

 

With a pending offer out to me for the 10th pick (Mike Green), I opted to make the move and selected Johnny Gaudreau (a player I thought would be long gone by now). The draft continued and with the final pick of the opening round, I selected Sam Bennett 20th overall. There, I nailed down the three players I felt would’ve been Top 10 picks and even though I went younger than I expected, I was very happy.

 

Through the remaining rounds I grabbed Ales Hemsky (2nd round), Anders Lee (2nd round), Dmitry Kulikov (2nd round) and Frederik Andersen (5th round and final pick of the draft).

 

As I enter the season, I will be defending my title (and expect it to be much closer than last year because I went young with three of my picks…) with the following roster:

F – *Stamkos, *P.Kane, *C.Perry, *Ja.Benn, Hemsky, Purcell, Lee, *Teravainen, *Gaudreau, *Bennett

D – *Subban, *Hedman, *Yandle, Kulikov

G – Andersen

*keepers (10 in total)

 

Should be an interesting year but even if I don’t win, I’m liking my future.

 

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Amazing glove save from Leafs prospect goaltender Antoine Bibeau:

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Thanks for reading,

Brendan Ross

@RossyYoungblood

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