February 16th, 2015

Austin Wallace


The 1676 goal hockey game, Leipsic traded to the Leafs and more…

Along with a first round pick Brendan Leipsic was the centerpiece of the Franson/Santorelli deal and I like it from his perspective. As a small, mid-round prospect, Leipsic should feel good that he will be given opportunities by an organization that went out of its way to trade for him.  It also doesn’t hurt that the Leafs will probably be terrible next year, giving him room for a cup of coffee.

Leipsic has the potential to be a massive pest and multi-cat contributor.  One of those classic players that you love on your team, but hate otherwise. Once, he got an unsportsmanlike penalty for drinking out of the opposing goalie’s water bottle.


On the plus side: He has offensive upside (4th in AHL rookie scoring, 120 points in the WHL in 2012-13). He will earn lots of PIMs and hits, getting under opponents skin and throwing around his body.


Reasons for concern: Playing a low quality of competition in the AHL. Regressed by almost 30 points in the WHL after his 120 point season. Only 5’10 and less than 180lb.


The Admirals were very lucky, so he could have an inflated point total in the AHL. As our own Thomas Drance points out, players with his CHL stats profile pan out only 3.4 percent of the time.


Leipsic is a high fantasy-upside, high risk player but I like him more now that I know Toronto will give him a legitimate shot.


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Shane Prince picked up an assist in his first NHL game. It took him a couple of years to get acclimatized to both the OHL and AHL, and the NHL will be no different. A small, fast scorer, he has spent the past couple of years adding a strong, 200 foot game in Binghamton that will help him stick either now or in the fall. Don’t expect much from him in the next couple of years, but he could eventually find himself on a scoring line.


Jean-Gabriel Pageau was sent down to make room after scoring five points in 23 games with the Sens. While that looks pretty bad, he played very limited minutes for the big club and impressed with his all-around game. This isn’t an indictment on his play as much as it is a team sending down a wavier-ineligible player so they can take a look at some more prospects.



MacKenzie Skapski is having himself quite a season. After playing in the WHL and posting consistently above average numbers, he started this year in the ECHL before winning Hartford’s AHL starting position as a 20 year old and is now called up with the Rangers. He has turned into a fan favourite before even getting his first start (which should come on Thursday or Friday). Worth a pickup in deeper farm leagues, even with the King blocking his way.




Zach Kassian was a prospect that had equal parts hype and wariness. Dobber wasn’t particularly high on him, but his size fooled a lot of people into thinking he would be a traditional power-forward. Now he could be traded from Vancouver despite his underrated playmaking and the fact that he makes everyone around him better. Also, he sort of looks like across between a serial killer, an old-time hockey player, and a small child. I still think there is a place for him in the league, so I’m buying low.




Speaking of relatively recent prospects that most had given up on, Nail Yakupov has three goals and six points on a five game point streak. That shouldn’t be news for a former first overall pick, but it is only the second time he’s had a streak this long. I still hold out some hope for him, but all of the advanced stats think he is terrible.

If you think he will turn it around, playing more often on the powerplay and with Derek Roy is where it will start. Best to hold on to him, or maybe even acquire him while his price is still a bag of pucks relative to other players of his draft pedigree.


If you think he is as terrible as the numbers say he is, and his complete lack of even strength points will stop him from ever being a scorer, then this little streak might be your only chance to sell him for anything more than a bag of pucks to the aforementioned optimists.




The Canucks’ drafting ineptitude has been so all-encompassing that it inspired people tocreate silly ways of drafting that actually worked better than paid scouts.Luckily for them, that tide has been turning. Gustav Forsling was a fifth round pick that turned World Junior Championship bronze into tradable gold fellow mid-round picks Jordan Subban and Cole Cassels have been doing very well in the OHL.


Cassels is being looked upon to lead a dominant Oshawa team. He is a +27, has 1.6 points per game, 12 powerplay goals and over 2 penalty minutes per game; an excellent defensive player, Cassels looks to be a good bet to provide a many years of multi-cat value in the NHL. The only possible qualm is whether he is being carried by Dal Colle, but the consensus is that the benefits are mutual and that Cassels continues to dominate when not playing with Dal Colle.


Jordan Subban now has 22 goals in 52 games, and is seventh in OHL defensemen scoring with 43 points and would have many more if it weren’t for Belleville’s complete and utter lack of offensive talent. Their top scoring forward has 35 points, which is pitiful by CHL standards. Subban has broken the Belleville goals by a defenseman record, and his development compares favorably to PK’s as a Bull.


While PK put up more points, he was only third on his team in scoring and only scored 14 goals. The only thing holding back Jordan right now is his size; until he proves he can handle the big bodies of the NHL, his upside is capped at Torey Krug.


Another Canucks prospect that has been lighting it up is Bo Horvat. He was the de facto second line center last night and has doubled his scoring output since the all-star break with eight points in 11 games. On top of being great defensively and an excellent faceoff man (at 51.7%, he is the only Canuck that isn’t below average at draws), he is starting to show some of the offense that caused the Canucks to invest so heavily in him. This spurt of offense will be short-lived, for now, but his ultimate fantasy upside is Patrice Bergeron and that is high praise indeed.




Sergei Tolchinsky was the best player in the OHL this week, and Carolina is still laughing about signing him as an undrafted free agent. A lottery ticket, his size doesn’t bode well for long term success, but is still worth a shot in the fantasy world as a lottery ticket.




For someone talked about as a potential first overall pick just this past June, Sam Bennett’s shoulder has made him a bit of a forgotten man. He has been cleared for contact and is skating with the Flames. I think he gets sent down to the CHL eventually, but it will be interesting to see if he gets a couple of games in at the NHL level.





The most important game this week didn’t involve NHLers, or even prospects. The final score was 2161 to 2062. The shots were 8031-8047. 250 hours of hockey at the World’s Longest Hockey Game. The more important score is 1,100,000, which is how much they have raised raised for cancer treatment and research.

10 days of straight hockey, forty players and 3-7 hours shifts on an Edmonton outdoor rink. You can check out more info about the game here, donate here, and follow on twitter with #ACFWLHG.


The power for hockey to unite Canadians and raise money for a worthwhile cause is really special; for most of us this is a break from everything else, a place where we analyze and cheer for things that don’t matter nearly as much as the real world. As the Alberta Cancer Foundation has shown, it can be much more than that.


Connor McDavid has scored 44 points in a 19 game point streak, with a highlight-reel snipe for his 30th. At this point, would you take him in a pool over any of the last first overall picks, even factoring in the extra development time? Those players are Ekblad, MacKinnon, Yakupov and RNH by the way.

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I know I’ve been talking a lot about Nicolaj Ehlers, but this is ridiculous. It took me a couple of (muted) loops to figure out what was so awesome about this:

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Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Andrei Buyalsky 4.5 3.5
Ivan Ivan 4.5 7.0
Matthew Stienburg 3.5 6.0
Oskar Olausson 7.5 8.5
Sampo Ranta 6.0 6.5
Tristan Luneau 7.5 8.0
Zachary Nehring 4.5 5.0
Jacob Julien 5.5 5.0
Antti Tuomisto 4.5 6.0
Aku Räty 5.8 5.0