NHL Draft sleepers, Leafs draft focus, re-entries and other draft muslings
Saturday, June 6, 2015
The 2015 NHL Draft is less than three weeks away. Every year the draft is one of the most anticipated NHL events of the season but this year, the hype seems to be amped up. Surely, franchise talents such as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are responsible for some of that hype but those two are already pegged into Edmonton and Buffalo, respectively, leaving most of the anticipation to occur starting at the third pick. With the Toronto Maple Leafs cleaning house, restructuring their hockey operations department, and entering into a much-needed rebuild, there’s added excitement from the NHL’s most fanatic followers because they hold a valuable top five pick.
Arizona will dictate how Toronto’s 4th and Carolina’s 5th pick play out as they consider top names such as Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Noah Hanifin – all valuable fantasy hockey assets as well.
The draft starts with a generational talent in Connor McDavid but all-in-all, it’s one of the best Top 10s to come along in quite some time. In fact, with McDavid, Eichel, Hanifin, Strome, Marner, Zacha, Barzal, Rantanen, Provorov, Crouse and Werenski, the top 10 becomes more of a top 11. For teams with several picks in the opening two rounds, there’s a chance that they’re able to make a serious overhaul of their organizational depth charts adding a number of potential stars.
As I am rambling here, the NHL Combine is currently underway and it’s the last opportunity for teams to do crucial investigation on their future pieces.
it’s been a whirlwind of a year for me following these top prospects and you can expect to see my own personal rankings published one final time prior to the draft. If you’re a supporter of DobberHockey (and you should be), you’ll find a boat load of my work in the fantasy prospects report released earlier this week. Inside, 100+ draft eligible prospects are profiled and at the next update, you’ll find my multi-round Mock Draft, as well as my own personal Top 50 prospects to own in keeper leagues. This is a must purchase guide with our team putting 100s of hours into covering today’s best hockey talents.
The Hockey News released an article on some 2013 draft prospects who were not signed and will be eligible to be re-drafted again. Those mentioned include Gabryel Boudreau (San Jose, 49th), Marc-Olivier Roy (Edmonton, 56th), Jackson Houck (Edmonton, 94th), Edgars Kulda (Arizona, 193rd), Yan-Pavel Laplante (Arizona, 62nd), Eric Roy (Calgary, 135th), Chris Clapperton (Florida, 122nd), Brent Pedersen (126th, Carolina), Mitch Wheaton (Detroit, 139th …wait, whaaaat?!? Detroit made a bad pick?), Blake Heinrich (Washington, 144th), Myles Bell (New Jersey, 160th), Brendan Burke (Arizona, 163rd), Marc McNulty (Detroit, 169th…wait, whaat?!? Detroit again?), Tommy Veilleux (Nashville, 171st), Alexandre Belanger (Minnesota, 200th), Miles Liberati (Vancouver, 205th), Anthony Brodeur (New Jersey, 208th) and Mitchell Dempsey (Boston, 210th).
With the exception of maybe Eric Roy, I cannot say that too many of those prospects are a surprise. Edgars Kulda was sensational at the 2014 Memorial Cup. Marc-Olivier Roy, Laplante and Boudreau were fairly vanilla type prospects who needed to take the next step offensively but never dide. Back into the draft they go.
Not listed in that above article is Robbie Russo, a leading scorer and 2011 4th round pick of the New York Islanders. He won’t be signed and will be a big target for free agency.
Without spoiling all of the hard work I put into my Fantasy Prospect Report work and with all respect to the paying customers, I won’t release too many secrets/hunches of mine for the upcoming draft class. However, here are a few lesser-known names to watch as potential fantasy studs:
Jeremy Bracco – He’s been a favourite since I watched him light up the OHL Cup as a minor midget player. He’s small and very one-dimensional but anyone who breaks Patrick Kane’s USNTDP records is deserving of a Top 20 selection. He’s ranked outside the 1st round by many draft pundits.
Denis Guryanov – “Gurianov” is a big rangy forward who flashed high-upside at the recent Under-18 World Championships. He hasn’t put all of his skills together yet but if he does, he could become one of the best draft steals….assuming he slides out of the first round (which might not happen).
Joel Eriksson-Ek – Here’s a big, smart, skilled pivot born from a hockey nation known for producing NHL stars. This Swede is very intriguing and I just have a feeling that his style contribute to a long successful NHL career.
Daniel Sprong – Born in the Netherlands but considers himself “Canadian”, Daniel Sprong is your “Josh Ho-Sang” of this draft. He had no trouble putting up points but seems to get a bad knock against him. He owns top 20 talent but may see himself fall outside of the opening round. Look for a team with a stable scouting department (aka their jobs are fairly safe) to take a chance higher than most would.
Travis Dermott – Not flashy and sometimes hard to even pick out, Dermott quietly puts up points. He’s a great skater and efficient defensively. I just get the feeling that he could be a Duncan Keith type.
Kirill Kaprizov & Kirill Pilipenko – Keep an eye on these two Russians as late seconds or third round options.
Denis Malgin – I’m liking the Denis’ this season and the Swiss forward might just be my forward. This stocky yet skilled forward reminds me of a Swiss forward I loved last draft named Kevin Fiala. He’s higher on my list than most others.
That’s it for now but there are plenty of other fantasy studs that I identify in the Prospects Guide so be sure to pick it up.
TSN Bob McKenzie is the go-to Insider for all things hockey and as the draft rolls around, he’s again the most connected media member in the world. With that said, his annual draft rankings where he polls ten chief scouts and puts together a consensus ranking based on those discussions remains one of the most sought after pieces. McKenzie’s 2015 NHL Draft final ranking was released on Friday and is a must read for all us draft junkies.
Toronto Maple Leafs are confident that they’ll get two high-end picks. They’ll end up with one of can’t miss prospects Hanifin, Strome or Marner (Spoiler Alert: Marner would be my choice) but it’s their 24th pick where newcomers Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas will be most judged. Fortunately for Toronto, there are normally always a few prospects who fall further than they probably should and the 24th is a great spot to scoop those types up. The above-mentioned Bracco, Sprong, Gurianov, or Eriksson-Ek would be great options but keep an eye on defenseman Oliver Kylington, who seems to be rated all over the board from a potential Top 15 pick to a 3rd round type. Colin White, Jansen Harkins or Jake DeBrusk are three “safer” high-character players that the Leafs could add too. If they’re looking for defenders, Brandon Carlo, Thomas Chabot and Jakob Zboril are three names to watch but if I’m looking at Hunter and Dubas’ preferences from their OHL days, Chabot and Zboril’s possession games appear more likely.
Leafs not just drafting for size but skill also.
In the Prospect Guide, I ranked the Top 10 prospects for the 2016 NHL Draft. Auston Matthews tops the list. It appears that the US NTDP standout stands a very good chance of playing overseas next season for his draft season. That’s very rare.
My 4th ranked player, Max Jones, just committed to the London Knights and will join my 10th ranked ’16 player Matthew Tkachuk (yes, son of Keith) who also committed to the Knights a few weeks back. Down the road, my 2nd ranked ’16 prospect Jakob Chychrun will likely be wearing the ‘C’ for the Sarnia Sting.
Outside of draft eligible prospects, Tyler Bertuzzi absolutely made his presence felt in the Grand Rapids playoff push after he joined the team following his OHL season. Anyone who follows my work on Twitter will know that Bertuzzi has been one of my favourite players for a couple years now. He’s not overly flashy or dynamic but rather a heart-and-soul skilled player that just get things done. He’s certainly worthy of watching and owning in keeper pools after posting 12 points in 14 playoff games with Grand Rapids (AHL).
Have to feel for the Columbus Blue Jackets after losing one of their top prospects. NCAA leading scoring defenseman Mike Reilly has notified the University of Minnesota that he will not be returning for his senior year and also let Columbus know that he will be testing free agency. Upwards of nine teams have been rumoured to be on Reilly’s list including Connor McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers. Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh join Columbus as possible landing spots for the talented reargaurd. Reilly posted six goals and 42 points in 39 games and should be the right up there with the Anthony DeAngelos as the top defensive prospect in fantasy leagues.
The Edmonton Oilers signed 2013 3rd round pick, Anton Slepyshev, to an entry-level contract. Slepyshev is a promising forward and one that Oilers fans should be fairly excited about. He scored 15 goals and 25 points in 58 games with the KHL’s Ufa Salavat.
Please give my good friend Cody Nichkolet’s WHL draft rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft a read. Warning: You will need to set aside hours of time because it’s an extensive and well put together piece.
Give DobberProspect’s writer Kevin LeBlanc’s latest article The Journey: Nikolaj Ehlers a read. Clearly, Ehlers is one of the best fantasy prospects to own and he just landed in the 4th spot behind only McDavid, Eichel and Marner on my Top 50 Fantasy Prospects to own (remaining can be viewed in the Prospects Guide).
Are we going to see more offer sheets this summer? I hope so. It’s fun.
New York’s Derek Stepan, Boston’s Dougie Hamilton, Chicago’s Brandon Saad, LA’s Tyler Toffoli and Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk are all worthy targets.
More from that link, Edmonton considering trading their second 1st round pick (16th overall) isn’t too surprising as they look to land a proven blueline stud. The Oilers have two picks in each of the first three rounds so shopping that 16th pick is certainly smart.
Jimmy Fallon always good for a laugh:
Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel discuss who they think the best player in the draft is…
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Congrats to the Oshawa Generals on winning the CHL Memorial Cup!
Check back in a few days as I return to update on the NHL Combine and answer draft related questions. Please post any fantasy draft related questions below in the comments section.