Prospect Ramblings: Prospects at World Championships and Free Agent Prospect Signings

Peter Harling



The 2016 World Championship is underway in Russia and it has proven to be an excellent source for scouting prospects for fantasy hockey. Last year Russian sniper Artemi Panarin gave a sneak peek to North America as to his skill set, and the astute fantasy player took notice and drafted him early in their league draft and look like a genius now. However, for every Panarin there is a Sergei Plotnikov. Your best chance of drafting the Calder dark horse and avoiding the bust is the eye test.

The two top projected prospects in the 2016 NHL Draft have been outstanding so far as Patrik Laine is the leading scorer with four goals and six points in three games. Not far behind is Auston Matthews who has two goals and four points in three games for USA. The two went head-to-head today with Finland coming out on top.

Outside of those high profile prospects, there are plenty of lesser known but relevant prospects to watch.

Vadim Shipachyov of Russia is tied for second overall in scoring with five points in three games. The 29 year old center is rumored to be linked to the Montreal Canadians and the New York Rangers who may try to sign him as a free agent. Shipachyov is listed at 6-0 and 187 pounds and is a play-making center that is good on face-offs, skates well with offensive vision and instincts but has room for improvement in his physical and defensive game. He had a very successful season as the Captain of SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL with 60 points in 54 games and has won the KHL Gagarian Cup, and Gold and Silver with Russia at the World Championships in the past two years. Last year he was on a line with Evgeny Dadonov and Artemi Panarin and the trio dominated. The problem with Shipachyov coming to the NHL is the fact he is under contract through the upcoming 2016/17 season and there is no transfer agreement between the KHL and the NHL.

Canada defenceman Mike Matheson is having an impressive showing on a young Canadian blueline with two goals and four points in three games. Matheson had his rookie pro season in the AHL and showed well posting 20 points and a plus -14 in 54 games with Portland. Matheson will see much more than the three regular season NHL games he fit in at the end of the season in Florida next year.

While Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi made noise for Finland on the same line at the World Juniors, the center on that line was more than capable of keeping pace with the two future superstars and is having another strong international showing. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Sebastian Aho has a point per game pace in his first three games and is beginning to look like a steal from the 2015 draft at 35 overall.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sebastian Aho is such a good player.  Very good vision and hockey sense. Makes things Happen. <a href="">#Canes</a> <a href="">#IIHFWorlds</a></p>&mdash; Zachary DeVine (@zakkthebear) <a href="">May 9, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Bruins prospect Frank Vatrano has seen his fantasy stock skyrocket in his first pro year, scoring at a goal a game pace in the AHL with 36 goals and 55 points in 36 games with Providence. His goal scoring prowess earned him some NHL time where he scored eight goals and 11 points in 39 games with the Bruins. For USA he has a goal and three points in three games after netting his first today against Finland.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="">@Frank_Vatrano</a> (<a href="">@NHLBruins</a>) scores, Ast. by <a href="">@A_Matthews34</a> (2016 #1 overall pick to be) for <a href="">@usahockey</a> <a href="">#IIHFWorlds</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; ONE World Sports (@ONEWorldSports) <a href="">May 9, 2016</a></blockquote>

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After the Edmonton Oilers signed top College free agent Drake Caggiula on the weekend, they have dipped back into the NCAA free agent pool and signed Patrick Russel out of St. Cloud State. The 23 year old is described as a typical power forward depth player. The Oilers want to be a “heavier team” and additions such as Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian play a similar game.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Patrick Russell (<a href="">#Oilers</a>)<br>2 yrs @ $925,000 cap hit<br><br>$832,500 NHL salary, $92,500 signing bonus, $70,000 AHL salary for both seasons.</p>&mdash; General Fanager (@generalfanager) <a href="">May 10, 2016</a></blockquote>

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At last summer’s rookie camp for the Toronto Maple Leafs, one player who stood out to me was the undersized Michael Joly. At 5-11 and 174 pounds he is small by NHL standards but his puck handling skills and creative offensive ability were evident. Joly did not receive a contract from the Leafs or any other team surprisingly and the 20 year old was returned for his overage junior season. Joly played 21 games with Rimouski where he produced over a point a game with 26 points in 21 games. He was then traded to Cape Breton where he raised his offence to another level scoring 33 goals and 63 points in 39 games and added another 11 goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games. Joly has signed an AHL contract with the New York Rangers AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack. Joly has struggled to stay healthy in his career so far and the AHL deal gives him an opportunity to showcase his offensive skills at the pro level. As a AHL deal, he cannot be called up to the NHL but his contract does not count towards the 50 contract limit. The Rangers will need to sign him to a NHL contract in order to bring him up similar to what the Leafs did last year with Rich Clune.

Here is a look at Joly highlights from Leafs Rookie Tournament.



Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Ilya Nabokov 6.5 5.0
Pavel Moysevich 6.0 3.0
Max Plante 7.5 4.5
Jack Pridham 6.0 7.0
Brodie Ziemer 6.5 7.0
Matvei Gridin 8.5 6.5
Dean Letourneau 6.5 7.5
Kamil Bednarik 6.0 8.0
Cole Hutson 9.0 6.0
Luke Osburn 5.5 7.0