In just another example of how youth has served notice, this season, 22 teenagers have begun the season with their parent clubs. Now, more than ever an astute fantasy hockey manager needs to have a firm grasp on the skills and potential of an increasingly wide array of prospects.
To assist with that never-end mountain of homework, each month I will open a thread in the DobberHockey prospect’s forum and attempt to answer any and all of your fantasy hockey prospect conundrums.
Without further adieu, here is the inaugural mailbag!
Question: “Quick ranking: Dubois, Connor, Aho, Boeser, A.Nylander, Tkachuk, Rantanen, Meier. Multi-cat roto, 2 year scope.
Also, would you take Nolan Patrick ahead of the 2016's top 4 draftees?”
Answer: With just a two-year scope in mind and a multitude of categories, I would have to give preference to those already playing in the NHL and who historically can fill a score sheet.
Rankings can be difficult in multi cat settings but I suppose I’d see them as such:
Aho, Tkachuk, Rantanen, Dubois, Connor, Boeser, Meier, Nylander.
While not in the NHL this season, it’s very likely that Dubois will step into the Columbus roster a year from now and assume a top two centre position. He is a major threat offensively, loves to pile up penalty minutes and shoots the puck a ton. Long term, he’d be at the top of this list.
Aho, Connor and Nylander won’t fill as many categories but offensively are going to be strong assets with Aho receiving the most beneficial opportunities this season.
If we were looking at a more long-term approach, the player I’d want after Dubois is Brock Boeser. He’s a horse in the offensive zone with a cannon of a shot that he unleashes without hesitation, a fantastic work ethic and enjoys mixing it up from time to time.
As far as Nolan Patrick is concerned, we’ve got eight months to analyze him and for this stage of development that’s massive. That said, if he was four days older and eligible for the 2016 draft, you’d likely have seen him go in the top six or seven picks.
He has the earmarks of a very strong top six centre, but I’ll reserve judgement before anointing him a sure-fire #1 guy.
Question: “Is Aho a 70pt guy?”
Answer: Last season, 15 forwards scored 70 or more points so claiming that Aho will be a top 15 forward in the future is a little difficult. However, many factors can come into play to change that logic. Do we see scoring rates continue to increase as they have early on this season? Will the shrinking of goaltender equipment have a direct impact on how the scoring list shapes up?
Gun to my head, I’d say that no, Aho isn’t likely to become a 70-point player, but more a very strong, distributing top six centre who could see a three-year peak in the 60-65 point range.
Question: “Everyone seems to be on the Clayton Keller hype train, which is largely why I drafted him. Is he as "real deal" as I have been lead to believe?”
Answer: In my opinion, Clayton Keller is absolutely the real deal. 20 years ago, he wouldn’t have likely got the opportunity to display his wide array of offensive skills, but he’ll be entering the league at the perfect time and should be surrounding by a strong cast of talent in Arizona.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see him produce as one of the top scoring rookies in the NCAA, turn pro after the one season and enter into the NHL as a 19-year-old in 2017-18. His vision, hands and skating are off the charts and he has a knack for slowing or speeding the game up to suit his needs. Very much like Patrick Kane.
He is also a very underrated defensive player which should only help in his transition into professional hockey.
Question: “How soon until Tyson Jost is playing in the NHL?”
Answer: I’d estimate that he’ll play at least two seasons at the University of North Dakota before turning pro. He’s apart of a world-class organization and can learn a lot from the UND staff. His terrific two-way play and ability to think the game at a high-level should allow him a relatively smooth transition to the NHL.
Sticking around with the reigning National Champions, pegged to repeat again this season isn’t such a bad place for the former Pentictan Vee to develop.
Question: “What's your thoughts on the basement/ceiling of Jansen Harkins, Cole Cassels and Adam Erne.”
Answer: I think the easy answer is that their basements are all non-NHL’ers. Each needs to prove a great deal yet in their development before earning a full-time role with their parent clubs. Harkins and Cassels are very strong two-way players and that should help guide them into a bottom-six role at some point.
I don’t expect any of them to be impact offensive players in the NHL, but if things fell right, Erne could end up a complimentary power forward in the top six receiving the most beneficial opportunities of the bunch.
Question: “Do you think Madison Bowey spends any meaningful time in Washington this year?”
Answer: Not unless there is an injury to a player like John Carlson or Matt Niskanen. He may see a few games this season, but is still likely a year away from pushing for a full-time spot and then will still need time to wedge his way into offensive situations.
Question: “Do you think Dylan Strome will stay with the Yotes this year? If yes, how many points this year and over the next 3 years?”
Answer: I do believe he’ll stick with the big club this season; there really isn’t anything left for him to do at the OHL-level. A 30-point season should be considered a success for the rookie as he’ll likely bounce between the 2C, 4C and press box for much for the campaign.
Looking at his potential in year three, I’d imagine he could be making strong gains into the 50-plus point range, but a lot of factors can come into play. He has all the makings of a top line centre, and should have plenty of skillful players to work with. He remains a player with the potential to flirt with being a top 15 scorer one day.
Question: “Care to compare the current consensus #1 for the 2017 draft, Nolan Patrick, to recent top picks like McDavid, Eichel, Strome, Marner, Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi (points only)?”
Answer: I believe Patrick will likely compare similarly to Dylan Strome. Both are rangy centres with great offensive skill sets, but lacking that truly elite element, especially in the skating department. I expect both will go on to be very strong top six centres.
For a ranking of their ceilings in a points-only setting: McDavid, Eichel, Matthews, Laine, Marner, Strome, Patrick, Puljujarvi.
Question: “Who do you think the Jets project as their long-term starter: Hellebuyck or Comrie?”
Answer: I believe Winnipeg has securely placed their bets on Hellebuyck becoming their undisputed number one goaltender. That said, they have the fantastic luxury of having Comrie waiting in the wings to push Hellebuyck and/or be used as a trade chip down the road.
A great deal can occur with developing players, especially goaltenders, so if sometime in the next few seasons it’s Comrie patrolling the Jets’ crease and Hellebuyck starting elsewhere, I wouldn’t be overly surprised.
Question: “What do you think Zach Werenski's production will look like by the end of this year (G,A,SOG,PIM,Hit,Blk,STP), and what is his long term ceiling in those categories? I am more excited about him than I have been about a prospect in a while.”
Answer: He is a very exciting prospect, and not just for the maturity in his game for such a young player, but also the immediate respect and opportunities he’s been afforded by a coach who is well-known to shy away from gift-wrapping anything to players, let alone rookies.
As far as what his stat line may look like by season’s end, I could see 10-plus goals, 40 points and upwards of 200 shots on goal. I wouldn’t expect much more than 80-100 hits and probably less blocks. He’ll continue to see a ton of ice at the fun side of the rink, likely in the 57-60 percent range. Watch out for the late season fade though, he’s not too accustomed to lengthy seasons.
Long term, I believe he will have the capability of producing 50-plus points and 250-plus shots on goal. What he’ll need to help facilitate that is some further talent around him on the top power play unit – a key to any player maximizing their offensive potential.
That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for the great questions and hopefully this has helped in the continuous quest for fantasy hockey prospect knowledge.
You can follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.