Prospects Mailbag: January Edition

Cam Robinson

2017-01-25

We’re back again for another round of fantasy prospect related Q&A. With the increased responsibility being put on young players on their entry level contracts, now more than ever an astute fantasy hockey GM must have a firm grasp on the youth movement coming forward and can dig a little deeper to find those diamonds in the rough.

Without further adieu, let’s get answering some questions.

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Question: “Heard mixed reviews on Scott Wedgewood recently. Care to share your thoughts on him? Thanks!”

 

Answer: Wedgewood was dealt a pretty big blow as he is out for the remainder of the season thanks to shoulder surgery. The 24-year-old was playing fairly well early on this season in the American Hockey League with a .912 save percentage through 10 games before being shut down.

Missing such a large chunk of time during such important developmental time won’t help him as he attempts to carve out at least a secure spot behind Cory Schneider as an NHL regular and I question whether he will have it in him to ever become a legitimate starter at the NHL-level.

 

Question: “What are your thoughts on David Quenneville? His junior numbers right now are crazy. Do you think he'll be able to overcome his obvious lack of size and become an NHL player?”

 

Answer: When considering a 5’8 defenseman, even top-level offensive skills won’t be enough to get you into the NHL alone. Just look at a player like Jordan Subban; he posted terrific seasons in the OHL – often on poor teams, and he is still attempting to crack a very shallow Canucks’ roster.

That said, Quenneville is built sturdy at 187lbs and isn’t afraid to play bigger than he is against WHL opponents. His offensive capabilities are without question, as he can run a power play and boasts a very quick, hard and accurate shot to go along with great skating ability – all things that NHL teams look for in a puck-mover.

He’ll need to be able to prove capable of handling much larger opponents at each upcoming level and maintain defensive zone positioning.

For every Torey Krug, there are dozens of stories of guys who light up junior only to end up in Europe to ply their trade. At this point, it’s unclear whether Quenneville will be able to be the exception rather than the rule.

 

Question: “Clayton Keller.. does he ditch College and head straight for that #1 line in ARI?”

 

Answer: I’ve long believed that Keller is a prime candidate to be a one and done college player. His offensive instincts are light years ahead of most players outside of the NHL; he’s quite an accomplished penalty killer and boasts strong defensive zone awareness – attributes that will help him transition to the NHL sooner.

That said, Arizona is likely to be a bottom-feeder once again next season so it will be interesting to see what John Chayka and company feel is the best course of action for Keller. Do they want him to spend another season at BU where he can play on the weekends, build up strength in the gym during the week and play in a winning environment? Do they want him in the NHL where they can have complete control over his development and manage his ice time alongside the other host of future young stars?

At this point, either option is viable, as is his turning pro and then heading to the AHL for a stint as Kyle Connor is currently doing in the Jets’ system after demolishing the NCAA competition as a freshman a season ago.

Long term, Keller is one the very few prospects out there who can realistically claim to have a ceiling that could surpass a point-per-game output. His skills are unquestionable but what’s even more impressive than that is his mind. He sees the game as few others do and that allows him to create plays despite his size and produce bushels of points.

He is a premier fantasy asset even if the wait time is a