Looking at available roster spots for next season's rookie class in this Sunday Ramblings…
It's never too soon to start thinking about the next season, and as playoffs start thinning the fantasy field its likely that alot of us already are. For the record – my fantasy squad in the deep deep DobberProspects head-to-head league is still going stong, but no team can be successful without considering who there is room for down the road. Knowing which teams have UFAs moving on is a big step twoards knowing which of your benched minor-leaguers will be most likely to become producers in the short-term.
This year presents even more uncertainty than usual thanks to the upcoming expansion draft, but if anything, this will present an extra open roster spot for rookies hoping to climb up the depth chart. This week I'm going to walk through the Eastern Conference to see which should have spots ready for the taking in 2017-18.
UFAs: Drew Stafford, Dominic Moore, JM Liles
Prospects waiting: Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen, Rob O'Gara
With only depth players heading out this summer, prospects with top-nine potential are going to have to settle for fourth-line duties until injuries arise. Then again, who knows if Boston has grander player-movement plans after they were rumored to be interested in Gabriel Landeskog at the trade deadline.
UFAs: Brian Gionta, Cody McCormick, Dmitry Kulikov, Cody Franson, Taylor Fedun, Anders Nilsson
Prospects waiting: Justin Bailey, Will Carrier, Hudson Fasching, Cole Schneider, Alex Nylander
Buffalo has lots of prospects capable of making noise when training camp comes along. Bailey, Carrier, and Fasching have all had looks with the Sabres this season and will have experience on their side, but all eyes will be on Nylander and if he can earn a top-six spot. Unfortunately, the organization is forward-heavy in prospects just as d-men are on their way out.
UFAs: Jay McClemment, Derek Ryan, Patrick Brown, Matt Tennyson
Prospects waiting: Haydn Fleury, Lucas Wallmark, Valentin Zykov
With a glut of talented defencemen already established in the NHL, Fleury will have a tough time cracking the NHL despite his high profile. He could become very valuable trade bait should the team's interest in Matt Duchene return. Zykov has already notched his first goal for the Hurricanes and should claim one of the openings up front.
Columbus Blue Jackets
UFAs: Lauri Korpikoski, Sam Gagner, Kyle Quincey
Prospects waiting: Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano
This is an interesting situation if Gagner does indeed leave and present a job opening on the 2nd powerplay unit. Bjorkstrand was expected to make the team full-time this season, and flags will be raised if he doesn't grab this opportunity. Sonny Milano is not a shabby backup plan and wont lay down in training camp.
Detroit Red Wings
UFAs: Drew Miller, Mitch Callahan
Prospects waiting: Robbie Russo, Evgeny Svechnikov
For the first time in a while, the Detroit cupboard is looking empty. Russo has grabbed a spot currently thanks to injuries but hasn't been producing like in the minors. With veterans carrying the load in Grand Rapids, Svechnikov is looking like the best bet to steal a spot opening on the wing next year.
UFAs: Jaromir Jagr, Thomas Vanek, Shawn Thornton, Jakub Kindl
Prospects waiting: Denis Malgin, Jayce Hawryluk, Jared McCann
Malgin should get a bump up from what he;s seeing in cups of coffe this year, while Hawryluk will be interesting to watch to see where he lands in the lineup. He will probably earn a spot but it may end up in a lesser role than ideal.
UFAs: Alex Radulov, Dwight King, Brian Flynn, Steve Ott, Andreas Martinsen, Andrei Markov