DobberProspect’s Fantasy Mailbag
Another regular season complete and another fantasy season in the books. Maybe you won, maybe you didn’t, but that won’t change your insatiable thirst to get a leg up on your competitors. Now is the time to start digging into the coming pool of draft eligibles, and scouring the various pro and junior circuits looking for the next young player to break through early and often.
With those searches come questions, and each month we at DobberProspects will do our best to answer those questions.
Question: “In a Points-Only, keeper league setup, who do you prefer between Thomas Chabot and Charlie McAvoy?”
Answer: The clash of the top defenders from this latest World Junior Championship is an oft-asked question.
Chabot is a terrific two-way defender who has put up significant numbers in the QMJHL the last three seasons. He has a propensity for showing up in big games, possesses the size, speed, smarts and vision to be a solid all-around pro with a nice offensive upside. He’s a lefty, which bodes well for his potential of climbing into a top pairing role with Ottawa next to Erik Karlsson.
However, his path is not so clear in gaining a foothold on the prime ice for the Senators. Dion Phaneuf is the lefty on the second power play unit and the top unit is often home to the four forward, one defenseman scheme. Chabot is a fantastic player and those guys usually find a way to earn their ice and produce some numbers but I’m not certain we’re looking at a premier fantasy asset down the line. A safe bet to be a solid own, however.
Meanwhile, Charlie McAvoy is already showcasing his talent in the NHL playoffs this spring with the Bruins and is turning heads. He, too, owns all the tools to be a minute-munching all-purpose defender who can run a man-advantage or break up zone entries with the best of them.
His path towards primo ice is far clearer, though. McAvoy is already seeing time on the top unit with incumbent Torey Krug on the shelf for a few weeks. This mini-audition at the most crucial time of year will go a long way in earning the respect of his mates and coaches as he heads into his rookie campaign in 2017-18.
Like Krug, McAvoy is a right-handed player but is a clear threat to the former’s position as the team’s top option from the backend. For that reason alone, I’m taking McAvoy.
Question: “The Jets are plentiful with forward prospects; some would say too many and not enough D prospects with the same type of upside.
What forward prospects do see up full time with the Jets next season that weren't up this year and what type of production do you see for them?”
Answer: There’s never too many forward prospects, but they are far outweighing the number of defensive prospects in their system.
As far as guys who weren’t fulltime this season, the one that jumps right off the page is Kyle Connor. The should’ve-been Hobey Baker winner started slowing in the American league but quickly found his groove and ended the season on a real tear.
He led the team in scoring with 25 goals in 52 games and showed a level of dominance in the back few months that suggests he is ready for a fulltime positon in the team’s top nine next fall. I think Connor can have a solid 21-year-old season for Winnipeg producing in the 40-point range.
The other 2015 first round pick, Jack Roslovic, led the team in points with 48 in 65 games but would need a seriously impressive camp to squeak onto the team. I think the Jets will take their time with him.
Question: “Does Hischier play in the NHL next season? I know the answer would be influenced partly by what team drafts him but is he physically ready?”
Answer: Watching him play against men in the Swiss top league as a 16/17-year-old showed a player capable of hanging against much larger and stronger players. His physically maturity will still take time, but the fortunate aspect for him and whoever is lucky enough to select him, is that due to his loan status from SC Bern, Hischier is eligible to play in the American league next fall unlike most recently-drafted players.
As you said, a great deal will depend on the organization who drafts him, how his offseason workouts go and the type of camp he can have, but my estimation is that he’ll split time between the AHL and NHL.
I also like him to be the best bet at becoming the best offensive player out of this draft class.
Question: “How do you see the next 3 years going for these 2?
G. A. Pts.
If you dare.”
Answer: Oh, I’ll dare. Boeser already flashed his high-end goal scoring abilities in the brief stint he had with Vancouver at the end of a particularly stinky season. He looked well equipped to handle the shooter’s-spot on the top unit beside the Sedin twins (those same twins who have vowed to have much better seasons in 2017-18) and flashed quick chemistry next to Bo Horvat on line two.
I have no problem projecting around 20 goals for him next year and building up into the 30-goal range by year three. Call it 30 goals and 50-55 points in three seasons.
If you’ve familiar with me, you know how highly I regard Clayton Keller. He has all the physical skills of a premier point producer (minus the size, of course) but it’s his mind that just screams elite. Arizona remains somewhat of a tire fire, but that should begin to change in the next two seasons. I see Keller being a winger at the top level at least for the first couple of seasons and depending on surrounding cast, could see his point production live in the 40-50 point range those years. By year three, 60-plus points is a reasonable area.
Keller has the capability of pushing those numbers way up, but I’ll want to see Dave Tippett put him in the right situations and for the Coyotes to surround him with the proper talent.
Question: “Interested in hearing your thoughts on Puljujavi and Sergachev. They both seem to have great opportunity in earning a roster spot next season. What are your thoughts? 3rd line? Top 2?”
Answer: I think both are in the NHL next season. Sergachev plying his trade in a second/third pairing role and on the second unit power play. Shea Weber should be an excellent mentor for him. His has major offensive potential.
Puljujarvi looked a lot more confident in the AHL down the stretch and I believe he will have the season many expected from him this year, next year. 15 goals and 40-plus points would be a conservative bet from a middle six-role. If he can find chemistry on the top line, all bets are off. We’ve seen what McDavid can do for a player like Patrick Maroon; Puljujarvi has far superior tools and has earned valuable experience in his first professional season in North America.
Question: “Which center prospect do you prefer in a bang and mash league, Adam Gaudette or Filip Chlapik? Both project to be a middle six center, both have had great stretchs in their respective leagues.
Answer: If we’re talking about a bangers and mash league, Chlapik is my guy. He’s flashed serious offensive ability in the Q, shoots the puck with regularity and has a ton of sandpaper. His near-100 penalty minutes in just 57 games can attest to that. He’ll also get his feet wet in the AHL next season while Gaudette is in his junior year at Northeastern, thus giving him the edge to see NHL ice sooner.
Question: “Thoughts on Carter Hart – when will he arrive?”
Answer: I really like Carter Hart. He’s a calm and efficient goaltender which is darn rare to see from a young guy. I think his transition to the professional ranks will be a little smoother than some other major junior or college goaltenders.
That said, he will have to put in his time and will have Felix Sandstrom to contend with, not to mention Anthony Stolarz. Hart will be back in Everett next season for a final WHL campaign, then likely two seasons in Lehigh Valley before he can push into the Flyers’ blue paint.
He’s a solid prospect, but it’ll be a wait.
Question: “Juuso Valimaki has produced great numbers in the WHL but has never done the same in international tournaments. At the WJC, Team Finland used Miro Heiskanen over him on the PP. Is he getting free points in the WHL or what's the deal with that? Do you think he can produce offensively in the NHL when he gets there?”
Answer: I believe Valimaki to be a very solid, all-around defender. It’s easy to look at the numbers he’s produced in Tri City and expect him to be a top-notch point producer at the next level. I’m not sure that’s such a great bet, but he does own a heavy shot, great wheels and solid decision making. Couple that with slightly above-average size and you’ve got yourself a very competent hybrid defender.
If there’s a gun to my head, I’d say I see a steady 40-point player in his meaty years.
Bonus points, if you’re looking for a short wait time, as I think he could be a player who is taken in and around that 10th overall spot this June but walks straight into the NHL – dependant on the organization of course.
Question: “Do you see Pierre-Luc Dubois sticking with CBJ next season, and if so would it be more likely at C or LW?
Also, will Jonathan Dahlen see NHL time next season?”
Answer: I’d say it’s probably 50/50 in all honesty. Dubois has looked much better since the trade to Blainville but I’m still not in love with his consistency. It’s NHL or CHL for the 18-year-old next season so unless he can really wow the team in camp and in the early portion of games, I think he’s at least another year away.
I’ve also always thought he was a better up and down winger than he was a centreman. His terrific back-half during his draft season was as a pivot, but a lot went right for him. I’d like to see that responsibility taken away and let him crash the walls and work the net.
He’s got a lot of skills that can translate to points at the NHL-level.
As for Dahlen, Jim Benning said he was going to try and sign him and bring him over to Utica for the fall. I would personally prefer to see him play a season in the SHL before that, but hey, that’s just me.
If he does come over for 2017-18 then it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him play a few games for the Canucks. They’re a bad team and look to be even worse next year. They’ll want to audition all the young talent they have.
Is he ready for NHL action next year? No, not from what I’ve seen. It’s a big jump from the Swedish second tier to the best league in the world. If they’re smart, they’ll take their time with Dahlen. He has legitimate top six upside, but has work to do.
Question: “How much of an impact does Dylan Strome make in Arizona next year?”
Answer: Not as much as Arizona or fantasy owners would like. I think Strome sees a good chunk of time in the American league next year. His vision, hands and shot are pro level, but his skating still needs work as does his off-puck skills.
Working on pace and being responsible in all three zones will be his tasks next season, and if the Coyotes want him to be that front line pivot they drafted, they’ll understand that this is a marathon and not a sprint. They don’t want to cripple his offensive gifts by playing him 10 minutes a night from the bottom six, and he’s not yet ready to be a top six centre in the NHL.
I know a lot of people are beginning to question whether he’ll become the impact player that so many projected him to be, but those same questions swirled around Mark Scheifele as he got sent back for his draft-plus two season, and that sure worked out for the Jets, didn’t it?
Although, these issues popped up for big brother Ryan and that hasn’t exactly worked out…
Patience is key with Strome, but I still think he can thrive in the NHL if he works hard enough for it. The desert is going to be littered with highly skilled players and he’ll be one of them.
That’s all for this month, I hope this has shed a bit of light on your off-season research and I look forward to next month’s edition.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening too.
– Cam Robinson