Prospect Mailbag: November 2017 Edition

Cam Robinson


Adam Gaudette, Kirill Kaprizov and Nick Suzuki


We’re back again for another riveting edition of the DobberProspect Fantasy Mailbag. This month we’re taking a gander at the notion of waiting on long-term prospects; high-flying defensemen; some of the top net minder prospects and more!




Question: “Do you think both Glass and Suzuki can crack the Vegas lineup next season? And if so, do you see them starting at center or playing wing?”



Answer: I believe that both players could be ready to step into the NHL next season based purely on skill alone, but often times it’s not that simple for prospects.


Working in their favour is that the Golden Knights have a paltry nine forwards signed for next season, with just William Karlsson, Cody Eakin and Oscar Lindberg as full-time centres. Obviously, a great deal can change over the course of the next 8-10 months, but Vegas will certainly be looking for some incoming talent and they desperately need some creative pivots to distribute the puck around.


If I were to hazard a guess as to which player would be more likely to step into the league, it would be Suzuki. Despite the fact that he’s four months younger than Glass, he just oozes skill and smarts (as does Glass, but perhaps just a hair more).


Neither are locks to step into the league, but both are in a position to have already done all they can at the junior level but will be stuck in the NHL-CHL agreement limbo.


Both could make it, and see some time on the wing or the middle, but it’s usually a safer bet to assume one or even neither crack the team.


Both have very bright futures in both the real world and fantasy landscape.



Nick Suzuki 2016-17 Highlights






Question: “Kale Clague current NHL comparable and predicted scoring output?”



Answer: Clague is blessed with tremendous skating ability, a great mind for offense and the vision to create and finish plays. As a fourth-year member of the Brandon Wheat Kings he has found himself able to produce at the level of a top-end forward and currently leads the WHL in scoring by defensemen.


As far as stylistic comparisons, he plays in a similar manner as current Maple Leaf, Morgan Rielly – though it should be noted that he hasn’t been as dynamic as Rielly was in the junior circuit.

Moving forward, I see a likely second pair player who could find his niche on a top power play unit and create enough to be a valuable fantasy asset. Being in the Kings’ system lends itself to fulfilling that future as that organization lacks any other true offensive defenders, but he will need to force his way up the ladder when he turns pro next fall.





Question: “Adam Gaudette. Top 6 NHL forward or bottom 6?”



Answer: Drafted in the fifth-round, it was assumed that Gaudette would one day push for a role as an energy player. He owns terrific speed, feistiness and defensive responsibility. However, something changed part way through his freshman season at Northeastern: Gaudette found another level of offensive ability. After starting his collegiate career with just five points in 18 games, the 6'1 185lbs centre has burned competition to the tune of 43 goals and 94 points over the last 72 games, while averaging over four shots per contest. 


It was as if a light was switched. He has greatly impressed both the Canucks’ organization and pretty much every scout who has watched him on a consistent basis.


As it stands, I believe there is a good chance that Gaudette could perform in a top six role. Whether that becomes a reality with Bo Hovat and Elias Pettersson sitting in front of him at the centre position will depend on if anyone slides over to the wing.


Even if Gaudette does anchor a middle six position, he likely will have a home on a power play unit and his brand of north-south hockey coupled with a quick and deadly release will make him a player of interest in the fantasy world.




Question: “Any predictions on who will be next year's Keller and Boeser?”


Answer: There are plenty of talented young players who are likely to be jumping up next season:

  • Elias Pettersson
  • Casey Mittelstadt
  • Alex Nylander
  • Vitali Abramov
  • Eeli Tolvanen
  • Daniel Sprong
  • Henrik Borgstrom
  • Kailer Yamamoto
  • Dylan Strome (if he doesn’t stick this year)
  • Jordan Kyrou
  • Nick Suzuki
  • Nikolay Goldobin
  • Jack Roslovic


What you want to look for is opportunity. Who will be placed in a situation to succeed early and be able to make the most of it?


From that list, I’d say Yamamoto, Nylander or Mittelstadt (Buffalo has some holes but tough to put both in top roles), Tolvanen and Sprong are the most likely to fit that mold.


But if you’re looking for sure bets to step into an NHL lineup, receive opportunity and produce at or near a point-per-game pace, the only one I’d be betting on is Andrei Svechnikov.


Andrei Svechnikov – The Rising Star of Russia




Question: “Future scoring output and projected NHL arrival for some of, or all of: Petersson, Tolvanen, Borgstrom, Sikura, Chytil, Heponiemi, Glass, Suzuki”


Answer: These are rough projections and ETA’s. For example, as we discussed earlier, Suzuki and/or Glass could step into the league next season, but I think it’s a safer bet they see action a year later. As for a player like Pettersson, his dominance at the SHL-level indicates he’s ready to play in the NHL next season, but sometime in the AHL isn’t out of the question. Plenty of things can change when looking at players in the 18-22-year-old range.


           Name/Likely ETA/ Long Term Upside


  • Pettersson (2018-19) 25/30 goal, 80-plus point upside
  • Tolvanen (2018-19) 35-40 goal, 70-plus point upside
  • Borgstrom (2018-19) 30 goal, 60-plus point upside
  • Sikura (2019-20) 20 goal, 50-plus point upside
  • Chytil (2018-19) 25 goal, 65-plus point upside
  • Heponiemi (2020-21) 20 goal, 65-plus point upside
  • Glass (2019-20) 20 goal, 70-plus point upside
  • Suzuki (2019-20) 30 goal, 75-plus point upside





Question: “Top Fantasy goalie prospects and their ETA””



Answer: For my money, the guys I’d be targeting in Keeper leagues are (in no order):

  • Thatcher Demko (2019-20)
  • Igor Shestyorkin (2019-20)
  • Ilya Sorokin (2020-21)
  • Carter Hart (2020-21)
  • Ilya Samsonov (2018-19)
  • Tyler Parsons (2020-21)
  • Ville Husso (2019-20)
  • Jake Oettinger (2020-21)
  • Cal Petersen (2019-20)
  • Jon Gillies (2018-19)
  • Tristan Jarry (2017-18) Hoepfully you listened Steve Laidlaw and many others and grabbed this guy already. 




Question: “How does someone go about getting Honka traded to a team that will use him???”


Answer: Call up Jimmy Nill and make him an offer he can’t refuse.




Question: “Erik Brannstrom NHL comparable player and point ceiling and NHL arrival?


Answer: The player that Brannstrom is often compared to, and for good reason, is former NHL all-star, Kimmo Timonen. For a current NHL comparable, I see some Shayne Gostisbehere in him, but with more two-way ability.


The swift-skating and heady Brannstrom has all the tools to become a first pairing player who feasts on the power play – something that all teams covet greatly.


 I expect he’ll become a full-time NHL player in 2019-20 but could find himself pushing for a spot as early as next season as Vegas has just two defensemen signed for 2018-19 with Jon Merrill, Colin Miller and Shea Theodore as RFAs.


While Theodore looks like the future PPQB, don’t sleep on Brannstrom. He’s my pick to run things in Vegas for a very long time.



Question: “Who will play 50 games first: Jonathan Dahlen or Kole Lind?”


Answer: The battle of the second rounders. Jonathan Dahlen (42nd overall in 2016) and Kole Lind (33rd overall in 2017) have both seen their stocks rise significantly in the months following their draft selections and appear to be sound bets as future NHL contributors.


After posting 87 points 70 games last season – the majority of that production occurring in the back two-thirds of the season, Lind has continued on that trend by having a terrific start for the Rockets of the WHL in 2017-18. He is firmly on Team Canada’s radar for one of the last forward spots on the World Junior squad, and is making another Jim Benning meme gain traction



Meanwhile, after toying with competition in the Allsvenskan next to another Canuck prospect in Elias Pettersson, Dahlen crossed the pond and was looking to make a mark in his first training camp with the Canucks after coming over in the Alex Burrows trade last spring.


Mono got in the way of that.


I was quite vocal in my opinion that Dahlen was not far off from being NHL-ready and would likely start in the AHL but push for the top of the call-up list.


He’s back in the Allsvenskan for familiarity as he recovers from the illness and is clearly the best player in that league. He has a January 1st out-clause in his contract that allows him to move up to an SHL club or return to Utica. He will almost certainly exercise that right.


Just 10 months separate these two in age, and both play a very smart and pro-style game, but I still feel that Dahlen is the closer of the two.


Due to his November birthday, Lind will turn pro at the conclusion of this season and the two will likely be in Utica together for 2018-19, but Dahlen’s professional experience will likely lend itself to a smoother transition.


Give me Dahlen here.




Question: “Will Mr Guhle get his shot this year?


Answer: Brendan Guhle looked great during an emergency call up from his WHL team a season ago. After finding his sea legs a bit in the AHL to start this season, he’s beginning to exhibit those same traits for Rochester.


Guhle is a physically mature defender who can be relied on in all three-zones – something the Sabres need in spades.


I believe he’ll see some NHL ice this season, obviously if injuries arise, but more likely near the end of the season, when it’s time to give tastes to the young guys so they can prepare for next season. The Sabres are pretty well out of it already, so they won’t be rushing their top defensive prospect into a bad situation without being entirely sure he’s ready.




Question: “What do you say if I told you that Hischier, Pettersson and Tolvanen will be the top three forwards from this year's draft and the latter two will be playing in the NHL next season and vying for the Calder?”


Answer: I’d say you’ve been following my tweets the last few of months.


What Pettersson and Tolvanen have been doing against professionals in the two top European leagues has been historically amazing. Each is closing in on U19 and U20 records for their respective leagues and are not passengers by any means.


Pettersson especially has been far and away the best player on the best team in the SHL, while Tolvanen has more support in Jokerit but the amount of shot volume and goal-scoring ability has rarely been seen.


Both could realistically step into the NHL next season and see tangible results. 


Question: “Big think: with more prospects making an early impact at the NHL level, why would anyone wait for a long-term option, Kaprizov as one example?”


Answer: This is a very interesting question and wading into some of the reasons behind the mindset of long-term holds is like peeling an extra-large onion. The layers are plenty.


The first thing I believe, is that some people fall in love with a player. Perhaps it’s because they saw them destroy a middling-OHL club one night, perhaps it’s because of that tremendous World Junior showing from a year prior, or maybe its’ simply hubris – that the fantasy manager feels they’ve targeted a future superstar and are willing to wait as long as it takes.


All of those factors are legitimate and can be viewed as positive or negative. It’s important to scout your own players and it’s good to stick with your gut if you feel it’s right (even better if you have a history of hitting on those gut shots), but being malleable is extremely important in this fantasy world of ours.


Just like in the real-world, situations, development arcs, confidence and countless other external and internal factors can play a part in if or when a player can reach the heights that may have been lopped on them in previous points of time.


Constant reassessment is key here and knowing when to cut bait or hold steady is an ever-evolving process.


In the case of Kaprizov, I was kicking myself for considering and then deciding not to snatch him pre-World Juniors last year. It’s often a move I like to make due to the intensity of the tournament and propensity of my opponents to overvalue the results of a teenaged tournament.


These are perfect buy and flip opportunities.


If I had grabbed him, you can bet your hat I would’ve flipped him long ago – hopefully before he signed any extension with CSKA. But those of you who did grab or draft him, knowing what we know now, are you really better off holding onto a player who is at minimum three years away from even stepping onto NHL ice?


Depending on just how deep your league is, there are countless opportunities to hone in on players with similar upsides and far less wait times. Targeting a player like Henrik Borgström who looks like a good bet to join the Panthers next season, or a guy like Eeli Tolvanen who is in the KHL like Kaprizov but has no allegiances to the motherland and owns a player option from next season, not a club option.


Sometimes being patient is a rewarding quality. Sometimes is an anchor around the neck.




That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I try and answer any and all fantasy-related questions on a daily basis.






Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Timur Mukhanov 8.0 7.0
Alexander Pashin 7.0 2.5
Felix Unger Sörum 7.5 8.5
Charles-Alexis Legault 4 6.5
Alexander Pelevin 3 2
Tyler Tucker 5.0 6.0
Matt Kessel 4.0 7.5
Aatu Räty 8.0 7.0
Jackson Blake 6.0 6.0
Ryan Ufko 7.0 6.0