This week, I figured I’d write about fantasy prospect drafts because I had my first draft of this summer this past Sunday. It’s a 20 team dynasty league with deep rosters: 23 players on pro teams and 33 spots for prospects. Available players are mostly just prospects from the most recent draft class but there are also some individuals who didn’t get drafted during previous summers and have raised their stock enough to become interesting – all prospects who don’t get drafted go back into the draft, so we’re unable to add them throughout the season.
It’s a multi-cat league where we use goals, assists, points, special team points, hits, blocks, takeaways and shorthanded time on ice for skaters, and wins, goals against average, saves and save percentage for goalies. So it’s not really your standard multi-cat league because we don’t count plus-minus, penalty minutes or shots on goal but instead use takeaways and shorthanded ice time. It’s also a salary cap league which gives prospects some additional value because of their low salary when they start playing in the NHL.
I’m explaining the league details and stats because it’s important to know these details whenever you’re putting together a draft ranking for your fantasy league. All leagues are different, and one ranking doesn’t automatically work for a different league. I cannot emphasize this point enough – always take league details into consideration when putting together draft lists.
We’re always drafting before the NHL Entry Draft takes place which means you really have to work hard to have success in this draft. But it also means you can find hidden gems if you do your homework. For example, last summer we saw Filip Chytil going 57th overall and Morgan Frost was drafted 65th. So hard work really can pay off when you’re drafting before the NHL Entry Draft. If the managers in your league like scouting prospects, I suggest having your fantasy draft before the NHL draft – it’s a lot of fun.
Without further ado, here’s what happened in the first round of our fantasy prospect draft.
- Rasmus Dahlin, D (2018)
- Andrei Svechnikov, RW (2018)
- Filip Zadina, LW (2018)
- Oliver Wahlstrom, RW (2018)
- Brady Tkachuk, LW (2018)
- Quinn Hughes, D (2018)
- Joel Farabee, LW (2018)
- Adam Boqvist, D (2018)
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C (2018)
- Evan Bouchard, D (2018)
- Joseph Veleno, C (2018)
- Dominik Bokk, RW (2018)
- Noah Dobson, D (2018)
- Vitali Kravtsov, RW (2018)
- Serron Noel, RW (2018)
- Barrett Hayton, C (2018)
- Grigori Denisenko, LW (2018)
- Rasmus Kupari, C (2018)
- Ty Smith, D (2018)
- Martin Kaut, RW (2018)
There wasn’t much drama with the first few picks in this draft. You could make the argument for Andrei Svechnikov to go before Rasmus Dahlin in fantasy hockey leagues but at the same time, it’s really difficult to let a franchise defenseman like Dahlin slip between your fingers. Perhaps some might say Joel Farabee at seventh overall was a bit early but he could end up being a really good player in our scoring system.
Going into the draft, I had the 19th overall pick and I had three targets that I considered realistic: Vitali Kravtsov, Dominik Bokk and Grigori Denisenko. They’re all wingers with high-end offensive upside. I had all three in my top 12 but I figured at least one of them might drop to me because they’re a bit risky, and because two of them are Russians and the third one is German. I started to sweat a bit after both Kravtsov and Bokk were taken with the first 14 picks but I still liked my chances of getting Denisenko, and I had some decent backup picks in mind as well, so I didn’t try trading up – and it worked out perfectly because I ended up getting Denisenko.
One of the reasons I got Denisenko was that two of the managers in our league missed the draft which meant I actually ended up drafting 17th overall. The rules in our league state that if someone misses their pick and hasn’t sent a proxy list, their pick will be skipped and after the round is over, we use public rankings to select the highest-ranked player for them. In this case, those two managers ended up getting Ty Smith and Martin Kaut. They’re both very good prospects but I’m sure the two managers would have taken someone else considering they were drafting fourth and seventh overall.
Let’s move on to the second round where we start to see some older prospects as well.
- Jonatan Berggren, RW (2018)
- Ryan Merkley, D (2018)
- Drake Batherson, C (Senators)
- Sami Niku, D (Jets)
- Libor Hajek, D (Rangers)
- Colton Point, G (Stars)
- Kirill Marchenko, LW (2018)
- Isac Lundeström, C (2018)
- Joey Anderson, RW (Devils)
- Josh Mahura, D (Ducks)
- Lucas Elvenes, RW (Knights)
- Bode Wilde, D (2018)
- Akil Thomas, C (2018)
- Ryan McLeod, C (2018)
- Ty Dellandrea, C (2018)
- Jacob Olofsson, C (2018)
- Tyler Steenbergen, LW (Coyotes)
- Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C (2018)
- K’Andre Miller, D (2018)
- Jared McIsaac, D (2018)
Drake Batherson ended up being the first older prospect to go in our draft, and I believe that will likely happen in many fantasy leagues this summer. Not many knew about him a year ago but his stock has been rising a lot since then. Same thing could be said about Sami Niku who came out of nowhere and had an amazing rookie season in the AHL.
My second round pick was Akil Thomas who I had ranked 16th overall on my draft board. Thomas is most likely going to be drafted in the first round in the NHL Entry Draft. Even though he played center this season, I think he’ll be a winger in the NHL. Offensive wingers are really valuable in our league, and most of the players in this range are either defensemen or pure centers. I like his ability to produce points, and I think he’ll be a good player for fantasy hockey purposes.
After the first two rounds where managers have just five minutes to make their picks, our draft turns into a slow offline draft where managers have six hours to make their picks for the final three rounds. I’m not going to post the full results here but instead I’ll let you know my own selections.
With the 47th overall selection, I drafted Swedish forward Filip Hållander who I had ranked 20th overall on my draft board. I was super excited that he fell to my pick because I seriously considered taking him instead of Thomas in the second round. Hållander had an injury late in the season which caused him to miss the U18 World Championship tournament, and perhaps that has dropped his stock a bit. Hållander is perhaps the most underrated prospect in this entire draft class. I think his talents should get him drafted in the first round at the NHL Entry Draft but it’s looking more likely he falls to the latter half of the second round which means someone will get a steal. Hållander can play both center and wing but I see him being a winger in the NHL.
With the 52nd and 55th overall selections, I drafted a pair of Finnish wingers in Jesse Ylönen and Niklas Nordgren. Both of them occupied a top 30 spot on my draft board, so I was really happy to see them still available. Ylönen could get taken late in the first round in the NHL Entry Draft but Nordgren will likely slide to the latter half of the second round. His size (5-9, 170) and average skating will scare NHL teams but for fantasy hockey purposes, I’m definitely taking my chances with him. Ylönen is a bit safer but has high upside as well. He just didn’t get the exposure because he played at the second highest level in Finland, wasn’t selected to World Juniors, and as a late 1999-born, was too old to play at the U18 Worlds. Make sure he doesn’t slide too far in your fantasy drafts.
In the fourth round, I drafted Russian forward Ruslan Iskhakov with the 76th overall draft pick. Iskhakov has amazing offensive talents but his size (5-7, 152) and nationality will likely cause him to drop to the third round where someone will get a great boom or bust type prospect. He has played both center and wing but with that size, it’s impossible to see him playing center in the NHL. Recent rumors have Iskhakov going to the University of Connecticut to play NCAA hockey next season but it remains to be seen if he’s actually eligible to play there and if there’s any truth to that rumor.
And that’s all for now. Feel free to add comments below – all kind of feedback is welcomed. You can also find me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
Images used on the main collage courtesy of NHL.com and HockeyAllsvenskan.se