When I first developed the PNHLe value it was intended almost explicitly for fantasy hockey use and identifying under-the-radar prospects before anyone else in deep keeper leagues had even heard about those players. PNHLe is a value that attempts to predict a prospect’s optimal point production at the NHL level when that player is in the prime of their career. You can think of PNHLe as the expected ceiling a player will hit if they reach their full potential.
It doesn’t come without its warts but as a prospect plays in different leagues, and on different teams, that player starts to build a pattern of their expected point production at the NHL level. We can compare that production with NHL players that have given similar historical production – in the same league and at the same age – to project a single value… PNHLe. You can read up more on the stat, where it comes from and the methodology behind how the algorithm was created here.
Listed below is a range of prospects that made considerable contributions to their point production and are arranged based on likelihood of availability in your respective fantasy leagues.
Elias Pettersson (PNHLe – 109)
It would be negligent when talking about PNHLe not to bring up Vancouver Canucks top prospect Elias Pettersson and the historic year he had in 2017-18 with Växjö Lakers HC in the SHL. Pettersson broke the U20 record for most points in the SHL and a quick look at Elite Prospects top-10 displays a who’s who of Swedish superstars that he was able to outperform. In fact, Pettersson’s accomplishment landed him on top of all NHL prospects in terms of PNHLe. The only other player that had a higher PNHLe in 2017-18 was Alexis Lafreniere (110) who is draft eligible in 2020 and an early lock to go first overall. I’m not suggesting that Pettersson is ever going to reach that potential but he’s showed nothing but brilliant progress as a prospect, is on the verge of breaking into the NHL and should be considered a Calder candidate.
Ryan Merkley (PNHLe – 76)
Outside of Rasmus Dahlin and Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Merkley had the highest PNHLe amongst prospect defensemen, and wasn’t far off the other two. By now you’ve probably heard all of the horror stories attached to Merkley that contributed to his plummeting down the draft board before the Sharks took him at 21st overall, however there is no mistaking the skill level this young man has. If he is able to put behind him some of the worries that made other teams shy away, he could be the heir apparent to Brett Burns in San Jose. The amazing thing about Merkley’s potential is that in 2016-17 he had the highest PNHLe overall combining 11 different developmental leagues. In point-only fantasy leagues, he is definitely worth the risk. Expect Merkley to go back and light up the OHL once again and hopefully mature as a prospect, while Doug Wilson and the rest of the Sharks’ brass keeps a close eye on his progress.
Lucas Elvenes (PNHLe – 67/55)
If you’re looking for a prospect that may still be available in your keeper leagues and has possibly not drawn as much attention as other prospects within the same PNHLe tier, look no further than Elvenes. Elvenes played half the season in the Allsvenskan with IK Oskarshamn and posted a very respectable PNHLe of 67 before he was promoted to the SHL with Rogle BK and continued the second half of his season with a PNHLe of 55. Splitting the difference between the two leagues would place him in the range of 40th best NHL prospect in terms of PNHLe. The Vegas fifth round pick in 2017 is an early front-runner for steal of the draft if he’s able to take another step forward this season in the SHL. I wouldn’t expect Pettersson numbers, but added responsibility might make his value too irresistible for other poolies in deeper keeper leagues.
Jordy Bellerive (PNHLe – 53)
After being passed over in his initial draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t wait to see if they could grab Bellerive in the 2018 entry draft. Instead, after an impressive rookie and training camp with the Penguins last fall, the Penguins promptly signed him as a free agent prior to the deadline that would have re-entered him into the draft. Bellerive did nothing less than reward the Penguins with the risk they took by sniping 46 goals and 46 assists with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL. What makes Bellerive an enticing prospect is that the Penguins success has left the prospect pool extremely thin; Corey Pronman of The Athletic generously ranked them the 23rd best in the NHL and Bellerive the second best in their system. He may never amount to more than a second line forward, but on the Penguins that amounts to a pretty sweet assignment alongside a future hall-of-famer. The one risk to watch out for with Bellerive is that he was severely injured in a fire during a bachelor party at the beginning of the summer and initial reports suggested he may miss an entire year as his hands were badly damaged. However, he’s made a quick recovery, and although he’s still not at 100%, he participated in the Penguins prospect tournament and was arguably their best player.
Stelio Mattheos (PNHLe – 55)
Chances are Mattheos is still available in even the deepest keeper leagues, however 90 points in 68 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) last season should be enough to at least get him on your radar. A former third round pick by the Hurricanes in 2017 Mattheos was part of a very successful line that saw Ty Lewis (PNHLe: 49) post 100 points after he was signed by the Colorado Avalanche and passed over in the two previous drafts. Mattheos will look to lead Brandon and hopefully break the 100-point threshold for the first time in his junior career and is has a shot at making Team Canada’s World Junior Team as a camp invite this summer. He’s a guy I would expect would be snagged fairly early if he can get off to a hot start in the WHL.
If you are interested in seeing other player profiles, a prospect’s progression and how their PNHLe stacks up against other prospects, every profile is available in a completely free iOS app that I’ve created specifically based around fantasy hockey. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can download it here. All player profile images above are taken directly from the app, which is a small sample of the overall content. You can also follow me on Twitter @NHLRankKing.
I plan on writing a monthly article here at DobberProspects, so please let me know if there are specific players you’d like to see profiled.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed.