A great deal has occurred in the month since the last Mailbag. Prospects have blossomed into full-time NHLers. Others have faded and been sent to the minors. Junior players are hitting new heights – or slagging down low. We’re starting to see measurable results that can be chalked up as more than just streaks.
Let’s not waste any more time, and get down to brass tacks.
Question: “What are your thoughts on Yamamoto and Puljarjvi going forward with the new coach in EDM and the demotion and promotions between the AHL and NHL. Is Edmonton the prospect graveyard to Philadelphia’s goalie graveyard of the past”
Answer: It’s difficult to continue to share hope for Oilers’ players not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl these days. The organization is a train wreck at the top and clearly brought in Ken Hitchcock to turn things around quickly. He’s not the type of coach who ages well with a group – especially a young group.
That said, I still believe in the upsides of both Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. JP has had a difficult path thus far. He likely should’ve been in the American League for much of the last two seasons, but that’s in the past now. His quick stint there last week was fruitful, but his return has seen him plastered in the bottom six – not exactly a primo spot.
I consider Puljujarvi a power forward. Those type of players will often take longer than many expect to hit their full potential. At 20 years old, his potential remains substantial.
Meanwhile, Yamamoto is a highly skilled player who can skate miles. He brings electrifying ability and fits the model of increasing the Oilers’ overall team speed. However, he is not a traditional Hitch-type of guy. Here’s hoping that when he’s ready to come back up, that he is deployed in an appropriate manner. If not, let him earn his stripes in the AHL for the duration.
Deployment is king for all fantasy players, but especially youngsters who are still figuring out even-strength action. Both of these guys need a spot in the top six to produce. If they get it, I believe they have upside. If they don’t, they won’t.
Puljujarvi is closer at this moment, but Yamamoto possesses the higher pure fantasy ceiling.
Question: “Can you dive into Dylan Strome? In a dynasty league, how long do we give him? Is he turning it on? Doing enough to progress to at least a 2C/top PP guy eventually?”
Answer: Strome will receive some new life in Chicago – two points in his debut was a nice start. It’ll be a new beginning for a kid who has experienced almost exclusively success in his life up until his failure to transition quickly and successfully to the NHL.
The possibility of reuniting junior linemates, Alex DeBrincat and Strome is palpable. Those two clicked in an insane way with Erie back in the day. Strome was dishing the puck to DeBrincat for the majority of his 167 career OHL goals.
On Tuesday evening, Strome lined up with DeBrincat and Patrick Kane on what should be considered the top line. That’s a home fantasy owners can get behind.
While the youngest Strome may never gain enough speed to become a threat from all over the ice, his vision and offensive ability remain high. If he can sustain serious deployment while being surrounded by high-end talent, the potential is there for him to be a high-end asset.
Question: “Where does Kaprizov’s value sit in comparison to other prospects, where around would you rank him to his peers.”
Answer: The things that Kaprizov has done in the KHL the last few seasons has been excellent. He hovered just below a point-per-game as 19-20-year-old – something we don’t see in that league.
However, there are some people, myself included, that have seen something of a plateau in his development. That could be the result of lacking a new challenge, or the result of the extreme uptick his developmental arc took after his draft-eligible campaign. It’s difficult to sustain such rapid growth.
This season has seen his goal-scoring go to another level, but his overall play has dipped a tad. Granted his CSKA squad lost a couple of dynamic KHL forwards this year, but I’ve caught a few of his games and spoken to some Russian scouts and the message seems consistent. He’s very good, but the expectations were that he’d be even better.
I believe that Kaprizov remains a high-level asset for the Wild and when he inevitably crosses the pond, will be put in a position to thrive. I recently ranked him as the 12th best skater prospect outside of the NHL. That was wedged between Cody Glass (11th) and Vitali Kravtsov (13).
Question: “Who has the higher ceiling in terms of fantasy production? Lias or Chytil?”
Answer: I’m all about Chytil here. I see him as the top line centre long-term in NYC. Andersson projects as more of a quality number two pivot.
Question: “Crystal ball! With UFA signings, trades, etc., what do you project the Canucks starting line to look like next season?”
Answer: Who really knows, but I’ll give it a shot.
Nikolay Goldobin – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Jake Virtanen
Jonathan Dahlen – Brandon Sutter – Loui Eriksson
Antoine Roussell – Jay Beagle – Adam Gaudette
Quinn Hughes – Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton – Tyler Myers
Olli Juolevi – Erik Gudbranson
Question: “Who do you think could be the biggest steal in the 20-31 range for the 2019 draft?”
Answer: Can I answer this in six months? I’ll give you a few names now just for the hell of it. Remember there is a ton of hockey left to be played though.
Question: “Cody Glass logging top 6 minutes next year is possible?”
Answer: Yup, it’s possible. But he’s more likely to play in a hybrid role with Vegas – probably from the bottom six. When healthy, it’ll be Karlsson and Stastny as the team’s top two centres. Erik Hauls is around as the third line guy.
Is he pushing Patches as the 2LW? Tuch as the 2RW? Maybe. Or maybe he ends up centring one of those guys on a fast-paced third line.
Glass has a very nice ceiling, but I’d keep the expectations somewhat muted for next season.
Question: “Robert Thomas has had a slow start. What do you see for him in the future and how does the coaching change affect him.”
Answer: It’s always difficult to know how a player will be treated and how they’ll react to a new coach. Thomas is a first-year pro finding his way in the NHL as a teenager. That’s a lot of adjustment.
So far, Berube is putting him on a nice second line with Schenn and Fabbri. He’s seeing time on a strong second powerplay unit as well. Those are good signs.
Thomas doesn’t project as an elite scorer, but he’s smart, effective, and owns underrated offensive abilities. He could conceivably become a complimentary top line centre. He’s likely a couple years from being a serious fantasy asset though.
Question: “Do you think anyone has a real chance at catching EP40 for the Calder race?”
Answer: Brady Tkachuk is making the push from the forward ranks. The Senators’ winger now leads rookies in points-per-game with 1.14 to Elias Pettersson’s 1.00. Granted Pettersson has played seven more games.
The other guy who should make it fun is Rasmus Dahlin. The 18-year-old blueliner has eight points in his last nine games. He’s skated 23 minutes a night over that span. The reins are starting to be loosened on the first overall pick, and you can see flashes of what’s to come.
We’re only a quarter of the way through the season, so there’s plenty of time left in this race. That said, I know who I’m putting my money on.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and contributing. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson