The World Junior Championships are exciting times for multiple reasons. Its fantastic hockey, its emotionally charged, it puts countries’ entire hockey programs on display, and of course, it sets the stage for prospects to make a name for themselves for the more casual fan.
This makes the tournament a perfect time to capitalize on good fantasy asset management…with high stakes. Both casual and hardcore fans are going to fall in love with players who step up, and you can take advantage of that.
Let’s look at some previous years’ top performers as an example.
In 2017, the scoring leaders were (in order) Kirill Kaprizov, Alex Nylander, Clayton Keller, Thomas Chabot, Dylan Strome, Mikhail Vorobyov, and Joel Eriksson Ek. All excellent prospects (both now and then) who deserved to be owned for the long haul. In dynasty or deep keeper leagues trades that season at the trade deadline, I’d wager those names came up often.
But in hindsight, there was more to the story. We’ve known about Kaprizov’s contract situation in Russia for some time, and already knew that if he did come to North America, it wouldn’t be for a few years. In the DobberProspects profile for Alex Nylander, we had noted earlier that year that despite his ELC and equally strong play at the 2016 tournament, he still needed time to adjust to North American hockey and was underweight. On the other hand, our Clayton Keller profile indicated he would likely turn pro after that season.
All of these players were excellent prospects, but context is everything when managing your squads. Trading Kaprizov or Nylander at that time would have provided you max value. Now, its up to you to make sure you get value in return, I’m not saying to go give up on every player who isn’t NHL-ready, but prospect value is heavily tied to their imminent chances of being in the big league, and assuming that WJC performances always indicate NHL-readiness is incorrect.
Let’s look at last year’s top performers: Casey Mittelstadt, Martin Necas, Kieffer Bellows, Jordan Kyrou, Sam Steel, Brady Tkachuk, and Klim Kostin. Once again – all excellent prospects. If these players weren’t already owned in dynasty leagues, something was wrong. But again, the scouting notes tell more of the story.
In our Mittelstadt profile: “flashing highlight reel plays one night and performing underwhelmingly the next”. We clearly did not predict immediate NHL dominance.
In our Bellows profile: “may need to get quicker for the Pro game… remains to be seen if the rest of his game will round out enough for him to be a full time NHLer”. So you should not have expected immediate fantasy impact there.
To reiterate – I’m not recommending that you sell every player that looks good at the WJCs. On the lists above, selling on Keller, Chabot, Tkachuk, etc. would have been huge losses. You need top prospects and the top prospects will hopefully stand out in the tournament. But selling on most of the others could have probably got you more than they would get you now, and that’s why you can’t get emotional in fantasy hockey. Do your due diligence, figure out if a prospect is everything he gets hyped up to be after being on a gold-medal team or scoring clutch breakaway goal. It will pay off.
FIRST NHL GOALS TIME!
Short section this week, as tends to happen as rosters get more and more locked in. But we still have one beautiful first goal to show off:
Radim Simek shows us why priority number one is to get your shot on net:
Thanks for reading, and happy holidays! We’ll be right there with you as the best prospects in the game enter the WJCs.