With so much great hockey happening lately it has been close to impossible to keep up and bring everything you need to know for your fantasy hockey prospect updates. The NHL is gearing up for another Cup Final, the AHL is having a great playoff again, the CHL is all complete and now it is the Memorial Cup and internationally the U18 are in the books and now the World Championship are in full swing.
So, where to begin?
In the true sense of Rambling this weeks edition from yours truly will be will be all over the map.
So lets begin at the World Championshipand some draft eligible prospects in the spotlight. The Kappo Kakko vs Jack Hughes battle for the number one overall ranking is very interesting. From the start of the season it was Jack Hughes by a mile, and while he has not played his way out of that position, Kappo Kakko has really brought his game to the same level. Kakko has been solid all season long playing for TPS in the Liiga, has dominated internationally with Finland at the WJC and is outplaying Jack Hughes at the World Championship, a tournament comprised of several NHL star players. So does this put Kakko ahead of Hughes? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on the context. In terms of real hockey and NHL value, I think Hughes has more upside offensively, will sell more jerseys and tickets and is a center. Kakko is more NHL ready now, is physically bigger, and has no holes in his game or red flags. No bad choice either way if you ask me. In terms of fantasy, there are two underlying factors here. One; Hughes has more offensive upside. Two; Kakko could have a bigger short-term impact. Now if you ask me who I rank higher? My answer is it depends on the context. Fantasy vs NHL and if it is fantasy, what are your league settings (scoring categories, keeper rules etc). For me personally I believe I would pick the player I think has the higher offensive upside, and I believe that to be Hughes.
Also in the WJC, draft eligible Moritz Seider first made some noise during the WJC where he lead Germany back into the main pool with the big boys, and is following that international performance up with some more strong play at the WC. Seider is playing top minutes in the DEL (Top German league), which is impressive for an 18-year-old. His play has improved significantly in the past two years and he has drawn comparisons to Sharks Marc-Edouard Vlasic for his solid two-way play. He may be an underrated player heading into the draft and may have some untapped offensive potential. He carries a little extra value in Roto leagues as the 6-4 German can play a physical game as well. Don’t expect Seider to play in the NHL next year, but the Owen Sound Attack owns his CHL rights, and he would have AHL eligibility as well. Moving to North America may be a good move for his development
Outside of draft eligible players at the WC (Which are rare) some noteable prospect performancs are coming from Rudolfs Balcers (OTT) who has nine points in seven games with Latvia. Balcers was acquired by the Sens in the Erik Karlsson deal. Balcers has been a prolific scorer in the AHL with a career 79 points in 110 games. He had a long NHL look in Ottawa and was not disappointing scoring 14 points in 36 games with the Sens. He should be a player to watch for the coming season, and is currently only 12% Fantrax owned.
The Czech team is having a strong tournament and one player really standing out is Detroit defenseman Filip Hronek who has 10 points in seven games and leads all defense in scoring. Arguably not a prospect anymore and already 75% Fantrax owned, Hronk did make his NHL debut this season playing in 46 games and posting 23 points as a rookie. Look for him to take a bigger role with the winged wheel in the coming season.
Shifting to the Memorial Cupnow and some players to watch for. The Leafs may regret trading Sean Durzi to LA as the offensive defenseman is currently leading the tournament in scoring with six points (thee straight multi point games) for the Guelph Storm and in 35 games with Owen Sound and Guelph he posted an impressive 37 points. Another Guelph D you need to watch is Oilers Dmitri Samorukov. His play this year has been outstanding and the Memorial Cup spotlight is shedding some light on his great play. Samorukov improved steadily all season long and has eclipsed the point per game production in the playoffs with ten goals and 28 points in 24 games. He will play in the AHL next year in all likleyhood but it looks like Edmonton has a great prospect and his Fatrax ownership is low (12%) Guelph has been simply dominant at times and have a roster full of NHL prospects including Nick Suzuki, Isac Ratcliffe, Alexey Toropchenko, Mackenzie Entwistle, Nate Schnarr and more.
Looking at the Prince Albert Raiders, overage draft eligible Brett Leason lead the Raiders in scoring with 25 points in 22 games. He is yet to score in the Memorial Cup but lead the team in scoring in the playoffs with 25 points and the regular season with 88 points. As a 20-year-old Noah Gregor had a breakout season with the Raiders posting 88 points, and has four points in two games in the Memorial Cup. Gregor is a Sharks 2016 6thround pick and his Fantrax ownership is 0% (not available in my league tho??) with over 400 shots this season he is a shooter that will turn pro next year and try to translate his offensive game to the AHL. Habs prospect Cole Fonstad (0% Fantrax Owned) and Leafs goalie prospect Ian Scott (38% owned) were also big players all season for the Raiders.
From the Q, Champions Rouyn-Noranda Huskies leading scorer Joel Teasdale who was signed by Montreal as a free agent at 20-years-old after attending their training camp at the start of the season scored a big goal and had a beauty assist to help defeat the Raiders. Teasdale will play in the AHL with Laval next year and is another 0% Fantrax owned player you may want to put on your watch list or prospect bench. It is back-to-back Memorial Cup appearances for Islanders prospect Noah Dobson. Last year Dobson lead the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to a Men Cup Championship and is trying to repeat with the Huskies this year and has two points in two games. Dobson had a dominant playoff with the Huskies scoring 29 points in 20 games, but likely has one more year in junior. Goalie Samuel Harvey is a 21-year-old free agent that has had very consistent numbers in his junior career. Playing for a pro contract on the big stage, he is a name you may want to look for on the player signing page while prepping for your fantasy draft.
Host team Halifax Mooseheads earned their place in the tournament going to the finals and are lead by draft eligible prospect Raphael Lavoie. The 6-4 winger is a late birthday and in his third season with Halifax. Posting 73 points in the regular season, he exploded in the playoffs to lead Halifax to the finals with 32 points in 23 games. Ducks second round 2017 pick Antoine Morand had another 70 point season, but saw his production dip slightly in the playoffs. He has two goals and three points in two games so far and has played well. A pair of undrafted 20-year-olds in Maxim Trepanier and Samuel Asselin continue to provide offensive support and play for pro contracts.
I have rambled on for over 1,300 words here so next time I may follow up with the AHL.