Prospect Mailbag – May 25th, 2019
There are a few less questions than usual for the holiday edition of the mailbag. However, here comes the fire anyway.
Question: “What are your thoughts on Dustin Wolf? Is his talent more from his WHL numbers or is there something that is being missed on?”
Answer: With all the talk focused on Spencer Knight, and rightfully so, other goalies were going to fall through the cracks. It always happens in drafts where even prospect analysts can get caught at looking for the big picture (first round picks).
Trajectory wise, the urge will be to proceed with caution. There is no doubt that Wolf has a good deal of athleticism and potential. However, there can be many pitfalls with a pick like him. Look at the career arc of MacKenzie Blackwood as a great example. The one major difference with Wolf is his body frame. He is 6’, but just 161 pounds. Strength and flexibility training are going to be so vitally essential for him. The team that drafts him will need to monitor his development stringently.
Everett suited Wolf’s skillset because he played with a freedom most teams would not give him the luxury to do so. In the playoffs, his numbers were not quite as good because again, there was bound to be a regression as the level of competition increased. It is not to say he was not good. Wolf was just not on that regular season level.
In some ways, Wolf is like Ryan Miller. The body frame similarities are right there. Debate has been increasing with the Everett goaltender, but the feeling is he presents as a nice prospect. He should easily fit into the top-100 of the NHL Draft. There may be one or two teams that could draft him as soon as late in the second or early in the third round.
Wolf works a lot harder than most give him credit for. Take the good lumps and just think of what he could be as an NHL goalie with proper development.
Question: “What are you going to do in the DobberProspects Fantasy Hockey League this summer with your roster?”
Answer: It always depends on the prospects. For those that do not know, I inherited a team that had some pretty good skill but was quite inactive. There is a good and bad side to that coin. One is almost guaranteed a pretty good draft pick. However, that inactivity combined with some bad contracts led to some painful decisions that had to be made.
It was painful to buy out Jakub Voracek but more difficult to have to designate a player like Mathew Barzal to the minors or even Ryan Pulock for stretches.
Goaltending will be the other albatross. What can be done with Jonathan Quick is a question that was inevitable but now his time seems to be running out in Los Angeles. Having a couple good Russian goaltending prospects does help but trade value in any league with Quick will be ugly. There is no way to get any value.
The other question is Philipp Grubauer be the guy? Semyon Varlamov looks all but done in Colorado. There is no way he gets the money he was paid last season anywhere. Grubauer finished the season on fire with lights out numbers. He was millimeters from a deep playoff run (sorry Gabriel Landeskog).
There are a few other logistical problems as well. Even with the salary cap likely going up to somewhere around $83 million, is it wise to let the Drew Doughty extension kick in at $11 million? That is a $4 million increase from his 2018-19 pay. It is a good bit of money to stomach for a player who may be on the other side of his career arc. The toughest decisions are often the ones that make a fantasy hockey player step a bit out of their comfort zone. Honestly, the reality is I expect to take several considerable hits to be able to compete 2-3 years down the road.
For a roster that probably has playoff potential, that will hurt but long-term viability in a cap league is better than a constant cycle of cap purgatory any day. Needless to say, there will be some writeups this summer and Fall as we will be chronicling some of these decisions in a potential new column. Stay tuned.
Question: “Looking back at the 2015 NHL Draft, should the Boston Bruins feel vindicated for how they handled picks 13-15?”
Answer: This is never an easy question to answer. Think about how many first-round picks completely go bust. Getting three in a row the way Boston did was masterful but again consider the odds. If one out of three work out, that is not terrible. Jake DeBrusk undoubtedly will only get better from here and that is scary. He already has 85 points in 138 NHL games. Also, the winger showed an ability to put up 35 goal pace this year and at just 22-years old. Next season could be a real 30-30 type of breakout for DeBrusk.
As for the other picks, Jakub Zboril presents a little bit of concern in that one expected a slight jump in his numbers from last year. Part of that was he played in a dozen less games. The reality is Zboril will not be a 40-50 point a year player in the NHL. Will he be very serviceable and be able to provide occasional punch offensively? Yes. Zboril still has second-pairing upside with the possibility of being a defensive anchor on the first if he works on his in the crease game.
Then, there is Zach Senyshyn. He also progressed little in the bottom-line sense for Boston but again is just 22-years old on a stocked Boston roster. He has 26 goals in two seasons in Providence. Most look at the two 40-plus goal seasons in the OHL and immediately the red flags go up. Not every prolific goal scorer smoothly transitions like DeBrusk did. There are bumps and Senyshyn 2019-20 season is pivotal in his development. Does he become the player he was projected or is he a bottom-six NHL forward?
Question: “Where could Cole Caufield go in the 2019 NHL Draft?”
Answer: An interesting question. Caufield has enjoyed a meteoric rise buoyed by his amazing knack for scoring goals but also his comparisons to Alex DeBrincat. It is almost as if general managers have this fear of missing out (Yes, FOMO!) complex. Honestly, the rise is warranted at this point.
The real question is where does the USNTDP player go in the draft. Craig Button and Corey Pronman both have him going in the number five slot. Russ Cohen projects him at six currently. There are still some pundits which still have him outside the top-ten. Los Angeles and Detroit desperately need goal scoring so Caufield makes sense. The Kings saw such a fall-off goal scoring wise that Caufield might get a “royal welcome” of sorts.
Caufield has more than earned his spot and rise. 72 goals in 64 games is otherworldly. People forget that he scored 29 goals in 28 games for the development juniors team the year before. This is not some out of left field fluke. Caufield is a sponge on and off the ice that constantly works on aspects of his game. Honestly, maybe teams like Chicago and Colorado should even consider him at this point.
Question: “Is Alex Turcotte the likely number three pick now?”
Answer: Well, as we stand four weeks from the NHL Draft, it is looking more and more like Turcotte will be going third to Chicago. As always, things can change but Turcotte has passed Vasily Podkolzin. Turcotte’s engine appeals to many people. Yes, the goal-scoring does not hurt but it is his whole package. He plays more than a 200-foot game. Turcotte is not afraid to keep turning up the pace no matter the score or intensity of a game.
While he may not be NHL ready, he is probably close (say a year maybe two away). The University of Wisconsin is getting one hell of a player at least for 2019-20. With how the Blackhawks are developing, Turcotte almost makes too much sense. There will be times to take a defenseman in this draft and in 2020 of course.
Question: “Will you do a mock draft before the NHL Draft?”
Answer: The answer is absolutely and maybe a couple depending on time constraints. Keep in mind, the NHL combine starts next week and that is going to have some impacts as far as slotting of players. Also, the NHL Final schedule may help in being able to analyze draft trends a bit easier. Playing seven games over 17 days is helpful for anyone doing prospects but probably not for NHL fans.
Personally, Hughes-Kakko-Turcotte has been my 1-2-3 for months and has not changed. After that, things quickly become intriguing and at times all over the place. The whole idea of mock drafts is to process all the information coming in and concentrating on overall “body of work”. To condense all of that into one finite time makes for a heck of a time to be alive.
Did we mention all the trade possibilities and teams which could move up or down? June is going to be one crazy month and after the Stanley Cup is awarded, watch things kick into a different gear. That’s just my two cents. Oh, and expect a few changes in mock drafts between now and Vancouver.
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