Prospect Ramblings: Prospects still needing new homes

Hayden Soboleski

2019-07-14

 

***

After all the excitement of draft day and free agency, a few persisting trade rumours have not yet come to fruition. Maybe this means that the prospects involved will remain with the organizations for another campaign, or maybe the summer still has some excitement left for us. Today I’m looking at a few notable names that are still frequenting the rumour mill, and what we could expect from them on a new squad:

 

Jesse Puljujarvi

The 21-year-old Finn’s bad time in Edmonton has been well-documented by this point. He only got in 46 games in 2018-19, partially due to injury and partially due to the coaching staff not believing he added enough to the lineup. He averaged under 12 minutes TOI per game and under :30 PP TI per game, and his resulting point total of 9 was certainly lackluster for a former 4th-overall pick. He wants a fresh start on a team willing to gamble on him to fulfill his potential.

That being said, it’s hard expect much more immediate fantasy production on a new team. Sure, his shooting percentage might see a slight bump at some point from his career average of 7.4%, but despite still being a young prospect with lots of promise there just aren’t many NHL teams on which he would be a sure-fire top-six regular. At best he will be in-and-out of the top-six as battles on the wing take place (I’m imagining a scoring-desperate scenario such as Arizona or Los Angeles where lines aren’t as set in stone as other rosters), meaning his average TOI probably won’t exceed the 15-minute mark. The equally important factor will be his utilization on the man-advantage, where he has the talent to beef up his totals. There are plenty of teams that could try him out as a PP2 regular, and this is what I would keep an eye out for if you’re planning on taking a gamble yourself in your summer drafts.

Long-term, he is still a worthwhile own to stash in your reserves. But even on a new team I’d call this a buyer beware situation if you’re expecting a sudden emergence as a hockey pool producer, even 30 points seems like a questionable benchmark.

 

Nikita Gusev

A special case as a 27-year-old “prospect”, Gusev’s debut in North America has been long-awaited. One of the best players outside of the NHL (for now), rumours indicate his salary demands are too rich for the cap-tight Golden Knights.

Lucky for him, there are lots of teams with cap space that will get desperate for scoring depth as the season approaches. Like Puljujarvi, he may not be guaranteed a top-six spot based on the depth chart of the team that grabs him. Unlike Puljujarvi however, Gusev has the historical production and impact that makes him much more likely to earn a full-time top-six spot, even if he initially has to battle for it. His 82 points in 62 KHL games last season led the league by a wide margin, and the dazzling playmaker is well suited for the new style of NHL play. 

Naturally, destination will be a b