Prospect Ramblings: 5 lessons from pre-season 2018-19

Hayden Soboleski




All this week we’ve been reading and watching the pre-season notes and highlights. We’re all amped up and ready for the 2019-20 season to finally begin! If you’ve been reading the DobberProspects content however, you’ve also been introduced to some skepticism.


Pre-season hockey gives us a rare chance to see prospects skating with the big boys, and there is value to be gleaned from that. Pre-season also presents an enormous illusion, as every team is using different compositions, with different player evaluation goals. A few days ago, Pat Quinn rambled about several names in danger of being over-rated (check that one out here: 


I’m here now with another cautionary (but hopefully educational) ramblings, looking back on 2018-19 NHL pre-season and what lessons we should be remembering this time of year:


In 2018-19, the following rookies all managed to get into at least 3 games and score at a point-per-game pace or higher:

Kailer Yamamoto

Warren Foegele

Dennis Cholowski

Mikhail Vorobyev

Valentin Zykov

Antti Suomela

Elias Pettersson

Mathieu Joseph

Andrei Svechnikov

Rourke Chartier

Nic Hague

Kevin Stenlund

Kale Clague

Lukas Radil

Glen Gawdin

Evan Bouchard

Alexander Nylander

Buddy Robinson

Matthew Peca

Janne Kuokkanen

Peter Cehlarik

Zach Aston-Reese


Out of that group of 21, only 6 played over half the NHL season:

Cholowski (16 points)

Foegele (15 points)

Svechnikov (37 points)

Pettersson (56 points)

Joseph (26 points)

Aston-Reese (17 points)


Lesson Learned #1: Other than the extremely obvious names, scoring well in multiple pre-season games doesn’t lead to great odds of sticking around (in this case, 29%).

Lesson Learned #2: Even if  player scores well in pre-season and earns a regular spot, those totals are not representative of what they will be given the chance to do for the entire season.


Now, what if we raise our threshold to 5 exhibition matches and a point-per-game pace?


The list is now reduced to 8 names:

Yamamoto, Foegele, Cholowski, Vorobyov, Suomela, Chartier, Joseph, Svechnikov

Four of the above ended up playing half the NHL season or more. The odds are now 50%. Slightly better, but still not overly encouraging given the fantasy relevance provided by the luckier 50%.


Lesson Learned #3: If you get into 5 games, and break the point-per-game mark, your chances of sticking around for the season in grade form is a D-….but that’s technically a pass….


Now you’re probably saying “Hayden, I don’t care about points, I’m a smart person so I know that isn’t all that coaches care about”. Good point. So let’s ignore points, and just list the rookies who managed to get into at least 6 pre-season matches. These are the guys that were being given full-fledged auditions:


Kailer Yamamoto

Dennis Cholowski

Dillon Dube

Mikhail Vorobyov

Juuso Valimaki

Juuso Riikola

Robert Thomas

Roope Hintz

Jason Dickinson

Andrew Mangiapane

Filip Zadina

Libor Sulak

Joe Hicketts

Filip Hronek

Christoffer Ehn


Out of that group, 

Cholowski, Thomas, Dickinson, Hintz, Ehn, and Mangiapane surpassed 41 NHL games played. 6 of 15 (40%). 


Lesson Learned #4: Being very clearly auditioned for the role and getting into nearly all of your team’s exhibition matches STILL doesn’t even give you a 50% chance of landing on the roster full-time. 


I know, I know – “Hayden, lessons 1-3 were very point-focused, but I wanna talk about defensemen who do more than score”. Sounds good to me. Here are the prospect defensemen that got into at least 5 pre-season matches and logged over 18 minutes aTOI:


Dennis Cholowski

Miro Heiskanen

Joe Hicketts

Libor Sulak

Juuso Valikami

Phillippe Myers

Erik Brannstrom

Filip Hronek

Juuso Riikola


We’re starting to repeat a few names here. Cholowski (again) and Heiskanen were the only names here to crack their full-time rosters. That’s 2/9 (22%). Not great.


Lesson Learned #5: D-men playing big minutes for several games means they are good enough prospects to watch lots, but doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t in the plans that year.



As you most certainly should have heard by now, the 2019-20 DobberHockey’s Fantasy Hockey Guide is out and packed with serious content for prospect-focused readers. For a few bucks, you get over 150 pages of fantasy hockey content covering everything from roster projections, to specialty sleeper sections, to breakout candidates, and more.

The guide can be found here:



I’m done being cynical for the week. Hopefully this was helpful. Let’s just fast forward to the real hockey please.

Hayden Soboleski








Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Antti Tuomisto 4.5 6.0
Aku Räty 5.8 5.0
Miko Matikka 6.5 6.5
Nathan Smith 6.2 6.0
Jan Jenik 7.2 6.5
Ilya Fedotov 6.0 3.0
Noel Nordh 6.5 7.0
Daniil But 8.5 7.5
Julian Lutz 7.0 7.5
Dylan Guenther 8.5 8.5