(Photo: Credit to Tony Gutierrez / AP)
This is the first installment of a monthly article using PNHLe as a statistic to predict future prospect potential at the NHL level. I will take a look at some of the names that are providing early returns and having immediate success in their respective leagues.
If you are interested, and did not get a chance to read my series on PNHLe Organizational Rankings that has a breakdown of each franchise’s top prospects, I would implore you to do so when you get a chance:
PNHLe Organizational Rankings: 1-5 : Kings, Avalanche, Flyers, Rangers & Devils
PNHLe Organizational Rankings: 6 – 10 : Blackhawks, Stars, Ducks, Maple Leafs & Canadiens
PNHLe Organizational Rankings: 11 – 15 : Flames, Red Wings, Penguins, Hurricanes & Canucks
PNHLe Organizational Rankings: 16 – 20 : Wild, Coyotes, Senators, Oilers & Predators
PNHLe Organizational Rankings: 21 – 25 : Islanders, Panthers, Sharks, Golden Knights, & Sabres
PNHLe Organizational Rankings: 26 – 31 : Blue Jackets, Blues, Capitals, Jets, Lightning, & Bruins
Caution: PNHLe is a stat that fluctuates drastically early on in a season, and a single game can increase/decrease the value by a substantial amount. Generally, after the 20-game mark the stat tends to level out for the remainder of the season.
Let us take a look at some NHL prospects that have been very hot early on in the season:
In comparison, here were the names that I outlined at this time last year, where many of the following players could have been purchased for pennies on the dollar: Cale Makar, Victor Olofsson, Drake Batherson, Emil Bemstrom, Alex Nylander, Lawrence Pilut, Scott Perunovich, and Cooper Marody.
Fantrax Owned: 13%
It would be criminal not to begin by mentioning the last six months that Thomas Harley has put together since being drafted. Although the 2018 draft will widely be considered one of the best in terms of defensemen with offensive potential, it is hard not to admire the quick strides that first round defensemen from the 2019 draft have made – even if, at the time, they may have seemed like reaches at the podium. Thomas Harley was labeled as a more of a boom or bust candidate despite having excellent underlying advanced statistics at both ends of the rink. His offensive numbers were off the chart in 2018-19 and he has eclipsed that pace by a significant margin to start this season finding the score sheet 15 times, including five goals, in only eight games. Harley was one of the last cuts in Dallas’ camp and was one of the top recently drafted prospects in the entire NHL during preseason. If he is available in any keeper format Harley is worth the addition.
Fantrax Owned: 5%
The AHL starts later compared to most leagues resulting in a smaller sample size with large fluctuations in PNHLe from one game to the next. However, that should not minimize the impact that Elvenes has made in his first professional year in North America. After jumping onto the fantasy scene two years ago while posting big numbers (PNHLe: 66) in both the Allsvenskan and SHL in Sweden, last year’s numbers regressed and were widely considered a disappointment (PNHLe: 39) for the fifth overall pick from 2017. That being said, Elvenes has found his mojo once again and is off to a sensational start in the AHL for a Chicago Wolves’ organization that makes rookies earn every minute they play. The crafty winger has already posted 11 points in only seven games to start the season, which is a whopping five points more than his nearest teammate. Although it is unlikely based on the depth of the Golden Knights’ roster, if Elvenes can continue his strong play he may give Vegas no other choice than to bring him up for at least a cup of coffee.
Fantrax Owned: 31%
There probably is not another brushstroke that I can add to the overall picture that is Caufield’s immense scoring genius, however, players that make the jump from the USHL or USNTDP to the NCAA generally see a dip in their overall production. Caufield has more than a goal-per-game pace sniping seven goals in his first six NCAA games and has the potential for maintaining that pace in his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. There are a handful of other notable prospects that are making their collegiate debuts as Badgers this season, by and large, that typically means that they will not make a long playoff run where experience and age generally result in post-season tournament success in the NCAA. However, not many teams have the legitimate top-line upside that Wisconsin possesses, which could pay dividends when it counts most. No matter what happens, I fully expect Caufield will be wearing the red-white-and-blue before this season is over.
Fantrax Owned: 12%
The son of former NHLer, Patrick Poulin, is making a name for himself after getting selected in the bottom half of the 2019 draft. 25 points in only 14 games played has nearly put to rest some of the consistency issues that were attributed to him and may have scared some teams off at the draft. I may be in the minority, but I think Poulin owns top-line NHL upside and may carve out a more offensive career compared to his father. The fact that he could potentially line up next to a bona fide future hall-of-famer in either Crosby or Malkin bodes well for reaching his ultimate upside. Look for him to make a legitimate case for cracking Team Canada’s world junior team in December, and if that happens there will be no hope in acquiring him in your fantasy league.
Fantrax Owned: 5%
It is not very often that you see a teenager defenseman rack up as many points in the SHL – Sweden’s top professional league. Although his pace has slowed down a little compared to the point-per-game tempo he started the season with, there is no question that the dynamic first rounder from 2018 has legitimate top-four upside, if not beyond that. The only problem that Lundkvist will face in the near future is how he will fit into a Rangers’ lineup that is stacked with trying to integrate other offensive defensemen into the system, with the likes of Trouba, DeAngelo, and Fox all vying for power play time and K’Andre Miller also on the horizon. It would probably suit New York well to be patient with his development but Lundkvist may force their hand sooner rather than later.
Fantrax Owned: 1%
If you are looking for a sleeper that may not be on the mind’s of other GMs in your fantasy pool, look no further than Maccelli. He made strides over the past two years in the USHL before Arizona took him with their fourth round pick at 98th overall in 2019. Maccelli made the transition back to his homeland this season to play in Finland’s top professional league, the SM-Liiga. In his first 12 games as a pro, Maccelli has 10 points including three goals, which is no small feat for a teenager. The Liiga is often overlooked in fantasy circles when mining for prospects, but a quick look at the top of the NHL scoring leaderboard shows the talent that has come from a nation that has an amazing track record of producing more players per capita than all other nations. I would not advise going out and grabbing Maccelli right away, but instead keep him on your ‘watch list’ and if he is able to maintain his current pace after 20-25 games, then he is probably worth an addition in fantasy leagues that have significantly deep farm systems.
You can read up more on the PNHLe stat, where it comes from, and the methodology behind how the algorithm was created here.
If you are interested in seeing other player profiles, a prospect’s progression and how their PNHLe stacks up against other prospects, every profile is available in a completely free iOS and Android app that I’ve created specifically based around fantasy hockey. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can download it here. For Android users, you can download it here.
All player profile images above are taken directly from the app, which is a small sample of the overall content. You can also follow me on Twitter @NHLRankKing and I do my best to update content as much as life allows.
This article will be a monthly feature here at DobberProspects, so please let me know if there are specific players you’d like to see profiled.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed.