(Photo: credit to NHL.com)
As most prospects begin to stabilize their point production and have now established a clear role on their respective teams, I wanted to take a look at the top NHL prospects from each of the development leagues that PNHLe is evaluated for, as well as some other players that warrant a bit more attention and could be still available in your fantasy leagues.
Most players typically see drastic changes to their PNHLe early on in the season as they score multi-point games or may be held off the score sheet, which can create huge swings with respect to their points-per-game. The 20-game mark is generally where you see a prospect’s PNHLe begin to steady. My personal preference is to identify prospects whose value increases over the course of a season, which hints to a prospect that is progressing and improving compared to his peers. Unfortunately, without a crystal ball this is all I can offer at this point in time.
Here are some of the players I left off of last month’s article PNHLe Report: October 2019, but have continued their dominant play early on in 2019.
Scott Perunovich – St. Louis Blues
Fantrax Owned: 5%
The Blues may have found a gem in the second round when they selected Perunovich with their second pick in the 2018 draft. A quick look at his trophy case in the past year shows just how much hardware this young man has picked up after being passed over in his initial NHL entry draft: two NCAA Championships, All-Tournament Team (x2), NCHC All-Rookie Team, NCHC Best Offensive Defenseman (x2), First All-Star Team, NCHC Rookie of the Year, (West) First All-American Team, Top NCAA Rookie (Tim Taylor Award) and a World Junior Championship Bronze Medal.
Did I mention that he led the top team in the nation in scoring in 2017-18… as a defenseman! Perunovich has carried that confidence from the past few seasons and into 2019 where he’s put up 17 points through his first 11 games on a Minnesota-Duluth team that has a reasonable shot at three-peating as NCAA champs. He is undersized by NHL standards, but his toolbox may possess enough specialized tools to carve out an offensive career after he completes his collegiate tenure.
David Farrance – Nashville Predators
Fantrax Owned: 1%
For the first time in his young career, Farrance has been given the role of power play quarterback after playing more of a depth position for Boston University and the USNTDP over the past four seasons. It’s understandable that he has flown under the fantasy radar while he has had to follow superstar teammates – Dante Fabbro, and Quinn Hughes – on the depth chart. However, now that Farrance is being leaned on to lead the Terriers, his PNHLe has outpaced even his predecessors. What is even more impressive is that over half of his 19 points are goals(10); in only 13 games, including a hat-trick. A quick search through Youtube and you’ll find some highlight reel examples of his dynamic ability.
Jan Jenik – Arizona Coyotes
Fantrax Owned: 2%
Jan Jenik was the youngest player drafted in 2018 when the Arizona Coyotes took him in the third round. Almost unbelievably, he has found the score sheet in every single game for the Hamilton Bulldogs so far this season. It certainly doesn’t hurt riding shotgun to Artur Kaliyev, the OHL’s leading scorer and one of the most surprising fallers in the 2019 draft, but Jenik’s 50 points in only 23 games played puts him only one point behind his line-mate.
Hamilton may have made one of the cheekier recent transactions in the OHL, when they took advantage of the Flint Firebirds and only had to give up a fourth (2020) and fifth (2024) round pick to obtain a potential OHL scoring leader. Jenik was originally taken as the sixth overall pick in the 2018 CHL import draft. He will be an integral part of Czech Republic’s world junior team next month.
Jamieson Rees – Carolina Hurricanes
Fantrax Owned: 4%
A fairly significant injury during his draft year contributed to Rees sliding into the middle of the second round where he was subsequently selected by the Carolina Hurricanes – a team known for utilizing advanced stats to optimize overall team performance. With excellent skating and high-end top speed, Rees fits into the mold as a prototypical Cane’s forward, and he has done nothing but excel for the Sarnia Sting this season where he has picked up 32 points in only 16 games played.
It’s hard not to identify the monster season’s that draft-eligible players are having in the OHL, led by a potential first-overall selection in Quinton Byfield. Not only do his stats suggest he could become one of the best picks in the last decade, it’s the blend of size and skill that will make him the cornerstone of any franchise that is lucky enough to win a lottery pick and select him as the top of the draft.
Ryder Korczak and Cole Sillinger are both 2021 draft-eligible players posting outstanding rates in this year’s campaign. If they can continue progressing at this remarkable rate, both could wind up being top-10 picks in a couple more years. Outside of Connor Zary, the 2020 draft class is considered one of the weaker to come from the WHL, but it is book-ended by two fairly strong cohorts.
It is hard to imagine that any player could be posting a more impressive PNHLe than potential first-overall selection, Alexis Lafreniere. However, 2021 draft eligible teammate Isaac Belliveau has edged out the future NHL superstar by posting over a point-per-game as a defenseman. It is a long season, so I don’t foresee anyone other than Lafreniere to wind up at the top of this list by season’s end, but the fact the young defender has been able to maintain this rate over a third of the way through the season is a testament to his overall ability.
I have already discussed a couple of guys at the top of the list, but another player that is deserving of recognition is forward Jack Dugan. Previously on DobberProspects I have outlined his unusual path as an NHL prospect, but his patience is clearly paying off as he leads all NCAA players in points. It would not be surprising to see him sign with Vegas at the culmination of this season and get a cup of coffee for the Golden Knights depending on their playoff outlook and whether they are fighting for a crucial post-season seed.
Although a couple of the players on this short list have played in only a handful of AHL games, a look at the very top of this list shows that Rasmus Sandin’s unreal rookie season was not a fluke. New Toronto bench boss, Sheldon Keefe, got a close look at Sandin’s talent level and it would not be surprising to see him collaborate with GM Kyle Dubas and give Sandin a promotion to the Maple Leafs sooner rather than later.
A couple of 2020 draft eligible prospects are near the head of the SHL’s PNHLe leaderboard despite receiving less than optimal playing time. I fully expect that they will be given more responsibility as the season progresses and both Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz will far exceed their current scoring rates.
The long wait for Minnesota Wild fans is almost over as it looks like a lock that Kirill Kaprizov will come over at the end of his KHL season. He has all of the tools to become a dynamic first-line winger that can find the scoresheet in a variety of ways. Wild fans will still need to be a bit patient as CSKA is primed to make another push for the Gargarin Cup after a long playoff run.
A quick look at Puljujarvi’s PNHLe progression from his draft season until now shows a destructive path in terms of overall development, but a full year back in his homeland could play wonders in giving him the confidence needed to become a viable top-six winger in the NHL one day. The only question is whether it will be with the Edmonton Oilers, but you have to admit that a dynamic power forward would look pretty fantastic skating alongside the world’s greatest player. Am I referring to McDavid or Draisatl?
Dahlen’s value has fallen rather significantly since being traded by the Ottawa Senators. He is already in his third NHL organization and seems like his development has plateaued. It certainly isn’t the end of the story for Dahlen, but in terms of fantasy relevance I think that ship has sailed.
You may notice a couple of familiar last names in the top-10 list for the USHL. No, that is not the same Jack Hughes, but another player that is making a name for himself in his own right. Luke Hughes is the last of the Hughes trio that has already seen both Quinn and (the other) Jack making impressive showings in their rookie NHL seasons.
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.
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.