The Bakersfield Condors hosted the Ontario Reign on Field Trip Day at Rabbobank Arena in Bakersfield, CA. Photo by Owen Main – Fansmanship.com. 11/29/18
(Image: credit to mayorsmanor.com)
As the NHL trade deadline quickly approaches chances are your fantasy deadline is not far behind, so I thought it would be beneficial to try to use PNHLe to identify prospects that are great buy-low candidates. Whether you are in a fantasy rebuild or want to restock your prospect cupboards, now is one of the best times of the year to strike and potentially catch an uninformed GM off-guard.
PNHLe is a stat that attempts to project a prospect’s scoring potential at the NHL level, however, a single season’s value should never be taken without context. It is more useful to look at PNHLe progression over several years to determine a trend that has a significant probability of coming to realization.
There are anomalies within the stat that can be used to pinpoint specific prospects whose value should be considered as outliers and mark the perfect point in time to buy-low, or sell-high. One of the most consistent trends in PNHLe is that players who make the jump from a junior organization into a professional league often see a substantial drop in their PNHLe in their rookie season as they rise up the ranks. There are a variety of reasons for this, but most are related to the fact that they receive fewer prime minutes, responsibility and lower deployment, which contributes to a lower overall point totals. For GMs that evaluate solely on player production and scoring leaderboards, these prospects provide the perfect opportunity to return significant gains on your investment.
Here is a list of prospects that you may want to target whose value may be at a low point. Obviously, some players listed below may have more intrinsic value, especially for GMs that have been patient in their development. There are a variety of tiers depending on what type of player you are trying to target, but I decided to organize them by PNHLe in descending order.
I have included their stats and PNHLe chart and I have broken up each year to show the individual rates if a player has been traded or played in different leagues. You can follow each of the player links to their DobberProspects profile to get more in-depth analysis from the outstanding authors and scouts that contribute.
Hopefully you get some use out of the information posted, and I would love to hear what the return and cost was if you decided to target any of these players and were able to acquire them!
Moritz Seider – Detroit Red Wings (53) – 19 points in 43 AHL games is a decent clip for a veteran AHL defenseman, but it is hard to put into perspective how impressive those numbers are for the dominant young defender. Seider is on pace to comfortably end up with the second highest points per game pace ever posted by an 18-year-old in the AHL. It is not only finding the score sheet that is making people turn their heads, but it is his abrasive side that will make him a huge asset in multi-cat fantasy leagues. When he was selected sixth overall many draft prognosticators considered it a reach, but he is making Steve Yzerman and his scouting staff look like geniuses. He will cost an arm and a leg to acquire the budding star, but I think it will be more than worth it when all is said and done.
Owen Tippett – Florida Panthers (48) – plain and simple, Tippett is a pure sniper. He is a natural goal scorer that will reward teams whose league provides extra value for goals. Although his PNHLe of 48 is probably not drastically far from his actual NHL point potential, the fact that he was expected to make the Panthers out of camp and has yet to see a single game this season may make an impatient GM more willing to trade away his value.
Gabriel Vilardi – Los Angeles Kings (48) – Vilardi is in an unique situation compared to many other players on this list. More than likely you have heard about his near career-ending back injuries, and surprisingly has yet to miss a game since returning to action at the end of November. The best part: he is getting stronger the more the season progresses. If he reaches even a glimpse of the potential he displayed pre-injury he could be the best bang-for-your-buck players on this list.
Update: Vilardi was recalled by the Kings on Thursday and could see top-line deployment
Conor Timmins – Colorado Avalanche (47) – in a similar vein to Vilardi’s story, Timmins missed the entire 2018-19 season due to injury. It is certainly a feel-good story when you see a player come back from such a drastic post-concussion scare and find success, and while building confidence over the course of the season Timmins has taken over the top offensive defender role on the Colorado Eagles (AHL). Timmins’ road may be blocked by the likes of Makar, Byram and Girard, but if he continues to excel the Avalanche will have no choice but to find a spot for him next season, or trade him to another organization where he can put his full talent on display.
Jason Robertson – Dallas Stars (44) – a player that was rewarded because of his strong play in the minors, Robertson was recently sent back to the Texas Stars (AHL) after receiving a three-game stint to get his first taste of NHL action. His lack of foot speed should not be an obstacle that he cannot overcome because he is so talented in nearly all other aspects of the game. He is a point producing machine, and his current PNHLe rate (44) is the lowest he has ever posted, which will go up dramatically in the next few years.
Michael Rasmussen – Detroit Red Wings (44) – last season was a case where Rasmussen was simply too good for the CHL, but was unable to thrive with limited deployment in the NHL. In retrospect, I think the Red Wings would have rather had him dominate with the Tri-City Americans (WHL), and made the decision to hopefully regain confidence by beginning the year in the AHL with Grand Rapids. It is unfortunate that he has been plagued with injuries for the better part of 2019-20, but he has undoubtedly showed signs that he is going to round out as a second-line centre in the NHL once he figures how to utilize his big frame at the pro level.
Jack Studnicka – Boston Bruins (42) – The Bruins are clearly in a ‘win now’ state of mind, but it will not be long before their aging centres (i.e., Bergeron and Krejci) will start to see some form of decline. Studnicka was cast in the same mold as Bergeron, albeit with a lower offensive potential and skill level, but I truly believe he will be mainstay in Boston’s top-six when all is said and done. He holds more value in multi-cat leagues, but should be able to contribute in a depth role in even shallower leagues in the next couple of years.
Dillon Dube – Calgary Flames (42 combined) – In Dube’s second professional season he has still not received top-six deployment, but instead has been playing with the majority of the season with at least one anchor at any given point in time. I have always been a huge fan of Dube’s game and I think it is only a matter of time before he emerges as part of the fuel that will keep the Flames burning at the top of the Western Conference.
Joachim Blichfeld – San Jose Sharks (39) – The former seventh round pick has been very consistent his entire, albeit young career. The fact that his rookie professional season with the San Jose Barracuda (AHL) has been so impressive even earned him time with the Sharks where he has accrued three NHL games played. The Sharks will be in desperate need of scoring help that comes at a premium cost as the cap crunched Sharks will look to fill out their roster next season. That may give Blichfeld a leg-up on making the NHL sooner than many other similar-caliber players.
Maxime Comtois – Anaheim Ducks (36 combined) – It is hard to imagine that Comtois is barely 21 years old as it seems that he has been a top prospect forever. He will not come with a cheap price-tag, but the fact he is currently posting the worst PNHLe of his young career indicates that his value may be at a crucial low point. In a player I believe will be a pillar in the Ducks’ top-six for years to come you may be looking at the perfect time to inquire about his availability.
Shane Bowers – Colorado Avalanche (35) – An often-overlooked piece of a deal that saw Matt Duchene end up in Canada’s capital, Bowers’ stats have never jumped off the page. However, he has made a decent transition to his rookie pro season with the Colorado Eagles in the AHL. It seems as though Bowers was always going to be a late bloomer and still has some untapped potential.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan – Los Angeles Kings (33) – JAD is a natural leader that showed exceptional promise during his WHL career with Spokane. He is the type of player that can be leaned on in critical games and always seems to bring his best when it counts the most. Although that may not translate explicitly into fantasy success, Anderson-Dolan will have his work cut out for him while deep inside the NHL’s top prospect pipeline as prime roster spots will be hard to come by. That should allow the Kings to be more patient with his development and allow him to fulfill his full potential as a second line contributor.
Jordan Kyrou – St. Louis Blues (32 combined) – as a second-year pro, Kyrou has spent more time with the Blues than with their AHL affiliate in San Antonio. With limited deployment he has yet to find the scoring touch that made him one of the most skilled players in the entire CHL while playing with the Sarnia Sting in the OHL. In order to obtain Kyrou on your fantasy team, it will come at a very high price, but he is a player I am very confident will eventually land as a consistent top-six forward also playing on the top power play unit.
Henrik Borgstrom – Florida Panthers (20) – I have not watched Borgstrom enough this year to understand why his point totals are as abysmal as they are. However, while he was playing in the NCAA at the University of Denver brandished a talent level reminiscent of a future top-line NHL pivot. He spent the majority of last season with the Panthers and was almost a point-per-game player during his rookie season in the minors (AHL). This season Borgstrom has spent almost the entire year in Springfield (AHL) with only a 0.5 point-per-game average. I am not giving up hope that he can eventually round out as a top-six forward in the NHL, but it seems his confidence has disappeared along with his scoring aptitude.
Antoine Morand – Anaheim Ducks (18) – Admittedly I have never been that high on Morand but he has proven to be a key contributor on teams when the highest stakes are on the line. His PNHLe trajectory is headed in the wrong direction and his first professional season has verified a more difficult adjustment than most prospects. He has shown flashes of top-six potential but on a rebuilding Ducks franchise with an abundance of skilled forward talent he may need to reinvent his game if he wants to become a mainstay in the NHL. Unfortunately, that does not bode well for his fantasy aspirations.
Super Sleeper Pick
Lauri Pajuniemi – New York Rangers (52) – The Rangers 2018 fifth-round-pick has one of the highest goal contribution rates of over 8000 players I am currently tracking. Despite the fact that he is playing in a different league (Liiga) Pajuniemi’s trajectory is eerily reminiscent of Victor Olofsson, another sniper who ripped it up overseas in the SHL before seemingly coming from nowhere to land on Buffalo’s top line and becoming an early Calder favourite. The 20-year-old still has a tough road ahead in an organization littered with high-end offensive forwards, but even in the deepest of fantasy leagues there is a significant chance he is still available and worth a stash. He is only 1% owned in Fantrax leagues.
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.