MOSCOW, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 27, 2018: CSKA Moscow’s Kirill Kaprizov (L) and Spartak Moscow’s Robin Hanzl in action in their 2018/19 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match at CSKA Arena. Mikhail Japaridze/TASS (Photo by Mikhail JaparidzeTASS )
Welcome to this week’s ramblings! We are taking another crack at some Player A vs. Player B debates but we are looking at it from a fantasy hockey perspective. Generally, it will be from a points-only point of view unless otherwise stated. I’ll be expanding on a few of the answers to the question I recently tweeted out. I asked the Twitterverse to give me two players from the 2020 NHL Draft class and I would choose between them and give reasons as to why I would choose that player if the draft were today. Without further ado, let’s get at it!
This one is easier than you might initially think. Quinton Byfield had one assist at the World Junior Championships this year. Kristian Tanus, on the other hand, had two goals and seven assists for nine points. Since the World Juniors is the end all and be all of scouting, Tanus is CLEARLY the better prospect. (Note: This is obviously a joke but I do LOVE Tanus and want someone to draft him this year.)
This is a good one, especially for one-year leagues. In a dynasty league, this is Alexis Lafrenière and it’s not a question. In a one year league, it becomes a bit more debate because you have to ask yourself, who is going to perform better this year. With Kaprizov presumably coming over for next season, many have pegged him for ~65 points in a full 82-game season as a rookie. So basing off of this, we have to expect Lafrenière to outproduce that if we value him higher in a one-year league.
To get a gauge on how much Lafrenière could produce in year one, let’s take a look at some of the notable rookie scorers from the past few seasons.
Elias Pettersson 2018-19 – 66 points
Matthew Barzal 2017-18 – 85 points
Auston Matthews 2016-17 – 69 points
Jack Eichel 2015-16 – 56 points
Connor McDavid 2015-16 – 48 points (45 games)
With Barzal’s season being an outlier (he hasn’t surpassed 62 points since) and McDavid’s insane scoring rate being that of a generational scorer. Lafrenière has often been talked about as a prospect in the ‘Matthews/Eichel/Pettersson’ tier. He should be able to put up similar numbers in his rookie season so expecting somewhere around 55-65 points. This is what makes Lafrenière vs. Kaprizov so debatable.
If I’m drafting in a one-year league, who Lafrenière gets drafted to is going to play a big role. Kaprizov will be getting top-line minutes and top powerplay time. Lafrenière may also not have much of a supporting cast around him but he should have young, dynamic offensive players to play with on a number of rebuilding teams such as Dylan Larkin in Detroit. In Los Angeles, he could see time alongside veteran pivot Anze Kopitar. In Minnesota, Kaprizov will get a bit of rope to work with as they’ve been waiting years for his arrival at this point. Even with that rope, I don’t know that he will have a natural running mate in Minnesota.
VERDICT: Alexis Lafrenière because I think he will be able to do more with less if he has to but he shouldn’t have to battle veterans or other established players in Detroit, Ottawa, Los Angeles or wherever else he could end up.
As the analyst who covers the Ottawa Senators’ prospect pool here at Dobber Prospects, I don’t think I was allowed to skip this one. Both players should be able to step into the NHL fulltime next season. Logan Brown should be able to claim a center spot on the second or third line with Norris claiming the other or playing on the wing. There is a pretty decent chance that both Norris and Brown will be fixtures on the powerplay because of Brown’s silky smooth playmaking and Norris’s tendency for finding the back of the net.
A key factor here could be if either player is put on a line with Alexis Lafrenière should the Ottawa Senators get a bit of luck at the lottery. If Brown is given the task of centering a line with Lafrenière, his playmaking could make Lafrenière a possible 35+ goal scorer as a rookie. Should Norris be granted the opportunity to play with Lafrenière, he could himself challenge 30 goals as a rookie with the franchise-altering player setting him up. We won’t know if the lottery falls their way, but if it does it could play a major factor in who the better fantasy asset is.
VERDICT: Brown is a premier playmaker when he is at his best. Norris is a goalscoring threat whenever he has the puck on his stick. Brown will need to rely on players finishing his plays more often than Norris. While I think Norris is likely the better asset for next season, Brown could very well be the long-term answer if you’re looking for just high point production.
This one is going to divide the two most passionate and insane fanbases. The reality with Rasmus Sandin and Alex Romanov is that although they aren’t the same players in terms of style, they could very well produce in the same range of each other. It will likely depend on who gets the better opportunity and who should be able to play on the powerplay sooner.
Sandin got some powerplay time last season in Toronto as the Leafs were making the transition towards a more speed-skill based game after the arrival of Sheldon Keefe behind the bench. He didn’t blow anyone away with the limited powerplay time but he did look more than capable and his was poised and confident with the puck. With Morgan Reilly cemented as the Leafs primary powerplay quarterback, he will be relegated to second-unit duty and he will have to earn that as well. He is a smooth defender who transitions the puck with ease and facilitates well in the offensive zone.
In Montreal, the hype around Romanov has been insane at times. It doesn’t help when some in the media have claimed that he could be the next Drew Doughty. The thing is, he is a very good defenseman. He should step right into the lineup for the Habs next season and there will be a very real chance that he is a staple in their top-four immediately. The issue for Romanov is that with Petry and Weber both being good powerplay options on the backend, he will have to battle for a spot right away. The Habs could go with a two-defenseman setup on the powerplay but most teams don’t employ that strategy anymore. He is capable of moving the puck in the offensive zone and does so with confidence.
VERDICT: Rasmus Sandin may end up being the more consistent offensive performer but Romanov will be the more dangerous player of the two. Sandin doesn’t have the shot that Romanov possesses and if he can put that to use and push deeper into the zone and attack the slot before shooting, he could put himself ahead of Sandin but it will be very dependant on who gets the better opportunity of the two.
I will start with this. If you have either of these two players on your fantasy roster, you are either in a deep league or you have a wasted roster spot. Both Logan Stanley (16th overall to WPG in 2016) and Tyler Kleven (2020 NHL Draft eligible) are big, strong defenders who take care of their own end of the ice first. Both of them pride themselves on utilizing their physicality in the defensive zone and both are decent enough skaters. Their problems arise where their fantasy value would exist, with the puck on their stick.
Neither Kleven or Stanley are going to produce at an offensive level in the NHL that they should be in consideration for your fantasy lineups. They may provide a bit of value in a multi-cat league that accounts for hits, blocks, and even plus-minus. They could be defenders who bring peripheral value in leagues where it matters but in a points-only league, neither will do you much good.
VERDICT: The winner here will be Kleven because he does possess a big shot and if we were grading the two out in a multi-cat league, he would likely also produce more hits as he is often a heat-seeking missile, regardless of that sometimes leading to a chance against. Kleven is younger as well and we’ve seen Stanley in the AHL for a couple of seasons now and his offensive acumen hasn’t grown much whereas the chance for Kleven still exists.
I appreciate all the responses to the initial question on Twitter. I am always available there, you can find me at @TheTonyFerrari! Check out my interviews with center Dylan Peterson and netminder Drew Commesso from the U.S. NTDP team! Also, check out the full Dobber Prospects 2020 NHL DRAFT PAGE! There are over 60 player profiles and a ton more draft content including the January Mid-Season Draft Report with a full breakdown of my Top-100 Rankings with video and analysis on 60+ players including nearly every player in the top-40!