Prospect Ramblings: Today’s Most Slept on Prospects

Brayden Olafson



In the era that we live in, most people are aware of the pro’s and con’s that we are subject to as a result of the vast social media presence in our lives. The endless spectrum of information that we are bombarded with on a daily basis is overwhelming to say the very least. One of the results of this is a phenomenon known as groupthink. Back in March, Mason Black (@NHLRankKing) painted an excellent picture of how groupthink impacts the draft, and why it’s important to be cognizant of. If you use Twitter, or any other social media platform for that matter, chances are that you’re subject to one groupthink echo chamber or another. – it’s almost inevitable. Any good Twitter follow, in my opinion, is guilty of planting the seeds of groupthink – each prospect writer has their favorite prospect or group of prospects. Whether they’re an underdog, or simply a rising product of their favorite team. These players tend to become engorged with hype, and although that hype ebbs and flows between players of focus, there is always a disproportionately small group of prospects who receive the spotlight. Conversely, it seems, a disproportionately large group of prospects, who are otherwise worthy of media attention don’t always receive it. This may be based on a variety of factors that matter not; what matters is that today I plan on cranking the scope of that spotlight in directions which prospects have been bathing in darkness despite some promising results. 


None – I repeat, none of these prospects are players who I’ve reached into the depths of the prospect world to find. They are all among the top echelon of prospects in their respective systems, yet in each case have seemingly been left off the hype radar. Today we’ll try to get to the bottom of it, and determine whether their lack of hype is justified, or if some of them could be –  *cliche alert* – diamonds in the rough. 


D, Thomas Harley, Dallas Stars

Page Hits: 9258 | Upside 7.7 | NHL Certainty: 8.2 | Dobber Prospect Ranking: 12 (D)


Despite blossoming into one of the CHL’s most competent and reliable defenseman, I feel it’s true that Thomas Harley still receives far less hype than he is owed. The Dallas Stars appropriately selected The Mississauga blueliner in the second half of last years’ first-round and he’s done nothing but improve ever since. Harley’s poise, patience, and vision are all aspects of what will make him a reliable two-way defenseman in the NHL, while his casually devastating release is what may allow him to develop into a favorable sidekick to Miro Heiskanen.


By contrast to Harley’s lack of attention, Moritz Seider, who ranks lower in Dobber’s Prospect Rankings for a defenseman at 15th, and has comparable upside and NHL certainty, has had his DobberProspects profile viewed in excess of 25,000 times. Seider’s extended spotlight is likely due in part to his surprise top-10 selection by the Red Wings’ last summer. In reality, the gap that separates the two defensemen’s future is far narrower than the 270% indicated by their profile views.


Verdict: Severely under-hyped. 



D, Brogan Rafferty, Vancouver Canucks

Page Hits: 6916 | Upside 7.0 | NHL Certainty: 8.5 | Dobber Prospect Ranking: 31 (D)



The defensively relentless Brogan Rafferty experienced a breakout season in the AHL this year after departing from Quinnipiac University. His 38 assists were the most among American Leauge rookie defenders and second only to Minnesota prospect Brennan Menell. The 25-year-old is a bit of a late bloomer but could make his way into the NHL as soon as next year. His lack of attention is hardly reflective of his recent breakout, which is surprising considering how much our resident Canuck hype-man has one of the largest Twitter presences in the hockey prospect world. 


Perhaps Cam sees Rafferty as being below the threshold of hype for a few reasons. Despite his mature age, his skill is exuded in a raw manner. While he’s capable of creating flashy, deceptive plays in the neutral and offensive zone, Rafferty tends to be a minor liability in the neutral zone. His distribution efforts are reactive, rather than patient – a characteristic reflective of a player who is more focused on the next 3 seconds of play than the next 30 seconds. 


If brought into the NHL next season, based on his offensive merit, it seems appropriate that Rafferty would fit into a role with some penalty killing exposure. While his offensive ceiling is indeed high, there’s little security in hoping that his offensive success in the AHL translates to offensive success in the NHL.


Verdict: Appropriately Hyped


RW, Tanner Laczynski, Philadelphia Flyers 

Page Hits: 3695| Upside 6.7 | NHL Certainty:  7.8 | Dobber Prospect Ranking: 33 


Considering the circumstances surrounding Laczynski’s persuit of an NHL contract, it’s baffling that his name hasn’t been more prominent over the last two to three months. The Ohio State University GRADUATE is a strong and skillful forward who brings plenty of two-way aptitudes to the Flyers depth. His competence in the areas of puck protection and edgework are two of the glaring strengths that could allow the 23-year-old to make an immediate impact in the pro circuit.


As mentioned, Laczynski graduated from The Ohio State University this spring, meaning that after four-years of NCAA play, he was sitting in a position of pending unrestricted free agency. This alone is enough for me to say that his lack of hype has been high. In addition, the former sixth-round draft pick is the essence of a future third-line NHL player. The simple aspects of his game such as his ability to get pucks through to the net, and forgo the modern loose-puck on a string style of maneuvering provides a refreshing view of success. 


Verdict: Under-hyped


LW, John Leonard, San Jose Sharks


Page Hits: 4005 | Upside 6.5 | NHL Certainty: 7.0 | Dobber Prospect Ranking: 112 (F)


The UMass Amherst junior is one of the most finely tuned finesse players currently competing in Hockey East. As a former sixth-round selection, it’s easy to have slept on the 21-year-old, but it should end soon. After accruing a point per game in his second consecutive season, Leonard became a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker award. If you don’t believe me about his endless stream of skill, just take a gander here…


With his strengths in the puck skill department overshadowing nearly his entire competition, it’s also easy to overlook some of the other strengths in his game. Leonard sees the ice like a hawk, and anticipates plays extremely well – it’s part of what allows him to create such forgiving gaps for himself, and something that should help him succeed further into his hockey career. In addition, the effort that he puts into puck battles and retrieval rivals the strength of players with an additional 3 inches in height and 30 pounds. While I’m optimistic that there is an immense upside to gambling on this former sixth-round pick, his range is narrower than many other players, and as such, he’s a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect. 




Verdict: Under-hyped





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Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Fabian Lysell 8.5 9.0
Jakub Lauko 6.0 6.0
Matthew Poitras 7.5 7.5
Alexander Nikishin 9.0 9.3
Alexander Rykov 7.0 7.5
Justin Robidas 5.5 4.5
Zion Nybeck 8.0 3.0
David Kase 4.0 6.0
Jacob Julien 6.5 6.0
Anton Johannesson 3.0 3.0