Return to Play: Prospects in Camp

Mason Black


Photo courtesy of


Exciting times are ahead. NHL teams and players are now stepping into Phase-3 of the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ protocol. Training camps will now be used by the 24 remaining NHL teams that are included in the play-in and playoff rounds set to begin on August 1. Each team will begin its training camp on July 13 while they try to safely get players up to game-speed before traveling to hub cities (Toronto and Edmonton) on July 26.


Rosters will be capped at 31 players including goalies (although I have also read that teams may bring an unlimited number of goalies). That is where things get interesting from a prospect perspective. The guidelines set forth by the NHL’s head office in the 48-page document allow teams to have the ability to include a set of players usually classed as ‘Black Aces’ under normal playoff procedures. It will give a glimpse into each team’s valuation of the top players that are inside of its organization, which may be different depending on how legitimate a team feels their shot is at winning the ultimate prize: Lord Stanley’s Cup. 


A team like the Boston Bruins – who were in first place in the regular season standings prior to play being suspended and ultimately canceled – will want to make sure the extra players brought with them are all players the Bruins’ management feels can contribute if they are forced into action. While, on the flip side, the Montreal Canadiens may decide to give playoff exposure to players that would not otherwise have had a chance this season considering they were a .500 team and sold off several players at the deadline. No matter how irregular the likes of this playoff season are compared to seasons past, the experience gained can oftentimes pay off in the future as teams take the next step in terms of their development. 


As fans and fantasy general managers, the roster compilation can give us something that we rarely get to see; an indication of which prospects are valued more inside the organization. For many of these players, there is not a legitimate shot that they will see ice-time during the playoffs, but it may give them an opportunity to be a part of the team and build lasting relationships in an extraordinary situation. If we have learned anything from the year 2020, it is to expect the unexpected and that means several prospects may be thrust into the spotlight with the hope of leading their franchise to the promised land. 


The list of teams and players below is not a comprehensive list, but rather one that I feel can be used to highlight several prospects for each NHL team that may have some value in different fantasy league types sooner rather than later. It may be worthwhile to add some of these names to your watch-list which can help to give you an advantage when 2020-21 training camps start in December or January. I have created a link for the players that I feel have the most fantasy upside and I would encourage you to read more about them by clicking into their fantasy player profiles. It should be noted that many teams’ top prospects were not able to attend for a variety of different reasons including COVID-19 restrictions and other league contractual obligations. 


Eastern Conference


Boston Bruins

Jeremy Lauzon (D)

Zach Senyshyn (RW)

Jack Studnicka (C)

Urho Vakanainen (D)

Dan Vladar (G)

Jakub Zboril (D)


Carolina Hurricanes

Jake Bean (D)

Morgan Geekie (C)

Alex Nedeljkovic (G)

Ryan Suzuki (C)


Columbus Blue Jackets

Liam Foudy (C)

Matiss Kivlinieks (G)

Veini Vehvilainen (G)


Florida Panthers

Brady Keeper (D)

Eetu Luostarinen (C)

Samuel Montembeault (G)

Chase Priskie (D)

Aleksi Saarela (C)

Owen Tippett (RW)


Montreal Canadiens

Josh Brook (D)

Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C)

Ryan Poehling (C)

Cayden Primeau (G)

Alexander Romanov (D) – unable to participate in gameplay


New York Islanders

Sebastian Aho (D)

Kieffer Bellows (LW)

Otto Koivula (LW)

Jakub Skarek (G)

Oliver Wahlstrom (RW)


New York Rangers

Julien Gauthier (RW)

Vitali Kravtsov (RW)

K’Andre Miller (D)

Darren Raddysh (D)


Philadelphia Flyers

Mark Friedman (D)

Morgan Frost (C)

Alex Lyon (G)

German Rubtsov (C)

Carsen Twarynski (LW)

Kirill Ustimenko (G)

Egor Zamula (D)


Pittsburgh Penguins

Sam Miletic (LW)

Samuel Poulin (LW)

Pierre-Olivier Joseph (D)


Tampa Bay Lightning

Alex Barre-Boulet (RW)

Cal Foote (D)

Alexander Volkov (LW)


Toronto Maple Leafs

Adam Brooks (C)

Teemu Kivihalme (D)

Timothy Liljegren (D)

Nicholas Robertson (LW)

Rasmus Sandin (D)

Joseph Woll (G)


Washington Capitals

Alexander Alexeyev (D)

Martin Fehervary (D)

Connor McMichael (C)

Vitek Vanecek (G)


Western Conference


Arizona Coyotes

Brayden Burke (LW)

Kyle Capobianco (D)

Barrett Hayton (C)

Victor Soderstrom (D)

Ivan Prosvetov (G)


Calgary Flames

Glenn Gawdin (C)

Jon Gillies (G)

Connor Mackey (D)

Matthew Phillips (RW)

Adam Ruzicka (C)

Juuso Valimaki (D)

Artyom Zagidulin (G)


Chicago Blackhawks

Nicolas Beaudin (D)

Colin Delia (G)

Mackenzie Entwistle (RW)

Brandon Hagel (RW)

Chad Krys (D)

Philipp Kurashev (C)

Kevin Lankinen (G)

Alec Regula (D)


Colorado Avalanche

Shane Bowers (C)

Bowen Byram (D)

Connor Timmins (D)

Adam Werner (G)


Dallas Stars

Gavin Bayeruther (D)

Nicholas Caamano (RW)

Ty Dellandrea (C)

Thomas Harley (D)

Joel Kiviranta (RW)

Jake Oettinger (G)

Colton Point (G)

Jason Robertson (LW)


Edmonton Oilers

Tyler Benson (LW)

Evan Bouchard (D)

Philip Broberg (D)

William Lagesson (D)

Cooper Marody (C)

Ryan McLeod (C)

Olivier Rodrigue (G)

Stuart Skinner (G)


Minnesota Wild

Calen Addison (D)

Louis Belpedio (D)

Kaapo Kahkonen (G)

Gerald Mayhew (LW)

Nico Sturm (C)


Nashville Predators

Alexandre Carrier (D)

Jeremy Davies (D)

Connor Ingram (G)

Rem Pitlick (LW)

Eeli Tolvanen (W)

Philip Tomasino (RW)


St. Louis Blues

Joel Hofer (G)

Ville Husso (G)

Klim Kostin (LW)

Niko Mikkola (D)

Austin Poganski (RW)

Tyler Tucker (D)

Jake Walman (D)


Vancouver Canucks

Guillaume Brisebois (D)

Michael DiPietro (G)

Olli Juolevi (D)

Kole Lind (RW)

Zach MacEwen (RW)

Brogan Rafferty (D)


Vegas Golden Knights

Dylan Coghlan (D)

Oscar Dansk (G)

Keegan Kolesar (RW)

Peyton Krebs (C)

Jimmy Schuldt (D)

Zach Whitecloud (D)


Winnipeg Jets

Eric Comrie (G)

David Gustafsson (C)

Jansen Harkins (LW)

Sami Niku (D)

Nelson Nogier (D)

C.J. Suess (C)

Logan Stanley (D)



Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Tristan Luneau 7.5 8.0
Zachary Nehring 4.5 5.0
Jacob Julien 5.5 5.0
Antti Tuomisto 4.5 6.0
Aku Räty 5.8 5.0
Miko Matikka 6.5 6.5
Nathan Smith 6.2 6.0
Jan Jenik 7.2 6.5
Ilya Fedotov 6.0 3.0
Noel Nordh 6.5 7.0