Prospect Ramblings: Retro Jerseys, Michigan’s Freshman Crop and Buy Low Prospects

Dave Hall

2020-11-17

Welcome back for another edition of the Tuesday ramblings.

If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out our November 31-in-31 series here at Dobberprospects. Each day is filled with draft recaps, off-season transactions, and more.

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I suppose that I will start by mentioning the new Reverse Retro NHL jerseys. Over the past few days, the NHL had been teasing them, dropping Twitter fed clues along the way, knowing full-well that we as hockey fans were desperate for anything related to hockey news. Finally, the big reveal occurred on Monday morning, and well, they were fine…

Even though I love a good ol’ throwback jersey, I have some reservations with about 80% of the entire line. Just for kicks, here are my winners and losers.

First, here is the entire showcase:

Hits

 

  1. LA Kings – This is just a great looking jersey. I enjoy that they went back to the old logo, it’s a nice mix.
  2. St.Louis Blues – How can you not like the old school red and blue look. They wore these last year, and they looked very slick.
  3. Caroline Hurricanes – They have received some criticism online, as they are technically not the “Whalers”. But it’s hard not to love the jersey. I would love for this sweater to become worn on a full-time basis and will gladly be adding this to my Christmas list.
  4. Colorado Avalanche – While I am not overly happy with their decision to veer away from the original blue, you cannot argue the overall look of the throwback Norqiues kit.
  5. Tampa Bay – While it does not seem like it was that long ago since we saw them in these uniforms, I still love the look and would not be upset to see them revert on a full-time basis. 

Misses

  1. Anaheim Ducks – I wish they would have gone for the tried and true look – the masked duck. Save yourself the time and go with the obvious choice!
  2. Calgary Flames – It seems like the Flames have made it their off-season goal to mimic the Vancouver Canucks, and now they have officially made the complete transformation. 
  3. Winnipeg Jets – Not much to say about this one. I am not quite sure where the inspiration came from.
  4. Detroit Red Wings – It looks like the Red Wings have decided to bring out their practice jersey as a “retro”. Creative.
  5. New York Islanders – Finally, we have the Islanders, who clearly missed the memo. Aside from a darker shade of blue, maybe? I cannot tell if anything has changed. The Fisherman would have been a welcomed addition to the mix of retro looks. 

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Alright, enough with the fun stuff. It’s time for the meaty Information.

Last week, I posted the top-10 ranked teams heading into the 2020-21 NCAA campaign, and the Michigan Wolverines were not on that list. Rightfully so. They are dressing five freshmen skaters on their roster this season, so, why would they be? Well, it seems that Michigan took their top-10 snub to heart, as they came out the gate with a dominant two-game sweep, outscoring Arizona State by 11-1 margin. With a crop of five young budding stars, the Wolverines look poised to become one of the seasons must-watch clubs, and should not fail to entertain. Here were a few of those freshman skaters who thoroughly impressed me.

Fresh off of being drafted 39th overall by the San Jose Sharks just one-month ago, Thomas Bordeleau had a very strong weekend, notching three-points (1G + 2A) between the two matches. Production aside, he certainly blended right in at the Collegiate level and was a non-stop threat on the ice. It seemed like opportunity followed him around, and he was on a constant lurk for more. Even without the puck, he was relentless, provided a constant headache for opponents, and forced many takeaways as a result. I do not want to count any chickens before they hatch, but if these first few games are a glimpse into the future, it certainty looks bright. 

Here is a look at some of that relentlessness I was referring to:

And here is a little glimpse of his offensive upside:

Next, there was Owen Power, a standout defender who could easily press to be next year’s first-overall-pick. He notched three points (1G +2A) over the two games, scoring his first NCAA in the process. In all honesty, the kid can do it all. He is the definition of a complete package and brings a style that does not come around often. At just 17, he stands at a whopping 6-4 and weighs in at an incredible 214-pounds – he is not even old enough to vote yet. What makes his frame even more intimidating, is that it does not seem to impede his skating ability in the slightest. He is swift on his toes and moves with much confidence, both with and without the puck.

He potted 40 points (12G + 28A) with the USHL’s Chicago Steel last season, and if you ask me, could very well top those numbers at the NCAA ranks. If this is the first you have heard of this 2021 draft-eligible gem, do yourself a favor a give him a watch. 

Even though he didn’t score, I love this clip. It portrays his smooth/calm demeanor, as well as his terrific mobility, despite his towering size:

Just one season removed from potting a league-leading (or should I say league-dominating) 101 points in the BCHL, Kent Johnson stole the show through his first two matches with the Wolverines. Despite being a rookie amid his NCAA debut, Johnson contributed four assists and added his first goal. He leads the league early on with his five points. The product of North Vancouver is an incredibly shifty prospect, with an intelligent demeanor and an abundance of offensive talent. Despite opening on the club’s fourth-line, he was able to carry over his incredible confidence with the puck and showed off his noteworthy playmaking ability all weekend long. Both he and Powers will likely duke it out for the entire seasons, and either one could easily fall into the number-one spot come draft day. 

On top of those three, who were my personal standouts, there were two additional Freshman in Brendan Brisson (Vegas) and Matthew Beniers (2021 Draft). The couple posted two, and three points, respectively, and also look like promising additions to this Michigan freshman dream-team. It’s going to be a fun road to the NHL 2021 Draft.

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I am currently getting set to embark on a few fantasy drafts over the next few weeks, and I have been scouring through the league in search of a few sleepy prospects to scoop up late. Through my search, I noticed there are some intriguing young guns in some interesting scenarios and without renewed contracts. Most have either failed to live up to expectation or have had a hard time even sniffing an NHL lineup, yet. Here are some “buy low” prospects who currently remain RFA/UFA.

Aleksi Saarela, 23, arrived in Florida’s system last year following a deadline deal and came as a consistent AHL player. However, I have a strong feeling that there is some untapped NHL potential looming. He’s currently in Finland, where he sits second in Liiga with eight goals in 12 games and looks to be channeling his inner sniper on a nightly basis. Given the Panthers’ thirst for secondary production, his offensive nature could warrant a bottom-six look. In which case, he could move his way up a line-up and surprise fantasy owners with some heavier minutes, and perhaps a little more production than expected. I like what I’ve seen so far.

Alexander Volkov has been a sturdy producer within the Lightning organization for three years now. He’s tallied 123 points over 195 games with the Syracuse Crunch and has been one of their better performing prospects to date. Given the current cap crunch and the likely possibility that some names are on their way out, we could see a few rookies etch their names on the opening roster. If that’s the case, and he does re-sign a deal, you have to think he stands a strong mention among that list. He is a prominent producer and could thrive on a high-flying club such as the Lightning.

For deep formats, and I mean deep, Jalen Chatfield is an interesting conversation piece. While he doesn’t bring a ton of stock value, the Canucks will likely have to dip into their farm system next year. Of course, the likely suitors favor Olli Juolevi, Brogan Rafferty, or even Jack Rathbone, but it is a well-known fact that Head Coach, Travis Green, loves the strong two-way game of Chatfield. He could finally squeeze into the line-up and provide the team with third-pairing minutes, hitting a few peripheral categories in the process. Again, a very deep multi-cat option, but something to ponder nonetheless.

Of course, I have to mention Henrik Borgstrom. If you follow my weekly DobberHockey column, you probably know that I am still bullish on the former NCAA stand out, and surprisingly, don’t even own him in any of my fantasy rosters. But, I do believe that there is some untapped skill here waiting to burst out, and the Panthers must work with his flaws, and set him up for success. With the addition of Anton Lundell up the middle, some of the pressure has been taken off for him to perform as a second-line pivot, and that should bode well for his future progression. If they can ease him into a minor league stint, and eventually a third-line role, things could work themselves out.

Casey Mittelstadt. We all know the story and I am sure many fantasy owners are currently bag holding his rights, hoping that one day he returns to his (supposed) form. Much like Henrik Borgstrom, things looked so promising. He just could not find a way to translate that high-level offensive ability. In his defense, the pressure for him to develop was certainly there, and perhaps he was just not ready to live out those expectations. With 25 points in 36 AHL games last year, his development seemed to somewhat get back on track, and with the additions they have made among their forward group, there is potential for them to bring him back with a stronger cast. Perhaps surrounding him with a more defensively responsible cast on the third-line could help him focus on regaining his offensive touch?

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Thanks for tuning in this week. Stay safe and enjoy your week. Follow me on Twitter @hall1289.

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