Prospect Ramblings: Extremely Early Season Prospect Thoughts

Pat Quinn

2021-01-20

Washington Capitals v Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, NY – JANUARY 15: Dylan Cozens #24 of the Buffalo Sabres warms up before playing in an NHL game against the Washington Capitals on January 15, 2021 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

 

 

Welcome to the Thursday prospect ramblings and excuse my hiatus last week, I forgot to warm the week of hockey pools starting I can be virtually unreachable! I had only four season pools this season while taking care of my two keeper leagues. Feels a lot better cutting down from nine to six.

Like everyone else I have been watching as much hockey as possible to start the season (I swear I always burn myself out mid-year as I go to extreme to start!). Perhaps not like everyone though, I have been attempting to watch a lot of prospects play their first season, well and Devils games. Before you ask, yes I did manage to get Jack Hughes very late in all pools.

My #GootTweet of the week returns as well!

 

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Alex Lafreniere

In the three games AL has no points, five shots and a few hits. The Rangers have kind of been a mishmash to start as the coaching decisions have been odd to start. AL is at least getting good line mates with his most frequent being Gauther and Chytil, and I like the set up of that line. He has seen time with Panarin and Strome as well (evident in the game versus the Devils) but he has not really stood out as of yet. This would likely be attributed to the depth on the wings the Rangers possess (he is averaging 14 minutes per game) but I cannot help but think a proper training camp, or perhaps WJC play, could have really helped him take off to start. Right now, he is difficult to spot on the ice but that should change as the season wears on.

At least on a positive note, if he has a poor first season he should be attainable in keeper leagues. I say that as I tried to get Hughes all of the last off season to no avail, but people do know I am a Devils fan so I get overcharged. In yearly leagues I would drop him and wait until he starts to produce more frequently instead of sitting, holding and waiting.

Additional, thought/note: If Lafreniere and Stutzle both have poor point performances this season, will we start to see an end to top picks immediately being put in the NHL? There were good arguments to not have Jack Hughes play in the NHL last season and perhaps more teams will send them overseas for a year if they are on the younger side when drafted (like Byfield).

 

Kirill Kaprizov

He has already looked like a star for the Wild in three games. I feel as though his point potential will be hindered this year on the Wild though, as the team has no real centers, and the head coach messes with the 1PP because he wants a center who can win draws. His two frequent centers to start the year have been Bjustad and Victor Rask, gross. KK is rocking 20 minutes a night as the Wild know to lean on him. I wish he would shoot more. I also wish Kevin Fiala would produce for my fantasy squads as I was able to group the two together in a surprising number of pools.

 

Josh Norris

First line and 1PP duty is a great start for a prospect in the NHL. The Sens are pretty weak at C so it is nice to see Norris immediately make such an impression. He is averaging 16 minutes a game and looks like he fits in the NHL. It is interesting that he felt so bad about putting up no shots in his first two games, so he decided to put up six in his most recent game. In H2H leagues it is hard to recommend him, but if he starts to shoot people need to pay attention.

 

Ty Smith and Yegor Sharangovich

Both of these players have looked great for the Devils, but Smith has stood out more for me than Sharangovich despite seeing less average ice time (15:43 for Smith to 17:38 for Sharangovich). Smith is great with a first pass and has no problem skating the puck out of the defensive end without panic. Sharangovich is placed in to a position to succeed early but when Hischer and Bratt come back I would expect him in the bottom six. Sharangovich will be a good player over time and his production will rise accordingly, whereas Smith is the better player now and could produce in the NHL faster when he finally snags the 1PP spot. Both should really only be added in deep leagues, but Sharangovich is lucky to be on a line with the red-hot Jack Hughes, so he should be rostered if you have room and need an extra forward.

 

Barrett Hayton

He did play 20 games to conclude 2019-2020 but I am not counting that here. His first three games have been alright. Thankfully head coach Tocchett has put him on a line to succeed with Conor Garland and Nick Schmaltz a majority of the time. The downside is that he is only seeing around 12 minutes of ice time per game. With one goal and three shots so far in three games I would have expected a little more, but like the title says this is extremely early. His usage is nice but he needs to engage in the play more.

 

Philipp Kurashev and Pius Suter

Color me as one who missed that Kurashev made the team. Good for him. He was also scratched the first game but has played in the three since. Let us face it too, the Hawks are a bad team this year. I have actually not watched yet, but I plan too soon. Just looking at the numbers Kurashev is averaging 12 minutes per game, which is not great, but he has five shots in those three games, and a goal, to make him intriguing. In keeper leagues with prospect spots, I would stash him there as he may find a groove and being to produce, but it will not be great production on the Blackhawks for 2021. Definitely do not hold either player if your league counts plus minus. Suter has seen his minutes fluctuate in the four games he has played with the lowest at 11 minutes and the top at 17 minutes.

Suter should see his production increase in Chicago with only Strome to challenge him at center. Additionally, his most frequent line mates to start the year after four games are Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat so that helps, and so does having nine shots so far. Kurashev has played frequently next to Dominik Kubalik to start the season, so that is worth monitoring as well.

 

Dylan Cozens

Cozens’ must have been promoted to the Staal and Olofsson line as the game I watched he was stuck with Tobias Reider and Cody Eakin, and boy is it tough to stick out on offense with the latter pair. I did expect a little more scoring out of the gate for Cozens but he was getting the slightly better than Jeff Skinner treatment in Buffalo, aka told to produce with 4th liners at best. Perhaps in the latter two games he stood out more as the series against Washington he was quiet, but I would tie that to usage (seriously, how do they not put Skinner and Cozens together?). He only has three shots in his four games, while averaging 12 minutes, so hopefully the new lines can get him to engage more. It might be more shock of playing against NHLers and not WJC opponents as well.

 

Jack Studnicka and Jakub Zboril

I enjoy making fun of the 2015 Bruins draft as they missed on so many great players, but DeBrusk is a middle-six power winger and Zboril, as early as it is, has been quite good for the Bruins. He is averaging 19 minutes and has not stood out (At least to me) for defensive miscues. I am glad he is working out for the Bruins. There is not much here for fantasy purposes though, unless you are in deep leagues.

Studnicka was on the first line in the first game, scratched for game two and then put with Nick Ritchie and David Krejci for the game three loss versus the Islanders(zzzzz). He is killing penalties but many want him to produce. Only averaging 12 minutes will not help that, and so will not shooting on net. I have only noticed him because his name is really unique. Does not bode well with the depth the Bruins possess, so as of now I would not roster him (of course) and perhaps try to acquire him as the Bruins must like him enough to put him on line one in game one.

 

Alex Romanov

Well Romanov sure looked good in the opening game and is averaging 18 minutes a game with two points. He has not looked out of place, and selling high should be a priority for fantasy owners though I know it looks good to hold on. If you can get a top dman from an overly excited person do it as Romanov will not really hit his highs until later, and even then they should only average between 30-43 points. I could be wrong big time but that is why I said “established” so I can save my bacon. Romanov has started just under 60% of his starts in the offensive zone as he has been eased in slightly, and he is playing with the underrated Brett Kulak to form a very good pairing.

 

 

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Thanks for reading, follow my twitter: @FHPQuinn

 

 

 

 

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