Prospect Ramblings: Checking In On AHL And NCAA Prospects

Peter Harling

2021-02-15

Lehigh Valley Phantoms Zayde Wisdom – Image Via OSC

Don’t look now, but there are all kinds of hockey being played again.

While we still await the return of the WHL and OHL there has been plenty of prospects playing in other leagues. 

The WHL has committed to a 24 game season scheduled to begin February 26th. So far only eight games are posted on the WHL website

OHL Commissioner Dave Branch sent a statement on February 11th updating the status of the OHL intention to return to play.

 

The statement provided little information or details but did suggest that the OHL had a plan that was close to being executed. Shortly after Scott Wheeler of The Athletic posted this…

Meanwhile, the AHL has returned to play in the USA and limited play in Canada.  With the OHL and WHL on hold, many drafted prospects are getting an opportunity to play in the AHL when they would otherwise not be eligible.

2020 second overall pick by the LA Kings, Quinton Byfield is one player making his pro debut in the AHL. I have been vocal about my opinion about where Byfield should spend this crucial development season. He has not shown me he is an NHL player yet, and I believe he would be best served dominating the OHL. Since that is not possible, the AHL is the best available option and he has scored his first career pro goal.

Byfield now has three points through five games. 

Let’s take a look at the top ten under 20 scorers in the AHL so far.

Player Team NHL GP G A PTS PPG
1 pastedGraphic.png Trevor Zegras (C) San Diego Gulls ANA 5 2 5 7 1.40
2 pastedGraphic_1.png Seth Jarvis (C/RW) Chicago Wolves CAR 4 4 2 6 1.50
3 pastedGraphic_1.png Philip Tomasino (C) Chicago Wolves NAS 4 2 3 5 1.25
4 pastedGraphic_1.png Thomas Harley (D) Texas Stars DAL 5 2 3 5 1.00
5 pastedGraphic_1.png Jamie Drysdale (D) San Diego Gulls ANA 5 2 3 5 1.00
6 pastedGraphic_1.png Peyton Krebs (C/LW) Henderson Silver Knights VGK 4 1 4 5 1.25
7 pastedGraphic_1.png Michael Vukojevic (D) Binghamton Devils NJ 3 1 3 4 1.33
8 pastedGraphic_1.png Zayde Wisdom (C) Lehigh Valley Phantoms PHI 3 2 1 3 1.00
9 pastedGraphic_1.png Adam Beckman (LW) Iowa Wild MIN 4 2 1 3 0.75
10 pastedGraphic_1.png Quinton Byfield (C) Ontario Reign LAK 5 1 2 3 0.60

While there are some familiar names on this list like Seth Jarvis, Trevor Zegras, Philip Tomasino, Peyton Krebs, and Jamie Drysdale, let’s look at some of the lesser owned fantasy prospects.

Michael Vukojevic is a big 6-3, 212-pound defenseman, drafted 82nd overall by New Jersey in 2019. He is unsigned and the 19-year-old would have one more year of junior eligibility remaining. While his early offensive production is eye-catching, be cautious about over-valuing him at this point. His current 1.33 point-per-game production is unprecedented in his career so far. His best season was the 2019-20 campaign when he posted five goals and 30 points in 63 games for the Kitchener Rangers. Do not count on this production being sustainable.

Zayde Wisdom was a Philadelphia Flyers 2020 fourth-round pick (94th overall) and the first prospect from the 2020 draft to sign an NHL contract. Wisdom would be in Kingston tearing up the OHL with Shane Wright, but instead is in the AHL after impressing Flyers staff at his first NHL training camp. Wisdom skates well, competes hard, plays physical, and has been rapidly developing his skill set. He is a fast-rising prospect with 2% Fantrax ownership that is worth adding and stashing in your prospect bench in deep leagues…

Moving on to the NCAA. The talk of the college league this year is the big three from the Big Ten divisions University of Michigan Wolverines. Three of the 2021 top draft-eligible prospects play for the Wolverines. It is safe to say all three will be a top ten pick, and you could argue that one could go first overall. The 2021 draft is wide open!

My ranking of the three after watching a few games and highlights are as follows…

  1. Matty Beniers, C 16GP, 5G, 9A, 14PTS
  2. Owen Power, D 18GP, 3G, 10A, 13PTS
  3. Kent Johnson, C 18GP, 6G, 14A, 20PTS

I have Beniers at first because he brings so much more than offense to the table. He is good defensively, has a great motor, is physical, and impacts the game in many ways.

Owen Power is a big 6-5, 214-pound defenseman that skates, has a heavy shot, and has number one franchise defenseman upside in his game.

Kent Johnson is a highly skilled and offensively gifted forward who for fantasy may have the highest upside. 

I love all three players and having them all on the same team is a scouts dream!

Outside of the Michigan Three, let’s look at the top ten scoring leaders from drafted players for points per game.

Player Team NHL  GP G A PTS PPG
1 pastedGraphic.png David Farrance (D) Boston Univ. NAS 6 4 10 14 2.33
2 pastedGraphic_1.png Dylan Holloway (C/LW) Univ. of Wisconsin EDM 14 8 17 25 1.79
3 pastedGraphic.png Cole Caufield (RW) Univ. of Wisconsin MTL 22 17 16 33 1.50
4 pastedGraphic.png Thomas Bordeleau (C) Univ. of Michigan SNJ 16 5 16 21 1.31
5 pastedGraphic.png Shane Pinto (C) Univ. of North Dakota OTT 20 14 12 26 1.30
6 pastedGraphic.png Matthew Boldy (LW) Boston College MIN 15 6 13 19 1.27
7 pastedGraphic_2.png Linus Weissbach (LW/RW) Univ. of Wisconsin BUF 22 8 18 26 1.18
8 pastedGraphic.png Brandon Kruse (LW) Bowling Green State Univ. VGK 24 10 18 28 1.17
9 pastedGraphic.png Scott Reedy (C) Univ. of Minnesota SNJ 19 7 14 21 1.11
10 pastedGraphic.png Nick Swaney (RW) Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth MIN 21 9 14 23 1.10

Nashville prospect David Farrance is looking to be the next big defenseman prospect to come down through their pipeline, following Dante Fabbro, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi, and so on and on and on. Limited to just six games so far, you take his numbers with a grain of salt, but this will not be his first Hoby Baker Nomination.

The University Of Wisconsin Badgers has three players in the top ten scoring leaders. Dylan Holloway is having an excellent season of development. After playing his way onto Team Canada for the World Junior (A difficult team to crack coming from the NCAA) he has taken the NCAA by storm using his combination of speed, size, and skill to post 25 points in just 14 games. Imagine how good he will look riding shotgun with Leon Draisaitl in a year or two!

His teammate and Habs prospect Cole Caufield is leading the way with the goal-scoring race. Goal Caufield has lit the lamp 17 times this season and had a solid WJC winning Gold with USA while scoring five points in seven games. Look for Caufield to make the jump to the pro level after this season and crack Montreal’s roster full time in 2021-22.

Linus Weissbach was a Buffalo seventh-round pick, who has had inconsistent production in the NCAA. His performance seems to be driven by teammates and that does not bode well for his NHL upside. Still worth putting on your watch list as a free agent target if he signs.

Speaking of College Free Agents, keep an eye on 23-year-old junior keeper Dryden McKay. He is short for a goalie at 5-11, but his performance this season with Minnesota State University (Mankato) can not be ignored. With a 13-1-0 record, he is also boasting some eye-popping individual stats. His GAA is 0.79 and his SV% is .959, and eight shutouts!….not bad! While these stats are incredible, what is also worth noting is that this has not happened out of nowhere. His stats have been steadily improving since he joined the NCAA from the USHL and his worst season in the NCAA was his freshman year when he posted a 24-7-2 record with a GAA of 1.76 and a .927SV% The Hobey Baker nominee should receive plenty of NHL attention after this season despite being sub six feet tall.

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