This year’s draft has had a narrative of being a weaker one. This is partially due to the actual talent available, partially due to the whole global pandemic that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for scouts to evaluate talent and partially because the past three years have seen some deep draft classes. Do you know what every winning fantasy GM loves about deep drafts? There is always plenty of talent available later in the draft. I’m sure by now from reading DobberProspects you’ve heard of Byron Bader and his star potential algorithm but it is the greatest way to find those players that produce and develop at a star rate but for some reason don’t get the media love that endears them to other GMs. Here are some of those players that don’t get the love they deserve.
Anton Lundell (51% Star probability and 66% NHLer probability)
I don’t think Lundell is exactly a secret anymore after his strong play captaining Finland at the 2020 World Juniors. Florida already has a world-class Selke candidate centre in Sasha Barkov but Lundell will be bringing a slightly lesser version and that is a higher compliment than it sounds. I think his upside could see him be Florida’s 2C of the future but a high ceiling 2C the way that Nico Hischier is in New Jersey.
Connor Zary (40% Star probability and 65% NHLer probability)
It’s unclear the direction of the Calgary Flames but a rebuild or retool could open up some opportunity in the top 6 for Connor Zary in the Flames possibly not so near future. After putting up 86 points in 56 games for the Kamloops Blazers Zary is continuing that momentum wearing the “C” this year with a two-points per game pace. Zary has a heavy shot and plays with a pace that makes me think his NHL transition will not be a slow one.
Adam Beckman (35% Star probability and 65% NHLer probability)
I feel like I know Adam Beckman for the amount fellow Dobber writer Joel Henderson sings his praises and well, I am drinking the Kool-aid. Known for his smarts and release it’s a salivating thought to think of his upside if he ever gets an opportunity to play with Kaprisov or Rossi in Minnesota. Beckman threw up a casual 107 points in 63 games in 2019 and is playing at a point per game pace exactly after being sent back to the WHL from Iowa.
Matthew Boldy (29% Star probability and 78% NHLer probability)
Matthew Boldy is another player that should bring a heavy shot to the arm of the Wild offence and could even be a future linemate of Beckman. Regardless, like Beckman, I like his odds of playing with Rossi, Kaprisov, Fiala or Greenway and that is good for anyone’s future production. Boldy was a key part of the USA’s World Junior Gold and was a force when paired with Cole Caufield. Boldy put up 31 points in 22 games for Boston College this season and got Hobey Baker consideration. He has 3 points in his first two games with Iowa so it is encouraging to see his size and skill translating at the pro level.
Ryan Merkley 65% Star probability and 87% NHLer probability
I got a chance to see Ryan Merkley up close and personal in Peterborough during my time managing the Season Tickets for the Petes. During my first season working for the team, he was our big deadline acquisition. It was exciting to get someone like Merkley in the lineup to complement Nick Robertson, Semyon Der Arguchintsev and Zach Gallant on our top powerplay. The trade garnered mixed reactions because Merkely came with a reputation for being difficult. I’ll say this, the team seemed to love him and I think his “shortcomings” off the ice are vastly overblown. Merkley is a player who knows he has NHL talent and he can pass the puck with such efficiency and creativity that is gifted even for the NHL level. Merkley finished his OHL career with three teams, 269 points in 248 games and sixth all-time in OHL defenceman points and fourth in assists. He isn’t putting up eye-popping numbers like you’re used to seeing from him in his first pro season with the San Jose Barracuda but I’m sure the organization’s focus is on his defensive game and I believe the production will come. I wouldn’t write him off yet because the offensive upside is world-class so if he can figure it out defensively the dividends will be paid in spades. I’m a believer.
Joey Keane 45% Star probability and 50% NHLer probability
Keane’s NHL rights are owned by the Hurricanes so you know his potential must be nice. The other side of the coin would like to point out however that the backend in Carolina is packed with talent so opportunity might be delayed. Keane scored 102 points in 195 games in the OHL before improving to .63 points per game pace at the AHL level. He could be in the NHL as early as next year as spots open up in Carolina but of all the players on this list I think he is the gem that could remain hidden.
“Prospects” to trade for your value right now
I have “prospects” in quotes because at this point these players are all mainstays on their NHL club but they are rookies and will be sold the same way any prospect does in dynasty leagues with the logic that their production will fall off.
Jason Robertson – This one is a no-brainer and I’ve sung his praises before. If someone in your league is willing to trade him on “sell high” it might be worth it in a dynasty league. The price will be high but his place in Dallas’ top six is almost concrete at this point. He’s on a torrid pace, Rick Bowness loves him and he has great chemistry with Roope Hintz.
Eeli Tolvanen – Powerplay goals through the roof for any NHLer, let alone a rookie. Six of his 10 goals are on the Powerplay and 19 points make him an asset. He’s a -6 but Roman Josi is also a heavy minus, with the pace Saros and Nashville are on I expect that to draw closer to even
Jake Oettinger – I claimed he should be the Stars starter now with Bishop and Khudobin both being quite old and not as elite as they used to be. Both are still under contract for two more years but that hasn’t stopped the 22-year old from starting 20 games so far this year with lots of games to make up. He has posted a .917 sv% in those games and is a promising goalie of the future. Get him in your dynasty leagues while you can and he is a solid streaming or depth option in season longs.
K’Andre Miller – Miller is another prospect I have written about already but I’ve been watching a lot of New York Rangers games since I acquired Kakko in my dynasty league and boy, do they play him in all situations. He looks really good when they do too. Miller is stuck behind Adam Fox but there’s no reason why he can’t still provide value down the stretch the way McAvoy did behind Krug to a lesser degree. He provides value in deep season-long leagues and if he is not owned in your dynasty league he is worth draft consideration quite early.
Noah Dobson – Just like Miller I also wrote about Dobson already in greater detail. He has a great plus-minus and that won’t change under Barry Trotz. He logs heavy minutes, has offensive upside and his numbers are good when you consider he missed time due to COVID. You might catch a manager sleeping on both his upside and his value this season.
Janne Kuokkanen – 20 points in 35 games and with Palmieri, Gusev and Zajac sent out of town, there is ice time to be had. He likely has top-six upside but in the short term, he is producing well for a rookie. He is likely the cheapest option on this list and should be owned in deeper leagues and is worth a flier in a dynasty league based on the likelihood of playing with Hischier or Hughes until Holtz and Mercer show up. Let’s hope he establishes a spot for himself before they do.
Prospects for value next year
Jusso Valimaki – Valimaki has had glimpses this season of what made him light up the top league in Finland. He missed a lot of last season with injury but it hasn’t shown in his game, which is good. Sutter doesn’t quite trust him and you can see it but I noticed in the last minute of the game protecting a shutout and Sutter had him on the ice the other night, so that could be a nod of confidence from the staunch coach. Rasmus Andersson seems to have the Powerplay role that a lot of people had earmarked for Valimaki now that Mark Giordano is beginning to decline. I’d expect Valimaki to challenge for that role next season. His passing and vision are amazing and the fact he hasn’t looked out of place at such a young age in the NHL is promising for a young blueliner.
Alex Turcotte – There is a weird narrative around Turcotte that he won’t be a strong fantasy asset, at least in any circle I play fantasy in. He’s been traded a few times in my leagues and I think it comes from the fact that he has received comparisons to Jonathan Toews and also due to concern he won’t be 1c with Quinton Byfield ahead of him in the organization’s (loaded) depth chart. I think people forget that Jonathan Toews is still uh, really good. I think this he has Toews production in the cards and has the earmarks of a career NHLer and is on his way to lots of production with Arthur Kaliyev, Byfield, Rasmus Kupari, Akil Thomas, Anze Kopitar, Gabriel Vilardi and Drew Doughty on a Powerplay with.
Evan Bouchard – Bouchard for some reason has not gotten a shake this year, potentially due to the emergence of Darnell Nurse as a legit top pair defenceman and Tyson Barrie’s resurgence. Either way, this guy will get his shot next season and if he does not it speaks more to the incompetence of Edmonton than it does Bouchard’s talent. He looks, feels and plays like a top pair guy. He has a wicked shot, a presence on the blueline and ability to run a powerplay. This is heart-palpitating when you consider Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will be on sed powerplay.
Arthur Kaliyev – He has an incredibly high star potential by Byron Bader’s metric and he scored at a pace that Speaking of Bader, he wrote a blog about Kaliyev where he pointed out that “He is one of five CHL forwards since 2000 to register a 50 goal season before turning 18. The others on this list are Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Jeff Skinner and Alex DeBrincat” That’s wild production and it didn’t falter after his draft year. He has one NHL game to his name that includes one goal. His knock is his skating and well, I’ve heard that about another prospect in this blog and his name is Jason Robertson. Kind of a stupid knock when the production is just starting you in the face.
Some of the players on this list are probably not even owned, in which case, pick them up! I hope you all enjoyed a rather mediocre TradeCentre and I also hope your favourite team got the players they want and that your fantasy teams are heading the direction you would like and in a hurry.
Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter @mikekosciesza