Prospect Ramblings: Prospects to Watch at the Beijing Winter Olympics

Peter Harling

2022-02-07

International tournaments are a lot of fun to watch and can be very useful in scouting for fantasy hockey prospects. The NHL is not participating at the 2022 Winter Olympics and that is disappointing, but it does lend an opportunity to some up-and-coming prospects to raise their fantasy stock.

International tournaments like the World Juniors and World Championships every year provide an opportunity for us to get a glimpse at some young players at an elite level we may not otherwise get to see. Here are some top prospects to watch at the 2022 Winter Olympics that may offer fantasy hockey value in the near future and may be available in your fantasy leagues.

Canada

Owen Power, D – Buffalo Sabres 44% Fantrax Owned

Power was selected first overall by Buffalo and wisely allowed to return to Michigan University in the NCAA to develop for another year. At 6-6 he has size, is mobile, scores and puts up peripheral stats as well. He is projecting to be a number one franchise defenseman at the NHL level. He already has a Gold with Canada at the World Championship last year where he posted three points as a draft eligible prospect. He scored a hat-trick with Canada at the WJC before they were cancelled and is over a point per game player with the Wolverines.  I expect Power will be Canadas number one defenseman by the time the Olympics end and if the WJC is rescheduled in the summer, he could have a triple crown of Gold Medals (WC, WJC, OG) before he plays a single NHL game.

Mason McTavish, C – Anaheim Ducks 40% Fantrax Owned

McTavish was one of the biggest risers in his draft year despite limited playing time. His performance at the U-18 Tournament with Canada of 11 points in seven games was outstanding. McTavish nearly made the NHL right out of the draft playing the nine-game threshold as well as three more AHL games before being reassigned to the OHL. Back in junior he posted seven points with the Peterborough Pete’s before being traded to the Hamilton Bulldogs where he had seven more points in only three games. In between that he made a statement with Canada in the two WJC games with five points. McTavish is a big strong player that is dominating right now at the junior level and that dominance should translate to the pro level very soon. How well he plays in the Olympics should be a very good indicator of how soon that will be.

Jack McBain, C – Minnesota Wild 2% Fantrax Owned

A 2018 third round pick, McBain has been developing in the NCAA with Boston College. His point production has grown each season and as a senior he has eclipsed the point per game pace with 24 points in 18 games. The 6-3 Toronto Native will need to be signed as soon as the College season ends to avoid becoming an unrestricted free agent in August. The Wild prospect depth is formidable and if he signs with a team that has less depth it would offer a better opportunity and a strong showing in Beijing would improve his marketability.

Devon Levi, G – Buffalo Sabres 15 % Fantrax Owned

Levi won the starting job for Canada at the 2021 WJC and backstopped them to a Silver Medal. He was then acquired from Florida as a key part of the Sam Reinhart trade. A seventh-round pick by Florida, he has seen his stock rise steadily since and is dominating the NCAA at Northeastern with a 16-7-1 record and a sparkling 1.55 GAA and .948 SV% Levi should win the starting role for Canada at the Olympics and continue to raise his value.

Josh Ho-Sang, RW – Free Agent 5% Fantrax Owned

The NHL free agent is playing with an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies and has been a very effective player with 11 goals and 20 points in 27 games. Now 26-years-old and 53 career NHL games played he will be playing for a contract and could be a sleeper prospect if he has sorted out his attitude and off-ice problems, the skill is undeniable.

 

Russia

khttps://dobberprospects.com/player/arseni-gritsyuk/

LW – New Jersey Devils 2% Fantrax Owned

the 20-year-old is having a breakout season in the KHL with 28 points in 39 games with Avangard Omsk. He has one more year remaining on his KHL contract.

 

Dmitri Voronkov, LW – Columbus Blue Jackets 2% Fantrax Owned

The big Russian enjoyed a breakout season in the KHL posting 19 points in 53 regular season games, but a more impressive six goals and ten points in 15 playoff games. As well he played for Russia at the WC posting another two goals and six points through eight games. At 6-4 he owns a big reach and has a motor and high compete level that makes him an effective defender. Voronkov uses his size to play a strong physical game and is an agitating player that can get the other team off their game at times. His offensive upside began to flourish late last season but is not likely to translate to the NHL. His skating is going to need some improvement to land him in the NHL as well, but if he can improve his stride and speed, he could be a valuable bottom six in two years when his KHL contract expires.

Kirill Marchenko, LW/RW – Columbus Blue Jackets 16% Fantrax Owned

Marchenko is a prospect on a steady development curve and playing his way up the depth chart. He not only established himself as a regular KHL player last season, but he also became a top player on a competitive roster in SKA. Marchenko produced 15 goals and 28 points in 41 regular season games. The big Russian skates well, has a quick and accurate shot but his best asset is the way he reads the play. His anticipation and read-and-react create time and space and allow him to control the pace of play. His KHL contract is set to expire at the conclusion of this season and look for Columbus to quickly sign him to his ELC and burn a year off to allow him a cup of coffee in North America before making his full time debut the following season.

Alexander Nikishin, D – Carolina Hurricanes 1% Fantrax Owned

The big Russian is signed a three-year contract in 2020 in the KHL so don’t look for him in the NHL too soon. He has a heavy shot but is more of a playmaking defenseman offensively. Overall, his biggest contribution will be defensively

Slovakia

Samuel Knazko, D – Columbus Blue Jackets 1% Fantrax Owned

Knazko has suited up in the Liiga U-20 SM-sarja, WHL, WJC, and now the Olympics. Hard to gain any traction when you play less than 15 games with any team, but he is getting a lot of experience.

Simon Nemec, D – 2022 NHL Draft Eligible

A first round prospect for the 2022 draft that is projected to be a top ten or to five selection will have an excellent showcase in Beijing. Nemec made a splash at the Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament with six points in five games and has been dominating with his club team with 23 points in 32 games. If you draft Nemec you may need to be patient for a few years before he is contributing to your fantasy roster, but he looks to be a future top pairing defender.

Juraj Slavkovsky, LW – 2022 NHL Draft Eligible

Another potential top ten selection in the NHL draft, it will be a banner draft for Slovakia. The big winger stands 6-4 and 225 pounds and is already playing pro hockey at a high level in the Liiga with TPS. A dominant performance at the Hlinka-Gretzky of nine points in five games made a strong impression. His counting stats in the Liiga are underwhelming but he has also made the Slovakian WJC and WC roster as a D-1 player. His upside in the NHL as a multi-cat producer is considerable.

Sweden

Pontus Holmberg, C/LW – Toronto Maple Leafs 1% Fantrax Owned

A sixth-round selection in the 2018 draft, his stock has risen since a breakout season in 2020-21 where he was the SHL playoff MVP leading Vaxjo to a Championship. His follow up season has seen his points per game total increase from .51 to .82 He has signed his ELC with Toronto and could be in North America before the season ends and full-time next year. He could be a quality fantasy sleeper

USA

 

Matty Beniers, C – Seattle Kraken 38% Fantrax Owned

The first ever draft selection by Seattle was returned to the NCAA with Michigan and is yet to play in the NHL. Despite that fact, he has already won a Gold Medal at the WJC, and Bronze at the WC and U-18 with USA. The future franchise player for Seattle plays with intensity and impacts both sides of the puck. He will be in the NHL next year.

Nick Abruzzese, C – Toronto Maple Leafs 3% Fantrax Owned

The 22-year-old did not play in 2020-21 as the Ivy League dd not play due to COVID. That may have put Abruzzese under the radar, but back wearing the C for Harvard he has 21 points in 17 games and will be counted on as an offensive contributor for USA. This will be his first international tournament for USA

Matthew Knies, C/LW – Toronto Maple Leafs 8% Fantrax Owned

Toronto may have a first-round talent in their 2021 second round selection. The big forward has produced 25 points in 26 games as a freshman for the University of Minnesota. Knies was also named to the WJC roster and likely will return for a sophomore season in the NCAA before turning pro. He s trending up hard and good showing at the Olympics should increase his fantasy ownership.

Brendan Brisson, C – Vegas Golden Knights 15% Fantrax Owned

Another member of the Michigan Wolverines, Brisson is a 2020 first round selection and has won Gold with USA at the 2021 WJC. The 20-year-old has 17 goals and 32 points in 29 games and will be counted on for offence in Beijing. Brisson is in his second season in the NCAA and is likely to sign his ELC after the Wolverines season and could be putting up points as a rookie in Vegas next year.

Sean Farrell, C/LW – Montreal Canadiens 6% Fantrax Owned

Drafted out of the USHL after leading the league in assists with 41, the Harvard commit was forced to return for another season in the USHL as the Ivy League did not play due to COVID. Back with the Chicago Steel, Farrell had a monster season as a 19-year-old leading the league in assists (72) and points (101) and winning the USHL and USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year Awards and leading the Steel to a Clark Cup Championship. With Harvard resuming play, Farrell is in his freshman season and his offensive production has translated well to a higher level with the Crimson as he has 19 points in his first 17 games. The undersized winger is an exceptional playmaker, he makes sneaky good passes to players others would not think to try. He uses deception and fakes to make time and space to find open players or open ice. His shot is good and still under development as he expands his offensive arsenal. Farrell will need more development time in Harvard and then some AHL time before he could be NHL ready, but he has the skill and vision to produce as a top six winger.

 

Nathan Smith, C – Winnipeg Jets 1% Fantrax Owned

The 23-year-old is in his junior NCAA season with Mankato and is having a breakout season. His 15 goals and 41 points in 28 games has him leading the NCAA in scoring. This will be a player to watch for your fantasy scouting as he is only 1% Fantrax owned and widely available.

Jake Sanderson, D – Ottawa Senators 33% Fantrax Owned

Sanderson had a big draft season and rose up the draft rankings all season long to eventually surpass top ranked prospect Jamie Drysdale, who was the consensus top defenseman for the bulk of the season. Sanderson committed to the U. of North Dakota where he made an immediate impact as a freshman scoring 15 points in 22 games, helping the Fighting Hawks capture a NCHC Regular Season Championship. Sanderson was a key member of the USA WJC roster as well helping the USA win the Gold. Sanderson could have turned pro and joined the Sens in the NHL as a 19-year-old but returned for his sophomore season. Sanderson was named Captain for USA at the WJC and projects as a top pairing defenseman that is an excellent skater, impacts the game offensively and defensively, plays a strong physical game and has leadership qualities to boot.

 

Brock Faber, D – LA Kings 5% Fantrax Owned

The smooth skating Faber had a tremendous freshman season with the Golden Gophers in his home state. His offensive totals were not great with one goal and 12 points in 27 games, but they were not bad either. His game is his defensive play, he smothers the opposition in the defensive zone, closes gaps, has an active and effective stick and a panic threshold that is cool as a cucumber. Highlights of his freshman season include a Big Ten Championship and a Gold Medal at the WJC with Team USA and he had five points in seven games. As a sophomore his points through 17 games his offensive points per game production is on pace with last year’s production.  Faber could have his eye on turning pr at the end of the Gophers season and have a preview of some AHL action before playing full time with the Reign next year.

 

Nicklaus Perbix, D – Tampa Bay Lightning 0% Fantrax Owned

 

A super sleeper here, the Tampa sixth round pick from the 2017 draft is a 23-year-old, 6-4 201-pound offensive defender. A senior at St. Cloud State he has 23 points in 22 games and will turn pro next year. As a potential free agent add in your fantasy league, you will know withing a year if he has a NHL future or not so little risk with potential for high reward.

 

Drew Commesso, G – Chicago Blackhawks 11% Fantrax Owned

 

The starting goalie for the Boston Terriers was the backup for USA at the WC in 2021 and the starter for USA at the WJC but only played one game in total. Commesso is the favorite to be the American starter and could be looking at turning pro following the NCAA season. Goalies tend to take more development time so a season or two in the AHL before he competes for the start in Chicago is probable. His fantasy upside as an NHL starting goalie in the future is promising.

 

Other players of note:

Drew Helleson, D – USA (Colorado Avalanche)

Noah Cates, LW – USA (Philadelphia Flyers)

Sam Hentges, C/LW -USA (Minnesota Wild)

Milos Roman, C – Slovakia

Parker Foo, LW – China (Chicago Blackhawks)

Frederik Dichow, G – Denmark (Montreal Canadiens)

Peter Cehlarik, LW/RW – Slovakia (Boston Bruins)

Denis Malgin, C – Switzerland (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Sami Vatanen, D – Finland (Free Agent)

Matej Tomek, G – Slovakia (Philadelphia Flyers)

Ivan Fedotov, G – Russia (Philadelphia Flyers)

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