Gabe Vilardi (11th OA, 2017) is a former Golden Boy for the Kings who has flashed potential but also struggled repeatedly with injuries. His resume includes a D+1 OHL season where he scored almost two points per game, a 70-point pace in the AHL, and a 40-point pace over his first 63 NHL games. He has struggled to stick with the Kings, however, and is approaching do-or-die territory heading into 2022-23 as a 23-year-old.
Although his skating has always been average at best, Vilardi has a high-end shot and excellent instincts around the net. He has earned a “two-way” label by playing defensively responsible hockey, and when he is on his game, his vision and playmaking improve everyone around him.
Coach Todd McLellan had some encouraging praise for Vilardi yesterday after he scored two goals in a 5-4 loss to the Ducks, focusing in particular on his puck protection and new role on the power play.
The “new role” McLellan alluded to seems to be parked right at the goal mouth, screening the goalie and waiting for rebounds and passes. One of the two goals he scored against the Ducks came on the PP in his new position:
The other goal was not scored on the PP but was similarly from a goal-mouth scramble. Vilardi strips the Ducks’ defender of the puck and rifles it home in traffic:
While Vilardi likely will not crack PP1, at least to begin the year, he should see time on the second unit alongside fellow youngsters Arthur Kaliyev, Quinton Byfield, and Sean Durzi. Keep an eye on his linemates and deployment as the year gets underway. It is only the preseason but the early returns and usage have been promising.
There is of course the possibility that Vilardi does not end up making the Kings and gets sent through waivers. It is doubtful, given his strong preseason, but stranger things have happened. In the event he does get waived, his new landing spot could result in greater opportunity than he has in L.A. and could be good news for his owners in fantasy. This is definitely a situation to monitor moving forward.
With the news that Cam Talbot will miss an extended stretch due to injury, the buzz has been building for new Ottawa backup Magnus Hellberg.
Hellberg, 31, has four NHL games on his resume, none of which went particularly well, but there is reason for optimism: he is a big guy at 6-6, 209lbs, and bigger goalies tend to take a bit longer to settle into their bodies. Further, he has posted strong numbers in the AHL, KHL, and representing Sweden internationally—including at this past year’s Olympics (two games, 2.46 G.A.A., 0.927 SV%) and World Championships (four games, 1.47 G.A.A., 0.932 SV%).
Montreal’s answer to Shane Pinto (OTT), Owen Beck signed a three-year contract with the Canadiens on Tuesday morning and was sent down to Laval (AHL) later that same day.
Heading into the draft, Beck did not seem like a hot commodity in fantasy. He scored 51 points in 68 OHL games and was billed as well-rounded with above-average skills across the board. Strong at face-offs. Defensively responsible. Middle-six upside.
Waiver wires are full of players just like that, so it can be tempting in fantasy to take a swing on the risky upside of a Gleb Trikozov or Lane Hutson instead of the sure Beck. But now that he’s headed back to the OHL after a very impressive audition with the Habs, the question becomes how much offence can we expect from him in 2022-23? Would it be too much to expect a season reminiscent of Connor McMichaels’ D+1 year with the London Knights (102 points in 52 games).
McMichael admittedly posted over a point per game in his Draft year, whereas Beck was well below (51 points in 68 games), and McMichael is an offense-first player known for his high-end shot while Beck is more of a two-way presence. But McMichael’s offense exploded when he was given preferential deployment in his D+1. If Beck likewise receives top-line minutes and is able to improve a skill or two from “above average” to “high end,” maybe a year from now we will be wondering how he fell to the second round.
Here is what DP writer Sebastian High wrote about what Beck needs to do to hit that next level: “In order to unlock second-line upside, Beck will need to unlock a more calculated and consistent playmaking game built on the deception he flashes in transition and he will need to more consistently use his shot, which is a real weapon.”
Deceptive playmaking in transition? Check.
More consistently using his dangerous shot? Also, check.
Get your hands on this guy right away in keepers and dynasties. His stocks are only headed up.
Cameron Allen is a name to remember. He is currently in the mix to be the top defender drafted next June in the star-studded 2023 class that has so far been dominated by forwards. He currently has three points in his first two OHL games of the season and is primed for a huge year.
Cameron Allen Draft-1 year: 37 points in 65 OHL games.
Jamie Drysdale Draft-1 year: 40 points in 63 OHL games.
He captained Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championships and was named the OHL Rookie of the Year.
Here is a bit more about him:
This year will be telling but if you need a defender and are picking after the first ten players or so, Allen would be a significant asset to add to your team’s farm.
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