Watching Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom jockey to claim the Flyers backup job behind the surprisingly hot Carter Hart, I was reminded of Ivan Fedotov, who seemed to have the inside edge on that position heading into the year. He was becoming a popular stash in dynasties due to his excellent KHL numbers, expiring contract overseas, opportunity behind a floundering Hart, and his massive frame (6-8, 203 lbs).
But then Fedotov was arrested by the Russian military for draft evasion in early July. In case you missed it, here is a recap. This clip purports to show the arrest.
Details are scarce and difficult to sort through—reports surfaced right after the arrest that Fedotov had fallen ill and was being taken to the hospital—but the whole affair was an unexpected and chilling collision of sports and politics.
First and foremost is his well-being, of course. Fantasy relevance is an afterthought in situations like this. Still, I imagine some poolies are wondering whether or not it’s worth continuing to stash the big Russian. As of late September, Fedotov dropped a lawsuit challenging his arrest and planned to fulfil his mandatory year of military service. The Flyers could then (temporarily?) freeze his contract.
There has been no news since then.
Given that there are a ton of similar-tier goalie prospects out there right now, the risk with Fedotov likely exceeds his potential value. Maybe he concludes his year of service and is then free to continue his career in North America. Nothing is certain, however. Hopefully we will learn more as the year moves along.
For now, expect one of Sandstrom and Ersson to be backing up Hart for the rest of 2022-23. Both feel like high-risk, decent-upside plays given their youth and pedigrees—though the Flyers are an uncertain team to be backstopping this year. Sandstrom was a higher pick (3rd round, 2015) and has a substantial amount of pro experience in the SHL with decent-though-not-incredible numbers but Ersson has had higher peaks that suggests he may hold the higher upside of the two.
Ersson looked particularly dominant in his Draft and Draft+1 years when he stonewalled the J20 Nationell (40 games, 2.53 G.A.A., 0.920 SV%) and Allsvensksan (36 games, 1.95 G.A.A., 0.933 SV%). He then had a somewhat rocky two years in the SHL, where he posted tough numbers but showed noticeable improvement, before being injured most of last year in the AHL.
Barring injury, expect Sandstrom to warm the bench for the Flyers while Ersson sees big minutes for Lehigh Valley in the AHL—deployment that further suggests that Philly management views Ersson as their potential #2 longer term.
I covered Calen Addison in The Journey last week as one of the more promising Calder Candidates in the early weeks of the season. His trajectory continued to head straight up on Monday night with five shots and three assists (two on the powerplay). Check out his poise navigating through heavy traffic before slipping a pass to #97.
More of this please!
Addison followed up three straight years of point-per-game WHL seasons, including two dominant showings internationally for Team Canada, with 56 points across his first 74 AHL games. He is still only 22 and will likely have some warts defensively as he adjusts to the highest level, but he has received an incredible 86% of his team’s available power play time so far and does not seem in danger of being sent back down to Iowa—unlike many of the other top rookies pushing for the Calder.
Addison could become a Torey Krug-like source of shots and power play points as early as this year, with tons of room to grow as the Wild improve around him. Although Marco Rossi was inexplicably scratched this past game, he should bring premier playmaking ability to this team as he settles in. Add in Kaprizov, Matt Boldy, and arguably the best goaltending prospect on the planet, Jesper Wallstedt, and this will be a fun team to watch over the next few years.
Speaking of Rossi, it was a bit perplexing to see him sitting as a healthy scratch in his third game after receiving only 14:57 minutes over his first two games. Those fifteen minutes came largely alongside depth players Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime. Although that trio got pretty badly outplayed and Rossi took a minor penalty in the second game, that is such a small sample size and not an optimal situation for the development of an offensive dynamo like him.
It is difficult to guess what the coaching staff is thinking but this early deployment suggests that Rossi may spend a chunk of 2022-23 back down in Iowa. This is another reminder not to draft even super-rookies in one-year leagues. Rossi owners in keepers and dynasties have absolutely nothing to worry about; in fact, this may be a decent buy-low opportunity if his owner in your league is low-key panicking about his lack of early success.
Like Addison, Rossi will make mistakes as he adjusts to the NHL. But here is a glimpse from the preseason of what he can do with more opportunity and better linemates:
Although rookie defender Brandt Clarke made the Kings out of camp, his ice time has steadily dropped so far: 15:17, 12:29, 10:45. His power play time has also dried up, and he has not yet hit the scoresheet. If these trends continue, Clarke could well follow Rossi’s fate and become a healthy scratch or be sent back down to the AHL before playing his tenth game.
Again, if that happens, it might be worth checking in with his owner in your leagues. Anytime “negative” news about a prospect hits the headlines there is a chance poolies may panic and lower their prices if an offer is enticing enough.
There is more to Clarke’s NHL adjustment than meets the eye, however. Here are some of his analytics from the Kings’ last game against the Red Wings when he was paired with Sean Walker instead of Alex Edler:
Albeit in limited minutes, Clarke and Walker matched the top pairing of Drew Doughty and Mikey Anderson in terms of controlling play: when they were on the ice, the Kings had 12 shot attempts versus 6 against. Small sample size notwithstanding, Clarke seems to be adjusting well. With more minutes and a chance to run the PP like Addison is getting in MInnesota, Clarke might be able to start putting up points.
He will likely be easier to own in fantasy next year, however.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @beegare for more prospect content and fantasy hockey analysis.