Prospect Rambling: Updates on Brink, Lutz, Moser, Korchinski, Snuggerud

Ben Gehrels

2022-11-30

21-year-old Bobby Brink (PHI), last year’s leading NCAA scorer, is on track to return in late December from a hip injury sustained during off-season training that required surgery. He is set to report to the Lehigh Phantoms (AHL) when he does. If he can pick up where he left off at the end of last year, it would not be surprising to see him in a Flyers uniform for a couple months at the end of 2022-23.

The knock on Brink coming up was always his heavy feet, which many scouts in the public sphere thought would limit his upside at the highest level. I remember watching Brink excel in a depth role for the Americans in the gold medal game against Canada’s absolutely loaded 2021 World Juniors team. The puck always seemed to be on his stick, and he was consistently able to make small, effective plays without a lot of space to work with. As someone cheering for Canada, it was frustrating to watch; as a poolie, though, it was exciting to see him stand out in a game with immense talent on both sides.

He then went on to post a cool 57 points in 41 games while taking home the NCAA Championship with UDenver. If Philadelphia can eventually buck the injury bug, they have enough talent at all positions to match up against any team in the league. Brink could be a big part of that moving forward.

Julian Lutz (ARI, 2022 43rd) is a player I took a swing on late in drafts last year because of several factors. He had a solid, all-around skill set reminiscent of Owen Beck (MON) in that he did not have any noticeable holes in his game but also no single skill that stood out as above-average or high-end. He also was (and still is) playing in the German DEL, which has far fewer NHL graduates than the other top Euro leagues; that makes comparables scarce, leaving young players like Lutz a bit harder to project—like Mo Seider was when the Red Wings appeared to reach for him at sixth overall in 2019. The final factor was that Lutz’s draft year was cut short due to injuries, which limited viewings and left question marks regarding his ultimate upside.

So far in 2022-23, Lutz has already posted four points in nine games, exceeding last year’s total of three points in 14 games. As always with young guys in pro men’s leagues overseas, take the stats with a sip of beer because his ice time and opportunity have been very limited.

While Lutz is only someone to look at for now in the deepest of leagues, his impressive mechanics and high IQ suggest he could have 50-60-point NHL upside. Plus, given how many players like that the Coyotes have now stockpiled in their system, imagine this roster a couple years from now.

Keller – Bedard – Guenther

Maccelli – Cooley – Schmaltz

Lutz – Hayton – Crouse

Jenik – Geekie – Doan

Chychrun – Gostisbehere

Moser – Valimaki

Duda – Soderstrom

Vejmelka

Ingram

This is a clumsy projection, of course, but you get the idea. Chychrun is likely to be moved for an asking price of two first-round picks and a young roster player. If the Coyotes don’t land Bedard, they will likely still get one of Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov, or Leo Carlsson—all game-breaking talents. Arizona is getting set to move out of their college arena and the basement of the league standings around the same time, and I plan to get in there before other poolies begin taking them seriously.

Staying in the desert for a moment longer, J.J. Moser is a tough read right now. On the surface, he looks like the next hot fantasy commodity: 22 years old, signed for one more year for under a mill (a serious bargain in cap leagues), currently rocking a 53-point pace with a shot, hit, and two blocks per game. He has been getting 60% of Arizona’s PP time, even with Shane Gostisbehere in the mix, and still manned the top unit last game with the return of Jakob Chychrun.

What gives me pause are his average to below-average tools (link requires EP Premium) and the fact that he is a late bloomer on offence after being passed over twice in the NHL entry draft. He does have some recent scoring success at lower levels—30 points in 48 games in the Swiss NL and 12 in 18 AHL games last year—but he achieved those totals as an overager. Given my recent failed attempts to cash in on overage scoring phenoms like David Farrance and Jack Dugan (NJD), I am growing leery of gaudy numbers from older prospects at lower levels.

His NHL success so far this year, however, is undeniable. Plus, the prevalent idea that Chychrun will be traded before this year’s deadline only adds extra credibility to the potential longevity of Moser’s early success.

Over in Chicago, the Blackhawks are pulling off the subtlest, low-key rebuild of all time. Like the Coyotes, they are currently bottom of the barrel from a fantasy perspective—even a generational player like Patrick Kane is only on track for 62 points. For those of us in long term keepers and dynasties, however, there is opportunity in the Windy City.

The Hawks have two picks in each of the top three rounds in both 2023 and 2024 and are going to be netting some shiny new toys soon to go along with Frank Nazar, Kevin Korchinski, Lukas Reichel, and company. If they trade Kane, we can expect a bevy of exciting prospects and young pros coming back. There is going to be a lot of floundering in their immediate future as this rebuild is more dramatic and all-encompassing than most teams are willing to do. It will likely take several years to begin seeing anything positive.

But a few years from now, how good will Korchinski be? He currently has 24 points in 18 WHL games with the Seattle Thunderbirds in his Draft+1 year. As a defenceman (!). 

Here is the NHL equivalency chart from his DP profile:

It will require patience to own Korchinski in fantasy but the payoff could be immense.

An intriguing prospect who seems to be flying under the radar is Jimmy Snuggerud (STL, 23rd in 2022). He played well in a support role for the USDP last year and was considered a first rounder ahead of the 2022 draft. But he was often an afterthought next to higher profile teammates Logan Cooley (ARI, 3rd), Cutter Gauthier (PHI, 8th), Frank Nazar (CHI, 13th), and Rutger McGroarty (WPG, 14th).

One knock on Snuggerud in his draft year was the consistency of his dynamic play; he was a steady, skilled support player who displayed high-level skill but only in flashes. On a UNDP team full of flash, scouts were often left wanting more—or watching his linemates.

Snuggerud (20 points in 16 games) is outscoring all of his previous teammates this year, however, including University of Minnesota linemate Logan Cooley (16 in 15). Nazar (UMich) has been out due to injury, and Gauthier (BC, nine in nine) and McGroarty (UMich, 14 in 16) are excelling in their own right, but Snuggerud is proving that he can sustain his dynamic play over a longer stretch of games and help carry a team offensively.

He has scored several goals this year by outmanoeuvring defencemen just outside the blue paint to slam home rebounds, demonstrating tenacity and instinctive timing and positioning. He has also shown off his excellent shot, sniping both in tight and from long range.

Snuggerud is probably still at least a couple years away from NHL action, and the Blues are loaded with established forwards on long-term contracts, but his fantasy stocks have improved since last summer and are only headed higher in the coming months.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @beegare for more prospect content and fantasy hockey analysis.

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Vitali Abramov 6.7 5.0
Sergei Ivanov 8.5 6.5
Roby Järventie 7.0 6.0
Ridly Greig 7.8 8.0
Gracyn Sawchyn 8.5 8.0
Josh Davies 5.5 7.5
Marek Alscher 4.5 5.0
Xavier Bourgault 7.5 8.0
Jake Chiasson 5.0 4.0
Kevin Mandolese 6.2 5.2

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