Ty Nelson was taken in the 3rd round in 2022 by the Seattle Kraken. The 5’10” right-handed defender had 51 points in 66 games in his draft season. He is now up to 29 points in 24 games as the assistant captain for North Bay Battalion in the OHL. His Hockey Prospecting star potential and NHLer probability is trending way up.
Ty Nelson via Hockey Prospecting @ByronMBader
North Bay is an extremely strong team, they sit atop the Eastern Conference: Central Division of the OHL and have scored the 4th most goals in the entire league, clicking over four goals per game. Nelson is present for all of it playing 27 and half minutes a night, in all situations, by far the most on the team.
Not only does Nelson have a chance to be a big scoring threat, he has a high fantasy floor because of his elite blocks, shots, and hits (BASH). If he is a free agent in your dynasty league, I’d recommend scooping him up. He has a high peripheral floor and high points ceiling. No one in the Kraken pipeline has a lock on the top power play down the road. It certainly could be Nelson in a few years.
A lot of ink has been spilled on Wright over the years, as the projected 1st overall pick for years, then fell to 4th overall. Some might have thought that was a reflection of his skill, but the Kraken have been patient with him and seem to have a smart plan to bring him along at a pace that works for all. He’s made it into just seven NHL games, but was a healthy scratch often enough to be sent to the AHL on a conditioning stint where he is over a point per game in a small sample size.
Shane Wright via Hockey Prospecting @ByronMBader
If there was a buy-low window for Wright after the draft, it is slamming shut. While I don’t think he is an above point per game player in the NHL, he seems like a lock to be a top six center for what is looking like a good team. I think Wright will live in the 60-70 point pace per season.
One thing I always wondered about Wright is if his shot was good enough to beat professional goalies. There is a wide gap between OHL and AHL goalies. Thankfully, the Kraken helped us answer this question in a resounding fashion. Yes! It’s doubly impressive that his first four professional goals in the AHL came against Dustin Wolf and Lukas Dostal. Two of the best AHL goalies and the look like future NHL stars.
Adam Fantilli is a projected top five pick in 2023. He will be one of the older prospects for the 2023 draft having turned 18 on October 12th. He tore up the USHL in his pre-draft season with 74 points in 54 games for the Chicago Steel.
Adam Fantilli courtesy of Hockey Prospecting @ByronMBader
So far at Michigan, he’s been over a point per game at 26 points in 16 games played. In the past 30 years, only Jack Eichel and Paul Kariya have higher NCAA point per game paces. The next closest this season is Matthew Wood of the University of Connecticut with 14 points in 18 games.
We will see if Fantilli can keep this up over the course of the entire season. If it weren’t for Connor Bedard, Fantilli seems like he would be a suitable 1st overall pick. Either way, he is going to transform the fortunes of whatever team picks him. He should be a top line player just about anywhere he ends up. Get yourself those 2023 1st round picks if you can.
Ty Voit was very young for the 2021 draft being a June 10th birthday. This was also the year when the OHL did not play (2020-21) so there was not much to go on for him. There were no international appearances. He’s only 5’9” and very slight at 150 lbs, but the Toronto Maple Leafs must have seen something to draft him and good on them.
Ty Voit courtesy of Hockey Prospecting @ByronMBader
In his pre-draft season, he had 28 points in 49 games with the Sarnia Sting. Since the draft, he had 80 points in 67 games in his draft plus one season and is not at nearly two points per game with 46 points in 26 games. All of this and he won’t turn 20 until his OHL time is complete.
His peripherals likely won’t be strong with hits and blocks, but he has almost 3 shots a game, which is still light for a 4th year OHL player. It’s a great sign that the Maple Leafs have already signed him, using one of their previous contracts on him. Next season in the AHL will be an important one in a much more physical, professional league. As his Hockey Prospecting shows, we might want to temper our expectations a bit for Voit, in fact, maybe trade him to your neighborhood friendly Leafs fan.
The 5’11” right-handed defender Aleksi Heimosalmi was taken in the 2nd round in 2021 by the Carolina Hurricanes. During his draft season, he lit up the under 20 SM-sarja in Finland with 21 points in 34 games. Transitioning to the Liiga has been tough for him. His draft plus one season say him compete for literally the worst team in the league, Assat and going a minus 14 with only three points in 47 games.
Aleksi Heimosalmi courtesy Hockey Prospecting @ByronMBader
Despite how bad that sounds, he was able to keep his head above water with an even 50% Corsi on that terrible team. In his draft plus two season for Assat, the team is much improved and so is his Corsi percent up to 56. The thing is, even though Heimosalmi is tracking as a reasonable bet to make the NHL, I’m not sure there is much fantasy upside here. His peripherals are weak with half a block and two thirds of a hit per game to go with one shot. Though he is seeing pretty low ice time on Assat at 16:33, so that could improve with more time on ice.
One saving grace is that he is still developmentally young as a May 8th birthday. He’s basically always played against older competition. This season for Assat has gone much better as he has 10 points in 23 games, though he’s still playing low time on ice for a more competitive club. Against his peers in international competition as an 18-year-old or older, he is over a point per game. So, there is a chance, but I am personally not banking on it and if someone is willing to give you a strong asset for Heimosalmi, I’d take it. Him turning into a fantasy star asset is would basically be an anomaly at this point.
In the 3rd round of the 2019 NHL draft, the Montreal Canadiens took 6’0” left-handed defender Mattias Norlinder. The now 22-year-old has spent this year entirely in the AHL, after splitting time last season between the NHL and AHL. His production in the AHL is a bit disappointing with just five points in19 game and he is getting the 6th most ice time for defenders on the Laval Rocket.
Mattias Norlinder courtesy of Hockey Prospecting @ByronMBader
More concerning is that three defensive prospects taken later than him have all passed him on the depth chart, Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle, and Justin Barron. Xhekaj wasn’t even drafted and is now playing meaningful minutes for the Canadiens after making the team from camp, with no AHL time. There is still a slight star potential for Norlinder and maybe he just needs more time in North America. He still only has 25 AHL games under his belt.
Even if he does round out his game in North America, I doubt Norlinder becomes a strong fantasy asset. His peripherals aren’t super strong except for his blocks, which are one per game. His hits are roughly one every four games and his shots are 1.5 per game. If you are holding Norlinder expecting a big offensive producer in the NHL, I would try to move him. Find the fantasy manager who loves him more than you do and get something for him.
For more on these players, tune in to the latest episode of the Fantasy Hockey Life podcast, part of the Dobber Hockey podcast network.
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