Prospect Ramblings: Kraemer and Lopusanova dominate U18s; Frost, Glass, Dellandrea, Cotter, Allison

Ben Gehrels

2023-01-18

Cover image: Broad Street Hockey

Congratulations to Caitlin Kraemer and Team Canada for taking home the gold medal! They beat Sweden 10-0 in the final match to emerge victorious for the second straight time from the 2023 Women’s U18 World Championships. Kraemer scored four goals in this game, giving her ten for the tournament—a total that surpassed Marie-Philip Poulin’s record for most goals scored by a Canadian in a single tournament.

Here is her snipe that completed the first-period hat trick:

With Kraemer in the fold, Canada will be in good shape to go for the three-peat in 2024. She has a wicked shot, great puckhandling skills, and an intuitive awareness for where to be and how to find open space. Ian Kennedy over at The Hockey News profiled the top 25 players from the event. If you have been following women’s hockey lately, you will not be surprised to hear that Kraemer ranks only second overall on this list despite her historic tournament.

Uncontested at the top of the heap is the superlative-defying 14-year-old phenom Nela Lopusanova of Slovakia. Here is what Kennedy had to say about her: “Lopusanova became a human highlight reel in this tournament, scoring between her legs, batting the puck out of the air, getting a “Michigan” lacrosse-style goal and capitalizing on breakaways and penalty shots. For a player in Group B to steal the show this lopsidedly, you know her skill is unique. She’s lighting it up against older boys in Slovakia, and with three years’ eligibility left, could become the U-18’s all-time leading scorer. Lopusanova was named tournament MVP and best forward.

Just in case you are one of these old fogies that find lacrosse-style goals “showy” and “annoying,” how about this one? She goes inside-outside on first a defender, then the goalie, and then taps her own rebound out of the air. The hands and composure are incredible, especially for a 14-year-old:

Given her age, it is difficult to contextualize how remarkable Lopusanova’s young career is already but here is an excellent graphic that has been circulating online recently. Lopusanova is currently playing in the same league that last year’s first overall pick, Juraj Slafkovsky, played in for his Draft-4 season, and even though he blew that league out of the water at the time, she is making his totals look modest. 

Hopefully the emergence of a superstar like her will help grow the women’s game more going forward. The total (and often aggressive) ignorance that many hockey fans, including myself, have towards women’s hockey is a big part of why hockey culture is so often toxic. As always, misogyny is not lurking very far under the surface.

There have been some excellent results lately for those of us who have been excessively patient with Morgan Frost (PHI) and Cody Glass (NAS). After putting up five points in his first 21 games, Frost has now scored 16 in his last 23. His shot rate has also increased and he continues to bring in about a hit per game—encouraging results that are directly tied to a slight bump in PP time and over two minutes more per game at even strength than in the first quarter.

Frost has always displayed flashes of brilliance but has struggled with consistency. It seems more ice time and better linemates have been helpful for his confidence (who knew?), because he is now scoring goals like this:

Glass has also seen a two-minute bump at evens and though his production jump is not yet as dramatic as Frost’s, it is still notable: he went from three points in his first 12 games to 11 (two on the PP) in his last 22. Plus he is playing on the top line with Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene and also seeing reps on what is conceivably the Preds’ top PP unit—though they run two pretty balanced squads with the man advantage.

While they are not that viable yet in smaller redraft leagues, what we are seeing from both players lately suggests that they are finally making meaningful progress towards not only being long-term NHLers but also potentially regaining the star trajectories they were on back in 2017 when they were each taken in the first round of the entry draft. Check out Glass’ palpable passing chemistry with Filip Forsberg on this recent goal:

One final nugget on Glass. In a recent post-game interview, Coach Hines discussed the progress that Glass and fellow rookie, Jusso Parssinen, have made lately because they are so coachable and responsive to feedback.

I have been slowly working my way through the Dobber Midseason Guide—get yours here for only ten bucks—and one thing that absolutely jumped off the screen at me was the deployment chart for Ty Dellandrea. 

This is a rookie with fewer than 80 NHL games under his belt, and he is doing an incredible job facing by far the highest quality of competition on the team. In case you’re new to the charts (available in the Advanced Stats tab of every player profile on Frozen Tools), dark blue indicates excellent play-driving and dark orange shows a player is getting caved in on relative CorsiFor. Dellandrea’s light blue, almost grey bubble indicates he is coming out roughly even in terms of generating and suppressing shot attempts—an incredible feat given that all the other defensively oriented Stars (Kiviranta, Glendening, Faksa, etc.) are getting sheltered far more than he is (bubble way at the top) and struggling far more to drive play.

To my mind, Dellandrea has been only a borderline-ownable asset in keeper and fantasy formats since he was drafted in 2018. He is one of these dreaded “two-way” players who in theory have a lower offensive (and thus fantasy) ceiling than some of their more dynamic peers. His Draft and D+1 seasons were fairly unremarkable offence-wise; he then picked up the scoring (as expected for overage players) in his D+2 OHL campaign, scoring 70 points in 47 games and carrying a Flint team that did not boast a ton of firepower.

Where he really impressed me, however, was when he jumped into the AHL after covid disruptions in what was essentially his D+3 year and put up 56 points in his first 66 AHL games. Fast forward to 2022-23 and he is pacing for 33 points in the NHL while playing a key defensive role on a young, exciting team. Were you surprised by the resurgence of Jamie Benn as a fantasy asset this year? We have Dellandrea and fellow Stars rookie Wyatt Johnston to thank for that. That line continues to click and produce excellent results; they scored two goals against the Golden Knights recently and boasted a 63% Corsi rating.

Here are just two examples from the Stars’ last two games where Dellandrea’s compete level and spatial awareness lead directly to goals by Jamie Benn:

Attention poolies in multi cat formats: Wade Allison (PHI) and Paul Cotter (VGK) are underrated options for hits. Unlike many of the other top options out there, they also contribute decently in other categories. And they are putting up huge hit totals with barely over 12 minutes each per game. If that increases by two or three minutes (no guarantees, but they are young players), those totals will only grow.

In terms of Hits/60 Minutes, Cotter leads all rookies with 16.4 and Allison is not far behind at 14.3. The two are eerily in lockstep for playing time (Cotter: 12:19, Allison 12:16), point pace (both 27), shots (1.3, 1.6), and hits (3.4, 2.9). A third option who is slightly more of a downgrade across the board but is currently leading all rookies in hits is Arizona’s Jack McBain. Single category unicorns tend to be relatively replacement-level players but every now and then one will contribute just enough in a few other categories beyond only hits or blocks to separate themselves from the pack in fantasy.

Cotter has been playing with Eichel recently for Vegas, so that is a situation to monitor. That line got absolutely caved in last game though so it might not last much longer.

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

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
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