Prospect Risers via pNHLe: 2023-03-21

Victor Nuno

2023-03-22

For those who aren’t familiar with pNHLe, it is a tool that attempts to estimate the peak production of a prospect in the NHL. This is based on many years of data and statistical similarities. It isn’t perfect, but it generally does a good job of identifying those who stand out both in a positive and negative way. For the ramblings this week, I have identified some players who have stood out with historic or nearly historic pNHLe.

 

Connor Bedard

This should come as no surprise. What he is doing in the WHL for the Regina Pats is just ridiculous. A generational talent who now sits at 142 points in 55 games. It should also be noted that his team is not a juggernaut like Connor McDavid’s Erie Otters from his draft season that featured Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat, in addition to McDavid. Speaking of McDavid, his draft eligible season pNHLe was 125, we know now that it was an underestimate of his peak production, but still a high number. Bedard’s is 155.

 

Matvei Michkov

If you look solely at his totals with HK Sochi (he played three games for SKA St. Petersburg where got very little ice time and had no points), he has 0.74 points per game, which is the highest mark for a draft eligible player in KHL history. This puts him ahead of Eeli Tolvanen, Yevgeni Kuznetsov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Kirill Kaprizov, and Pavel Buchnevich. In fact, his draft eligible points per game is higher than Alexander Ovechkin’s draft plus one production. 

 

The kicker with Michkov is that he is signed in the KHL through the 2025-26 season so it will be a minimum of four years until the NHL that drafts him can get him into their lineup. Same is true for fantasy managers. When he does come over though, he will likely be worth the wait. See what Kaprizov did in his first NHL campaign. Could be even better than that.

 

Adam Fantilli

The Freshman at Michigan is having an incredible season. He is leading the entire NCAA in scoring and by a pretty wide margin even though he missed several games while winning a gold medal for Canada at the World Junior Championship. His pNHLe is the highest since Jack Eichel’s season. Fantilli would go first overall in just about any other draft, that is unless Connor Bedard is in it. Fantasy managers should be reaching for the consolation prize as he is pretty NHL-ready and I imagine could slip into a role fairly quickly, depending on the landing spot.

 

Lane Hutson

I have been telling anyone who would listen that Lane Hutson is incredible since before the draft and now, what can I say except you’re welcome. He fell to 62nd overall to Montreal because of his size, but I’m pretty sure everyone in Quebec is laughing now. Hutson has put up 44 points in 34 games at Boston University, the highest point total since Brian Leetch put up 47 points in 37 games, though Hutson’s points per game is still higher.

 

Hutson’s pNHLe was the highest last season for the NHL draft so it’s even more incredible that he fell so far. Hopefully you have him on your roster already because if you don’t, he’s probably too expensive to acquire now. If you do have him, maybe you sell on this hype. One negative, besides his size is that he still needs work with his skating and in-zone coverage. That, plus it will probably be at least 3 years until he is in the lineup for the Habs so the wait will be considerable.

 

David Jiricek

For any who don’t know, I was one of Jiricek’s biggest fans last season during the draft. I had him tops of my list for most of draft season and then slipped Slafkovsky ahead at the last minute for some unknown reason. Despite the lumbering skating style, Jiricek is a beast and he’s shown it this season with 31 points in 40 games for the AHL Cleveland Monsters. That pace was even higher before dominating and nearly leading Czechia to the World Junior Championship.

If you play in multicategory leagues, you are going to want Jiricek on your team. He’s the kind of defender that can put up close to 200 hits and 200 blocks, along with 250 shots. That kind of BASH (blocks, shots, and hits) is the stuff of dreams in leagues that count it. The best part is that the wait probably won’t be long. Jiricek already played in two NHL games this season and didn’t look terribly out of place most of the time.

 

Alexander Nikishin

Nikishin was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 3rd round back in 2020. The 6’4,” 215 lbs defender is killing it in the KHL. The 21-year-old popped off for 55 points in 65 games for SKA St. Petersburg. This after just 12 points in 46 games for SPartak Moskva last season. Sometimes players look good for the perennial contender SKA and then flop elsewhere so there is some caution here.

On the other hand, Nikishin is averaging 22:40 time on ice with 3:15 of that on the power play. All of that while driving play at an astonishing 55% Corsi. I’d say he’s doing plenty himself to make the team good. He’s pretty helpful in BASH too with 1.4 hits and 1.6 blocks per game to go with his two shots. He has an even number of primary to secondary assists too so it’s not like he’s just getting lucky with secondaries.

I took a look at 21-year-old defenders in the KHL and Nikishin is by far the best point producer. His 0.55 points per game nearly doubles that of Dmitri Orlov at the same age. As another point of reference, Shakir Mukhamadullin, who just debuted for the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL, just put up 0.37 points per game for Salavat Yulaev Ufa as the 14th best ever season for a 21-year-old defender in the KHL. Nikishin is signed in the KHL with SKA through the end of the 2025 season so the wait for him will be substantial as well. The payoff, while probably not as high Michkov’s, should still be incredible if you can wait that long.

 

For more on these prospects and other insights, tune into the latest Fantasy Hockey Life podcast, part of the Dobber Hockey podcast network.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @victornuno12 for fantasy hockey goodness.

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Fabian Lysell 8.5 9.0
Jakub Lauko 6.0 6.0
Matthew Poitras 7.5 7.5
Alexander Nikishin 9.0 9.3
Alexander Rykov 7.0 7.5
Justin Robidas 5.5 4.5
Zion Nybeck 8.0 3.0
David Kase 4.0 6.0
Jacob Julien 6.5 6.0
Anton Johannesson 3.0 3.0

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