Organizational Rankings 9. Utah

Ben Gehrels

2024-04-28

9 – Utah – Score: 82.8

Top 15 Prospects

RankNameScore
1Logan Cooley9.0
2Dylan Guenther8.0
3Dmitriy Simashev7.4
4Conor Geekie7.2
5Danil But7.0
6Michael Hrabal5.4
7Maveric Lamoureux5.3
8Josh Doan5.0
9Jan Jenik4.2
10Victor Soderstrom4.1
11Artem Duda3.9
12Sam Lipkin3.2
13Michael Kesselring3.1
14Aku Raty2.1
15Miko Matikka2.0

Individual Breakdown

Forwards:

The newest NHL franchise has a solid spread of prospects at forward, including a couple surefire stars (Dylan Guenther, Logan Cooley), two top-six talents (Conor Geekie, Daniil But), and some solid depth pieces (Josh Doan, Jan Jenik). A poised sniper with excellent vision, 21-year-old Guenther is particularly NHL-ready at this point. He finished the campaign with an impressive 23 points in 23 games, maintaining a point-per-game pace from March 1st onward, including eight points in his final four appearances. Two years younger, Cooley also heated up towards the end of the 82-game grind after jumping to the top level straight out of college. Playing on a line with Guenther and Lawson Crouse, Cooley put up ten points in his final ten games—a glimpse of what to expect from these two youngsters as soon as 2024-25.

While it is somewhat disappointing to see Geekie still in the WHL for his Draft+2 campaign, his 99 points in 55 games ranked 6th-best in the entire CHL (minimum 20 games), and he will play next year with the Tucson Roadrunners or whichever affiliate Utah decides on. He has looked faster out there this year, one of his biggest criticisms at the draft, and continues to develop his excellent IQ and scoring instincts. Last year’s 12th overall selection, Daniil But has had a very successful transition to the KHL over in Russia this year and is trending well. These two should provide a solid infusion of size and skill into Utah’s middle six over the next 2-3 years. As for Josh Doan, he put up nine points in 11 games with the Coyotes and was one of the leading scorers down in Tucson. He looks ready to assume a permanent spot in the bottom-six right now.

Defenceman:

The main story on Utah’s blueline are its twin towers: 6-5 Dmitry Simashev and 6-7 Maveric Lamoureux. Both were criticized as reaches by many at the drafts but the jury will be out on these guys for years still, especially because physically massive players typically need twice as long to hit their stride at the pro level. The smooth-skating Simashev stuck in the KHL all year, which is a positive sign for his development, and Lamoureux returned to Junior for his D+1 year and showed an encouraging uptick in his production (33 points in 39 games), even though that will never be the main aspect he brings to the table. They should arrive around the same time, likely a couple years from now, and take up bottom-four roles on the pro team.

The other notable situation on the back end is Artyom Duda, who was unable to participate in the US college hockey season this year as planned due to having previously played 14 games in the pro-level KHL. He missed most of a crucial development year as a result, eventually joining the Toronto Metropolitan University in the Canadian college league (USports). Duda is intriguing because he is a former second-round pick (2022) who prior to this year was projecting extremely well in terms of historical trajectories, scoring a 60% star potential from the Hockey Prospecting model. His next step will be one to monitor closely, as he is more of an offensive defender than Simashev and Lamoureux, and thus might carry more fantasy relevance if everything breaks right.

Goalies:

The current tandem of Karel Vejmelka and Connor Ingram are both only 27 and signed through the end of the 2024-25 campaign (Ingram another year after that). Both have starter potential and should be able to carry this young team for the foreseeable future. Several years down the line, however, look for 19-year-old behemoth Michael Hrabal (he’s 6-6) to start knocking on the door. The big Czech is coming off a successful freshman season with NCAA UMass and should return for a couple more seasons at the college level. Widely regarded as the best (or second-best) goalie prospect available at last year’s draft, he was snagged by the Coyotes early in the second round, and remains fairly well regarded by our staff (5.4 overall) with three scores of seven and a bunch of sixes.

Team Breakdown:

The new Utah team will continue to be a slow burn development-wise, and some growing pains should still be expected for the next 2-3 years in particular. But this team has taken on dead cap and declining older players for years now to net a ton of draft picks: they are sitting on 20 picks in the first three rounds over the next three years. If Cooley and Guenther can join Clayton Keller as true core pieces, this team will finally have something concrete to build around. 23-year-old Barret Hayton has not really taken the step forward that many poolies expected; his 10 points in 33 games this year are not going to cut it as a second-line center. There may have been a nagging injury there, however, as he decided to shut things down in early March due to a “lower-body injury.” 

No matter which way you look at it, taking Simashev at 6th-overall last year with Matvei Michkov (PHI), Ryan Leonard (WAS), and Dalibor Dvorsky (STL) still on the board, then going with But at 12th instead of Zach Benson (BUF), who went to the Sabres one pick later, has left this team with a much dimmer outlook than they would have had otherwise. Utah fans better hope that the new management is more willing to swing on upside this year, where they will be picking in that same neighbourhood once again. A high-octane talent like Zayne Parekh, Zeev Buium, or Berkly Catton might still be available at that slotting and would significantly boost the strength of a pipeline already in the top third of the league.

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LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
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Zachary Nehring 4.5 5.0
Jacob Julien 5.5 5.0
Antti Tuomisto 4.5 6.0
Aku Räty 5.8 5.0
Miko Matikka 6.5 6.5
Nathan Smith 6.2 6.0
Jan Jenik 7.2 6.5
Ilya Fedotov 6.0 3.0
Noel Nordh 6.5 7.0

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