DobberProspects Fantasy Mailbag: July Edition

by Cam Robinson on July 26, 2017

 

The slow, carefree summer offseason is now in full effect. The excitement after the initial free agent frenzy has gone whisper quiet and fantasy teams around your league are likely in hibernation mode. Camping, weddings and beach time reign supreme. 

Fortunately for you, we at DobberProspects refuse to take a break. These are some of our busiest months! With that in mind, let’s dig into some terrific questions posed by the most die-hard of fantasy managers.

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Question: “Where do you rank Jonathan Dahlen in Vancouver’s prospects and what is his upside…. Also, what happened to Jake Virtanen?”

 

Answer: I’m going to make you wait for the Canucks’ feature on our 31 in 31 series that we do annually to see exactly where I’ve ranked Dahlen on the fantasy organizational depth chart, but I’ll let you know this: I’ve moved him up from his previous spot at fifth overall.

The release date for that feature piece is July 29th.

As for Dahlen’s upside, it took a nice little shot in the arm last month with the drafting of his best-friend and long time line mate, Elias Pettersson. Already folks are comparing these two young Swedes to the Sedin twins and forecasting the torch being passed onto the next great offensive duo on the Canucks.

Now, I’m a pretty positive guy, but I’m not that optimistic a person. Daniel and Henrik are two of the most accomplished and talented Swedish players to ever put on skates. Their humanitarian ventures, point totals, uniqueness and major pieces of hardware will very likely result in a spot within the Hall of Fame one day. That’s a hard act to follow. I prefer to let each player chart their own path.

That isn’t to say that I don’t see a bright future for both young players though. Dahlen is a challenging winger who thrives in cutting into the high-traffic and high-danger areas. He can flat out score goals; greasy or gorgeous. Meanwhile his good buddy Pettersson just oozes playmaking ability and together those two have made sweet music in the Allsvenskan and the hope is that will continue up to the NHL ranks.

I can see Dahlen becoming a very nice complimentary top six goal-scoring winger who can chip in at even-strength and play the net-front presence on the power play. He has top line upside if everything breaks right.

I’ll leave the “What happened to Jake Virtanen?” for another day. This Mailbag is long enough as is.

 

Question: “1) what do we see from Pavel Zacha in NJ and what position do you see him playing (if he is still considered a prospect) 

2) what do you think about the next two draft classes? Been hearing good things related to next year’s 

Thanks for doing this!”

 

Answer: I believe we’ll end up seeing Zacha play a good chunk of time in the bottom six this season and likely on the wing next to Brian Boyle. He’s still a very high-skill player, but I’ve personally always seen a power winger rather than centreman. The addition of Nico Hischier and with Michael McLeod turning pro, long-term, I think New Jersey feels the same way.

He could start the year as one of the top three centres, rotating around with Hischer and Zajac, but call it a hunch that he sees more time on the wing.

They’ll be a spot for him on the second power play unit but I wouldn’t be looking for him to break out in 2017-18 despite the hot finish to last season.  

 

As for the 2018 and 2019 draft crops, next June’s draft is shaping up especially nice. At the top, there are two players worthy of sinking to the bottom of the standings for. Firstly, there is the elite offensive winger, Andrei Svehcnikov and right there with him is the ridiculously poised and skilled defenseman in Rasmus Dahlin.

The drop off happens thereafter but it doesn’t fall far, leading to a host of potential high-impact skaters. Up front, Pavel Zadina, Joseph Veleno, Brady Tkachuk, Joel Farabee and Oliver Wahlstrom are some featured names. Meanwhile, the back-end displays some of the more dynamic defense crops in recent memory. Ryan Merkley, Quinton Hughes, Adam Boqvist, Bode Wilde, Jared McIsaac, Jett Woo, Evan Bouchard and on it goes.

Here’s a little Dahlin appreciation thread to get you excited about 2018:

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As for 2019, it’s always a difficult proposition to forecast a draft that’s two years out, but at the front of the line as of today is Jack Hughes, the ultra-skilled forward who is arguably the most-talented player coming out of the GTAMMHL since McDavid. Despite playing minor hockey in Toronto, he was born in Florida and will head to the USNTDP this fall.

Following him is mobile Russian defender, Artemi Knyazev. The left-shooter is quick, creative and owns top-notch processing skills.

 

Question: “Do you believe that either Logan Brown or Anthony DeAngelo can reach their upsides?”

 

Answer: I guess that all depends on what you believe their upsides to be. If you see Brown as a future top line centre and DeAngelo as a top pairing defender, then the likelihood isn’t overwhelming favourable. However, if expectations are a tad more muted, then each remains viable candidates.

Brown struggled through injury and inconsistency in 2016-17. Despite playing on a strong Windsor team who ended up hosting its way to a Memorial Cup victory, he wasn’t the dominant force that was expected by many coming off an 11th overall selection and growing into his 6’6", 220lbs frame. His omission from the US World Junior squad was still a surprise and all these circumstances will result in two things:

  1. He will assuredly be back in Windsor for his draft-plus two campaign.
  2. He will slip way down on most poolies watch lists.

Watch for Brown to put up big point totals as a 19/20-year-old next season, even with Gabe Vilardi likely to take another bite out of his prime ice. The two should continue to make some sweet magic together on the man-advantage.

He still has legitimate top-six upside but with most player’s his size, the developmental arc will be a tad longer than others.

As for DeAngelo, now a part of his third organization since being drafted 19th overall in 2014, the future is a tad murkier. Sure, he’s closer to being NHL-ready as illustrated by his 14 points in 39 contests with Arizona last season, but his defensive side still needs work. The former Sarnia Sting star is routinely outmuscled on the puck and struggles with gap control when defending his own blue line.

There is no denying his offensive capabilities and that alone should work him into an NHL lineup at some point, but unless he’s given a ton of prime ice – which is hard to obtain without the other side of the puck being taken care of, it will be difficult for him to be a tangible fantasy asset. The signing of Kevin Shattenkirk quite clearly hurt his immediate future in New York.

 

Question: “Will Kasperi Kapanen finally earn a spot with the Leafs this year?”

 

Answer: I’m not entirely sure that “finally” needs to be added in there. Kasperi Kapanen has just recently turned 21-years-old and has less than 100 games in the AHL. Granted he does have a draft-plus one campaign in the Finnish Liiga, but he’s hardly a candidate for grey bush status.

While it may seem like forever since the 2014 entry draft when he was selected 22nd overall by Pittsburgh, the Leafs have been smart with his development. Allowing him time to adjust to the North American game and rise to a point where he’s displaying dominance at the AHL-level.

I believe that Kapanen is ready to join the NHL on a full-time basis. He looked quite competent in his six NHL playoff contests last spring, and his ability to play both wings opens up possibilities for where he could lineup. However, anyone with a notepad can figure out that Toronto’s forward corps are darn full.

Let’s say for the sake of argument:

Marleau – Matthews – Nylander

JVR – Bozak – Marner

Hyman – Kadri – Brown

Uncle Leo – Moore – Martin

Not a whole heck of a lot of wiggle room here. We know Babcock loves Hyman and his four-year extension secures his spot. Brown popped 20 last season, and unless the Leafs decide they don’t want their desired truculence on the fourth line – which would be surprising seeing as they protected both Martin and Komarov, then there really isn’t a spot for Kapanen.

Fortunately for the Leafs and likely unfortunately for the young Finnish winger, Kapanen doesn’t require waivers for the next two seasons, meaning he’ll likely spend his year bouncing between the Marlies and the Maple Leafs.

 

Question: Who will put up more points next season, and long term, between Shea Theodore and Julius Honka?”

 

Answer: I’ll preface this by saying how I really enjoy both players. They play an up tempo, creative and fast-paced game that is built for today’s game.

That said, I’ve got to lean Theodore for next season and likely beyond. In Vegas, Theodore won’t be treated to the same level of surrounding talent as Honka will have in Dallas, but he also won’t have a young, supremely gifted 24-year-old right-handed defender standing in his way.

John Klingberg is an impediment to Julius Honka. It’s just that simple. Honka plays nearly a carbon-copy style game to Klingberg only with a little less height and a little less competency in the defensive end. That latter part should come with age and experience but the fact remains that even if Honka had a roster spot all sewed up for this coming season – which he does not for the sheer fact he can move between the AHL and NHL without requiring waivers, he still will have a mountain to climb to summit the top of Mount Top Power Play.

Theodore on the other hand should be given every opportunity to slip onto that top unit and try and create some excitement on a team that will be struggling to win many games the next few seasons. He’s also a very talented offensive producer and will have the far better deployment.

For those reasons, I’ll take Theo.

 

Question: “I can only keep one of: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyson Jost and Julius Honka?”

 

Answer: The safe answer is Tyson Jost. He may have a lower ceiling that Dubois but he’ll be in the NHL next season for certain and has that Ryan O’Reilly-type of game that will develop into a legit fantasy asset, albeit not a very sexy one.

If you want to swing on big potential, PLD does have upside. It’ll take some time and he’ll need to unseat Alexander Wennberg for the top pivot position, but he could do it. He could also take years and become a second line centre or winger and not produce near the steady results that many expect from Jost.

 

Question: What is Jesse Puljujarvi's point floor and ceiling for next year and years to come?

 

Answer: Well his floor next year is zero points and a full season in Bakersfield of the AHL. I don’t see that as a very likely option, but stranger things have happened. His full-season NHL floor would be a somewhat disappointing 20-odd point campaign from the bottom six. On the flip side, he could conceivably go off for 50 points if he wedged his way onto either McDavid or Draisaitl’s wing and saw ample power play minutes – a plausible outcome.

As for his overall ceiling, the 19-year-old could be a dynamic offensive producer from the wing. With two dynamite young centres in the fold, he won’t have to look far for the next crisp pass into a high-danger scoring situation. He could live in the high-60’s with career years sprinkled in.

 

Question: I'll lob ya one.


Thoughts on Pontus Aberg this year. He just re-signed for two years. Is he a full-time NHL player next year and if so, where do you see him slotting in on that lineup and projections for him.

 

Answer: I love a good softball. Yes, I believe Aberg is a full-time NHL player next season, for a host of reasons. He signed a two-year, one-way deal that pays him the league minimum 650K in both years. Sure, teams give guys one-way deals and send them to the minors still but it’s a positive sign at least.

Another factor working in his favour is the departure of James Neal to the Vegas Golden Knights. With Neal gone, there is now a very open spot on the top six wing and Aberg looked quite competent in his brief stint in that position last spring during Nashville’s cup run.

Finally, the 2012 second round pick is just now eligible for waivers meaning every team in the league would have a crack at a 24-year-old who scored 31 goals in 56 AHL contests a year ago and has developed positively and consistently.

As for where he slides in, he can play both wing positions, but it is highly unlikely he can supplement either Viktor Arvidsson or Filip Forsberg off the top line, so he’ll most likely wedge his way onto either Nick Bonino or Calle Jarkrok’s lines which will share the second line duties.

Deployment will obviously be key, but I would expect a reasonable output from him in the 30-point range with a lower percentage shot at a breakout year with 40-45 points.  

 

Question: “What do you know about Alexandre Texier? He intrigues me as it's not often a team trades up in the draft to get a player from France in the second round. Everything I've read about him sounds good. Just wondering what his chances are of eventually making it to the NHL and being an offensive contributor? Who is an NHL comparable based on playing style? If he does make it, how many years from now are we talking about? Basically, anything you may know! Thanks.”

 

Answer: Just the fourth French player ever be selected in the NHL Entry Draft and the only one to ever be drafted straight out of the French league, Alexandre Texier is certainly an intriguing player.

The speedy centre was just two days shy of being eligible for the 2018 draft and despite being the youngest player from this crop, he’s demonstrated some top notch offensive tools against men in a professional league, as well as tearing up the second tier U18 and U20 tournaments.

As far as comparable players, his agent feels he plays like Tuomo Ruutu and from my limited viewings, I can see the similarities. Both are terrific skaters, he shows great offensive awareness but also enjoys engaging physically despite not being fully matured stegnth-wise. He plays hard.

As mentioned, Texier is a very young player coming from a lower-level of competition. Thusly, he will take a while to fully develop. There is no rush for Columbus, who traded an interesting prospect in Keegan Kolesar to Vegas to snag the Frenchman, due to their pivot pipeline.

He recently signed a two-year agreement with KalPa of the Finnish Liiga but won’t be eligible to return to action until November after shoulder surgery held him out of the World Championships and the NHL Combine. He will play with fellow 2017 second round centre prospects, Joni Ikonen (Montreal) and Eetu Luostarinen (Carolina).

This is the type of player you want to see your team take a gamble on. He has risk attached, but the speed, the skill and the potential are all there for him to develop into a quality top six pivot.

 

Question: Cal Foote. Reading that tons of potential, in spite of his slow skating.

A few questions…
1) Is this namesake, or real talent?
2) Tampa has Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev… Will it be a while before he does anything?”

 

Answer: I’m not so hot on Foote 2.0. He plays a very straightforward game that should translate well to the pros, except for the sluggish feet. His skating will assuredly need to improve to become a capable NHL’er.

When it comes to his offensive instincts he does make some nice outlet passes and keeps his head up, but in the attacking zone when he has the puck, 9 out of 10 times he’s hammering a clapper. Granted it’s a heavy shot, but that’s simple to defend against.

Both Hedman and Sergachev are both left-handers, while Foote plays the right side. So, in a vacuum, those two being around shouldn’t necessarily hold him back. However, I struggle to see him carving out an offensive role at the highest level regardless.

 

Question: “Who the heck do I draft with the number three pick?”

 

Answer: This question has been posed to me by many people through many forums. Strangely enough, I own the third overall pick in my deep keeper as well. For me it’s simple, I’ll take a veteran, but for others they want an iron clad nomination for the third best offensive talent in this most recent draft crop.

Unfortunately, there is no such answer.

If you’ve followed my pre-draft rankings and fantasy draft rankings over the last several months, you’d know I have Cale Makar as the second best potential fantasy asset. I’ve said it all before: Blazing speed, sharp edgework, supreme instincts, big shot, great vision… Does he come with risk? You betcha, but virtually every player selected after Nico and Nolan have their own brand of risk. Whether it’s the risk that they won’t reach their potential, will take too long to be worth the draft slot in fantasy, or do they simply have a lower ceiling?

At three, there are a myriad of options. For pure long term point production, my top candidates would be:

The thing about those last two, only one will likely get to be the big cheese down the middle in Vegas. Choose wisely.

I decided to put this to the masses and the results come back fairly definitive. Now, the caveat to this, is that a large portion of my followers are Canucks’ fans as that’s the team I cover for DobberProspects and just so happens to be my hometown team as well.

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This isn’t to say that Pettersson is the wrong or right choice in this spot, but he does carry with him a very high-level of skill and consequently, a very high ceiling. There are risks, mainly his strength and the lack of a dynamic first few strides, but he remains an intriguing prospect and would be a worthy selection for third overall in fantasy drafts.

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I congratulate you if you’ve made it this far. This edition of the Mailbag has rambled on a lot longer than any before it. As always, if you didn’t have your question answered, feel free to pose it again next month or toss it my way on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3.

Now I’m off to enjoy the sunshine!