We’re back again for another rousing edition of the DobberProspects’ Mailbag! The Entry Draft has just concluded, and now you need to know who’s worthy of being selected for this coming year and long term as well. Many of these questions were posed and answered pre-draft but we’ve always got next month to hone in on some specifics of players who went to potentially promising destinations – yes, I’m talking to you, Kailer Yamamoto.
So, without further ado, let’s go!
Question: “How does the Drouin for Sergachev trade impact Sergachev's value both short and long term?”
Answer: I don’t see this trade really hurting Sergachev’s value too much in the short term. He was unlikely to carve out much of an offensive role in Montreal and will be equally unlikely to carve one out in Tampa Bay. However, Tampa has far more offensive firepower to spread around so it’s possible he sees a smidge more even-strength production now that’s he’s moved.
Long term, I believe this is a benefit for him. He’ll be stuck behind Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman for the immediate future, but once Stralman’s contract runs out in two seasons, it’s plausible to expect him to take over the second power play unit by then – one that is usually a split squad PP unit that will be home to one of Stamkos or Kucherov. Not a bad place to be.
Sergachev remains a high-flying prospect with a full arsenal of offensive weapons. He needs to be reined in a bit, but that’s not a bad thing. He owns very nice fantasy upside.
Question: “Who appears to be the biggest offensive sleepers in this upcoming draft? i.e.: Gaudette, Fox, Kaprizov?”
Answer: This is year is unique because there is a great deal of players who don’t necessarily fit the proto-typical ‘hockey player’ mould. This means we’re looking at a bunch of players who are described as ‘slippery’, ‘slight’, ‘crafty’…and they’ll likely go earlier than in previous drafts because there isn’t a ton of ‘traditional hockey players’ at the front of the line.
That said, here are some highly skilled guys that are going somewhat under the radar:
Question: “Who is Anders Bjork and how did he end up on my farm team?”
Answer: Bjork! Bjork! Bjork! Can’t you just hear Bruins fans churning that out with regularity soon?
Bjork was drafted as a bit of project. He wasn’t the biggest player, and could be called out for being a passenger on a deadly 2014 USNTDP squad that featured a 16-year-old Jack Eichel, Sonny Milano, Dylan Larkin and Alex Tuch. All drafted miles ahead of Bjork who went in the fifth round.
All he’s done since is make teams regret passing on him. 109 points in 115 NCAA contests, a trip to the U20s and World Championships and now a legit shot at cracking the Bruins’ roster as a fresh pro.
He’s an intriguing fantasy option as his pedigree keeps him off the radar for many, but he could very well turn into a quality top six option in the not-so-distant future.
I’d keep the Swedish Chef around for a while and see how it shakes out.
Question: “Who is your top three favorite prospects next season, who didn't play in the NHL this past season, and why?”
Answer: If we’re talking about players who spent most of their years outside the NHL, then my favourite players are:
- Clayton Keller – Dynamic puck skills, blazing speed, anticipation and vision skills that even some of the top players will envy.
- Brock Boeser – A pure goal scorer who loves to cut into high danger areas, adds some feistiness and will be given loads of prime ice on a weak Vancouver squad.
- Jesse Puljujarvi – Big, fast and ultra-talented. His back half in the AHL was very promising, and now it’s time to rejoin the bigs and not look back. Let the good times roll with McDavid.
If we’re being real sticklers, and it’s a zero games played benchmark, I like
- Nico Hischier – Speed and skill that gets you out of your seat. Outside of a poor showing at camp, he should break in the NHL next fall and likely in a positive offensive situation.
- Alex DeBrincat – Imagine him in the Blackhawks top six? He has his warts, but points come at a premium and he knows how to rack them up.
- Nolan Patrick – Not really my favourite prospect, but I’m very curious to see how he transitions out of the gate. Great compete and hockey sense, but I wonder about the top end offensive ceiling.
Question: “Kaprizov/Shipachyov/Gusev vs. The 2017 Draftees.”
Answer: Depends on how patient you are, but I’d have Kaprizov right near the top of my draft board with Hischier. In fact, for the Fantasy Prospect Report, a handful of us were tasked with outlining the top 50 fantasy prospects with zero games of NHL experience.
I had Hischier at the top, followed closely by Kaprizov and Shipachyov in fifth. Gusev is a bit of a wildcard as he might be two years away from coming over and at that point he’ll be a UFA and could sign anywhere. I really like his skillset, but I’d prefer a good deal of 2017 draftees ahead of him at this point.
Currently, my Top 10 2017 draft eligible fantasy assets are:
Question: “Christian Fischer ARI – What established NHL player would you compare him to in terms of production and style of play?”
Answer: Fischer is a very capable, all-around offensive player. He uses his size very well to protect the puck and is often found engaging in the more physical side of the game. Drafted as a likely middle six forward who had question marks about how much of his production would translate to the NHL, he’s certainly put some of those concerns to rest.
I see I little Wayne Simmonds in him. Both are complimentary scorers who bring a lot to the table, both at even-strength and on special teams.
Whether he can be counted on for multiple 30/30 seasons is another thing altogether, but he has that type of ceiling.
Question: “Who are your Calder Trophy favourites?”
Answer: Clayton Keller, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Charlie McAvoy.
HM: Thomas Chabot and Brock Boeser.
Question: “What young goaltenders do you see having a fantasy impact in the near future?”
Answer: There are a handful of goalies who are considered some of the best outside of the NHL, and those are the guys you should target.
- Thatcher Demko will be the man in Vancouver’s crease before long.
- Jon Gillies will battle with Tyler Parsons long term in Calgary but is years ahead in development and is the likely heir apparent to newly-acquired, Mike Smith.
- Keep an eye out for what happens in Philly… they protected Anthony Stolarz in the expansion process and may bring back one of Neuvirth or Mason or sign an outside UFA goaltender, but Stolarz isn’t too far off from legitimately pushing for a job. Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom are also in the pipeline and likely have the higher ceiling – especially Hart.
- Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom will duke it out for the right to be the man for the Islanders over the course of the next two-three years.
- Igor Shestyorkin appears destined to take the torch from King Henrik on Broadway…
As for next season, the clear ones to watch are Antti Raanta in Arizona, Scott Darling in Carolina, and even Calvin Pickard could push for starts with Vegas (although I doubt it, as Fleury is the new face of the franchise so they’ll give him all the chances to keep the crease.
Question: “How real is Cale Makar’s fantasy potential?”
Answer: Oh, it’s real alright. For my money, Makar has some of the best offensive skills of ANY player in this crop. He has absolute game-breaking ability from the back-end. Dynamic edgework, top acceleration and speed, a booming slap shot and the vision and processing skills to make the right plays. Those are transferable skills regardless of the quality of competition that he faced in the AJHL.
Heading to Colorado isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Makar. He’ll take a year or two to marinate at UMass (Amherst) before blazing his trail to the NHL ranks. At which point you’d hope the Avs would have begun to dig themselves out of the cellar.
Working at even-strength and on the man-advantage with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Jost and Mikko Rantanen will be a pretty deadly situation for the young defender and with his skill set, many points will follow.
He could become the best player from this draft class.
Question: “How's the goalie crop looking in this year's draft (knowing full well that goalies are hard to evaluate…)?”
Answer: Goaltenders are certainly more prone to random variance then skaters. It’s a volatile position to select, but every year there’s a handful of a gems taken throughout the draft.
This year, I’m like most who see Jake Oettinger as the top goaltender available. He’s a first-round and was rightly selected as such. His path in Dallas looks pretty clear long term.
There are a solid bunch that follow him: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Michael DiPietro, Keith Petruzzelli, Maksim Zhukov, Stuart Skinner, Olle Eriksson-Ek.
Each has areas of weakness but they also own some very nice skill sets and/or great size and athleticism. I think this draft is one of the stronger ones for goaltenders.
That’s all for this month! Hopefully your questions were answered and some light was shed on these promising young players as we head into the long summer months. We’ll be back next month to do it all over again.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’m usually focused purely on prospects this time of year.
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