DobberProspects’ Fantasy Mailbag:
Yakkity Yak Yak… It’s the fantasy hockey offseason, the draft is inching closer each day, and most people have gone from knowing very little about this upcoming crop of draft-eligible players to being immeasurably intelligent experts in the span of a few short weeks.
Now’s the time to join the herd of scroungers looking for the next great youngin’ to take the league by storm.
Here are several questions posed by you, the people regarding all things fantasy hockey prospect-related.
I hope it helps!
Question: “NJ will most likely select a center (Patrick or Hischier) come draft day. What does that do to McLeod's value as Zacha is already ahead of him and one of the 2 draftees will most likely make the jump this year?
Do you think McLeod gets buried in the depth chart, shifts to the wing, gets moved…? He had a great season and amazing playoffs so I'm not sure what to think going forward.”
Answer: I think all three – McLeod, Hischier/Patrick and Zacha will get an opportunity to play centre in the NHL. Zacha has already played some wing and could easily slide over to that left side and become the big physical winger that many saw during his draft seasons. He’s played well at centre at times, but I wouldn’t call him a natural pivot.
McLeod has demonstrated solid production increases and with his speed, fore check and competent two-way game, I think he’s destined to be an elite middle six centre. Running a top six that has one of the lottery picks and Mcleod with Hall and Zacha on the two left wings is a well-balanced start to any potent forward corps.
New Jersey is slowly building something.
Question: “How would you rank:
McAvoy, Kapirzov and Guentzel compared to the 2017 draft class? Points only.”
Answer: You should consider Jake Guentzel right up there with Nico Hischier for the top spot. He’s going to outscore Hischier for at least the next two seasons and could achieve heights that Hischier will strive for throughout his whole prime-aged arc.
In 88 combined regular season & playoff games this season in AHL/NHL, Jake Guentzel has scored 46 goals on 209 shots (22% rate). #Penguins— /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) May 19, 2017
Kaprizov is a full year out – like most of the 2017 prospects besides Patrick, maybe Hischier and the one random guy that seems to always surprise by breaking camp straight from the draft floor, but he remains a tremendous talent. It’ll be interesting to see how Kaprizov transitions to the smaller ice and North American game when he does transition over for 2018-19.
I expect there will be some growing pains, but his offensive ceiling appears as high as anyone in this year’s crop.
McAvoy is a going to be a great player, but I’m not sure that he’ll become a great fantasy asset. A player like Cale Makar would interest me more than McAvoy would in a points-only setting. The wait will be longer, but the ceiling will be higher.
Question: “D question for you:
Timing and upside for points-only – who do you rank top-to-bottom from the following D prospects?
Answer: These players all have a wait time ahead of them, some maybe a year or two longer before fantasy relevancy, but if we’re looking at pure offensive ceilings and likely-surroundings, here is how I’d rank them:
- Adam Fox
- Vince Dunn
- Dante Fabbro
- Kale Clague
- Brendan Guhle
- Filip Hronek
- Ryan Graves
- Will Butcher
- Jeremy Lauzon
- Kyle Capobianco
- Jacob Larsson
Question: “Jordan Weal seemed to be finding his groove on the top line in Philly this past season. It took him a while, but he seemed to settle in good.
What are your projections for him going forward?”
Answer: Weal is clearly a highly skilled offensive player. He’s racked up 186 points in his last 192 AHL contests and is bordering on being fully and completely developed at 25 years of age. He did look competent in his stint with the Flyers last year and could be a target for Vegas or another team with room in their top nine for a smaller, distributing winger.
He produces high-quality even-strength chances, which is a terrific sign for projecting future production, but I’m not sure I love him as a fantasy asset moving forward. The major key for him will be opportunity. If he can catch on in a situation that allows him to see plenty of even-strength ice from a top six forward core and ample time on the man-advantage, he could be something of a breakout player next season.
I have my reservations though, as there have been many cases of players his size and skill level not being able to contribute consistently at the NHL-level.
Question: “What’s so bad about Timothy Liljegren?”
Answer: I’m assuming this is about my ranking him in the middle of the first round (*You can see my pinned rankings on twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3). While I am aware that many scouts and forecasters remain high on Liljegren despite the down season, I see a few attributes that concern me.
Firstly, the Swedish defender is an amazing skater. Arguably the best skater in this entire draft class and for my money, has the purest stride hands down. There are players such as Cale Makar who offer more dynamic edgework, but skating is certainly Liljegren’s most impressive quality. He uses his legs to create offense and skate out of trouble.
He can also use that great skating ability to get himself into trouble by making too many moves and not utilizing his teammates enough. It’s that processing ability and vision that I’m not so high on. If he can find a way to simplify his game, and improve on his reads, he’ll be much better for it.
As far as the mononucleosis is concerned, I fully admit that that is a debilitating sickness that can rob a young player of energy for long periods and make it difficult to get back up to speed. However, this is something that Liljegren was diagnosed with a full year ago. Since then, he has had moments where he looked strong, but long periods of not so smart play.
Even against his peers at the most-recent U18 tournament, he did not thrive. He produced shots on goal, which is encouraging, but many were from poor angles and did not represent quality scoring chances. Meanwhile, his defensive game was lacking at that time as well, ending up with just two assists and a minus-five rating. The latter stat is a notably difficult stat to weigh, but somewhat telling none-the-less.
I understand that a right-hand defender with his skating ability is a sought-after piece, but I see at least two defenders who I would target before him this June. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t be a productive NHL player, but he’s no slam dunk either.
Question: “Short and long-term projections on Skjei, Theodore and Sergachev – I can only protect one. Thanks.”
Answer: I prefer Theodore and Sergachev by quite a bit over Skjei. Brady had a splendid rookie season and wildly out-produced what I expected from him. That said, his 40 points is right about where I see his ceiling – strange to say from a freshman, but still.
I think NYR finds a pure power play quarterback and pushes him down the lineup long term.
As far as Sergachev vs Theodore, Theodore will get you points sooner but has quite a bit of competition on that Ducks’ backend. Sergachev has all the elements to be an impact fantasy defender, and so long as he can wedge a spot on the top PP next to Weber, he should produce well in a short amount of time.
Flip a coin on that one.
Question: “A question not answered a couple of months ago: Nicolas Roy had a really good year. Do you see him fantasy relevant (points only) in the future or does he project to be a 35-40 pts 3rd liner in the NHL?”
Answer: Roy’s developmental arc has been splendid to watch. He fell on many draft boards back in 2015 due to a concern about his choppy stride and lack of a top end gear. Fast forward two seasons and he’s put those concerns to rest. Now we’re looking at a 6’4 power centre who can skate well and displays a strong touch around the net.
I believe could compete in a top six unit in the NHL and produce to points needed to live there. 50 points isn’t an unrealistic expectation if he continues along this path. It all depends on deployment of course, because if he’s earmarked as a strong match up centre, that will obvious hurt his fantasy stock.
He’s an interesting prospect that you may be able to obtain for cheap due to his poor draft position and uncertain future, but he’s got a projectable frame and an interesting ceiling.
Question: “My question is about Jordan greenway. Minny seems to have an abundance of high end prospects that are going to be entering the NHL in the next few years. What do you see as Jordan Greenway's upside and what do you think are his chances of achieving them? Presently he is eligible to be drafted in my prospect draft and was wondering what round would it be acceptable to draft him in comparison to the 2017 entry draft? Thanks”
Answer: The Wild certainly have a few higher-end forward prospects on the way – or just arriving in the case of Joel Eriksson-Ek, but Greenway brings an entirely different game than the others. He is a true power forward.
Now, there are a few things to consider with Greenway and power forwards in general: They usually take longer to fully develop, you need to look at their production in lower leagues and consider the fact that they may be using advanced strength to achieve some of that which won’t be as possible in the NHL, and how their mobility is compared to the best in the world.
Greenway is a solid, if not unspectacular skater. He has a choppy first few strides, but it lengthens out as he gets moving and that allows him to get up to a solid top speed. He isn’t a particularly quick accelerator nor overly shifty on his edges. To be fair, not many 6’5 225 lbs wingers offer those traits.
His skating shouldn’t hold him back.
He offers very soft hands and terrific puck protection skills. This allows him to take defenders wide and cut hard to the net, as well as finish chances in close. He will be a net front presence on Minnesota’s power play in short order once he turns pro.
I think he should be considered as a prospect who has a solid ceiling and should be an asset, especially during his peak years. Think Scotty Hartnell-esque only bigger.
Where you rank him amongst this year’s crop depends on how high you rate some of the mid-first-rounders. I’d likely have him somewhere in the early teens.
Question: “[I’ve] invested in a pretty serious rebuild this year and not totally blown away by the top end talent in this year's draft. How is the following draft- 18/19- shaping up early on? Any uber talent coming down the pipeline? Relatively shallow/deep? I know its early just curious if there’s anything to start gathering excited about. Thanks for doing this!!”
Answer: I’ll just say this, while 2017 is certainly lacking the elite talent that we’ve seen at the top of the last two drafts, it has quite a few very strong players. I think it’s been getting a bad rap as a down draft crop.
As for 2018, the top end is looking deeper. It won’t have a McDavid in it (few do!) but Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov are both incredibly talented players who will duke it out for the right to go first overall.
Dahlin is a supremely gifted left-shot defender who is scoring goals and playing all situations in the SHL as a 16-year-old this season. For my money, he’s the best defensive prospect since Drew Doughty in 2008
Svechnikov is a true Russian sniper. He fires tons of pucks on net, and has top-end speed and skills. He’s trending towards stardom.
The 2018 crop doesn’t end there, Ryan Merkley (D), Joe Veleno, Brady Tkachuk, Bode Wilde (D), Filip Zadina… it’s shaping up to be a hefty top 10.
Question: “Thoughts on Luke Kunin? Where does he end up in the Wild lineup with Eriksson-Ek and Granlund there?”
Answer: After years of boasting stingy neutral zone play and low scores, the Wild are finally getting some attention from the fantasy world.
Luke Kunin is a bit of your jack-of-all-trades type player. I think he settles into a premier third line centre or potentially a versatile middle six forward who can play up, down and all around your lineup.
He’s a cerebral and hard-working guy who boasts great two-way ability. I believe it’ll be that responsible game that may limit his upside in the fantasy world. A player any coach would love to have, but maybe a guy who owns the skills to do more, but doesn’t light the lamp as much as he could because he’s more useful in other ways.
That’s all for this month! Thanks again to those who contributed and as always, feel free to follow me on twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at someone is listening too!
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