Training camps makes and breaks, including Sprong, Panarin, Donskoi, Slepyshev and more.
This is it! The beginning of hockey season, the end of training camps, the realization of many young players dreams even as others’ are delayed.
The past week or so is just about as good as it gets for prospect info; we see all the top prospects playing with NHL regulars, we get to hear all the evaluations and we witness success stories in the making.
I’m going to be giving you a bunch of quick hits on those prospects whose dreams came true, as well as some who might have to wait a bit longer.
Daniel Sprong might be the most surprising prospect to break camp with a team. The second round pick has made the Penguins, and hype is currently through the roof. Quotes are surfacing where anonymous scouts/officials are saying things like his offensive skill being in the McDavid/Eichel tier, or him being much better than Kapanen at the same age. My advice as a Sprong owner? Trade him. His value is as high as it ever will be, and the value jump from where he was just this June is crazy. He likely won’t stick with the Penguins, and might not even be full time next year. Right now it looks like he will start on the fourth line, but I’m sure he will get second unit powerplay time
Artemi Panarin looked great with Anisimov and Kane in his first preseason game back from an upper-body injury. If you want a sleeper to pick up in points-only one-year leagues, he might be your guy. Has really good skill, and could stick on that second line and get you some points off the bat. It’s likely he will cool off and be demoted at some point, but he does have a really high ceiling this year.
Leon Draisaitl was surprisingly sent down, with Anton Slepyshev staying up and playing with McDavid and Hall. Pluses for Slepyshev: Big frame, good hockey sense and talent, two years of professional experience in the KHL. Minuses: McDavid and Hall sometimes have to draw pictures to get across the language barrier.
I think this makes sense for Draisaitl, as he gets to go develop as a center and play big minutes in the AHL. I doubt Slepyshev stays with the Oilers once Eberle is back. We have seen many breakout preseason performances that end up fading to nothing, including fellow Russian Bogdan Yakimov last year. Slepyshev had 25 points in the KHL last year, so there is some skill, I’d just be surprised if it immediately translated to NHL production. Stow him away on your farm If you have room, just in case he goes off.
Dylan Larkin has made the Red Wings and will likely start the year playing next to Zetterberg on the second line. If Datsyuk weren’t injured, Larkin might be heading to the AHL right now, but as is the 19 year old will have a huge chance to make an impact. He did make an impact right away in the AHL last year, and might be worth a short-term pickup in one-year leagues, and a callup in some keeper leagues. I don’t think he will stick too long, but with a normal amount of injuries to the Red Wings’ forwards, he could end up with a 50/50 NHL/AHL split this year.
Mikko Rantanen is one of those players that really hasn’t gotten enough love. The 10th overall pick seems to have made the Avelanch, though full confirmation will wait until today. Rantanen is eligible for the AHL, and doesn’t burn a year of his contract if he plays nine games or less in the AHL, so this is a trial period as much as it is for any junior player. I think Rantanen is ready for the NHL though, and could follow in the footsteps of his teammate Gabriel Landeskog as being a high-readiness high-floor prospect making an impact in their post-draft season. He has some size so watch and see if he becomes a decent multicat producer.
Kirill Petrov was sent down by the Islanders after a strong camp. He is an interesting case because there are some rumblings he might return to the KHL if he isn’t going to make the NHL this year. I’m guessing he was informed he’d be one of the first call-ups due to injury, and he’ll stick out the year in the AHL if he has to. I think he will get called up soon.
Lawson Crouse was sent down, which is a bit surprising; he has a OHL suspension for three more games, and his time in the NHL counted towards that. He wasn’t outstanding in camp, but it was generally thought it would be better for him to spend a few games the NHL before being sent down. I guess he was poor enough that they would rather sign Martin Havlat right away. Hopefully he can take a big leap in his offensive production, and maybe placate some of more spastically inclined among us.
Joonas Donskoi has made the Sharks. I’ve been tooting this guy’s horn since the spring, and nobody else had even really mentioned him until September. He is starting the season on San Jose’s first line with Pavelski and Thornton, so I hope you followed my advice and picked him up a long time ago!
I don’t think he will stick on the first line, but I do think he has a good shot at 35 points while bouncing around the top-nine.
Mike Condon has made the Canadiens as their backup goaltender, beating out Dustin Tokarski. What a story of perseverance for the undrafted Princeton goaltender. For his first three years in the NCAA he only played sporadically. Then three years ago he locked down the starter spot excelled in the NCAA (.923 SV%, 24 games), two years ago he locked down the starter spot and excelled in the ECHL (.931 SV%, 39 games) and then last year he locked down the starter spot and excelled in the AHL (.921 SV%, 48 games). He won’t have many chances behind Price, but have your hand on the trigger at the first murmurings of a Price injury.
Noah Hanifin has made the Hurricanes roster and will start on the third pairing, though he could see second unit powerplay time. On a terrible roster, I’m not sure he will have any value in one-year leagues, and should probably stay on the farm in keeper leagues.
Robby Fabbri is getting a nine game tryout for the Blues. I imagine they will play him up and down the lineup to get him some experience. I think expectation is to send him back down, but injuries or exceptional performance can always change that.
Both Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann have made the Canucks, at least for nine game trials. They both had excellent camps, so they deserved it. Frank Corrado and Linden Vey were waived to make room. Given Corrado’s rise up the Canucks’ prospect depth chart and his skills as a 6’2” right handed defenseman, that was a bit of a surprise. On the other hand it was a decisive move by management to show that if you play your way onto the roster, they will make room for you.
Virtanen is the one with short-term value here, especially in multicat leagues. They will play him up and down the lineup, so points will be dependant on that, but we should see a few shots and a lot of hits from the big kid. McCann could end up centering any line from second to fourth, depending on the night and whether the Sutter-as-third-Sedin experiment sticks at all. Given what has happened, I think they both have a chance at sticking beyond nine games if they are consistently good.
Anthony Duclair and Max Domi have made the Coyotes, no surprise there, and will start with Martin Hanzal, also not a surprise. They both have a shot at being in the discussion for a Calder nomination, and will play offensive roles as big as they can fill. The Coyotes are starving for offense, and will give them every chance to succeed.
Pavel Zacha, taken 6th overall this June, is still with the Devils but isn’t assured of a spot yet.
That’s all I’ve got! Let me know below if I missed any surprising or interesting prospects to make the cut.
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