(Photo Credit to Icing.no)
Over the course of a long season, a prospect’s point production can swing greatly based on many variables: linemates, usage, time-on-ice, slumps and streaks, only to name a few. However, the pattern that has been developed over the course of an entire season can give great insight into how that production translates to NHL success if a prospect is able to maintain that current point production trajectory.
PNHLe is a stat that looks at prospect point potential at the NHL level based on historical production set by current NHLers from a variety of different leagues. I thought it would be interesting to look at the current rates set by each team’s prospects, according to NHL divisions, to give a greater sense of systemic depth.
PNHLe is certainly not a sure-fire statistic that can benchmark a prospect’s potential with 100% accuracy, but it should be seen as a piece of the overall puzzle that can help to paint a greater picture of a player’s conceivable value and ability. With the number of fantastic writers and scouts already contributing fantastic content at Dobber Prospects, it’s quickly becoming a one-stop shop for all of your fantasy needs. As a diligent fantasy G.M., it is your responsibility to evaluate the greatest amount of information that you can fit into your busy life, in order to construct a juggernaut based on league settings. The scouting, anecdotal evidence and statistical analysis provided throughout this website can give you a huge advantage over your competition.
I’ve included the top-10 prospects, based on the PNHLe ranking, for each team in their respective division. In case you are wondering why a player shows up multiple times, if a prospect has played on more than one team, or in different leagues, those PNHLe stats are broken down separately, which may give greater insight into their overall value. Please remember that PNHLe is not a stat that predicts whether a player will make the NHL and should not be used to compare if one player is ‘better’ than another.
The minimum games played requirement to end up on the list is a maximum of 40 games played for a given NHL before they graduate, however, there may be a few irregularities of players that I missed when combing through rosters. It should also be noted that the 2018-19 Dobber Prospects organizational prospect rank included for each team took into consideration under-21 roster players, in case you are wondering why some teams are ranked much higher/lower than prospect-only rankings. So, let’s begin.
The Anaheim Ducks have been one of the most consistent organizations in the NHL over the past decade despite the fact that success hasn’t translated into a Stanley Cup; at least since 2007. Their scouting department should be credited with the long-term success of the franchise where they have regularly hit on high-valued picks, at the end and outside of the first round, time and time again. Their current prospect pool should be considered as one of the best in the NHL, and the fact that they’ll receive a top-10 talent in the 2019 draft makes it reasonable to assume that their current rebuild will be a much shorter than other organizations.
The list of high quality prospects will provide enough offensive depth to infuse talent throughout their line-up, and if they can shed themselves of some of their unfortunate contracts the strive for the Stanley Cup could happen within the next five years. Maxime Comtois, Troy Terry, Daniel Sprong, Isaac Lundestrom, Sam Steel and Max Jones should all be considered prospects with top-six potential, while Josh Mahura and Brendan Guhle will be NHL regulars next season and could provide top-four talent on their back end in the near future. I fully suspect that their team ranking will have a drastic jump when Dobber Prospects does their next organizational prospect projection.
Simply put, Comtois is far too good of a prospect to be playing in the QMJHL and is a large reason why the NHL – CHL will review their transfer deal in the near future. He’s spent time in the NHL, AHL and the QMJHL and has produced at all three levels. There is no question that Comtois will be a crucial piece of a quick rebuild starting in Anaheim next season.
The Arizona Coyotes have picked near the top of the draft for what seems like forever, and only now are we beginning to see the fruits of their labour as they’ve been decimated by injuries all season, and yet are still making a push for the final playoff spot. Their previous top prospect, Dylan Strome, was moved to the Blackhawks and may become a black mark on an otherwise solid track record of drafting and developing players, but Nick Schmaltz is not an insignificant return. It’s unlikely that the Coyotes should be seen as one of the top-10 prospect organizations in the NHL due to the fact that many of their players have graduated to full-time duty and are soon going to round into career NHLers: Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Fisher, Lawson Crouse, and Conor Garland.
Arizona still has some very promising players in the pipeline that should help to reinforce their roster and finally take them out of their perennial ‘rebuild’ status. Nate Schnarr is one of the fastest rising prospects, yet one that is still not on fantasy radars despite scoring 102 points in 65 games for the Guelph Storm. Kyle Capobianco was somewhat hidden while playing in Sudbury during his days in the OHL, but has been trending upwards offensively even more in the past two seasons in the AHL, and even saw a couple of games in the NHL.
I think many, myself included, thought that the Coyotes reached to grab Hayton with the fifth overall pick in 2018, but they clearly saw the potential in a player who was buried on a strong Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds team and not getting the usage he would have received on most other teams. Fast forward one year, and Hayton has been one of the most dominant players in the OHL. It looks like Arizona caught everyone by surprise at the draft and the fifth overall pick could wind up being a crucial piece of the long-awaited maturity of an organization that is in desperate need of some happy times.
The Flames have taken a massive step forward and still have a handful of top-notch prospects marinating in the organizational pool. They possess one of the deepest blue-lines in the league, which will only be strengthened by some top-end prospects that are extremely close to being ready, or have already made the jump full-time to the NHL. GM Brad Treliving has shown he’s not afraid to move valuable pieces in order to acquire players that have made a remarkable fit into the roster. This is highlighted by the loss of Dougie Hamilton and Michael Ferland in a five-player trade that saw Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin join the mix. On top of those additions, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington and Juuso Valimaki have all played a significant role at different times throughout the season and should be full-time NHLers next year, if the Flames can find room for the budding offensive stars. Their offensive prospect depth is nowhere near as valuable but there are players that could see a role in the next few years. Save for Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett, the Flames are fortunate to have most of their top-nine locked up for the next few years so they will only require supplemental help to fill out their roster.
If there is a prospect whose value is greater than the sum of his parts, it’s Dube. He has progressed as a prospect every single year and has been absolutely sensational in the AHL scoring more than a point-per-game in his rookie season. Dube is the type of player that can slot in throughout the line-up but should eventually land as a fantastic piece of a 1a/1b combo that will terrorize teams in the Pacific for years to come. The Flames have some great young leaders in the dressing room, and once Mark Giordano decides to hang them up, Dube could be the type of player the Flames look to when they award their next “C”.
The seemingly never-ending rebuild in Edmonton continues, but they are starting to find some talent in different places that could begin adding depth to a lineup that desperately needs to find success while surrounding the world’s top game-breaker. Zone exits continue to be a huge area of need for the Oilers, and Evan Bouchard should be able to infuse a quicker transitional game and a big presence on the back end of a power play. A trade with Philadelphia that carried some risk may end up rewarding the Oilers if Cooper Marody can translate the success he’s shown in his rookie AHL season where he’s posted over a point-per-game for Bakersfield. Teammate Tyler Benson has also far exceeded all expectations in his rookie season and is impressively leading the Condors in scoring as a 21-year-old. If the Oilers can start hitting on some of their picks outside of the first round it could begin to insulate the Oilers’ stars and provide secondary scoring, which is desperately needed. Kailer Yamamoto’s progression seems to be heading in the wrong direction but he’s still young so there is time to develop his talent at the professional level if Edmonton takes a patient approach. Defensive prospects Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear continue their steady evolution and are both big contributors to the Condors’ success and part of the reason they should win the Pacific Division title in the AHL.
In most drafts, a player with Bouchard’s size, offensive talent and pedigree wouldn’t have made it to Edmonton’s draft position at 10th overall, however, the defence-heavy 2018 draft allowed him to land in the lap of Edmonton. It’s not very often that team-need and the best player available happen to line up for NHL teams whose selection is on the board, but Bouchard fit both of those criteria for Edmonton. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Bouchard start the season once again in Oil-Country, where he was a bit out of his element to begin this season in the NHL. The AHL could also provide a good fit to help him round out his game at the professional level but he will undoubtedly see time in a blue and orange jersey in the NHL at some point. From a fantasy perspective, Bouchard checks off all of the boxes in all different types of leagues, and the fact that he could soon quarterback the power play with the world’s most skilled player bodes well for his fantasy potential.
It has been a very successful decade for a team that has been one of the class organizations in the NHL. However, their formula for success is no longer relevant in a faster-paced league that relies on young players playing on entry-level contracts dispersed throughout the line-up. The Kings’ previous success and belief in a more hard-nosed style of hockey has left them with a roster that is not ideal in today’s NHL, which has also contributed to a fairly empty prospect pipeline. Last year’s hands-down top prospect in the system was Gabe Vilardi, who has only suited up for four games because of a chronic back injury that is very worrisome. Fear not, because a couple of other prospects have jumped to the top of the depth chart and could provide some top-six offense as soon as next season. Rasmus Kupari is going to be a great centre and a pivotal piece that will begin to restructure the offense. The Kings should also add another fantastic prospect this summer, as they’ll pick near the top of the draft. The Kings picked up a couple of key players to add significant depth to their system when they acquired both Sean Durzi and Carl Gurndstrom from the Leafs. Kale Clague is a highly underrated prospect, and depending on their top pick in this year’s draft, could easily be their top young player at this time next year.
If Thomas’ skill level last season wasn’t apparent, then this season has been a revelation for some that he probably shouldn’t have fallen to the bottom half of the second round. Thomas posted 102 points in only 62 games for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. It’s certainly not unthinkable that he could crack the Kings’ roster next fall, as he’s the prototypical type of player that Los Angeles is lacking and if he’s able to make more progress this summer he’s trending towards a first-line NHL player.
Every year it seems like San Jose falls to the bottom of team prospect rankings everywhere. Yet the Sharks keep finding a way to be relevant based on the fact that they find key prospects that fill hole after hole in the line-up and contribute to their ongoing success. This year’s fastest riser award should probably go to 2017 seventh-round pick, Ivan Chekhovich, who posted 105 points for Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL; 55 more points compared to the previous season. A player picked in the previous round in 2017 is also having a remarkable year for one of the CHL’s top teams, where Sasha Chmelevski has been a huge contributor. John Leaonard is a prospect I’m high on and think will begin getting recognition early next year, if he doesn’t become a household name before the end of the season for UMass. Joachim Blichfeld also deserves some recognition for the 114 points he posted to lead, not only the Portland Winterhawks but the entire WHL in points.
The most polarizing pick from last year’s draft, Merkley switched teams roughly halfway through this season and posted a ridiculous 71 points in 63 games. It wasn’t the step forward that the Sharks had hoped for, and his production did see a dip after he joined the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. Nonetheless, it would be nearly impossible to continue progressing offensively at the rate that Merkley had set for himself and should still be seen as a prospect that possesses one of the most intriguing upsides out of any defensemen playing outside of the NHL. The question still remains on whether he’ll be able to find success with the Sharks, and meet his potential.
It seems as though the Canucks have been hitting on pick after pick and the young blood infused into the line-up is a huge reason they had some success this season. With the prospects that lay on the horizon, the Canucks will see a meteoric rise back to the top of the West where they will hope to achieve the one thing they missed out on, the last time they were sitting atop the conference standings. The ability to stagger re-signings at the culmination of their star players’ entry-level contracts should give Benning some flexibility on how to structure a roster that will be studded with high-end players, starting as early as this off-season with re-signing of RFA Brock Boeser. Last year’s third-round pick, Tyler Madden’s phenomenal season quickly makes him one of the fastest risers of any prospect in the NHL, while players that had similar offensive rises, such as Adam Gaudette, are showing how important finding legitimate talent in later rounds is to building a championship roster. Their defensive corps is about to get a much-needed face-lift over the next few seasons as Jet Woo, and Olli Juolevi look like legitimate NHL defensemen that could wind up as top-four defensemen, not to mention having one of the top prospects in the entire NHL that will redefine the blue-line in Vancouver. Jack Rathbone could be a sneaky underrated piece that could see an increased role for Harvard depending on whether Adam Fox decides to go pro or not.
There isn’t much to say about Hughes that hasn’t already been said. He’s as good of a prospect as you’d want coming onto a team that is almost ready to become a regular playoff contender. Last year’s draft will eventually be looked upon with much admiration because of the defensive stars that came out of it. Although it’ll be tough to surpass Dahlin, Hughes has the offensive upside to become the top point-producer of the bunch.
It’s crazy to think that a team with only one year under their belt already had one of the best looking prospect pools in the NHL. What’s even more surprising is how much the top half of their list from last year has changed compared to now. GM G. McPhee had a year to prepare for Vegas’ inaugural draft and he certainly made the most of it. However, out of the three first round picks in their first two drafts are no longer with the organization, and have instead been turned into roster players instead of potential. Their only first-round prospect that they decided to hang onto was for good reason.
As Vegas had only been through two drafts as a franchise, it is understandable that their prospect depth is lighter than many other teams. However, players like Ben Jones and Jake Leschyshyn must give hope to Vegas that they’ll be able to fill their roster out around the edges by providing supplemental scoring in a depth capacity in a few years. The fact that many of their top prospects were found outside of the first round bodes well that the time invested in draft strategy could pay off down the road.
Many other teams are most likely jealous of the Golden Knights’ opportunity to build a franchise from the ground up, and with so much success, especially while taking advantage of so many NHL teams in the process. One of the least talked about transactions prior to expansion draft saw Nikita Gusev’s rights transferred from Tampa Bay to Vegas. Although there are still a lot of question marks on whether he’ll ever play in the NHL, Gusev is arguably the top player currently playing outside of the NHL and could slide into a top-six role as early as next season. Lukas Elvenes is a prospect I’m very high on, although he was unable to make much progress compared to last year’s breakout season, a player I would keep an eye on moving forward. Although Nicolas Hague narrowly missed the top-10 list, my belief is that Vegas wouldn’t have moved Erik Brännström had Hague not been in the organization. His stats should make a major jump next year.
Clearly the top prospect in the organization, Glass is the ideal prospect to build a contender around, and the fact that Vegas already qualifies as one of the best NHL rosters in the league will only help to solidify their chance for a Cup for years to come. I’m doubtful Glass will ever become a superstar, but having a centre that can play in any situation and have a line that runs through his offense is extremely valuable. Stone and Glass sounds like a formidable duo that could become one of the most feared at both ends of the rink. He’ll almost certainly be wearing black, white and gold next season, and break out in his sophomore campaign.
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