Prospect Mailbag: How The 2018 Class Stacks Up, Most NHL-Ready Prospects and NHLe

by Cam Robinson on January 23, 2018
  • Feature Story
  • Prospect Mailbag: How The 2018 Class Stacks Up, Most NHL-Ready Prospects and NHLe

                                              Miro Heiskanen is named to Finland's Olympic roster.

 

We’re back for another riveting installment of the DobberProspects’ Fantasy Mailbag. I’ve coerced questions from various locations and have assembled a nice array of queries that will hopefully shed some light on these young players as fantasy teams begin to settle in for a long playoff run, or start looking towards next season and beyond.

 

 

Question: “Please rank the following prospects and give a comparable to their playing style: Andrei Svechnikov, Casey Mittelstadt and Eeli Tolvanan”

 

 

Answer: I often say how I’m not a big fan of comparing players as each person is so unique in how they prepare, produce and perform but when looking for stylistic comparables, that can be useful in gauging and assessing talent. As such:

 

  1. Andrei Svechnikov – He plays the game like Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s not as thick as the St Louis Blues’ superstar but he possesses a larger frame and is equally deft at finding the back of the net. He has speed, power and precision to his game. Svechnikov is also a fairly accomplished two-way player which will help him adjust to the NHL sooner than some other prospects and likely earn him more ice and confidence from his future coaching staff.

 

  1. Casey Mittelstadt – Mittelstadt plays with terrific pace and owns some world-class speed and skill. I liken his style to that of Tyler Seguin. Both are creative, smart and speed-driven centres and manage to dictate the pace of play to suit their needs.

 

  1. Eeli Tolvanen – Tolvanen is another player who is blessed with tremendous speed and just a cannon of a shot. He’s doesn't have the largest stature but he manages to find a ton of strength to go into the one-timer and quick release. He’s absolutely deadly on the man-advantage. The player he reminds me the most of is Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel or perhaps a speedier version of Brock Boeser.

 

 

 

Question: “2019 draft. Dylan Cozens. Top 10 prospect??”

 

 

Answer: You bet he is.

 

Cozens is having a tremendous 16-year-old season with Lethbridge. The 6’3 forward has racked up 16 goals and 39 points in 40 WHL games thus far. This, after air lifting in last spring once his prep season ended and managed to produce three goals and eight points in 12 playoff contests for the Hurricanes.

Cozens mixes a blend of speed and skill to go along with his long reach and quick release. He can play centre or wing and even at his age, is responsible defensively.

 

As it stands today, he has a very realistic shot at being a top five selection in 2019.

 

 

 

Question: “Which drafted prospect is the most NHL ready?”

 

 

Answer: There are likely a few here, but the obvious one to me is Miro Heiskanen. The Finnish blue liner could have very well cracked the Stars’ lineup this season if not for an injury that held him out of camp.

 

The third overall pick from last June was recently named to Finland’s Olympic team and is one of the truly gifted defenders that will be gracing an NHL rink soon. He boasts splendid skating ability and thinks the game at a higher level than most. When you watch him play, it’s hard not to see a young Duncan Keith.

 

He’ll be an impact player in a hurry.

 

Some other could-be fantasy relevent players to consider are: Elias Pettersson, Dylan Strome, Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, Brendan Guhle, Henrik Borgstrom, Martin Necas, Casey Mittelstadt, and Robert Thomas.

 

 

 

 

 

Question: “What do you think the chances of S. Durzi becoming an NHL regular are? He's been posting some very impressive numbers and was injured during draft year.”

 

 

Answer: Sean Duzi is certainly making waves this season as an undrafted 19-year-old playing with the Owen Sound Attack. He indeed missed a bit of time in his draft year due to having an extra bone in his foot that became inflamed and needed to be removed (weird!) but even so, he wasn’t nearly as dynamic as he’s been this season.

 

The 6’0 right-shot defender was ranked 124th by Central Scouting for North American skaters last June but failed to hear his name called. He attended the Rangers development camp but left unsigned.

This season, he’s formed a deadly duo on the power play with Golden Knights' prospect, Nick Suzuki and is showcasing great speed and skill in all situations. 

 

As it stands now, I have Durzi amongst my top 75 prospects for this June’s draft despite him being an overage player (See those Rankings here). He has the skills that are in demand these days and playing the right side will only further the interest that teams have in him.

 

 

 

Question: “How do you see Dylan Sikura fitting into Chicago? Top 6 anytime soon? Possibly a spring debut?”

 

 

Answer: Both Sikura and teammate, Adam Gaudette are being forecasted as players to step into the NHL at the culmination of their NCAA season with Northeastern. However, the scheduling of the NCAA Frozen Four tournament may prohibit that.

 

Currently, Northeastern is a top-10 ranked school nation-wide so even if they don’t win their Hockey East tournament, they’ll likely gain entry into the NCAA Regionals which occur on the weekend of March 23/24. If Northeastern qualifies for the Frozen Four, they’ll be playing right up until the April 7th – the same day that the Blackhawks’ play their final regular season contest.

 

 

 

Chicago will certainly try and sign the college senior to an entry-level contract the moment his season is done and then get him into the NHL lineup to burn a year off that deal as incentive for signing. If they don’t, Sikura can wait until August 15th and become an unrestricted free agent.

 

If the Blackhawks do sign him and manage to get him into the lineup, I expect they’ll give him a shot in their top nine and that’s where I see his career living – somewhere in the middle six. He’s a solid player with good all-around skills, but I don’t envision him being an overly impactful producer at the NHL level.

 

 

 

Question: “Where does the top end talent in this draft compare to previous classes?”

 

 

Answer: Each draft class will offer different avenues for mining successful and productive players. We were spoiled with the likes of McDavid and Eichel leading the 2015 class followed by Matthews and Laine in 2016. That quartet are all world-class players and showed as such the moment they stepped into the NHL (the following fall).

 

Most draft classes aren’t like that.

 

2017 brought with it a somewhat ‘open-season’ for the top slot with three or four players earning serious consideration. No one player stood out as a franchise pillar, and while there is still plenty of time for a developmental arc to steadily rise to that level, there are no slam dunk superstars.

 

2018 is a different animal. It doesn’t boast a McDavid, but it does have a Rasmus Dahlin. Dahlin is as close to a generational talent on the backend that we’ve seen since Drew Doughty came along back in 2008.

 

He’s pegged as a franchise-altering pick and I second those sentiments whole-heartedly.

 

After that, Svechnikov and Filip Zadina offer elite offensive talent that rivals or bests the top of the 2017 class and that’s followed up by one of the deepest blue line crops in some time.

 

2018 will be known as the year of the defender as the first round will be littered with defensemen. Dahlin will be quickly followed up by Adam Boqvist, Quinn Hughes, Ty Smith, Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson – all of which could conceivably be gone by pick 10.

 

And that’s just the top tier guys – Ryan Merkley, Bode Wilde, Jet Woo, Jared McIsaac, Calen Addison, Alexander Alexeyev, Rasmus Sandin, and Johnny Tychonick could all feature in the first 31 picks as well.

 

It’s a deep crop this year with loads of offensively gifted players who may have a wart or two. That’s a far more interesting group compared to safe but limited upside players that have been featured outside of the top 40 in the last few classes.

 

 

 

Question: “What are the chances that Shestyorkin (NYR), Parsons (CGY) and Sorokin (NYI) all get starting jobs by 2019-20?”

 

 

Answer: The quick answer? Not very likely.

 

Goaltending prospects are great, but the path to secure an NHL starter’s job is rife with pitfalls – especially those coming from different rink sizes and have the lure and pressure of playing at home in the Russian top league.

 

I really like all three players, but I’d say you’re looking at all three being platoon positions by the time 2019-20 rolls around (in the best-case scenarios).

 

Both Shestyorkin and Sorokin need to not sign anymore extensions and cross over before we can seriously consider their ability to impact the fantasy landscape in North America. Meanwhile, Tyler Parsons needs to first get a job in the AHL, prove his worth for at least 18 months and then do it all over again in the NHL.

 

Outside of extreme circumstances, goaltenders don’t usually take over the reins with an NHL team until closer to 24/25.

 

Patience will be needed with all three.

 

 

 

Question: “How close is Necas, and what can we expect from him when he makes it?”

 

 

Answer: He’s close. His play at the recent World Junior Championships proved that and from all reports, he appears stronger and more prepared for the rigours of the NHL. With another offseason of training, I fully expect he’ll crack the Hurricanes’ lineup for 2018-19.

 

Once there, expect the usual growing pains of a first-year player, but his upside is quite high. He’s stepping onto a team that desperately needs to grow a top line centre and he’s their best bet (and a darn good one). He’ll get a chance to form chemistry with the likes of Aho, Skinner, and Teräväinen.

 

I like him to be an impact player down the line, in both fantasy and real life.

 

 

 

 

Question: “Are there rates that are commonly used to translate any or all of KHL, SHL, AHL, CHL…stats to NHL?”

 

 

Answer:  There sure is. Rob Vollman has produced a stat called NHLe that uses the translation factors for leagues that can often see a player jump straight to the NHL from.

 

KHL 0.74

SHL 0.58

AHL 0.47

SM-Liiga 0.43

H-East 0.38

Big 10 0.33

OHL 0.30

WHL 0.29

QMJHL 0.25

ECAC 0.23

 

 

 

**

 

That’s all for this month. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’m almost always spouting off some hockey-related take.