Prospect Mailbag: Robert Thomas, Casey Mittelstadt, 2019 Calder Hopefuls & 2018 Forward Tiers

by Cam Robinson on May 22, 2018
  • Feature Story
  • Prospect Mailbag: Robert Thomas, Casey Mittelstadt, 2019 Calder Hopefuls & 2018 Forward Tiers

 

Question: “After Svechnikov and Zadina, who is the next best forward for points only?”

 

 

Answer: Just last week I broke down the consensus third and fourth forward from this class in Brady Tkachuk and Oliver Wahlstrom. My findings, that coincide with my long-held belief, was that Wahlstrom possesses the higher upside. If we’re looking for the highest ceiling with the least potential for failure, he’s the best pick.

 

Is there a chance that a forward selected after him could outproduce him? Absolutely. It could be his USNTDP teammate, Joel Farabee, German slickster, Dominik Bokk, or rising Fin, Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

 

Hell, it could be someone from the mid-late rounds.

 

But if I’ve got the fourth pick in a fantasy prospect draft this year, I’m looking squarely at Wahlstrom. Another bonus is that Wahlstrom is the reduced wait time compared to some of the other forwards. He has officially de-committed from Harvard to join Boston College for next season. He’ll immediately be the team’s top player and is a likely one-and-done NCAA player. 

 

Prospect Rambling: Oliver Wahlstrom vs Brady Tkachuk @DobberProspects https://t.co/NehMoDk8Xa

— /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) May 18, 2018
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Question: “Who are your 5 Calder favorites going into next year?… excluding undrafted players.”

 

 

Answer: Well, there are going to be at least a couple from this June’s draft that will have a strong chance of being amongst the top five in Calder voting. But outside of those guys, I’ll go with a combination of:

 

Miro Heiskanen

Elias Pettersson

Casey Mittelstadt

Robert Thomas

Ryan Donato

 

Honorable mention to Martin Necas, Henrik Borgstrom, Andreas Johnsson and Filip Chytil

 

 

 

Question: “If Dobson keeps this up at the mem cup…and a team takes him earlier because of it…who would be in your top 6 that you’d expect to drop to 7 because of Dobson getting picked?”

 

 

Answer: This year’s draft will have some early surprises. It happens most years, and 2018 will be no different. After Dahlin, things could get a little wild.  So when I’m calculating who would ‘slip’ out of the top six, it’s pretty much an effort in futility.

 

Regarding tiers, I think there is a drop off after first overall. And then another after the second selection. After that, picks 3-7 are in that third tier.

 

For my money, the top three forwards are:

Svechnikov

Zadina

Wahlstom

 

 

My top rated defenders are:

Dahlin

Hughes

Boqvist

Dobson

 

I don’t see enough separation between any of those players to be shocked to see any combination of them in the 3-7 slots.

 

Now, the fun part will be if/when a team jumps up on Tkachuk, Kotkaniemi, Evan Bouchard, or a real wildcard like Girgori Denisenko or Vitali Kravtsov. Then we’ll see some of those former players sliding into the 8-10 range and will be looking like steals. 

 

 

 

 

Question: “Why does no one talk about C. Glass ?”

 

 

Answer: I’m not sure this is actually true. However, if the hype surrounding Glass hasn’t risen high enough for your liking, it will. Glass had a very strong draft-plus one campaign for Portland. He continues to display the traits of a potential top-line pivot.

 

His 102 points in 64 games ranked in the top eight for points and points-per-game amongst WHL players. He’s a prime candidate for a top line role with the Canadian World Junior squad in Victoria/Vancouver next winter. 

 

Glass boasts size, speed, smarts, vision. There’s a decent chance that he can crack the Golden Knights’ roster next fall. However, the safe money sees him return to the WHL for a fourth and final season.

 

The recently-turned 19-year-old is an efficient point-producer and has a very high ceiling His value in keeper leagues is only just starting to grow.

 

 

 

Question: “Hey Cam, when is your final draft ranking coming out? Signed, your biggest fan.”

 

 

Answer: Thanks, Jokke. Always nice to have fans! I’ll be releasing my final 2018 Draft Rankings on Thursday, June 14th. You can read my most recent rankings here.

 

 

 

Question: “Where do you see Mittelstadt fitting in in Buffalo? Will he be riding shotgun with Eichel/O’Reilly or centering his own line like he was at the end of the year?”

 

 

Answer: I think the Sabres are licking their chops at the potential of running a squad that boasts Eichel and Mittelstadt down the middle and Rasmus Dahlin anchoring the back-end. Those are the type of cornerstones that help build winners.

 

Playing away from Eichel at even-strength will have a multi-pronged effect on Mittelstadt. Firstly, it will mean he isn’t afforded time with the team’s most skilled player. That will have a negative effect on Mittelstadt’s production. It will also mean that Casey isn’t afforded the top wingers available to flank him. This isn’t assured as often chemistry is the benchmark for line combinations or duos rather than pure skill. But in a vacuum, the second line centre doesn’t often get the top wingers.

 

Finally, playing away from Eichel will afford him an opportunity to line up against opposing team’s secondary defensive players. This will be a nice effect. Spreading out two highly skilled centres tends to bode well for the organization as opponents will be forced to decide who gets the tougher matchup. The other has an easier night.

 

I expect they’ll both live on the top power-play unit together which is where at the cream comes from anyways.

 

 

 

 

 

Question: “Blues are slowly going to have some spots opening up in their lineup. ETA and upside of guys like Blais Thomas Kostin Kyrou Barbashev?”

 

 

Answer: I’ve long been saying that Robert Thomas will be in St Louis next season. His tremendous OHL playoffs haven’t changed that one iota. A contributing portion of that is due to the CHL-NHL agreement that precludes him from playing in the American league.

 

Barbashev has 83 NHL games under his belt over the last two seasons and looks ready to snatch a full-time spot this fall.

 

The other players are all eligible to either enter or return to the AHL for 2018-19 and that will offer a nice stepping stone for them. Blais has been very impressive in the AHL and likely deserves a long look but it’s difficult to slide that many youngsters onto a team that is trying to compete.

 

Rough ETAs

Robert Thomas – 2018-19

Ivan Barbeshev – 2018-19

Sammy Blais – 2019-20

Klim Kostin – 2020-21

Joran Kyrou – 2020-21

 

The latter three players will all see some NHL time before those expected dates. These are more an estimate of when they’ll be full-timers. 

 

Question: “Dylan Strome, will he finally break out next season?”

 

 

Answer: Depends on what you consider a breakout. I believe he will spend the majority, if not the entirety, of next season in the NHL. I don’t, however, forecast him breaking 65 points and becoming a true fantasy asset in 2018-19.

 

He remains a player that has an extremely high upside – especially surrounded with the talent that is brewing in the desert. However, the bust factor gets a little more palpable with each passing season.

 

I still like him to be a top-six centre who can feast on a power play. We may just be waiting for his 22/23-year-old campaign before we see that level of production.

 

 

 

Question: “Worst bar in town? #YYJ

 

 

Answer: This seems like a more appropriate question for 22-year-old, Cam. 32-year-old, Cam is pretty lame these days. Way back when, the worst bar in town was probably the Boom Boom Room – which is now long defunct.

 

 

 

 

Question: “Robert Thomas is playing great hockey lately. What can we expect from him in St.Louis in 2-3 years from now? I like his offensive upside but it’ll be tough to battle with so many good young prospects (Kostin, Fabbri, Kyrou).”

 

 

Answer: Thomas is the best of the bunch. Fabbri could’ve had a higher offensive upside but I’m guessing not having a knee will be a detriment to that. I like Thomas to be an all-around force in the NHL. Capable of 60-plus points on a regular basis.

 

 

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3