As we do each and every month here at DobberProspects, I’ve opened up the mailbag and solicited any and all prospect-related questions to help you navigate the straits of the fantasy world.
Some of you are pressing for a title and need to know which assets to move to load up, while others (the sad ones) are on the other side of the stream, looking to acquire all the picks and prospects you can to reload for the future.
We’ll do our best to help you decide who to keep, who to drop and who to watch.
Question: “How do you go about determining if a teenager is going to be a serious fantasy asset if they aren’t drafted early?”
Answer: This is a terrific question and one that has many potentially accurate answers.
In the actual NHL draft, teams need to take stock of the entirety of a player’s ability. They need to decide if this is the type of player who has the physical and mental tools that will allow them to succeed at both ends of the rink.
For fantasy – especially leagues that focus primarily on scoring categories, we don’t need a guy who is going to bring leadership or penalty killing prowess, we want tangible results.
When looking to mine for potential fantasy gems, there are a few key aspects that I look for.
The first thing is pedigree. Has a player shown he's been capable of producing serious results in the lower levels? This may be a short or long term view of a player, because we know that if a guy wasn’t taken at the top of the draft, there is probably some warts somewhere.
But has that been cleaned up in their draft-plus one campaign? Were they on a stacked OHL club as a draft-eligible player and weren’t given the type of opportunities that they are now capable of handling? Are they maybe developing physically a little later than some?
Next up, and this is a big one, is opportunity. This can be a double-edged sword, though. Do we value a player heading to a top-end team because they’ll be surrounded by elite players and the team should have the puck more? However, ipso facto, that youngster is unlikely to gain the primo deployment needed to put up gaudy numbers because they’re stuck down the depth chart.
Or perhaps we value a player heading into a situation where the team is struggling but they’ll automatically latch onto a top line/top power play situation? Hello Brock Boeser.
I believe there is credence for both to be important but I prefer the guy who gets the top minutes – especially on the man-advantage.
Finally, trust your gut. I love smart players who can skate well. I find those are the ones that can force their way into nice spots sooner and find the scoresheet with regularity.
I stay away from young defenders and power forward types as their marinating time is often much longer.
Question: “Points-only: which player from the 2017 draft that isn’t in the NHL yet is the one to own? Can you make your personal top 5 or 10 as of now?”
- Elias Pettersson
- Eeli Tolvanen
- Casey Mittelstadt
- Martin Necas
- Nick Suzuki
- Cody Glass
- Kailer Yamamoto
- Robert Thomas
- Gabe Vilardi
- Kristian Vesalainen
Question: “Your thoughts on Brannstrom/Makar making their teams next year on D ? Thanks again”
Answer: I don’t see either being in the NHL next season.
I’ve been pretty steadfast in my believe that Makar needs two years of NCAA action. Coming from the AJHL allowed him to form a lot of bad habits and those will take a bit of time to correct.
When he does crack the Avs’ roster, he’ll have to compete with Tyson Barrie for top offensive minutes on the right-side, so some patience will be needed.
Brannstrom could conceivably come over from the SHL and slide onto Vegas’ backend and find success. Despite his muted point totals with HV71, I’m remain very high on his upside.
However, The Golden Knights have a deep left-side with Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Shea Theodore and Colin Miller either signed past next season or needing RFA deals – which will almost assuredly be signed.
There’s not much sense in having a young player like Brannstrom seeing limited action in the NHL so the options will be to let him have another season in Sweden’s top league or have him cross and start adapting to the smaller ice in the American league.
Question: “Gun to head, you need to pick someone in the 1st Rd not including Dahlin, Svechnikov or Zadina, who has the highest point producing ceiling?”
Answer: For absolute pure ceiling, I’m going Quinn Hughes here with honourable mentions to Boqvist, Farabee, Denisenko and Bokk.
Question: "Who is the most underrated fantasy prospect (already drafted)?”
Answer: There are a great deal of possible answers to this one. A guy like Dylan Strome who was once considered a lock to be a 1C and propel fantasy teams into relevancy has fallen on hard times – perception-wise anyways. His stock has taken a hit almost everywhere but he’s still just 20 years old and destroying the AHL.
However, the player I’m going to go with is Martin Necas. The 2017 12th overall selection is good. Very good. He cracked the NHL roster for a moment as a fresh-faced 18-year-old and when it was deemed that he needed some added speed and strength, he went back to top pro league in the Czech Republic and has done nothing but improve.
Necas had a tremendous World Junior Championship and used that success to springboard back home to even more production. Since returning to HC Kometa Brno, the 6’1 centre has racked up five goals and nine points in nine games. He had five points in 16 games before heading to Buffalo to represent his country.
With Carolina in desperate need of a creative and offensive play-driver in the middle of the ice, its without question that Necas is their best bet. He’s almost assuredly going to start his year in North America next season – whether that’s the AHL or NHL, but I have a strong suspicion that he’ll be taking reps with the Canes in short order.
Allow your mind to imagine an Aho-Necas combination for years to come.
Question: "Defensive Prospects Fox (Calgary), Clague (Kings) or Makar (Col), who makes the show first?”
Answer: I think they all have some marinating time ahead of them. Clague will step into the AHL next season and start learning at the pro level. LA has Muzzin, Forbort and now Phaneuf signed on the left-side so they won’t be rushing him. I expect two seasons in the American league so you’re looking at 2020-21.
Word around the campfire is that Adam Fox will return to Harvard for his junior season. This is not uncommon for Crimson players and makes sense for him personally. Fox has tremendous offensive abilities but still makes too many mistakes even at the college level.
Tack on another season or two in the AHL before he can push Hamonic and Hamilton for real minutes on the right side with the big club.
If he foregoes his third NCAA campaign, maybe you’re looking at a two year wait before he sees bottom pairing minutes – so 2020-21 or later
Makar is probably closest being such a lofty draft selection. He’s likely to play another season at UMass Amherst before having an opportunity to jump right into the mix with the Avs. As I said earlier, he’ll have to battle Barrie for top offensive minutes on the right side, but Barrie will also be in the final year of his deal with that timeframe (2019-20) so there are moving parts here.
Question: "Who posses' the better goal scoring ability between Svechnikov and Zadina? How far behind is Wahlstrom?”
Answer: This is a big time question and one that I plan on digging into deeply in a future Ramblings.
I’ll say this much though, Svechnikov scores goals in a variety of ways. He’s a goal-scorer first and foremost (although he does offer some very solid playmaking skills too). The powerful Russian has converted on a higher percentage of his shots this year than Zadina – 23 percent compared to 19 percent for the Halifax Mosseheads’ star.
Svechnikov has put just under four shots on net per game and has 30 goals in 33 games – he’s a sniper.
Zadina has put about 4.4 shots on net per game and has popped 39 goals in 46 games – he’s a sniper too.
Here’s a look at the goals each has scored as of February 1st:
Zadina makes his butter from similar ways – sniping from right around the circles which is an area that will become more difficult to exploit in the NHL. Whereas Svechnikov finds his way to the blue paint with more regularity and scores what you might call, more pro-style goals.
Here’s a look at some of their work so far:
Conclusion: I’m taking Svechnikov here by the slimmest of margins.
Regarding Oliver Wahlstrom – whom I’m very high on, he’s more of a TJ Oshie style finisher compared to a Tarasenko-level scorer as Svechnikov is.
AKA: a full level or so behind.
Question: “I’ve been hearing some buzz about Austin Wong. Any chance he’s worthy of a sleeper pick?”
Answer: There’s always a chance but I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen him play. I don’t really get to watch the AJHL unless there’s a guy like Makar forcing me to. At the moment, he’s not ranked as a player who is likely to be drafted.
I’ll have to take a pass on this one. Sorry.
Question: “How many NHL draft prospects do you see as being NHL ready to start next season?”
Answer: I’ll assume you mean 2018 draftees. In which case, Dahlin, Svechnikov, Zadina and Tkachuk would be the safe bets and it’s probably likely one doesn’t step right in. After that, maybe a guy like Evan Bouchard or Ryan McLeod who are a bit older for this class or someone like Barrett Hayton who is polished defensively.
There’s usually some random second or fourth rounder who breaks camp with their NHL club too but I won’t bother guessing.
That’s all for this month! Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3
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- Prospect Ramblings: Streaking Draft-Eligible Players
- Prospect Ramblings: Projecting Team Finland for the U18 Worlds
- AHL Report - All-Star Edition (January 2019)
- DPR Episode 47: World Junior Review with Steven Ellis
- DPR Episode 48: Fantasy Hockey Strategy, NCAA Free Agents and AHL All-Star Game Prospects
- Liiga Report (January 2019)