(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 trend 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 valuable 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 roster based on league settings. The scouting, anecdotal evidence and statistics 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 Predators’ organization is about as patient in building a contender as you’ll find in the entire NHL. Now that they have become perennial front-runners for hockey’s most coveted prize it has left little in the way of top-end prospects. Last season Eeli Tolvanen’s stock rose more than any other prospect when he lit up the KHL as a rookie, but has fallen significantly after not being able to establish a role in Nashville. The adjustment to the AHL is a usual one for nearly all prospects, but was a disappointment because only a year ago it seemed as though he’d make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Tolvanen will need to prove that last year was not an aberration and using this off-season to improve his overall game will be crucial in landing a full time gig on the Predators right side next season.
The seemingly never-ending supply of defensemen that have taken the success they’ve established with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, and translated that to flourishing careers in Nashville still holds promise for the future of their blue-line. Once highly regarded offensive defensemen Frederic Allard and Alexandre Carrier are almost nearly forgotten in fantasy circles as Nashville’s patient approach is being applied to round out their games. However, both still hold fantasy value in deeper keeper leagues and are players to keep an eye on as the cap situation in Nashville will shortly become more intense. David Farrance was also given a bigger role in Boston University and has resulted in finding the score sheet more often than not. Jachym Kondelik also made impressive strides this season and is now fantasy relevant.
The prized possession of their prospect pool is another Boston University alum. Fabbro is an offensive defenseman that should pan out as a second pairing partner that could run the second power play. That may be difficult based on the number of defensemen with similar offensive upsides already on Nashville’s roster. The fact that he was signed after his junior year and given important minutes during Nashville’s post-season run at the Cup bodes well for his long-term success at the NHL level. He certainly didn’t look out of place on the Predator’s back end against a hungry Dallas offense.
The Blues have some very intriguing prospects in the system, even after Robert Thomas graduated full-time to the NHL. Many prognosticators pegged St. Louis for a long playoff run prior to this season, but they sputtered out of the gate. However, after the new year they have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams riding on the back of outstanding goalie Jordan Binnington who had all been forgotten as a legitimate prospect. The Blues’ long-term success will depend upon a steady stream of prospects that will be able to fill holes throughout the line-up when players hit free agency and St. Louis flirts with the cap ceiling. Fortunately, forwards Dominik Bokk and Klim Kostin have the potential to inject offense in the middle of the roster.
On the blue line, Scott Perunovich is a proven winner and has two NCAA championships and a World Junior bronze medal hanging in his trophy room. Tyler Tucker is another defender who deserves more recognition for his offensive instincts and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty. Jake Walman had a disappointing year in the AHL, but there is still hope that he could carve out a role eventually and provide sporadic scoring.
Kyrou found it difficult to stick in the NHL and, instead, carved out an offensive role in his rookie season in the AHL. His potential is much higher than his PNHLe would suggest and that means he’s in a prime situation to be purchased in your fantasy league at a lesser value than you’ll eventually pay to get him because he fell slightly below a point per game. Make no mistake, he has a very high ceiling and should be targeted in all fantasy formats.
The Stars have struggled to find high-end prospects despite landing a couple of picks in the top half of the draft. Denis Gurianov (12th overall in 2015) and Valeri Nichushkin (10th overall in 2013) don’t look nearly as promising as first line players as they once did. That is until they were able to nab Miro Heiskanen with the third pick in 2017, who is quickly showing signs that he could be a future Norris candidate. It’s hard to believe he’s only a rookie while watching the poise and calmness his displays during this year’s playoff run.
In recent drafts, the Stars have finally found a couple of key prospects to add to their the pipeline that are showing signs of NHL ability. Riley Damiani is a player I’m very high on, despite the fact that he is rarely being brought up in fantasy circles. Ty Dellandrea is another highly underrated prospect that posted reasonable stats despite having no supporting cast to play with in Flint. Expect his stock to explode this season.
All this young man seems to do is find ways to have his name written all over the score sheet. There are still questions about his foot-speed and first step, which isn’t at an NHL level, but what he lacks in one area, he more than makes up with vision, hockey IQ and playmaking ability. Robertson is equally adept at finding the back of the net himself, or setting up a teammate. The Stars aren’t top-heavy in dynamic forwards, which could open the door for Robertson to make an impact as early as next season.
The Wild have done a great job in the past decade of finding a way to push themselves into the playoff picture. However, once there they haven’t been able to find much success. This has led to a handful of selections in the bottom half of the first round if they hadn’t already traded away their first round picks. In fact, they haven’t selected a player in the top-10 since grabbing Matt Dumba with the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft. The result is a less than stellar prospect pool with their top player making no guarantee that he’ll player for the organization when his contract is up in the KHL.
Nonetheless, it’s not all doom and gloom in Minnesota. They have a few players that could add some depth to the Wild organization who is mired with a tough decision on whether they will go into a full rebuild mode, or continue with the status quo. Connor Dewar is looking like a heck of a pick in the third round of the 2018 draft and was able to find the score sheet 81 times in only 59 games for the Everett Silvertips (WHL). He’s continuing his regular season success into the playoffs with more than a point per game production. Alexander Khovanov has been a very consistent producer over the past two season for the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL). The sniper, Dmitri Sokolov could eventually provide powerplay support for the Wild, as he’s produced relatively well as he is still adjusting to his first professional season.
It seems like it’s been a very long time that Kaprizov has consistently found his way into the upper echelon of prospect rankings, but the Wild would much rather have him on their roster than developing in the KHL where he has little left to prove. Kaprizov is dynamic, has great vision and hockey sense and is exactly the type of player that the Wild need on one of their top lines, but will have to wait at least another year before he’ll be a full time NHLer. If/when he does arrive, Kaprizov will make an immediate impact in the NHL.
Years of a patient approach by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff have gradually built an extensive roster of top-end talent, littered throughout the Jets’ top three lines. Recent success have left Winnipeg with few high draft picks, but they’ve done a great job of finding talent outside of the first round of the draft. Sami Niku looks like he can contribute on the power play and should round out as a second pairing defender. Dylan Samberg is greater than the sum of his parts and looks like he’ll contribute in many different ways for the Jets for a very long time. Although his offensive upside is not as high as others, he scored a goal and an assist when it counted most for the University of Minnestota-Duluth to help win a national championship.
Mason Appleton followed up a fantastic season where he won rookie of the year honours with the Manitoba Moose, and carried that success into this season playing half the year in the AHL, while spending the other half with Winnipeg. Undoubtedly, he’ll spend the entire year with Winnipeg in 2019-20 as they’ll be in cap trouble and he comes with a very cap friendly contract for one more year and can contribute in a bottom-six role. Most of the other prospects that look like they can provide offense at the NHL level in the distant future are defensemen. Leon Gawanke, Declan Chisholm and Giovanni Vallati are all flying under the radar in the CHL but were key contributors for their respective team’s success.
The prized puppy in the prospect litter had a non-typical year while spending time in the NHL, AHL and KHL. The 2017 first round selection is very close to NHL ready and has first line upside, but will need to be patient as he is in an organization that preaches patience.
The Colorado Avalanche have some key prospects coming through the system at the perfect time. As the core players: MacKinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog, and Barrie have legitimized themselves as players in the top tier of the NHL, the depth of key offensive cogs in players that are built for the new style of the NHL will allow the Avalanche to climb their way up the NHL standings. Compher and Jost can provide supplemental scoring in a depth role, and coupled with the fact that they’ll obtain a near sure-fire top prospect at the top of this year’s draft – based on an unprotected first round draft pick from the Ottawa Senators – should give them two remarkable top lines for a significant amount of time.
As the organization is nearing the end of their rebuild, there aren’t many high-end prospects left in the pipeline. However, the Avalanche’s one area of need, defense, is the one area that they do have a couple of defenders with great potential.
Connor Timmins missed the entire year after he was shut down due to lingering concussion concerns from the previous year. That is a major red flag on an otherwise stud defender who looked destined to become a top-four player. Nick Henry is another prospect you’ll want to keep a close eye on as he rebounded this year after a disappointing regular season last year on a stacked Regina Pats team. However, his finish last year while hosting the Memorial Cup was excellent and he carried that confidence into this year’s campaign. It took some time for Martin Kaut to adjust to the pro game in the AHL, but he got stronger as the year progressed and will need to take another step forward if he is going to warrant the 16th overall selection that the Avalanche used in the 2018 draft.
Makar should be considered one of the top fantasy prospects that played outside of the NHL this season. He took a huge step forward this year with UMass after a somewhat disappointing freshman year stats-wise. However, looking at statistics alone, you may miss the fact that last year UMass was one of the youngest teams in the entire NCAA, and in only one year Makar has almost single-handedly vaulted them into the upper echelon of the entire nation. That also includes helping them make it all the way to the NCAA championship game where they lost to the University of Minnesota (Duluth). All offense ran through Makar, who is as dynamic as a defenseman as you’ll find, and Colorado looks like they hit a homerun with the fourth overall pick in 2017.
Chicago Blackhawks – 16th (2018-19 Dobber Prospects Organizational Prospect Rank)
Considering where the Blackhawks have had to draft over the past decade, Stan Bowman and his amateur scouting staff have built an impressive list of prospects that are at different stages in their development. Only recently have they been holding on to their first-round picks and have found great value when taking their turn at the draft podium. Chicago has focused on filling a deficit of quality blue-liners and now have a stable of high-end defensemen in their organization. The Blackhawks had a handful of prospects represent their respective countries at this year’s World Junior Championship and Ian Mitchell, Philip Kurashev and Mackenzie Entwistle significantly increased their fantasy values based on their performance.
Henri Jokiharju spent half the season with the Blackhawks and the other half with their AHL affiliate in Rockford. He’s shown signs he may be able to handle running a high-powered offense in the coming years. He’ll have to wrestle that important time-on-ice away from Adam Boqvist who had a fantastic year with the London Knights. His 60 points in only 54 games is only a taste of the potential he encompasses and all signs point to a production that will only increase the more he develops.
All season I waited for Barratt’s pace to diminish, but outside of some minor injuries he was consistently one of the top forwards in any league the entire season. I don’t believe Barratt’s ceiling is as high as some other notable forward prospects, but the fact that he was able to post one of the top NCAA sophomore point productions in the past decade is certainly a great sign for Blackhawks. Expect Barratt to play one more year at Penn. St. before Chicago pushes hard to sign him and get him on their roster before the end of next season. He’ll be hard pressed to make a significant increase in PNHLe.
You can find my article breaking down the Pacific Division teams here: https://dobberprospects.com/projecting-prospect-point-potential-using-pnhle
You can read up more on the PNHLe stat, where it comes from, and the methodology behind how the algorithm was created here.
If you are interested in seeing full team rankings, player cards and their stats, a prospect’s progression and how their PNHLe stacks up against other prospects, every profile is available in a completely free iOS app that I’ve created specifically based around fantasy hockey. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can download it here.
If you have Twitter, please give me a follow @NHLRankKing
Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed.
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- Tournament Review: U18 Worlds – Part 2
- Prospect Ramblings: Fantasy Hockey Drafting in a Dynasty Keeper League.
- AHL Report - Reigning Calder Cup Champs in Peak Form (May 2019)
- Liiga Report - Wrapping Up the U18s (May 2019)