Welcome back to my bi-weekly ramblings. The previous edition of the “Bubble Roster Prospects” was received well and I was asked to do another edition. So again, we are taking a look at some of the players that are on the roster bubble and their likelihood of making the NHL roster out of training camp. These are all players that are looking to make their respective NHL teams and have a realistic shot at making it. None of them are locks like Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko but they are legitimate options for their teams to step into the lineup and begin producing right away.
We are going to look at each player in three areas. What is the player? Who do they have to pass on the depth chart and what the chances of them taking that next step on a full-time basis? The “Likelihood to make the roster” is an estimated percentage of the likelihood of the player making the team on opening night. The “Point Projection” is based on an estimate of their point totals based on them playing an 82-game season, unless otherwise stated.
Dylan Cozens, C/W, Buffalo Sabres
The smooth-skating center fell a bit in the draft but it may end up working out perfectly for the Whitehorse-native. Dylan Cozens is a high-end center who brings a complete and balanced offensive game. He skates like the wind for a 6’3 player” and he has the ability to play in the middle or on the wing. He has a long, powerful stride making it possible for him to get up to his top-speed very quickly. He has a hard shot that he locates well. His playmaking ability is underrated because of how good he is at putting the puck in the net. He can put passes on the tape from almost anywhere on the ice. He is a dynamic offensive force that may start his NHL career on the wing before transitioning to the middle as he matures.
One of the biggest issues with Cozens making the Buffalo Sabres roster is the fact that he suffered a thumb injury in development camp. He underwent surgery and he should be recovered and rehabilitated in time for the Sabres training camp. The issue with the injury is that it doesn’t allow him to work out to his full capabilities. This means that his physical development has been slightly stunted in the short term. If all things were fair and even, his skill level would warrant a roster spot over players like Evan Rodrigues and Zemgus Girgensons for the third line center role. We are not in that fair and even world and the fact of the matter is that the Sabres can allow Cozens entry-level contract to slide for a year and allow Cozens to dominate the WHL again before allowing him a spot on the roster next year. While there is a decent chance that Cozens could make the Sabres roster, he will have his work cut out for him.
Likelihood to make the roster: 50%
Point Projection (G – A – P): 14 – 26 – 40
Morgan Frost, C, Philidelphia Flyers
There were concerns about his pace of play before the 2017 NHL Draft, Frost has all but erased those worries. The young Flyers prospect has risen through the ranks and become one of the best prospects on the verge of making the NHL. He plays a silky smooth game. Frost makes stick handling look easy as he works his way to the high-danger areas of the ice. He has a smooth stride and a knack for making his teammates better. He has dominated the OHL in the past two seasons with 100+ points in each season. He can put the puck in the net with a good shot that is more accurate than heavy. The Canadian has been a play driver with the Soo Greyhounds and will look to do the same in a middle-six role with the Flyers.
As a 20-year-old, Frost’s next step is pro hockey. Whether that means some time with the Lehigh Valley Flyers in the AHL or with the big club in the NHL, Frost will look to be an instant offensive producer. He will be given every chance to make the Flyers out of camp but he will have some competition in fellow prospect Joel Farabee and German Rubstov as well as NHLers such as Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick. Frost should be primed to earn a third-line spot. Whether hs is the center, lushing Nolan Patrick to the win or Frost starts on the wing, he shouldn’t have an issue making the Flyers opening night roster.
Likelihood to make the roster: 90%
Point Projection (G – A – P): 16 – 29 – 45
Nick Suzuki, C/W, Montreal Canadiens
The creative forward is taking the step up to pro hockey next year. Although it’s likely to be with the Laval Rockets, it is not out of the question that the former Owen Sound captain could start the season as a Canadien. Suzuki had 94 points in 59 games last season, split between Owen Sound and Guelph in the OHL. As impressive as that was, the real coming-out party for Suzuki came during the OHL/CHL playoffs this past spring. Putting up a monstrous 42 points in 24 games with Guelph, the high-energy center was seemingly unstoppable. He had seven points in four games at the Memorial Cup tournament. He blends high-end skill and creativity with a work ethic that is the envy of many players at his age.
While making the Canadiens opening night roster is unlikely due to the glut of NHL contracts that the Canadiens have. The management team in Montreal may feel that the young pro will need to get used to life as a professional and that the AHL may be the best bet. He could be a mid-season call up that could act as an acquisition around the new year, playing the back half of the season in the NHL.
Likelihood to make the roster: 25%
Point Projection (G – A – P): 9 – 14 – 23 (in 40~ games)
Jason Robertson, LW, Dallas Stars
A 6’2″, 205lbs skilled playmaker who resorts to a finesse game rather than a power game. Despite having the frame of a power-forward, Robertson plays like a smaller skilled player. He doesn’t play a soft game but he does leave you wanting a bit more in the physicality department. Despite that, Robertson more than makes up for it with the high-end skill that he brings to every shift. He’s able to find the open space and take advantage of the defense with both his quick release and excellent vision as a playmaker.
The difficult thing about the situation that Robertson is in, is that he plays the position that the Stars are the strongest at. He’s a left-winger who would have to unseat one of Jason Dickenson, Andrew Cogliano or Mattias Janmark for one of two positions on the bottom-six left wing. With Cognliano being a near lock as a lockerroom leader who the team values on the penalty kill, that leaves one spot for three guys. Robertson may very well find himself in the AHL despite having a higher upside and better offensive skill set than his competition purely for the fact that it allows him to over-marinate in the minors and comes to the NHL more than ready to take on a role in the top-nine.
Likelihood to make the roster: 30%
Point Projection (G – A – P): 4 – 8 – 12 (in 30~ games)
Dante Fabbro, RHD, Nashville Predators
The former Boston University stud made quite the impact once joining the Predators for 10 games between the end of the regular season and playoffs. With the trade of P.K. Subban, Fabbro will immediately step into the Nashville top-four. He plays a solid two-way game. Fabbro is a good skater and high-IQ passer. He understands the game at an advanced rate and it shows as the 21-year-old plays as if he has been a pro for 10 years.
Fabbro may be the surest lock of all of these players. He should step into a top-four role with the Predators but the expectations should be dampened. He is unlikely to get powerplay time because of the presence of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. He plays a mature game that won’t involve taking too many unneeded risks for offensive production. He should put together a solid rookie season as he plays a full season in the NHL, building off of his cameo from last year.
Likelihood to make the roster: 97%
Point Projection (G – A – P): 6 – 19 – 25
Thank you for joining me for another edition of Dobber Prospect Ramblings. I will be back with another edition of the “Roster Bubble Prospects” during training camp where we will take a look at the players that are making an impression. Leave comments below and you can always reach out to me personally on Twitter at @TheTonyFerrari!
Be sure to check out the Dobber’s Fantasy Hockey Prospect Report for 2019! It’s the best guide for fantasy prospects around and makes sure that while you’re there you check out the rest of the fantasy hockey guides.
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