Prospects Mailbag: December Edition

by Cam Robinson on December 21, 2016

 

Back again for another rousing look at some fantasy upsides, comparisons and deeper dives in the world of prospects!

Thank you to all who contributed questions and if you didn’t make the cut this month, keep on sending them my way as I do my best to answer as many as possible.

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Question: Thoughts on Kirill Kaprizov: what kind of upside does he have and how good are the odds he gets there with the Wild?”

 

Answer: Kaprizov is hanging with some lofty company as one of the highest-scoring teenagers in KHL history. Now, the KHL isn’t exactly an old entity, but there have been some very talented players go through there as sub-20’s scorers.

His current 0.81 point-per-game output sits behind just Nikita Filatov (0.85) and Evgeni Kuznetsov (0.84) for those who played at least 25 games in a teenaged season. His 30 points in 37 games is even more impressive knowing he sputtered out of the gate with just four points in his first 15 games.

This month’s World Junior Championship will be a coming-out party for the 19-year-old forward. He has a very good chance of leading the Russian team in scoring and propelling them into the medal rounds.

Kiprizov has a very high ceiling and after finishing out his contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa after the 2017-18 campaign he should be crossing the pond as one the premier players outside of the NHL. A stint in the AHL to adjust to the smaller rink and more physical play wouldn’t be unexpected but once he arrives and earns a top six role in Minnesota, he should make a mark.

He is a high-quality asset that should be owned in most dynasty formats.

 

Question: One that's intriguing me quite a bit is Mangiapane. Seems to have adjusted to the AHL smoothly… who can we compare him to and how does he project in the NHL. In my mind, I keep thinking PA Paranteau & C. Brown type?”

 

Answer: Andrew Mangiapane is the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey players, never receiving any respect.

Passed over in the OHL draft, he was pegged as a middle rounder after compiling 51 points as a walk-on for Barrie in his NHL draft year but went undrafted due to concerns about his size. He then went on to produce a 104-point season and Calgary took a flier on him in the sixth round. Now in the AHL, the diminutive forward has found early success against the professional ranks.

His speed is by far his greatest asset, something that separates him from some other smaller framed, offensive forwards. He can burn defenders off the rush and is willing to outwork those who are blessed with more size.

While not quite as large, he has been compared to Ondrej Palat and I can see the resemblance as well. He’s a player who refuses to quit on either end of the puck and as demonstrated a very sound two-way game.

He remains somewhat of a project prospect, but with each impressive showing at the AHL-level he gets closer to realizing his dream of playing in the NHL. Helping matters is the fact that he’s in the Calgary organization who covets skill over size.

 

Question: Would love to hear your thoughts on the goalies in the Hurricanes system. Mainly looking at Nedeljkovic and Helvig. Thanks!”

 

Answer: Jeremy Helvig has the size and determination that you want from a future NHL goaltender. His draft season stats were propped up marginally by a strong Kingston team and the loss of some key players has dropped his save percentage down. In my opinion, he’s a project goaltender, but if developed properly could be a player one day.

Alex Nedeljkovic is a very nice prospect. Despite being undersized – just six feet – he offers explosive reactions and a strong, tight butterfly. I don’t consider myself an expert in reading the movements of young goaltenders and diagnosing what needs work but I have liked what I’ve seen from Nedeljkovic, especially at last year’s WJC where he was lights out. Don’t be too put off by his sub-par numbers early on in his AHL rookie season. It is a major transition turning pro for a goaltender, but I think he is a good bet to find his sea legs and progress over the next few season before ultimately pushing for a job in Carolina.

 

Question: Who are your players to watch in this year's U20 world Jr.'s? With regards to future in the NHL fantasy wise. (Points only)”

 

Answer: By now, you’ve likely heard that the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is not 2016. It’s not 2015 either. The absolute elite draft-eligible talent just isn’t there as it was in the past two years. The same goes for this edition of the IIHF World Junior Championships.

That’s not to say it won’t be a fantastic tournament filled with plenty of future NHL’ers, several which could be stars.

I absolutely love this tournament so I’m going to spill some extra virtual ink on this one. Here are some players from the big nations and then a smattering of the rest.

  • Eeli Tolvenen (FIN): Smaller, elusive goal scorer with great speed. May have the highest pure offensive upside of anyone in this draft class. Will have big role as a 17-year-old in a historically 19-year-old tournament.
  • Janne Kuokkanen (FIN): The Carolina second rounder has posted 40 points in 28 OHL games as a rookie with the London Knights. Will be leaned on heavily as an 18-year-old with a strong overall package.
  • Joel Eriksson-Ek (SWE): Made the Wild out of camp but is back playing in the SHL. Accomplished two-way player but has sneaky good offensive skills. Should play a ton as captain of the Tre Kroner.
  • Alexander Nylander (SWE): Sweden’s top offensive option and a player with a ton of upside for long-term fantasy purposes. It’ll be tough to top last year’s nine points in seven games, but he has the ability. Silky hands.
  • Rasmus Dahlin (SWE): The kid is 16-years-old and is just magical to watch. One of the top-ranked prospects for 2018, he’ll likely be eased into the fires to start, but he could end up being one of the team’s top blue liners by the end. Potential future fantasy stud. 
  • Ilya Samsonov (RUS): Washington’s 2015 first rounder is often thought of as the best goaltending prospect out there. This will be where he shows the world what the scouts and fans of the KHL already know.
  • Mikhail Sergachev (RUS): Stuck around the Habs lineup for a reason. He has a dynamic skill set that makes him a future fantasy prize. Big shot, loads of speed and a penchant for jumping into the offense.
  • Kirill Kaprizov (RUS): Major production in the KHL should translate favourably to this tournament. The shift to the smaller ice may hamper him a bit, but he’s got great skills and is rolling right now.
  • Clayton Keller (USA): A few more inches and I have no doubt Keller would’ve been the third overall pick last June. Extremely high skill level and thinks the game a step ahead of most. Very underrated penalty killer and two-way player. The full package should be on display.
  • Adam Fox (USA): Size be damned, the Flames third rounder is tearing the NCAA apart as a freshman and will be a major player on the USA’s power play.
  • Alex DeBrincat (USA): After a rough 2016 tournament, DeBrincat is coming in hungry. His insane production at the OHL-level is going to be replicated over the holiday break.
  • Dylan Strome (CAN): Captain of the team, likely the best player at the entire tournament and looking to propel Canada to rebound after its sixth place finish a year ago.
  • Mathew Barzal (CAN): Just a pure puck distributor with fantastic wheels. He has a very bright future.
  • Philippe Myers (CAN): Undrafted UFA signee out of the QMJHL is looking like a serious fantasy prospect. Should get plenty of offensive ice to display his tools. 6’5, skates very well and has strong offensive tools.
  • Nico Hischier (SWI): The quick forward is making a push to be a top-three selection this June. Possesses a complete array of offensive tools but in a slighter-frame. Will be option one, two and three for the Swiss this tournament.
  • Martin Necas (CZE) Highly-skilled centre has been climbing the draft lists all year. Great edgework and shifty moves complimented by quick heads and a great head for the game.

I could write about this tournament and its participants all day, but sadly we can’t spend all our time on it.

This is just a smattering of names to watch for but keep an eye on, Juolevi, Vesalainen, Heiskanen, Valimaki for Finland; Guryanov, and Rubtsov for Russia; McAvoy, Roslovic, Bracco and Bellows for USA; Asplund, Pettersson and Klyington for Sweden; Chabot, Raddysh, and Fabbro for Canada… The list goes on and on.

 

Question: College guys are often the toughest to gauge — how's Colin White been? His numbers aren't amazing, but he has picked it up.”

 

Answer: White had an unreal freshman season at BC, racking up points and displaying his advanced defensive play. The 2015-16 version of the Eagles was strong enough to make it to the Frozen Four, but after losing impact players such as Thatcher Demko, Ian McCoshen, Steve Santini, Alex Tuch and Ryan Fitzgerald, White has been leaned on very heavily to prop up a less-talented team.

The numbers aren’t going to be the only thing to consider when looking at White, but from a purely fantasy standpoint, I can see him being a little limited at the next level. I view him as a Jonathan Toews-lite. Fantastic real-life player who brings everything a team can ask for, but due to his advanced two-way play, will be tasked with a lot of heavy minutes while other more one-dimensional players may rake in the points.

 

Question: Who would you compare Nolan Patrick to from the previous couple of NHL entry drafts?”

 

Answer: I’ve been comparing Patrick to Dylan Strome for a little while now. They aren’t the exact same player, but they fall into similar moulds. Both are big, strong centres who can produce bushels of points. Neither are world-class speedsters but possess adequate skating. Their hockey IQ are both very high and either one would have been a fine choice for first overall in average draft years – Strome just happened to fall into a class with McDavid and Eichel while Patrick has the fortune of playing in a year void of obvious superstar talent.

 

Question: Who do u think has the higher potential. Ilya Samsonov vs Ilya Sorokin. The battle of the Ilya's for sure.”

 

Answer: Great question. These are two of the top ranked goaltenders outside of the NHL and both appear to be decent bets to one day be impact fantasy contributors. I give a slight edge to Samsonov for talent but he will be stuck behind Braden Holtby for some time while the path appears to be more clear for Sorokin. He should be crossing the pond after next season, and as of now, NYI has no goaltenders signed past 2017-18.

Both are great additions in a dynasty league, but I’ll lean for the more talented player, and to me, that is Samsonov.

Keep an eye out for another ultra-talented Russian in Igor Shestyorkin. The about-to-turn 21-year-old has been lights out this season posting a .943 save percentage and 1.51GAA in 30 KHL contests. He’s a highly-touted prospect in the New York Rangers’ organization and is looked at as the heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist.

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Thanks for reading and if you’re looking for some more prospect information, I’ll be doing a guest interview on the Keeping Karlsson podcast later this week.

 

Also, feel free to follow me on twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.