The prospects leagues are wrapping up and starting playoffs. CHL matchups are almost all set save a few make up games and the NCAA brackets are good to go. Fantasy hockey leagues are in playoff modes and sadly I was just eliminated in the DPFHL.
With my fantasy season over I sympathize with my fellow GM’s who fell short and am thinking of the draft. We have recently posted our DobberProspects mock draft and the Fantasy Ranking the 2017 NHL Draft as well. So lets look at some darkhorse prospects for all you deep diving prospects guys and find some overage players who are likely to be drafted.
The thing about the overage players is they were passed over in their first draft year likely for a reason. However they may be late bloomers and several believe the 2017 draft class to be weaker than the past few. One advantage older players who may be late bloomers can hold over first year draft eligible players is they are older, more mature and cone year closer to playing pro hockey and contributing to your fantasy roster.
Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs selected some overage players in Yegor Korshkov with the 31st overall pick and Adam Brooks later in the fourth round. Picking older players is not a revelation, but could become more of a common trend as NHL teams scramble to find players on ELC deals that can play in the salary cap world sooner than later.
Here are some prospects to watch for on draft day that are older and could be fantasy contributors sooner than later.
1. Morgan Geekie, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
The 6-2 168 pound center/RW has had one of the biggest breakout seasons raising his point totals from 25 points in 66 games in his draft year to 90 points in 72 games in his D+1 season. His season play has earned the attention of plenty of scouts and bloggers and it is not uncommon to find him ranked high in the second round and pushing the first round. TSN Director of Scouting ranked Geekie 37th overall in the January edition of Craig’s List and Geekie finished the season 11th overall in WHL scoring with 35 goals and 55 assists for 90 points. He dominates the draw and sees lots of ice time as a two0way player getting both offensive and defensive assignments and special team opportunities. He uses his size in front of the goalie effectively and has a quick release that he likes to use in close.
Morgan Geekie not the best skater, uses what he does have (size/reach, hands, vision) well. Interesting D+1 prospect in #2017NHLDraft— Zachary DeVine (@zakkthebear) February 25, 2017
2. Tyler Steenbergen, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
The 19-year-old center has one more year of junior eligibility and finished ninth overall in WHL scoring with 51 goals and 39 assists for 90 points in 72 games. Steenbergen is a hardworking, impact player with very good puck skills and offensive instincts. Undersized at 5-10 and 181 pounds he has speed and skill that will see him drafted in the first half of the 2017 draft.
3. Igor Shvyrov, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
One year removed from his first draft, the “Russian Factor” may be at play here. He is a raw talent and is more effective when he has the puck on his stick. He has elite puck skills and posted 21 goals and 70 points in 40 MHL games this year in Russia while going pointless in 10 KHL games in limited action. Away from the puck is where he can get into trouble as his defensive game needs some work. It would help make him a more fantasy attractive asset if were selected in the CHL Import Draft this summer and reported to North America. The KHL is not very well known for developing young talent as it leans on its veterans for ice time and he has dominated the MHL already.
Igor Shvyrov with another three points in a 3-1 win over Avto Yekaterinburg. One year overager. Massively skilled, needs work on D.— Will Scouch (@Scouching) February 2, 2017
4. Maxime Fortier, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Last season he saw his play really improve in the second half of the season in his second year in major junior hockey and he wore an “A”. This year he has continued to improve, while his offensive totals are similar his plus minus improved from a minus-23 to minus-1. Fortier is a speedy offensive undersized winger at 5-10 and 176 pounds he has posted back-to-back 30+ goal seasons and added 10 points to his overall total in his D+1 year. Fortier was ranked 68th overall by Craig Button in January and if he is drafted, and “if” he makes it to the NHL, it will be as a scoring winger as his game is about speed and scoring. With his speed and anticipation he is also a threat to score on the PK as he lead the QMJHL with six short handed goals.
Maxime Fortier, ranked 63rd by us at FC, sits 136th among NA Skaters by NHLCS. He’s second in the QMJHL in points per game.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) January 18, 2017
5. Alex Polunin, Lokomotiv (KHL)
The 19-year-old left wing is another D+1 player but is playing in the KHL and producing decent points with nine goals and 19 points in 45 games. It is also his second season in the KHL s he posted seven goals in 25 games as a rookie last year. He really showed his offensive upside for Russia at the World Junior when he posted three goals and six points in seven games. He is a small player at 5-9 and 172 pounds but thinks the game fast and excels at creating offense.
If you want to draft a boom or bust player late this summer you draft Alexander Polunin. Dude generates shots and goals like nothing pic.twitter.com/ri3M8dRIWo— Josh Khalfin (@Josh_Khalfin) February 25, 2017
6. Petrus Palmu, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Palmu will be a very interesting player to watch for at the draft this summer. He will be my little experiment to see just how much being an undersized player doesn’t matter anymore. Palmu scored a whopping 41 goals and 98 points in 62 games this season for the Attack and is a D+2 player meaning he will turn 20-years-old a few weeks after the draft. The only thing that could prevent him from being drafted is the fact he is 5-7 and 179 pounds. He has speed, smarts and skill a plenty but he may be just too small. Another concern is his inability to produce for Finland at the WJC in a best-on-best tournament as was held pointless in six games.
7. Vladimir Kuznetsov, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
The other Kuznetsov (no relation) was overlooked in the 2016 draft after posting 58 points in his rookie season in the Q and first year in North America after being selected first overall in the CHL Import Draft. His D+1 season has seen him post 30 goals and 68 points in 68 games and unlike many of the other prospects on this list he is not undersized. At 6-1 and a whopping 214 pounds he is built like a tank. Kuznetsov was likely overlooked due to inefficiencies in his skating ability despite his size and ability to score goals. Overall he is a power forward that needs to improve his skating ability to succeed at the NHL level.
8. Tim Soderlund, Skelleftea (SHL)
Another undersized winger that has above average skating ability at 5-9 and 175 pounds, Soderlund has excellent acceleration, top speed and his edge work at high speeds is what earns him a place on this list. As a 19-year-old playing against men in the SHL he has produced marginal offence at three goals and seven points in 39 games, but he fared better for Sweden at the World Junior posting two goals in seven games and is close to a point per game player in the Swedish junior level the SuperElite. Despite being older than first time draft eligible prospects, Soderlund may still be a work in progress.
Tim Soderlund (2017, undrafted in '16) has been huge for Sweden today. @coreypronman told me to watch for him and he was not wrong. 6-3 now— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) January 2, 2017
9. Veini Vehvilainen, JYP (LIIGA)
Undrafted in two NHL drafts Vehvilainen will be available in his third and final go round in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Finnish goalie lacks ideal size at 6-0 and 174 pounds but he has two full seasons of pro hockey under his belt as a 20-year-old and has been spectacular for Finland internationally winning the Gold Medal at the 2016-16 WJC and posting 2016-17 WJC Best GAA (1.51) and SVS% (.931). He is an athletic goalie that remains calm and cool under pressure and quickly shakes off the rare bad goal.
Top 3 players in tournament for Finland as selected by the coaches: Vili Saarijarvi (DET), Veini Vehvilainen (2017), Aapeli Rasanen (EDM).— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) January 4, 2017
10. Kevin Hancock, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
The seconf Attack player to grace the list is Kevin Hancock who finished just below teammates Nick Suzuki and Petrus Palmu in league scoring at ninth overall with 30 goals and 86 points in 68 games in his second full season in the league. Perhaps one of the most underrated players you will find, he is undersized at 5-11 and 183 pounds but doesn’t play small as he has a high compete level, hockey strength and just wins puck battles. His skating is average but his offensive skills are obviously evident. He has steadily improved during his two year career and don’t be surprised if the Attack have a deep playoff run, and people start talking about Hancock moving up the draft rankings. Remember you heard it here first!
That’s the top ten, here are some honorable mentions that had consideration for the list; Stephen Dhillon G (Niagara IceDogs-OHL), Simon Stransky LW (Prince Albert Raiders – WHL), Kristans Rubins D (Medicine Hat Tigers – WHL) Yegor Zaitsev D (Dynamo – KHL), Ty Lewis LW (Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL), Ivan Kosorenkov RW (Victoriaville Tigres – QMJHL).
If you feel I missed a player please feel free to leave a comment or hit me on Twitter @pharling
Some Podcast thoughts, be sure to listen to a previous guest on the DobberProspects Radio Podcast Steve Kourianos new Podcast The Draft Analyst for some of the best insights to NHL Draft prospects. Listen on SoundCloud here
‘Episode 03(3/17/17): 2017 Draft Sleepers - Shaw, Hugg, Hrehorcak, Texier, Pietroniro, Shvyryov’ https://t.co/QIbFDROt9o— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) March 17, 2017
If you can’t wait for the next episode of the @DPR_Show you can listen to me talk Winnipeg Jets and 2017 NHL Draft prospects on the AIHSuperfans Podcast
For more fantasy hockey talk listen to DobberHockey writer Ian Gooding guest on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio podcast The Fantasy Fix with Nick Alberga