Find out how Valeri Nichushkin and Tyler Toffoli are progressing this season
When I first started out in fantasy hockey I generally didn't put much credence in prospect scouting. My philosophy was that I'll concern myself with ranking and projecting players once they were a couple seasons into their career and had accumulated some meaningful data at the NHL level.
Of course, this led to a number of issues. Not the least of which being that I was constantly bested by a couple of managers in our league who were always up-to-date. They would see players like Jamie Benn or Claude Giroux emerging an entire half or full season ahead of me. When we switched our league format from a single season to a dynasty pool, I knew it was time to educate myself.
What I have learned over the past few years of following prospects develop more closely is that at its core it's an incredibly imperfect science. Outside of perhaps the top two or three picks each summer there are really no guarantees. Prognostication of prospects is a makeshift blend of statistical analysis, scouting reports, team opportunity and even a bit of blind luck.
Knowing this, what is the best way to learn about prospects and the "next" generation of fantasy stars?
Read, read, read, and when you are tired, read some more. You can never learn too much about a player and his development. However, it is important to be skeptical of every scouting report or projection, because ultimately, until a player has completed multiple seasons at the pro-level none of us really know for sure. The difference between a 25 goal 230 shot center and a franchise 40 goal 300 shot winger can sometimes be slim when they are 18 years old.
Each week I am going to tackle a couple of prospects and provide as much insight as I can on their production, physical tools, pedigree and team opportunity. I certainly won't always be right, but hopefully it will give you some ideas to ponder as you start preparing for the next two to four years of your pool.