The Fastest Rising Defenseman Prospects (December 2016)

Kevin LeBlanc


The Journey examines Dobber’s top prospect defensemen list and assesses the fast risers in the December rankings.


Anthony DeAngelo – Arizona Coyotes – Up to 10th from 16th Overall


After a draft day trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anthony DeAngelo was given some new scenery in the desert of Arizona and has made the most of his new destination.


The 2014 first-round selection was called up to the NHL in early November after seven points in eight games for the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners. He has continued his solid play at the NHL level with nine points in his first 16 games. For the most part, DeAngelo has been paired with Alex Goligoski playing nearly 20 minutes per night on the young Coyotes.


From a fantasy perspective, DeAngelo brings solid point production, at .56 points-per-game and pairs it with 28 shots on goal and 26 blocked shots in 16 games. He is averaging nearly three minutes of power play time per game which will allow him to push close to 25 points on the season as long as he remains in the NHL.



Olli Juolevi – Vancouver Canucks – Up to 16th Overall from 20th Overall


 The fifth overall pick from this June’s draft was sent back to London of the Ontario Hockey League in the correct move by Canucks brass to start the 2016-17 season.


Last season for the Knights, Juolevi posted 42 points in 57 games (.74 points-per-game), and a shot rate of 2.28 shots per game. This year, his points-per game-has risen to .81 in his first 26 games of the season, even as his shot rate has fallen to 1.69 shots-per-game. Juolevi also has been much better at 5v5 scoring, with none of his six goals coming with the man-advantage. His shot selection has improved, which will be necessary at the professional level.


He will lead team Finland at the 2016-17 World Junior Championship which starts on December 26th, and should be one of the tournaments top defensemen.


Will Butcher – Colorado Avalanche – Up to 45th Overall from 47th Overall


The senior captain of the Denver Pioneers has taken his game to another level this season, helping his team to a 12-3-3 record and a second overall ranking in the’s Division I Men’s College Hockey Poll.


Nearing a point-per-game this season through 18 games, Butcher is tied for fourth among all NCAA defensemen with 17 points, and ranks tied for fifth with 14 assists. The Wisconsin native and US-NTDP product has improved his offensive output each year at Denver, and should surpass the 32 points in 39 games he posted last year relatively easy. Zach Werenski’s 38 points led the NCAA’s defensemen last season, but by years end there could be multiple blueliners from this years NCAA crop that surpass that output. 


The Avalanche fifth-round selection should move quickly through the system to a team in need of viable NHL blueliners, starting when his senior season ends with Denver.


Dante Fabbro – Nashville Predators – Up to 47th Overall from 49th Overall


Fabbro was one of three British Columbia Hockey League products to be taken in the first round of the 2016 draft, with Tyson Jost and fellow defenseman Dennis Cholowski the others.


The Nashville prospect has had a modest start to his college career at Boston University as part of one of the best freshman classes in the history of college hockey. In his first 15 games, Fabbro has compiled six points with three goals and three assists, with four of the six points and all three goals coming on the power play.


Fabbro will be one of seven defensemen to play for Team Canada for the upcoming World Juniors, and one of just two college hockey players on the roster (Jost). Being drafted by the Predators will allow the young blueliner time to develop before joining one of the best defensive corps in the NHL.


Roland McKeown – Carolina Hurricanes – Up to 50th Overall from 51st Overall


In his rookie season in the American Hockey League, McKeown has shown flashes of his potential as an offensively talented defenseman that can be productive both in possession and on the rush.


He is currently first among all Charlotte Checkers with 63 shots, however, the former Kingston Frontenacs captain has only produced one goal on the season. He has paired that goal with five assists in 28 games, good for fourth among Checkers rookies in points.


Carolina has a solid young defense with Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce playing well in the NHL and Haydn Fleury and Trevor Carrick as additional options to McKeown in the AHL. He will be a solid bottom four option in the coming years with a chance to get a secondary power play opportunity.



Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings. 


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