The Journey – Rising Prospect Defenders
Looking at the June rankings of Dobber’s Top 50 Fantasy Prospect Defensemen you’ll find a few big movers and shakers
Sebastien Aho – NYI, up to 30 from 40
“The other Sebastian Aho” as he is most commonly referred to, he’s endured quite a journey over the past few years. Passed over in his first two years of draft eligibility despite excellent production in the top league in Sweden, it wasn’t until 2016-17 that one team saw fit to use a pick on him, with the New York Islanders snatching him with their fifth round pick, 139th overall. His 16-17 campaign was too big to ignore as he finished third on Skellefteå AIK in scoring with 30 points and was one of the highest scoring defenders in the league. His 30 points were the third highest mark by all blueliners in the SHL and finished second among defensemen with 10 goals. Only a couple weeks after being drafted he was signed by the Islanders to his entry-level deal after he turned heads in the prospect camp and went on to make quite the impression in his first season in North America. Aho led the Bridgeport Sound Tigers d-men in scoring with nine goals and 20 assists despite playing just 40 games. His 29 points were fifth-most among rookie defenders but were top of the heap when it came to points-per-game where his mark of 0.73 was tops. Aho’s play saw him leap to the top of the D depth chart, helped out by an injury to Devon Toews, and made his NHL debut sooner than most people probably would have expected. The Swede suited up for 22 games with the Islanders, scoring once and adding three assists while averaging 16 minutes of ice time. He’s looking like a shrewd selection by Garth Snow in what became his final draft at the helm.
Philippe Myers – PHI, up to 38 from 48
By now everyone is pretty well aware of Philippe Myers’ story. An undrafted free agent signing by Philadelphia after posting just eight points in his draft year, he’s been steadily climbing the prospect ranks for the past few seasons. Some people were speculating that he was NHL ready following his final year of junior with Royn-Noranda, but alas that was not the case. Myers spent his rookie professional season in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and finished second among Phantoms blueliners in scoring; only trailing the AHL Bobby Orr T.J. Brennan. Myers found the back of the net five times and added 16 helpers for a total of 21 points, 16th most among rookie d-men in the league. Come playoff time Myers produced seven points in 13 games before exiting in round number two. The big man started to get the puck on net with more frequency over the last half of the season, a promising omen for a bigger year in 2018-19. One area that is starting to become a bit of a concern is Myers’ health. He missed a big chunk of 2016-17 after getting rocked at the 2017 WJHC and suffered a concussion. This year he missed a month due to an ankle injury but the encouraging thing is it didn’t seem to cause any lingering effects once he returned. Still, a full, healthy 2018-19 would be a welcome sign. He may still be another full year in the minors before getting some significant NHL action but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him get a few games this year. Regardless he’ll no doubt be given a long rope to prove himself as a 6-5 defenseman that skates like him and handle the puck like he does, do not grow on trees.
Dante Fabbro – NSH, up to 17 from 24
It’s probably fair to say that, although his freshman year at Boston University wasn’t disappointing, it was underwhelming. But any doubts that may have crept into people’s minds about whether or not Fabbro was worthy of being a 17th overall pick were quickly quashed following his sophomore campaign. The future Nashville Predator increased his offensive output by over 50%, posting nine goals and 20 assists in 38 games for the eventual Hockey East champion BU Terriers, finishing fifth on the team in scoring, first among defensemen, and 15th overall in the conference. He led all HE defensemen in goals and his 82 blocked shots were the most out of any Hockey East player and finished second in power-play points with 16 of his 29 coming with the man advantage. Not only was he a champion in college, but Fabbro also brought home a gold medal from the WJHC in Buffalo while battling an injury, and also earned a spot on the Hockey East Second All-Star team. As is the MO for the Predators, they are well stocked on the back-end at the professional level which is why they were perfectly content with Fabbro going the collegiate route where he can continue to grow both on the ice and in the gym. Another leap in play like the one he showed between his freshman and sophomore seasons would have them jumping for joy. Not only is does he excel at both ends of the ice, Fabrro is a heart and soul type player which is why he’ll serve as the captain of the Terriers in 2018-19 in what will probably be his final year on campus. Expect a big year from the British Columbia native.
As always thanks for checking out this week’s edition of The Journey. Give me a follow on Twitter @BradHPhillips. Enjoy day two of the draft!
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