First things first, make sure you pick up Dobber’s 2018-19 Fantasy Hockey Guide, available here. This was my first year contributing as I took a look at 25 players that could challenge for the Calder Trophy. Now on with the Journey!
Every year there are a few players selected during day number two of the draft that explode in their draft+1 year that causes everyone to think “how was he not a first round pick?” Here are a few such players that could fit the bill.
Jonatan Berggren, DET
When the 2018 draft wrapped up, many pundits declared the Detroit Red Wings the big winner, and the selection of Berggren at 33 is one of the reasons why. Between Berggren, Filip Zadina and Joe Velano, it’s clear that the Red Wings went into the 2018 draft with a focus on acquiring high-end skill. Watch any clip of Berggren and the skill level is immediately clear. Dobber Prospects’ own Cam Robinson believes that he has some of the best one-on-one skills in his draft class.
To say that Berggren had a good draft year would be a heck of an understatement. He was simply dominant in the Swedish J20 league playing for Skellefteå AIK leading the league in assists (39), points (57) and points per game (1.50), all as a 17-year-old. His season was so good that it ties him for 16th in points in a season in league history. He managed to even earn some time with the big club in the SHL skating in 10 contests but was mainly deployed in a fourth line role and failed to find the score sheet.
With numbers like that, you might wonder why he wasn’t picked higher. It’s because of two reasons common to a lot players his age: his defensive play and his strength. Proving that he’s too good for the junior circuit, an entire season playing against men would go a long way in Berggren’s development. He resigned with Skellefteå AIK so he’s probably going to marinate for another year or two in Sweden. But his upside is sky high and could certainly be worth for wait.
Jesse Ylonen, MTL
After snatching their coveted centre in Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the third overall pick, the Habs went back to their bread and butter and acquired a winger with their second pick in the draft, selecting Jesse Ylonen with the 35th overall selection. Even though he was born in Scottsdale, Arizona (his dad Juha played five seasons for the Phoenix Coyotes), Ylonen has spent his formative hockey years playing in Finland, working his way up the junior ranks as a member of the Espoo Blues.
With the U16 squad, Ylonen put together 137 points in 78 games over two seasons. He progressed to the U18 team while still just 15 years old and proceeded to produce at a point per