I’m sure many of you have now had a chance by now to peruse the 13th annual DobberHockey Fantasy Guide (buy it here).
Once again, I was lucky enough to contribute for the guide. My column was about players (non-rookies) who may take a while to break out but will be worth the wait. My original list had 45-plus names on it that I whittled down to 20 for the guide.
Consider this column a bit of a sneak peek. Here are 10 more players I didn’t put in the guide that will be fantasy assets, just not this season.
10. Tristan Jarry
Jarry has a long road in front of him to take over that number one job in Pittsburgh. And while improbable, it won’t be impossible. He played 26 games last season, and put up numbers comparable to starter Matt Murray. Murray is only signed for two more seasons and backup Casey DeSmith for one. Murray has proven in short career that he cannot be trusted to stay healthy (in March, I put Murray number one for the newest Band-Aid boy). If Jarry can post better numbers and stay healthy, he could usurp Murray two years down the line.
9. Nikita Scherbak
The Habs are desperate for someone who can put up points, so Scherbak fits into the long-term plan of the organization. The key word there is long-term. The Habs have a history of bringing young players along very slowly, either letting them waste away in the AHL or giving them 12 minutes a night in the NHL. Scherbak has improved every season in the AHL and had 30 points in 26 games on an awful Laval Rocket team last year, but had six points in 26 NHL games where he averaged 13:23 per game. Expect more of the same for at least a year or two.
8. Adrian Kempe
After a promising 2017-18 rookie season, Kempe had to be looking forward to taking the next step in 2018-19. Then the Kings signed left winger Ilya Kovalchuk, and Kempe is all of a sudden a guaranteed third liner instead of a second/third line tweener. Kovalchuk is only signed for three years, so it could take about four years before he can get to a top-six role. He’ll only be 25 at that time, so he’ll have plenty of time to make an impact at that stage.
Kerfoot had a pretty good rookie season last year, posting 43 points in 79 games. That was buoyed by his 17 power-play points, but it’s important to note that he didn’t contribute in any other peripheral category (minus-7, 28 PIM, 81 shots, 42 hits and 207 faceoff wins). Also important to note is that his points, power play time and overall ice time decreased as the season went on. He’s a few years away from getting consistent ice time, so prepare accordingly.
Chabot’s future will be much clearer once the Erik Karlsson situation is finished. Truthfully, I don’t expect Karlsson to be dealt until the trade deadline, meaning Chabot will be stuck on the second power-play unit for the majority of the season. In the meantime, Chabot will be given protected minutes with plenty of starts in the offensive zone. He’ll be okay this year, but he’s still a year and an Erik Karlsson trade away from being a top defenseman you can rely on.
Beauvillier really took off in the second half— 29 points in 39 games — once he was put on a line with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle and started getting some power-play time. Despite the chemistry between the three, Beauvillier could see himself bumped off that unit this season. Even though Barzal is the number one centre in New York, Beauvillier is not a top-line winger. That will fall to Eberle and either Josh Bailey and Anders Lee. My guess is Beauvillier struggles this season away from Barzal and will take a couple of years to get back to that top spot.
4. Kevin Labanc
The Sharks wanted to make a splash in the free agent market, but lost out on Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares. That is good news for Labanc owners. The guy has put up points everywhere he’s played: He had 234 in his last 133 OHL games, 23 in 21 AHL games and had 40 points last season with the Sharks despite playing 14:21 a game and on the second power-play unit (he also had 18 power-play points). The biggest problem for Labanc is that there is no room in the top-six for him right now, so you still need to wait a while for him.
Girard had a positive start to 2017-18 with five points in his first eight games (five of those games with Nashville before being dealt to Colorado) but had just 18 points in the next 65 games. That’s a little lower than fantasy general managers had hoped for, but acceptable for a rookie defenseman. He did show some prowess on the power play with 13 PPP on the second unit. Girard had 149 points in his last 126 QMJHL games, so much is expected of him, but with Tyson Barrie in the lineup, it’s going to take a while for Girard to have a fantasy impact.
The Coyotes are a tough team to gauge for the future as they have so many young players that some of them are going to struggle to get an opportunity. Dvorak is a centre, and the Coyotes already have Derek Stepan and Alex Galchenyuk in that position plus Dylan Strome wanting to play that position as well. Dvorak has massive upside, but you need to wait a few years for him to get to that point.
1. Robby Fabbri
Two summers ago, Fabbri was one of the sexy picks as a breakout candidate. He had 29 points in 51 games in 2016-17 before injuring himself. He then injured himself again last preseason, and needed ACL surgery that kept him out for all of 2017-18. He’s now returning to a lineup that is more stacked than when he last played as the Blues have added Patrick Maroon, Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak and David Perron to their forward corps. Then there are prospects like Robert Thomas and Ivan Barbashev that will need ice time if they make the lineup. By the time training camp rolls around, it will be 19 months since Fabbri last played an NHL game. He will need time to get back into the flow of an NHL season and figure out where he belongs in this lineup.