This week we’re checking in on some of the fastest rising prospect defensemen on Dobber’s list. Two out of the three of these players are already logging significant minutes in an NHL role, but there might still be time for you to consider squeaking them into your roster, depending on your league settings. A reminder, that when in doubt, check out DobberHockey’s Frozen Tools player profiles for buy/sell advice under the Advanced Statistics section.
Neal Pionk, New York Rangers Up from 54 to 26 (+28) | 76% Fantrax Ownership
Just over 18 months ago, Neal Pionk was wrapping up his breakout sophomore season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and considering the option of leaving school early to pursue a career in the National Hockey league. Fast-forward those 18 months and the 5-11 defenseman is rocketing up the fantasy rankings, not to mention the real-world Rangers depth chart. Even then the signing was considered a major success by the Rangers, as the then 21-year-old was being targeted by several other teams. His right-shot remains a coveted trait amongst premium NHL defenseman making his real-world value that much higher.
In the year and a half since his signing with the Blueshirts, Pionk has accrued in excess of 65 NHL games worth of experience, plus the initial 48 games that he served with the Wolfpack during his rookie campaign. It became immediately apparent, upon his first several NHL contests that Pionk had what it took to become an impact player for the Rangers. Now playing alongside steadfast veteran, Marc Staal, Pionk has been relatively free to explore his offensive potential while taking advantage of as much ice time as the team can bestow upon him. He currently leads the Rangers’ blueline at an average of just over 23 minutes including 2:14 on the man advantage. Under rookie head coach David Quinn, the team has primarily run a 4-forward, 1-defenseman powerplay which tends to limit overall time on ice for the blueline group. Under that system, Pionk comes in with the second most powerplay time on the team just behind