The start of August means a lot of things to fantasy hockey general managers: There’s the release of the Dobber Pool Guide, which is the unofficial start to the fantasy hockey season. There’s also lots of prep work as many keeper pool and dynasty leagues will hold their drafts at some point over the next eight weeks.
I belong to a dynasty league made up of some of the smartest Dobber Hockey Forum members. We held our 10-round prospect draft throughout July (you can see the results on the Forum here).
Interestingly, seven of the top 10 picks were owned by three teams, and none of the three had the either of the top two picks.
To give you an idea of how your draft might go, below are the top 10 picks from that WHL draft and some of the reasoning behind the picks. I had two picks in the top 10, and it was tough not to go with my heart. With the fourth and eighth picks overall, I could easily have chosen Cole Caufield (drafted by Montreal, my favourite team) and Alex Newhook (a fellow Newfie), but I decided to draft with my brain instead.
1. Jack Hughes (Team: Glasgow Kiss; team owner: Magicstew)
Hughes is easily the top pick in most fantasy drafts, and with good reason. Dobber’s Fantasy Prospects Report says Patrick Kane is the best comparable, which would make Hughes an upper-echelon elite player. Hughes dominated with the U.S. National Development Team, performed at high levels at both the World Juniors and the Under-18, and was the youngest player ever to play for the U.S. at the World Championships.
2. Kaapo Kakko (Fort Francis Muskies, Burgundy)
Having the second overall pick this year is pretty simple, you just take whoever is left between Kakko and Hughes, which is exactly what Burgundy did. This easily could have been an opposite 1-2, as there are plenty of people higher on Kakko than on Hughes. In the Dobber Prospects Guide, two writers had Kakko ranked ahead of Hughes. Tyler Matson on Twitter is keeping track of average selections in fantasy drafts. So far, Kakko has been taken first in 10 of 43 drafts. I have a feeling this could be like Auston Matthews/Patrik Laine debate from 2016.
3. Alex Turcotte (Markham Waxers, praba)
Praba says he generally avoids taking defensemen with a top 10 pick, so that left him wanting Alex Turcotte and Kirby Dach as he figured those two were the best forwards after Hughes/Kakko. When it comes to Turcotte, there have been plenty of comparisons to Patrice Bergeron (elite, point-producing centre who can also shut down the other team’s top line). As a bonus for Turcotte owners, by being selected by the L.A. Kings, he is going to a team regarded as having one of the worst prospect pools in the NHL, meaning the road to the NHL won’t be as difficult as if he went to a team with a deeper farm system.
4. Bowen Byram (Montreal Canadiens, newfcollins)
Even though I could have taken Cole Caufield, as I mentioned at the start, I decided to go with my head instead of my heart. I’ve been working hard on building my defense, and in the last couple of years, I have drafted Mikhail Sergachev, Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard and traded for Olli Juolevi. In my mind, Bowen was easily the most elite defensemen of this draft, so I decided to keep building my defense. Even though I did choose the best player available, I was mistaken that some defensemen would be drafted earlier and leave me higher-end forwards. The next defenseman wasn’t taken until 18th overall, and only three were taken in the top 30 picks.
5. Kirby Dach (Markham Waxers)
Praba got his wish with selecting Dach fifth overall, and he told me he had a deal on the table to trade the fifth overall pick if I had selected Dach fourth overall. Dach was selected in the NHL draft third overall by the Hawks, and there’s a lot of hope that he can be the replacement for Jonathan Toews, another third overall selection by the Hawks back in 2006. Many reports have Dach’s top comparable to be Ryan Getzlaf.
6. Cole Caufield (Dryden Eagles; Metaldude)
Metaldude has worked hard to rebuild an awful team he took over a couple of years ago, and this year he had three picks in the top 10. He told me that he had a top-tier of four prospects, but they were gone before his pick came up. He decided to select Caufield, continuing a draft strategy of big swings with high first-round picks (to go with Kailer Yamamoto and Eeli Tolvanen as top-12 picks in 2017, and Andrei Svechnikov over Rasmus Dahlin last year).
7. Dylan Cozens (Wheeling Nailers; Brosive)
Brosive said this pick came down to Cozens, Trevor Zegras and Vasili Podkolzin. In the end, Brosive wanted what he considered the more complete and less risky player of the three. He also really like the potential of Cozens eventually playing with Jack Eichel down the road. Another great aspect of Cozens is that many had him pegged as the best power forward of the 2019 draft, meaning he should be able to add great peripherals down the road.
8. Trevor Zegras (Montreal)
With another high pick, I went with whom I considered the top player available. I also really like his situation with Anaheim as there are some great prospects in the system, but not a team with a lot of prospect depth. He was also ranked as the second-best centre and second-best playmaker in the Dobber Prospects report for the 2019 draft.
9. Matthew Boldy (Dryden)
At this point of the stage, Metaldude had about seven players that he considered pretty much equal, and says he would have been happy to choose any of the seven. I know Boldy was high on several lists of WHL GMs, so this seems like a bit of a steal. Taken 12th overall by Minnesota, it will be interesting to see what happens to Boldy as he was one of former GM Paul Fenton’s last big moves. A new GM may not feel the same type of love for Boldy as Fenton did, but the new GM might also decide to blow up the team and start giving more ice time to the young guys, which would be beneficial to Boldy.
10. Vasili Podkolzin (Dryden)
It wasn’t too long ago that both NHL teams and fantasy general managers would steer far away from Russian-born players. Any young player signing in the KHL is pretty much gone for three years before they even think about coming back to North America. That perception didn’t hurt Podkolzin this year, as the Canucks took the Russian 10th overall, and so did Metaldude. The power forward is signed with the KHL for at least two more years, so there is a bit of a wait, but there were a lot of WHL GMs high on the Russian.