Top 10 long-term projects (that didn’t make the Fantasy Guide)
Once again for the Dobber Fantasy Guide (which you can purchase here), I wrote a column about players to invest in for a long-term playoff.
Basically, I wrote about 20 players (all non-rookies) that you should consider rostering knowing you won’t see much fantasy relevance from until at least 2020-21. When I write a column like that for the guide, I come up with about 50 names and start whittling it down from there until I end up with 20 players I am confident in. However, there are still some excellent options out there. Here are some of the ones who didn’t make it.
10. Brady Tkachuk
I really wanted to include Tkachuk in my original top 20 list in the guide, but I couldn’t justify it as you won’t need to wait long as he’ll be awesome this year. I’m adding him to this list because this year will only be the start of an excellent fantasy career and he’ll be an elite option in a few years. Last year, in a rookie season on a team that was a complete disaster, Tkachuk notched 22 goals, 45 points, 75 PIM, 174 hits, 214 shots, and 10 power-play points in 71 games. The only issue was his plus/minus, but that’s not a category to worry too much about. Tkachuk is going to have every opportunity to shine this upcoming season, playing on the top line, getting top power-play minutes and plum offensive zone starts. I feel confident that this season, if healthy, he’ll wind up with 30 goals, 60 points, 70 PIM, 200 hits, 250 shots and 20 power-play points.
This is a popular pick for many people to be a breakout candidate a few years down the road. In the Dobber Fantasy Guide, Dobber gives his lowdown on Girard for the Avalanche section, saying that it may take 300-400 games before he breaks out (he’s only played 155 games to date). The bigger issue for me is the depth in Colorado. With both Cale Makar and Bowen Byram with high draft pedigrees, I’m not 100 per cent sold that Girard will ever get the opportunity to run a power-play or get top offensive minutes.
Every year, Buchnevich is a popular breakout pick, and every year he disappoints. Between healthy scratches and injuries, I can understand why some are hesitant about his fantasy future. Now he’s got more competition for top-six minutes, with Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko now in New York, but that also means that when Buchnevich is ready, he’ll be playing with elite players.
7. Neal Pionk
If Pionk was still with the Rangers, I would have had him in the article in the guide, simply because there would have been a better opportunity with the Rangers to snag top minutes. I get a little gun-shy when a young defenseman is on a team that is deep in young defensemen. In Winnipeg, not only is there Dustin Byfuglien to contend with for the next few years, but there’s also Josh Morrissey, Sami Niku, Logan Stanley and after the 2019 draft, Ville Heinola. However, there’s no denying Pionk’s talent, but he needs to have that opportunity.
6. Noah Hanifin
Hanifin is oh so slowly seeing an increase in minutes and point production, as each has gone up every season (although strangely enough, he’s seen a decrease in power-play time every season as well). Despite playing four full seasons in the NHL, Hanifin is still only 22 years old. The 2020-21 season (if there is one) will be a telling one for the Flames, as Travis Hamonic and TJ Brodie will both be UFAs. Their contracts could go a long way to dictating who gets more ice time, but Hanifin should be in line to contend for top minutes.
I like Eriksson Ek’s talent, but like all the prospects in Minnesota, there’s a struggle to get playing time. Simply, the Wild need to start giving its young players more ice time instead of relying heavily on veterans (and signing older players like Mats Zuccarello). That may change now with a new general manager, but we should wait to see who that GM is and what his long-term plan is before we can trust Wild prospects to get a fair shake.
4. Roope Hintz
Hintz will be a popular sleeper candidate this season (although if everyone says he is a sleeper, will he truly be one?). However, it may take a couple of years before he hits his full stride. Sure, he spent the playoffs mostly on a line with Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, but odds are he won’t spend that much time with those two during the regular season. It will be too tempting to put Tyler Seguin in that spot instead, especially when the team starts to struggle.
3. Jake DeBrusk
One good way to look for cheap young players is to see who was considered a breakout or sleeper pick one-to-three years ago. Odds are, if that player hasn’t broken out, fantasy general managers will be frustrated and the value will be lower (think of Dylan Strome last year). Last year, for example, Debrusk was a sexy break-out candidate pick, and even though he increased his goals from 16 to 27, he was static in points (from 43 to 42) and power-play points (from 9 to 11). He’s in a good spot in Boston, seeing his ice time up two minutes a game last year. His will be a slow ascent, but he’ll eventually get there.
Despite his sophomore slump last season (where his numbers were down in almost every fantasy-related statistic), Sergachev has a bright future ahead of him (Mike Clifford did an excellent break down in the ramblings earlier this month). It may be delayed a little with the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk last week since Shattenkirk could take away some of Sergachev’s minutes (including biting into his power-play time). However, in a couple of years, Sergachev will be a top fantasy option as he can also contribute in hits and blocked shots.
Before we get into Dvorak, let’s just remember that he has produced at every level and was dominant in the OHL. He jumped from the juniors straight to the NHL and saw adequate production his first couple of years. An injury derailed his 2018-19 season as he only played 20 games. With Dylan Strome and Alex Galchenyuk no longer in Arizona, the Coyotes don’t have as many centres for Dvorak to compete with. He should slot in as the second-line centre this season and possibly be the top centre within a couple of years.
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