Ramblings: Contrary to Popular Belief These Prospects Won’t Help You This Year. But Here Are Some Who Will (Sep 09)
The Fantasy Guide was last updated Saturday. Things are finally starting to happen as the stragglers are starting to sign – and they’re all updated in the Guide. The big updates come fast and furious when camp later this week (!). Updates happen so often once we’re a couple of days into camp that you can safely assume that once, twice or even three times per day this thing is getting updated. Just re-download the Guide when you want the latest one.
Also, new this year: I launched this Guide in French. Please tell your French-speaking brethren that they can now pick up Le Guide des Poolers 2019-20 DobberHockey right here.
There is a lot of excitement out there about this year’s rookie crop, and for good reason. This season boasts a ton of promise, and that creates a lot of opportunities mid- and late-draft to snag some serious help for your fantasy squad. But there are a few names out there that I’m seeing where expectations are far too high. I’m not talking about Jack Hughes, Cale Makar, Kaapo Kakko, Quinn Hughes or any of the obvious guys. I’m talking about deeper players. You feel you have this ‘guaranteed stud’ and you’re moving him up your draft list because you’re excited about him. I’m here to help you push on the brakes a little bit. I’m not going to tell you that the following players are going to be busts or that they suck. Far from it. All I’m saying is – just dial it down a little. Your expectations, that is. And I mean for this year. I’m not talking about future seasons. But for this year, just pull back on the reins on these guys…
Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils
Just from the general chatter on this site and on Twitter and Facebook, I’m seeing a lot of confidence in Blackwood as the starter for the Devils and great fantasy asset right away. While that could happen if Cory Schneider gets injured – and Schneider is certainly a risk for that – don’t pin your hopes on it. Schneider is the starter. Even without looking deep into his numbers, the $6 million annual contract can tell you that much. For all the promise that Blackwood has shown, he is not going to be the starter unless Schneider gets hurt. Those who purchased my Guide (and what are you waiting for, exactly?) would know that after February 15, Schneider was 6-6-2, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% with 57.1% Quality Starts – an indication that he may be back into form. His hip surgery was about 16 months ago, and Roberto Luongo (who had similar surgery) said that it took 18 months before he truly felt back to his old self again. If Schneider can stay relatively healthy, Blackwood won’t even get 35 starts.
Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks
Yes, Demko was a high draft pick (second round, 36th overall in 2014) and yes he followed up a stellar college career with a solid – but not great – couple of seasons in the AHL. He was impressive in nine games to end the season last year (six Quality Starts and two Really Bad Starts). He’s probably going to be a starter in the NHL someday and it’s probably going to be for the Canucks. But that day is not today. Fantasy owners have a habit of getting too excited about prospect goaltenders and expect too much too soon. Demko will get 30 starts this year, possibly 35, and there will be a time or two where he gets sent down to the AHL to get in a couple more games. He still has one more year in which he does not have to clear waivers. He’s only 23, so have patience. Jacob Markstrom has one year left on his contract, so Demko’s time could be in one year. Of course, Markstrom was one of the top goalies in the league last year when it comes to Quality Starts – he had 38 of them, and a 63.3% rate. So don’t count out a big-money extension if he gets off to a great start.
Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings
Prospects who are drafted in the Top 10 tend to have expectations of immediacy from fantasy owners, but Zadina is not going to be a regular in Detroit’s lineup this year. Could he be? Sure, he has enough talent and he tends to thrive better when the players around him are better. But the 2018 sixth overall pick still has some things to learn and will hone his craft at the AHL level, other than a couple of cups of coffee. The Red Wings have 13 NHL forwards already, plus Michael Rasmussen (who I’m not convinced will be in the NHL either), plus Evgeni Svechnikov. That’s a lot to leap frog. And with Steve Yzerman running things, you know that prospects won’t be rushed. If it’s a one-year league then let someone else take the chance that Zadina makes the big club because I really don’t think he will. And if he does, I feel like he won’t contribute a lot and will just be sent down again relatively early.
Kirby Dach, Chicago Blackhawks
Sure, he was the third-overall draft pick this summer and at 6-4, 198 pounds he already has a man’s body. And yes, he’s going to put up ridiculous numbers in the WHL if he goes back there. But he will, because bigger players need more time to develop enough to handle pro hockey. Chicago already has, but my count, 17 pretty good candidates to fill 13 forward spots. Dach would need to have the camp of his life in order to convince Chicago brass that keeping him is worth losing a key asset to waivers, and pushing aside other promising – and more mature – prospects. There will be plenty of time for Dach. For the purposes of points-only keeper leagues, I don’t anticipate Dach being helpful for at least four years.
Ryan Poehling, Montreal Canadiens
That hat trick in his only NHL game really left an impression on poolies. And I do think that he will be a regular in the Montreal lineup. But this season he will play mostly on the third line and is a couple of seasons away from getting you the points that you’d like. I have my doubts that he even reaches 30 this year, though he will certainly have his moments and little hot streaks.
And I’m going to go out on a limb on some players. I dashed some of your hopes above and so I don’t want you feeling down in the dumps all day over it. It’s all about positivity! I need to start your day off right (right?). Here are a few players that you either haven’t been considering at all, or you’re probably not rating them quite high enough. I’ll go out on a limb on them, and so should you. Of course, don’t expect miracles. I’ll be more specific about what to expect as I rhyme off each player, and leave it to you to decide if they’re draftable in your league type…
Nikolai Prokhorkin, Los Angeles Kings
Why is nobody talking about this guy? When an NHL team signs an undrafted KHL star coming off a point-per-game season, fantasy owners go gaga over him. So why not Prokhorkin? My theory is that because he was drafted and, fantasy owners being an impatient lot, he didn’t do much of anything for four…five…six years, he was written off. So the Kings, in our minds, didn’t “sign a point-per-game KHL UFA”. In our minds the Kings signed “that prospect we wrote off three years ago”. Don’t make that mistake. Not only did the Kings work really hard to get him signed and to bring him over, but they also desperately need his offense. They will try hard to make it work – much harder than a team normally would with most prospects. That means ice time, linemates and PP time. I conservatively have him for 38 points in the Guide, but I think there’s upside for more right off the bat. If he hasn’t been drafted by the later rounds of your draft he makes a great sleeper to put on your bench.
Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets
Yes, yes I know. He’s not being underrated or overlooked. Everyone knows about him and he’s going to get drafted. I get all that. But I think most owners are still both hesitant and afraid. If he got 28 wins last year with decent peripheral numbers, you’d take him in a certain round (let’s say, to make this explanation easier to understand – the seventh round). But he didn’t do that. He’s this unknown commodity. So instead, if he’s still there, you’ll take him in the 12th round (again, just for argument’s sake). But to me he is safe enough to take as if he was proven. Columbus is a weak team this year so he’s probably not going to get 30 wins, but he’s their starter and I think gets 23 with a solid SV% to go with it. When that caliber of goalie is the next player you need to draft, then don’t hesitate to grab him.
Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks
We just saw what the Blackhawks did with Dominik Kahun. Now we have a guy, the reigning NLA MVP, who wasn’t a free agent signing but he was actually drafted, in the same position. Literally. Because the team traded Kahun, so that spot is there for Kubalik to grab. He has higher upside with more of a scoring touch. Since Kahun finished with 13 goals and 37 points there’s no reason why Kubalik can’t get 17 or 18 goals and hit 40 points.
Alex Barre-Boulet, Tampa Bay Lightning
Let me be clear – Barre-Boulet is not going to make the Lightning…unless Brayden Point holds out. If that happens, the Barre-Boulet could surprise. If your draft is late in training camp and Point has not yet signed, Barre-Boulet is worthy of a pick in the final round of, say, a 24-round draft. If Point does sign, depending on your waiver options and bench size, I think he’s worth stashing for late in the season. I know the premise of this section is really about moving guys up your draft list and I’m not recommending ABB for the majority of drafts here. But I don’t think he is on many radars and he should be. As an AHL rookie he picked up 68 points in 74 games. Now that’s what I call transitioning to the pro game. In the Guide I have him playing 24 games in the NHL this year, mostly in the second half. But the Point situation will have a big impact on how this plays out.
Sam Steel, Anaheim Ducks
I’m not hearing Steel’s name enough and I should be. Per my projections he’s the sixth-highest rookie scorer in the coming campaign. The Ducks are in rebuild mode and Steel is a key part of that. The team is not very deep and that’s because they have left spots open for the youngsters to grab. Steel played 22 games last year, still maintaining his rookie status. But he looked great in those games, picking up 11 points. He may begin on the third line, but he’ll work his way up to the second line in an awful hurry. And with Ryan Getzlaf’s injury issues last year, there may be more opportunities ahead for Steel than you think.
A couple of days ago Eric Daoust and I launched the @FrozenTools Twitter page. There we will post updates to new features, take suggestions, and whenever he or I start researching a player, we'll either post the process or post the results there. You'll see pics, videos, etc about these great fantasy tools.
See you Monday
Still haven’t bought the Guide and you’re not convinced? I put together a little preview for you…