The Journey: Fastest Rising and Falling Prospect Defensemen

Brayden Olafson

2019-11-02


Earlier in the month I debuted a rebrand of the sub-segment Fastest Rising Prospects. Today is our first opportunity to get a glimpse of Dobber’s most recent release of Prospect Defensemen ranking in the same light. If you missed the last analysis of the Fastest Rising Prospect Forwards and want to know a little more about the motivation behind the rebrand, you can find the article here

For quick reference, I’ve again included the standards for the terminology that is used as a framework for the article below. 

Shallow Leagues: Shallow prospect leagues will be leagues where a typical team would own 2-3 players who are currently on the brink of playing in the NHL or already making their way in the league.

Medium-Depth Leagues: Medium depth leagues will be defined as leagues where a typical team would own 3-5 players who are true prospects in the sense that they at most would have had a taste of the NHL, but more likely are still playing overseas in junior or in the AHL.

Deep Leagues: Deep leagues will be defined as leagues where a typical team would own 5-10 prospects who vary from fresh second-round draft picks to fringe prospects.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for the players), this month I found that there were no legitimate falling defensemen for the middle class of fantasy leagues, but I hope you’ll appreciate the rising players of that class all the same. 

So without further ado, I present to you October’s Fastest Rising and Falling Prospect Defensemen:

For shallow leagues

Rising: Filip Hronek, 6  | September 2019 – 11 | August 2019 – 11

The lackluster rebuilding period of the Detroit Red Wings has been a factor in allowing their most valuable defenseman to quietly rise to the cream of the prospect crop. Despite an absurdly successful debut slate in the NHL, last year, Hronek has been largely neglected by fantasy owners until now. 

Over the course of the last two years, Hronek has scored at a rate among the top 41 NHL defensemen, however, the 21-year-old remains owned in only 67% of Fantrax leagues. His lack of ownership should be considered highly unjust, especially considering that he’s still so green and early into his growth curve. With the Red Wings having almost nowhere to go but up, this team-leading defenseman should be considered a 100% must-own in any prospect fantasy hockey league. 

Falling: Henri Jokiharju, 10 | September 2019 – 9 | August 2019 – 6

The improbable trade that sent Jokiharju to Buffalo in exchange for Alex Nylander was the first flag which indicated that the perceived value of the highly touted defenseman may not quite match reality. Since being moved to upstate New York, Jokiharju has found himself deployed in relatively favorable positions, however, has failed to show signs of much growth since his time in The Windy City. 

Despite his lack of immediate offense, Jokiharju’s drop from the sixth-ranked prospect defenseman leaves him in a position poised for recovery. A dozen games into this year’s campaign, the 20-year-old holds the second best relative Corsi among Buffalo defenders, his shooting percentage literally cannot get worse, and he’s playing a respectable defensive game in light of his sheltered deployment. The sky isn’t falling, but if you have a choice between he and Hronek, the Wings’ blueliner should be your choice, hands down.

For medium-depth leagues

Rising: Moritz Seider, 33 | September 2019 – 41 | August 2019 – 67

The development path for Seider is beginning to seem oddly similar to Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect defenseman Rasmus Sandin. If you’ve paid much attention to how Sandin’s development has gone, you should be all the more excited for the emergence of Seider, who was selected 23 places higher in the following NHL entry draft. 

Development path novelties aside, Seider has already appeared as a steady, confident defender at the AHL level with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The raw skills which made the sixth overall selection justifiable for the Red Wings, have become the foundation from which Seider seems to be building himself into a promising young defenseman. 

For deep leagues

Rising: Ville Heinola, 44 | September 2019 – 116| August 2019 – 116

The Jets’ most recent first-round draft-selection has been one of the best stories of the 2019-20 campaign thus far. The Finnish blueliner has spat on the norm of defensemen taking years to develop into even replacement-level NHLers and been the maker of his own destiny in Winnipeg. Although there still seems to be some skepticism surrounding Heinola’s game, even within the Winnipeg organization, he’s certainly done much more than had ever been expected of him after being selected 20th overall this June. 

The Jets appear to be tiptoeing around the ten-games-played threshold for Heinola, which would burn the first year of his entry-level-contract; however, the 18-year-old seems to be pushing back by making impressions that seem far beyond his years of experience. Time will tell if Heinola manages to exceed the threshold, but it’s certain that this rookie has and will continue to trend up based on his recent performance. 

Falling: Noah Juulsen, 46 | September 2019 – 45 | August 2019 – 41

The injury riddled Montreal prospect Juulsen has been assigned yet again to the organization’s farm club in Laval to start the 2019-20 NHL slate. Despite returning to Montreal this fall with almost 50 games of NHL experience accrued, the 22-year-old has failed to demonstrate an ability to serve as an effective top-four blueliner. At this stage of his development, Juulsen should absolutely still be viewed as a future serviceable NHL defenseman; however, establishing himself as any kind of an offensive fantasy weapon seems unlikely. His future seems to be loosely cast in the form of a third-pairing defenseman with relatively insignificant offensive contributions.

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@olaf1393

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ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
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MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
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