Every year DobberProspects releases a uniquely flavored Entry Draft ranking, specifically tuned to the medium of fantasy hockey, as opposed to real-world value. I've yet to find any other source who attempts a similar feat, much less does it half as well as DH has. After all, we're primarily a fantasy hockey resource.

Because of my love for those rankings, I thought that it might be fun and valuable to create somewhat of a spin-off. For as much value as the rankings have, I think there is a certain market of fantasy owners who yearn to dig deeper. Behind the shell of a solid fantasy future, each player has a foundation of real-life characteristics that we project will allow them to provide YOU with fantasy success. Today, I'm going to embark on yet another mini-series of The Journey, in which we'll investigate what I've selected as the Defining Traits of some of 2020's top fantasy prospects. What is it that will allow them to create at the next level, and conversely, what specific flaws could lead to their lower placement in the fantasy rankings.

For each edition I'll strive to creatively (and somewhat unjustly) simplify three of this year's top fantasy prospects to one defining trait or characteristic. I'll do my best to break down those characteristics, and provide you with an accurate idea of what these players could likely become known for as NHL players. So without further ado, I present the First Edition of The Defining Traits of the 2020 Draft's Top Fantasy Prospects.

While I don't necessarily know where this mini-series will end, I know where it needs to begin…

LW | Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski Oceanic 

NHL Draft Projection: 1st

Fantasy Draft Projection: 1st

Defining Characteristic: Puck Protection

While it was somewhat challenging to reduce Lafreniere to a single defining characteristic, I feel confident in saying that his outlandish puck protection ability is at the root of 97% of his winning plays. Essentially, puck protection is to Alexis Lafreniere, as skating is to Connor McDavid, or puck handling is to Patrick Kane.

What makes it so good? 

Strong puck protection is the product of several other sub-characteristics, each of which Lafreneiere has either been born with or honed to an elite level. In his case, these sub-characteristics include things like his ability to keep his feet moving while contorting his upper body into otherwise unnatural positions, his superior reach, his utilization of an agile stick blade, and his outright brute force and strength. Each of these aspects has allowed him to remain creative versus familiar opponents and continue to embarrass defenders in similar fashions, the same way that Alex Ovechkin does with his left-point one-timer.

Is it translatable? 

Of the many bubbles of characteristics that I would consider "translatable" to the NHL, puck possession ability at the CHL level isn't necessarily the first one that would come to mind. Thankfully, we have a slightly larger sample size, and sample quality to pull from when evaluating the quality of Lafreniere's elite puck protection. Not only has he leveraged his strength to 269 career QMJHL points, but the 18-year-old has stretched his abilities well beyond the realm of major-junior. To be frank, while this kind of strength alone likely wouldn't carry a lesser player through the NHL in the same way that it could in junior, Lafreniere's amplitude of skill in this area will absolutely be a major factor for the entirety of his career.

LD | Jeremie Poirier, Saint John Sea Dogs

NHL Draft Projection: 12th-20th

Fantasy Draft Projection: 10th-16th

Defining Characteristic: Creativity

Moving on from the consensus top pick at the upcoming draft in Montreal, but sticking in the QMJHL, Saint John's Jeremie Poirier presents an enticing file to analyze. The 17-year-old defenseman has developed his skills immensely on one of the league's most recently chaotic teams, as well as grown his confidence to a level that has allowed him to put those skills on full display. Indisputably, the blueliner's creativity has been at the core of his success and has certainly become one of the most intriguing characteristics for fans and scouts alike.

What makes it so good? 

Putting Poirier's individual success into a window of context is one of the most obvious ways to highlight how strong his creativity is. On a Saint John team that has struggled with consistency and structure, Poirier has adapted his play on an individual level in order to elevate the entire team. He has left no stone unturned when it comes to evading forecheckers, finding offensive zone passing lanes, and getting the puck on net.

Is it translatable? 

In a vacuum, his creativity is translatable, and something that many opponents will struggle to take away from him. On the other side of that coin, however, are the sacrifices that Poirier has made in order to develop this aspect of his game. Because of the lack of structure, he's played under, he's been forced to in many cases individually create space. While that level of creativity will remain intact, it could become dormant when he is asked to play in a more professionally structured system at the next level. Essentially, his toolbelt has become slightly imbalanced and rather than shedding any of those tools. The team that drafts him will have to live through the adjustment period of him carrying a heavy load on both sides.

C | Marco Rossi, Ottawa 67's

NHL Draft Projection: 5th-9th

Fantasy Draft Projection: 3rd-7th

Defining Characteristic: Hockey IQ

I know, I know, using the generalist answer of Hockey IQ seems like a cop-out when it comes to trying to be unique with each player, but if I had to choose only one player in the 2020 class who could be defined this way, it would be Rossi. Despite having several aspects of his draft card to compete against, such as his lack of size, and early birth date, Rossi remains in the heat of a top-10 battle solely because of his Hockey IQ, or if I had to break it down further, his poise.

What makes it so good? 

Rossi is a playmaker first, and everything else second. I very seriously considered using the characteristic of vision, as his defining trait, before digging a little deeper. The 5-9 centerman plays at a high pace but forces absolutely nothing. His patience and vision combine to make his playmaking not only offensively superior, but his liability factor also extremely low.

Is it translatable? 

Yes, and in my mind it's as simple as that. Despite being one of the oldest players who will be selected in the first round, I wholeheartedly believe that Rossi's poise will be a factor that could entice lower drafting teams to trade-up, something that seems to happen quite infrequently at this point in the draft. While some of his fundamentals are not quite NHL quality yet, I think in three years we could be looking at Rossi as 2020's version of Elias Pettersson.


Thanks for checking into The Journey this weekend. I'd love to discuss any of today's featured players, or hear your suggestions for future editions on Twitter @olaf1393.