After a year of toying with a couple of different formats of the ever-popular Fastest Rising Prospects segment, I've come to realize that the information which is craved by most of you readers is the straight-forward, to-the-point type of format. Back in January, we released the retro look Fastest Rising Prospect defensemen which turned out to be just as successful as any other format, so I'm choosing to, moving forward, give you the readers exactly what you like.
Before we get into the surging forwards of 2020, I wanted to quickly revisit one of the players who were featured in the defensemen category last month. After spooling up his valuation at the World Junior tournament, fastest rising defense prospect Calen Addison was dangled as trade bait for the Pittsburgh Penguins to acquire new top-line winger Jason Zucker. My recommendation from that edition of the segment indicated that if you were in the market for a defenseman with 60-point upside, but could afford to wait at least a year before seeing any kind of production whatsoever, Addison could be your guy. After the trade, I stand by that sentiment and believe that Minnesota will do the 20-year-old justice in his development by allowing him to refine his game in Iowa next fall. It seems unlikely that they would rush him in to fill any void created in the next six months.
Moving on to the fastest rising prospects of the new year, we're observing a correction in the rankings since coming out of the holiday tournament. The U20s were paramount in boosting the value of not only Addison, but also several forward prospects. Here they are.
Jan Jenik, Arizona Coyotes
November – 378th | December – 399th (-21) | January – 116th (+283)
The 19-year-old Czech winger took a major step forward to start his first full season with the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs. Drafted from the second-tier Czech league, Jenik had always been a candidate to one day be considered a diamond in the rough, but his immediate statement on North American soil gave some additional weight to that theory.
Unfortunately for Jenik, his Hollywood season took a turn for the worst at the World Junior tournament. After getting off to a great individual start with the Czechs, his tournament was cut short after colliding with the American prospect (with Czech lineage), Jacob Pivonka. The knee injury that he sustained on the play has held him out of competition for the last month of OHL play. While the Hamilton Bulldogs will be eager to get arguably their best player back in the lineup, not rushing back will be what is in the player's best interest. The team is currently sitting in the second half of the Eastern Conference standings, with some risk of not making the playoffs, which could impact their decision.
Looking into the future of the Coyotes organization, Jenik has the potential to fill a top-six role in the long term, but there is still a significant amount of development required. In his transition to North America, he's proven that he is adaptable, a valuable skill of its own. Considering his maximum ceiling, and proven adaptability, Jenik looks to be a very low-risk type of player for a long-term fantasy investment.
You should pick him up if… you have quite a bit of time to wait for mid-tier production and just want to get another iron in the fire.
Nicholas Caamano, Dallas Stars
November – 295th | December – 181th (+114) | January – 188nd (-7)
Moving on from a current Hamilton Bulldog to a former one, the Dallas Stars prospect Nicholas Caamano has made a quick transition to the pro game, especially considering where he was selected in the 2016 Entry Draft.
Throughout his junior career, and ever since, Caamano has carried himself extremely well on a professional level. His dedication to making an impact early in his career became evident last year as a rookie in the AHL, and he has paid dividends already. With struggles and injuries throughout the Stars front end, Caamano received his opportunity to don an NHL uniform in October, and has continued to bounce back and forth from the AHL ever since. His consistency at the AHL level in spite of being a shuffle piece for the organization has been quite impressive. Historically, the ping-pong/baptism-by-fire development method has backfired for NHL organizations, but with a mature attitude, the 21-year-old forward is doing his best to buck that trend.
As a long-term prospect Caamano doesn't have the level of strength in his puck skills or evasiveness to project as an elite forward in the NHL, but his skating is good and he isn't afraid to do the things that are necessary to make him effective in many other roles.
You should pick him up if… You're in a deep league that values depth scoring, and you could use that help sooner rather than later.
Joachim Blichfeld, San Jose Sharks
November – 166th | December – 120th (+46) | January – 62nd (+58)
The biggest step taken by Sharks prospect Joachim Blochfeld was during his 20-year-old season with the Portland Winterhawks. Despite the association that typically goes along with forwards who have little else to show at the junior level than their explosive final year, Blichfeld has done a good job of carrying his momentum into the AHL, along with fellow WHL alumni Jayden Halbgewachs.
The Sharks have done a good job of squeezing their late picks for as much production as possible at the AHL, level, but recently there haven't been many to show that same prowess in the NHL. At 21-years-old Blichfeld has already quietly dipped his toes at the NHL level, and could conceivably see more significant minutes upon his next recall if the Sharks make any sell moves at the deadline.
With the Sharks entering the commitment stage of a turnaround, Blichfeld could be one of the handful of prospects with an opportunity to make an impression and lock down a long-term role. Doug Wilson has already expressed his satisfaction with Blichfeld, among others in the Sharks' system, but the former seventh-round draft-pick must continue to prove himself in the meantime in order to ensure that Wilson's current confidence bears fruits.
You should pick him up if… you can put his WHL success into perspective, but want to outsmart the owners who are reading too deep into his "only a successful 20-year-old junior player" branding.
Thanks for checking in on The Journey. Find me on Twitter to discuss any of the players discussed today @olaf1393