Ramblings – The 10 Best Fantasy Prospects Recently Signed to Entry-Level Contracts (Apr 13)
Ramblings – The 10 Best Fantasy Prospects Recently Signed to Entry-Level Contracts (Apr 13)
Here is my prediction of how things will go for the NHL. At this point any kind of regular season seems extremely unlikely – I'll call it 5%. And I don't see a scenario for that 5% to even happen, but I try not to speak in absolutes! So we're down to the playoffs, which I put at 60% and only if it is a smaller/revised version of it. Let's see how I do with this prediction, we'll revisit it in October:
- Top 5 teams from each Conference based on points percentage make the playoffs.
- The shortened Stanley Cup tournament would begin in, say mid-August.
- It will be held in two neutral cities, and in empty buildings.
- 5v4 in a best 2-out-of-3 series, with the winner making the quarter-finals.
- 1v4 (or 5) and 2v3 for each conference, best 3-out-of-5
- Cup semi-finals would be best 3-out-of-5
- Stanley Cup Final begins in mid-September and is best 4-out-of-7
- NHL Awards held early October, NHL Draft held mid-October, NHL Free Agency opens around October 20.
- Training camps open in early November with empty buildings
- The season will begin November 18. This time they will allow people in provided they have proof of negative test results or some sort of proof of immunity (a vaccine won't likely be available until March or April so I'm not really sure the logistics of this). Or perhaps they sell to half-capacity, or maybe empty buildings will continue into the New Year. Whatever the setup is – it won't be normal at first.
This would pit Pittsburgh against Philadelphia to battle it out for the final playoff spot. Carolina and Toronto are far enough back that there really is no dispute. And West is similar in terms of the gap between sixth and fifth – really no dispute as Dallas is ahead of Winnipeg by two points with two games in hand, and ahead of Vancouver/Nashville by four points with equal games played. So Dallas and Edmonton would play for the quarter-final berth.
That's where my head is at. If Canada doesn't have a zero-new-cases day by late June then I'm sure they'll scrap the idea of playoff hockey altogether for this year. Some of you wanted an updated prediction from me, so there it is.
We do see in the news several players speaking up, whining against starting the playoffs based on current standings. But from what I've seen – those players are all on teams that are just on the outside looking in. On teams that were crawling back into contention and now they've run out of games. Well! You shouldn't have fallen so far behind to begin with! Lesson learned!
I have begun preparation for this year's Fantasy Prospects Report. It will indeed be out before the Playoff Draft List, so I guess the 2019 Ultimate Fantasy Pack and the 2020 Ultimate Fantasy Pack will both be active at the same time for the first time ever. I have not settled on a date for the Fantasy Prospects Report yet. I usually release it on June 1 and I can tell you that won't be the case this year. I am looking at between June 15 and July 15, likely the middle. And I'll open up pre-sales a couple of weeks prior.
KHL contracts are set to expire April 30 so you can expect (finally) some really good hockey news early in May. Alexander Barabanov has already signed with the Leafs after getting permission from his KHL team. But some teams are sticklers and players such as elite prospect Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota) will need to wait.
While signing from the KHL to the NHL isn't technically allowed until then, players are certainly allowed to sign extensions in the KHL or sign over there from the AHL or NHL. Anton Slepyshev is a great example. An offensive winger that belongs to the Oilers should be on everyone's radar for obvious reasons. Slepyshev, at 25, finally broke through at the KHL level, posting 45 points in 54 games for CSKA Moskva. Even though he played 102 games in the NHL, I had him on my list of players to profile in the Fantasy Prospects Report because his KHL contract was up and, as noted, he had broken out in Russia. He signed a two-year extension with CSKA, so that's the end of that. He will be a UFA by NHL standards by the time that contract is up, so Edmonton is probably not going to get him. He wants the guarantee of the NHL – not AHL. I guess the Oilers wouldn't give him that.
Vancouver prospect Nikolay Goldobin was also on my list of players to cover in the Fantasy Prospects Report (14th edition). Yes, he's played 125 NHL games, but he just played the entire season in the minors and is only 24 so I still consider him a prospect. He really found his game with Utica, posting nearly a point per game. With a strong Vancouver team next year, I think he could have done well with them this time. But Goldobin reportedly going to sign for two years, also with CSKA.
As for Barabanov – he's not going to be another Ilya Mikheyev. His impact may be big, but he tops out on the third line. His decline in stats last season versus the one prior is due to the team losing Nikita Gusev and Pavel Datsyuk, among others. He's a two-way complimentary player, and if his speed matches up in the NHL the way it does in the KHL then he could allow the Leafs to trade a player like Andreas Johnsson.
Of the players who are drafted, looking at the ones who have been signed to entry-level deals since the league shut down on March 12, here are my Top 10 in terms of fantasy hockey interest:
10. Wade Allison, Philadelphia
A power forward who throws his body around with abandon, Allison will be a boon for those fantasy owners in leagues that count Hits. My list is looking at deep points-only leagues, otherwise Allison would be fifth on this list instead of 10th. He is very injury prone because of the way he plays, and as a power forward the points won't come for several years yet. If he can stay healthy he could be a 60-point player and multi-category stud. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
9. Patrick Harper, Nashville
The small, skilled forward quickly became a Dobber darling when he posted 37 points in 38 games as a freshman with Boston University. But midway through 2017-18 he suffered an injury and he was a shadow of his former self upon returning in 2018-19. He rebounded as a senior, posting 37 points in 32 games. A boom-or-bust prospect. How well he produces in the AHL next season will determine the comfort level I have with him being a successful top six NHL forward. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
8. Raphael Lavoie, Edmonton
With name recognition that probably moves him much higher on this list for many of you, keep in mind that he's a 6-4 forward who plays a bit of a power game and as such expectations should be kept low for the immediate future. A year from now, sure I'd have him in my Top 5 on today's list. But I don't like waiting on players for four years – because I can usually find just as good of a player who is just a year or two away. But Lavoie had 82 points in just 55 QMJHL games and made Team Canada's WJC team (two assists in seven games), so many fantasy owners will ignore the wait time and just overrate him. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
7. Max Gildon, Florida
Gildon has been a very productive defenseman for the University of New Hampshire over the last three years, culminating in a 29-point season (34 games). The Panthers have Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle already, and I still believe Mike Matheson can do a lot more. So Gildon has a few obstacles to face in becoming a fantasy asset. But he's one to watch. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
6. Tanner Laczynski, Philadelphia
His production with Ohio State has declined and you don't want to see that, but the bottom line is he was nearly a point-per-game in each of his four years there, peaking two years ago at 47 points in 41 games. His upside is now that of a second-or-third-line tweener, as opposed to what we once thought was a second-line sure thing. Still, he's a hard worker and maybe he could be the Travis Hyman to Travis Konecny's Auston Matthews one day. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
5. John Leonard, San Jose
A late-round gem by the Sharks, Leonard has shown dramatic improvement in each of his three years of college hockey. The Sharks signed him after he scored 27 goals in 33 games in his junior season with UMass (Amherst). The Sharks are a team in need of offensive forwards and they have plenty of room. The competition will be fierce for a top-nine spot, but they really like Leonard and depending on how pro-ready he is, he could make an impact quickly. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
4. Jeremy Swayman, Boston
The Hobey Baker runner-up boasted a 0.939 SV% in 34 games with Univ. of Maine. He has great size for a goaltender at 6-3, and with Tuukka Rask talking as if he'll retire after 2020-21, the timing is working out nicely. Swayman has to contend with Daniel Vladar, who is coming off a tremendous season himself. Vladar only played 25 games, but was incredible for Providence (0.936 SV%, 1.79 GAA). He has more of an injury history though, so the edge probably goes to Swayman – but that's by no means certain. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
3. Tyler Madden, Los Angeles
John Madden's son was drafted 68th overall as a potential two-way guy. But in a re-draft he would most certainly go in the first round and he's seriously upped his offensive game. As a 20-year-old he posted 37 points in 27 games for Northeastern Univ. I don't see him ever becoming a first liner, but a second-line future (in as little as two years) seems almost probable. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
2. Scott Perunovich, St. Louis
The recent Hobey Baker winner would be tops on this list were it not for Colton Parayko, Vince Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo already on the team gobbling up power-play time. Perunovich was second in the nation among defensemen with 40 points in 34 contests, so you know exactly what he brings. And as a high draft pick (45th overall in 2018), he will have the full support of the franchise to become successful. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
1. Trevor Zegras, Anaheim
After nine assists for Team USA at the WJC and 36 points in 33 games for Boston Univ. as a freshman, Zegras signed his ELC with the Ducks. This is a team that needs a star now that Ryan Getzlaf is fading. Sam Steel hasn't been ready yet, but perhaps Zegras is. He certainly has more upside, and many believe he is not only NHL-ready, but will make a quick impact. His DobberProspects profile and scouting observations page is here.
Honorable mention goes to Minnesota prospect Adam Beckman, who is coming off a 107-point season with Spokane of the WHL. He’s going to embarrass the WHL next season, so he might be someone worth stashing before his value skyrockets. Three years away, unless he shows something in the year ahead that says different.
There were a few interesting college players who signed as well, but I'll save those as a topic for next week.
The Top 200 Fantasy Prospects Forwards list is set to be up Monday morning.
See you next Monday. Be safe. Thanks for continuing to support the website, and if you're bored and need a fantasy hockey fix – visit the gang in the forum here.
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