The Journey: Top Rising And Falling Forward Prospects in May
It finally feels as if there is some light at the end of the tunnel. No dates are set in stone, but folks, hockey is coming back sometime in the near future. While this is surely a breath of relief for all hockey fans, it sadly puts a confirmed end to all fantasy. To learn a little more about the impact this will have on your respected seasons, the draft lottery, and playoff pools, check out some tips from Dobber's own Ian Gooding here.
In other news, Dobber released its Top 200 Fantasy Prospects list for the month of May. That’s right, even with no games, the movements never quit. For this week’s installment of The Journey, I wanted to take a look at a few players who made nice jumps, and those who took some harsh falls.
Jesse Puljujarvi – Edmonton Oilers (March – 67, April – 65, May – 44 )
That’s right folks, the infamous Puljujarvi has crawled his way back into the top-50 of this list. You can thank a productive, resurgent season in the Liiga for this jump. Following a difficult transition in Edmonton, the 22-year-old took his talents back to his homeland for the 2019-20 season, suiting up for his former team (Karpat) in Finland's top league. Impressively, he picked up 53 points (24G + 29A) through 56 games and finished fourth in league scoring.
So, does this performance in Finland warrant a second chance in the NHL? If you were to ask me, the answer is yes. He may not be the top-line winger that many teams pegged him for back in 2017, but he still holds many intangibles that keep him right in a top-6 conversation. There is no denying that his time with the Oilers was filled with bumps, however, it’s hard for me to pin that on a lack of talent. As a top-5 pick, rushing in players before they are developmentally ready does happen and I personally believe that there is a case to be made here. Sometimes, patience is key and if he were to grow overseas for a year or two before making the jump, it could have been a different story. I think him heading home to grow his game is a very positive and necessary decision for his future.
I am not suggesting he becomes a superstar in the league, I just don’t think that it’s time to push the eject button on him just yet. He may remain overseas for another season (maybe two), but hopefully, in that time he will have grown new levels of confidence and return a much more polished player. Call me crazy, but I still believe there is hope for a future here.
Tyler Madden – Los Angeles Kings (March – 94, April – 93, May – 47 )
Traded from Vancouver at the deadline, Madden sits as yet another skilled name on a very impressive depth chart. After falling to the third round in 2018, the Northeastern (NCAA) pivot has been showing signs of becoming a potential draft-steal in the making. After lighting the country up with 37 points in his sophomore year, Madden was named a Hobey Baker finalist and sat fifth in points-per-game nation-wide.
Madden, son of ex-NJ Devil John Madden, carries all the necessary qualities you are looking for in a forward in this day and age. He’s an excellent skater with great edgework, and he has a decent shot with even better placement. His vision is fantastic and he competes just as hard as anyone. At 152 pounds, size could be considered an area of concern, but ultimately shouldn’t hold him back from developing into a contributor at the NHL level.
The Kings are on the rise, and Madden will be right there when it happens. If you have the means to stash him on your bench for a few seasons, he could definitely be worth the wait.
Adam Beckman – Minnesota Wild (March – 316, April – 181, May – 119)
If winning WHL player of the year award doesn’t shoot you up the rankings, nothing will. Just months after being selected 75th overall by the Minnesota Wild, Beckman exploded for 107 points and became the first Spokane Chief to win player of the year since Ray Whitney did so back in 1990-91.
The Saskatoon native is a pure goal scorer. He’s got a knack for finding the right spots and fantastic release to capitalize on his opportunity. He was just two goals shy from hitting 50 this season, but if he were to play out the remainder of the year, he would have likely soared over that mark. He’s a versatile player that can thrive in all situations and can also deploy both on the wing and in the middle.
He’s more than likely junior bound for one more season, assuming there is a junior season to return to. However, Beckman carries very solid offensive capabilities and could stand as a long-term surprise addition to your squad.
Akil Thomas – Los Angeles Kings – (March – 149, April – 170, May – 132)
It’s hard to imagine that a single team could own this many skilled prospects, yet here we are again with Kings’ property Akil Thomas. He may be most remembered for his late third-period heroics in this year’s WJC, scoring the goal that brought team Canada to a gold medal. Thomas is a skilled centreman with explosive speed and soft hands to boot. He has a knack for producing points, which is evident in his 315 over the course of 241 OHL games. He not only carries a high offensive upside, but his terrific two-way abilities could provide additional peripherals.
At 20 years old, he will be making the jump to the pros next season, although likely in an AHL role. It's not easy predicting who makes the team in LA over the next few years. However, there is a high chance that he does as a 3C and should be a lock on any dynasty formatted teams for now.
Henrik Borgstrom – Florida Panthers (March – 37 , April – 38, May – 85)
It's been a long road for Borgstrom owners, and unfortunately, that road has been extended even further. After he struggled to find a spot on the Panthers roster, the 22-year-old forward has finally elected to take his talents to the KHL, signing a one-year deal with Jokerit.
For whatever reason, the Panthers refused to give the former NCAA standout a proper shot. Despite playing 50 games during his rookie season, he has spent the better half of his young career stuck in the minors. While it's easy to get discouraged as a fantasy owner in a situation such as this, there are positives that can be taken. With undeniable talent, he should find success in the Russian league, boosting his stock for a potential trade down the line. If that comes to fruition, you could be in for a long-awaited gain, as he continues to carry top-six potential. I suggest that you stay patient. Give him a year, and see where it goes.
I am sort of bending the rules here and conjoining these two prospects. Why? Well, they are both LA Kings prospects, they both play center and they have both been pushed down the charts by a very top-heavy group down the middle.
With top-end talents such as Alex Turcotte, Gabriel Vilardi, and Rasmus Kupari (to name a few), their chances of becoming long-term pivots with the Kings grow further by the day. Of course, that is not to say that these two don't make decent fantasy options down the road. Both sit as perfect candidates as trade bait and could easily sit in the top-end of many prospect pools around the league. Yes, both have the potential to crack a spot out of camp next year. However, it's the long-term stability in LA that I question with these two.
If you’re interested in prospects, you’ll want to purchase your copy of the Fantasy Prospects Report. It will be available on June 12.
As always, please do not hesitate to catch me on Twitter @hall1289 for any topics or players that you are specifically curious about! I hope you have a great week and I will catch you next Saturday!
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