The Journey: Prospects Who Could Join Their Clubs This Summer
Welcome back, prospect enthusiasts. Before I go any further I just wanted to remind that you that the ever so popular Fantasy Prospect Report will be going on sale next week on June 12. Of course, the actual draft date remains unconfirmed. However, an updated version will be made available once the final draft order is set in stone. If you follow The Journey each week or take part in any fantasy leagues, this will be a must-have.
Over the past few weeks, I have spent some time going over various rising forwards, defencemen, and goaltenders prospects. So if you missed them, make sure to check them out. Moving on to this week, I wanted to take a look at a few prospects that hold a chance to join their respective NHL clubs. With all but one leagues canceled for the season, many prospects who otherwise would not have been available, have become just that.
The NHL has already addressed that teams will NOT be able to use any player signed past March 12, with the impression that they could be considered "ringers". This ex-nays players such as Kirill Kaprizov, Ilya Sorokin, Ian Mitchell, and Grigori Denisenko, just to name a few. However, there are of course those who are already signed and chomping at the bit to get on the ice at the highest level. This could provide a rare but very welcomed opportunity for fantasy owners to take a nice early look at some of their stewing talent or potential grabs for next year's draft.
I do want to stress that not all these players will in fact get ice time, and some may just skate as black aces. However, with such a condensed schedule after such a long time off, there very well could be some injuries that occur over the summer. Thus, it brings the opportunity for these young players.
First, we will kick it off with the Pacific Division.
Aside from Adin Hill in net, the Coyotes come a little short in regards to young prospects who would be ready to make the jump over the summer. This makes Barrett Hayton the most obvious and logical choice. With 20 games already under his belt, he does carry some experience understanding what it takes to keep up in the league. While he only posted four points during his stint, the experience remains invaluable. At this point, he could fit very nice in their middle-six and help out on the team's power play.
There were some shocked faces after the Coyotes called out Barrett Hayton's name in the number five spot during the 2018 draft. However, the club was honed in on drafting positionally, and the Ontario native was undoubtedly the best center available. He's been battling injuries all season but still managed to win over the fans, especially at the WJC. Despite a fairly serious shoulder separation, he managed to not only play but score a giant game-tying goal in the final game, eventually propelling team Canada to gold. Once healthy, he capped off the 2019-20 season with a point-per-game in the AHL (five points).
Honorable mention – Kyle Capobianco
Valimaki was almost guaranteed a roster spot to start the 2019-20 season for the Calgary Flames. Unfortunately, his ACL had other plans. The club announced in August that he would miss what was thought to be the better half of 2019-20. Thanks to the pandemic, this eventually would become the entire season. However, with all this extra time, he should be available to the Flames should they need assistance in the back end.
The team shopped at the deadline, adding players such as Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort, which does mean fewer spots up for grabs. However, he is a terrific two-way player and could surely jump in on a bottom-pairing and fit right in.
Sure, the likelihood of the Flames slotting in a player with no professional experience at this time of the year is slim. However, Pelletier is a proven point-producer and is currently one of the club's top young guns moving up the pipeline.
With back-to-back 80-plus season on his resume, the Quebec native could add some potential secondary scoring should they feel the need. Regardless of his usage, this could be the perfect time to acclimate their future star-winger to the professional atmosphere and practice among professionals. Consider him a longshot, but a fun idea to entertain.
Honorable mention – Matthew Phillips
If you ask me, there is no defenseman on this list more ready for NHL duty than former London Knights star. After a stellar rookie season in the American League, where he recorded 38 points, he has proven that he can handle the load at the professional level. With 18 points on the man advantage and his booming shot, there is no question he could slot in and instantly boost the Oilers power play.
The addition of Mike Green, combined with the solid play from fellow rookie Ethan Bear does put a wrench in his plans to crack a spot. However, with a few band-aids on the club's blue line, the reality of Bouchard squeezing into the lineup is not far off.
In his first season out of college, the undrafted rearguard took the AHL by storm. His 45 points (7G + 38A) sat just three points behind the leading defender league-wide and blew all other rookie d-man out of the water.
Many thought his play during the season warranted a call-up, and perhaps the opportunity could arrive this summer. With the club's sixth d-man slot still on somewhat of a rotation basis, the case for Rafferty could certainly be made. With solid defensive rearguards on each line already, the Canucks could surely use an offensive boost from their bottom pairings. Besides, Quinn Hughes cannot do all the offensive work.
Do not get your hopes up Canucks fans. The reality of Hoglander realistically seeing and any icetime this summer is far off. Yet, that's not to say that he doesn't make his way over just in case. Much like Pelletier, the experience of practicing with the club and getting a taste of what it takes to be a pro as a Canuck is an invaluable experience.
The Swede has certainly boosted his stock over the past year or two, becoming a fan favorite in the process. After an impressive WJC tournament and knack for scoring cheeky goals, how could he not be? While he could bring a fun element to the roster, the team is likely not in a position to give up a full-time winger spot to a player such as him just yet.
Vegas Golden Knights – Cody Glass
After going under the knife in March to heal an injured knee, he will likely be unavailable to the team. With training camp as his initial return target, he could make a surprise comeback, depending on how deep their cup run goes. With the playoff start date hovering around the end of July, this gives him ample time to return in full health. It's a stretch, but it could happen.
Glass is a well known offensive threat, which is evident from his 1.22 WHL career. While his rookie season in the NHL was obviously cut short, his 12 points in 39 games is nothing to scoff at. Should he be ready, he could slot in nicely to the team’s top-6 and help out on the special teams while he’s at it.
Thanks for tuning in to for another edition of The Journey. Stay safe and be well.
As always, find me on Twitter @hall1289.
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