The Journey: 2019-20 Top Peripheral Prospect Forwards

Dave Hall


Hello again and happy Saturday. I'd like to start this week's installment by welcoming all Seattle Kraken fans and offer my congratulations to the city and the organization. While they kept us on our toes for far too long, it was well worth the wait. What a buzz it created in the hockey world, and right before we embark on the most unique tournament in NHL history.

Personally, I cannot get past the name. However, I am a big fan of both the logo and the color scheme of the jersey. I cannot wait to see the team out on the ice for the 2021-22 season, whoever that may consist of. Exciting stuff.


Shifting my excitement to my topic of the week, I wanted to bring it back to the 2019-20 regular season before the pandemic hit. One of my main goals in this column is to keep you informed. Seeing as drafts may be in all of your minds, I try and cover various topics that highlight players you should be targeting in your draft, based on different formats.

A few weeks back I dropped a few deep option players who you should aim to target in the later rounds of your draft. Today, I wanted to focus on a few prospects who provided solid peripheral statistics during their first season in the NHL. For this piece, all players will be geared towards players highlighted on Dobber's Top 200 Forward Prospects.

Whether its shots on target, hits, blocked shots, there were some beasts this year who I believe are worth mentioning, some of which also provide higher offensive upside, making them even more desirable. 

Emil BemstromColumbus Blue Jackets

Dobber Ranking: 37

Position: C/RW

If you already owned him this season, I am sure you were somewhat disappointed with his overall offensive output. After filling the net as the SHL's top scorer just one year prior, many hoped for him to translate that straight into NHL production. Unfortunately, with just 20 points (10G + 10A), it did not come together as quickly as one would hope. However, the Swedish winger contributed in many other facets of the game, all of which should not be overlooked by owners, especially those in multi-cat formats.

In just 53 games, the 21-year-old sharpshooter posted 97 shots on goal, a total that had him tops among this list of prospects. It is no secret that Bemstrom enjoys utilizing his booming blast, and as his deployment grows, his totals should follow suit.

Not only is he a shooting machine, but his work ethic is something that should not be overlooked. He is a high energy player who enjoys putting himself in the mix against his opponents. He finishes checks and rarely shies away from sneaking into the tough areas. His 52 hits and 17 blocks are totals that I fully expect to grow over the next few seasons, making him a very intriguing prospect to invest in. Sprinkle in his special teams' deployment, and you may be looking at one of the best "bang for your buck" prospects on the market.

My Recommendation: My personal boom or bust. He carries the potential to become a fantasy beast, but could also struggle to translate to the American ice. Take the gamble.

Nicolas Aube-KubelPhiladelphia Flyers

Dobber Ranking: 145

Position: RW

Despite suiting up in just 36 games that were staggered throughout the course of the season, Aube-Kubel managed to post an impressive bag of statistics. Tasked with a bottom-six role, he surprised many by contributing 15 points. He also sported an impressive 14.6 shooting-percentage, firing off 48 shots on target. 

While his offensive numbers may not be sustainable, should he earn a permanent role, you can expect him to continually contribute at a decent clip in regards to the peripheral department. Likely a bottom-six player, Aube-Kubel will be deployed on the team's energy lines, a role in which his terrific two-way game should blossom even further. He shows great tenacity and work ethic in all three zones, and has a reputation for doing all the "little things" right.

During his tenure with the Flyers, he managed an impressive 82 hits and has a long history of putting up penalty minutes at each level. He is without a doubt worth a mid-to-late draft pick if you are in need of a player to boost your defensive categories. He may lack job security; however, I believe is worth the gamble.

My recommendation: Draft in the meaty rounds of your draft. Keep expectations low, and you could be very pleased with your decision.

Dylan GambrellSan Jose Sharks

Dobber Ranking: 58

Position: C

No, he has not showcased the most jaw-dropping offensive numbers throughout his career. However, he plays a solid two-way game and adds a pinch of everything into the mixing bowl. While skating in 50 matches with a very underwhelming Sharks club, Gambrell posted just posted 11 points. Considering the team did not have a player over 50 this year, I am going to take this output with a grain of salt. Going forward, I do expect to see a rise in numbers.

Yet, what he lacked in points, he made up in other areas. In fact, he led all players on the top 200 list in blocked shots, with 29, while contributing 40 hits and 43 shots on target. What stands out to me is not necessarily the total of the numbers, but the versatility of them. Rather than contribute to hits or shots alone, he’s contributing solid numbers throughout each of the categories.

With the Sharks in an obvious state of rebuilding, Gambrell should slot in somewhere in the team's top-9 come 2020-21, in which he will be given ample opportunity to add to those totals during his sophomore season. 

My recommendation: Hold off a little later in the draft, but feel good taking a well-rounded category cruncher.

Drake BathersonOttawa Senators

Dobber Ranking: 14

Position: C/RW

If you are drafting Batherson for your fantasy team, you are likely not taking him based on his peripheral outputs, nor should you. However, his hard-working, two-way style has found a way to slide into various categories this season. 

His sample size with the Senators was short-lived this season, with just 23 games under his belt. However, his overall numbers indicate that he took full advantage, contributing 10 points with six of them coming on the man advantage. While he may need some further seasoning, the 22-year-old is poised to become one of the club's go-to point-getters among their middle-six for years to come.

With exception to his plus/minus, his contributions to additional statistics were impressive, especially with man games in mind. He racked up 51 hits, while tossing 32 shots on net, a category which should grow immensely over the next few seasons. 

Given the current state of the roster, I expect Batherson to make a push for a permanent spot on the team's middle-six next year, meaning he could provide instant gratification for respected owners. 

My recommendation: Draft him early for the points, keep him around for the additional benefits.

Maxime ComtoisAnaheim Ducks

Dobber Ranking: 9

Position: LW

The Ducks 2017 second-rounder carries the perfect blend of skill, size, and grit. He has the offensive ability to put up points at a high level, both even strength and on the man-advantage, but can also size up his opponents as a power forward within the club's middle-six.

He split the 2019-20 campaign between the minors and in the NHL for his first full season a pro, earning 53 and 24 penalty minutes respectively. In just 29 games with the Ducks, Comtois combined for 61 hits, eight blocks, and 11 points, all while averaging 13:58 minutes a night.

The Quebec native is one of my personal favorite prospects and shows great promise to become a monster in most of the statistical numbers, both in the offensive and defensive zones. He should make a case to slide in as a regular next season and is poised to a key factor in the team's rebuild. 

My recommendation: You can never have enough power forwards, so draft within the first few rounds. 

Dillon DubeCalgary Flames

Dobber Ranking: 23

Position: C

Dube is learning how to handle various roles in an NHL lineup, all while gaining valuable tools to add to his already impressive offensive ability. While it's evident that he can slot in anywhere, he has looked most comfortable on the team's third line and is well on his way in becoming a solid two-way pivot for the Calgary Flames.

Owners should not be alarmed with his 16-point output this season, once he has found his stride in the league, the points should follow. Instead, I recommend enjoying his additionals for the time being. Despite skating in just 46 games, Dube sat in the team’s top-10 with 59 hits, averaging a solid 6.2 hits/60 minutes. He also contributed for 60 shots and sprinkled in 13 blocks.

With Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund holding reigns on the club’s top-six, the 5-foot-11 center should continue to add to his peripheral game next season. His upside remains high, and if he learns to score at the top level, he could become a solid piece to your future going forward.

My recommendation: Draft in the mid-range, keep patient and expect an uptick in production.

Honorable mentions: Jesper Boqvist (NJD), Joel Farabee (PHI), Noah Gregor (SJ), Dryden Hunt (FLA).


Thanks again for tuning in for another week. If your team is taking part in exhibition games this week, please enjoy your experience. 

I’d love to know what you think about the Seattle Kraken. Find me on Twitter @hall1289.

Have a great week.


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