Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way.
This week, I wanted to take a step away from the upcoming draft's top-30 prospects and have a look at the NHL preseason, as many very promising young players have been enjoying the opportunities that come with a rookie camp. Some of them have then gone on to earn a spot on their teams' preseason roster, opening the door to a potential start on opening night if they impress.
I will be dipping into each team's prospect pool and singling out the prospects who have made a case for themselves and improved their chances of wearing their NHL jerseys again, whether this season or any other. These prospects have earned fans' and scouts' hearts by outplaying both the opposition and the expectations set upon them.
Lukas Dostal, G
Confidence, poise and great reflexes make Dostal's netminding click. He first arrived at rookie camp healthy and ready to stop pucks, and then impressed in his half of the Ducks' first preseason game against the Sharks. He stopped 13 of 14 shots, further making his case as the team's number 3 goaltender.
The sheer number of injuries that netminders tend to suffer make his call-up a matter of time, although he is unlikely to become an NHL regular this season. Expect him to play at least one full AHL season before being an NHL regular, but he has the tools to get there.
Dylan Guenther, LW
A natural-born goal-scorer with a ton of offensive flair, Guenther's selection at ninth overall was Arizona's way of turning the OEL contract into a potential redemption