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, we’ll jump around doing some quick hits—brief observations about prospects from a range of leagues who are worthy of note.
Someone to keep an eye on for next year is Alex Tuch. It feels like the 25-year-old Sabre has been around forever but he's still about 100 games from hitting his Breakout Threshold. A speedy 6-4, 217 lb forward breaking out just as the young team around him starts to gel? Sign me up. Next to Peyton Krebs, Owen Power, J.J. Peterka, Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Dahlin, Jack Quinn and company, Old Man Tuch will be this team's graybeard. He saw more time with the Sabres on both sides of special teams than he ever did with Vegas, leading to a Time on Ice (TOI) bump of about a minute twenty.
In terms of linemates, Tuch has played primarily alongside Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson at even strength, and all three forwards have turned in career years while producing a positive CorsiFor (51%) as a unit. Tuch actually has the lowest IPP of the three (59%) but is facing on average higher quality competition and still driving play nicely. Meanwhile, Thompson's success and consistency this year are huge bonuses for Buffalo given that he's another huge guy (6-7, 218 lbs) who in theory is still just over two seasons away from hitting his BT. And if Skinner can pot another couple points, he'll remarkably tie his career high of 63 points for the fourth time.
The coaching staff will have a lot of incentive to keep this line together next year, so look for Tuch to push past his career-high of 52 points into the mid-60s with solid peripherals. He's hitting less than he used to but should provide just under a hit and a block per game while firing about three shots per game. Tuck him away now if you can.
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Remember Fabian Lysell? He was drafted 21st overall by Boston in 2021 and was considered one of the more intriguing boom-bust forwards available. Part of what made him a difficult read was his underwhelming production in junior. He absolutely destroyed his U18 regional league in Sweden in his D-1 year (34 points in 14 games) and then transitioned well to the U20 national level (18 in 22) moving into his D0. Then he was called up to the top men's league in Sweden and didn't score much (3 in 26), which wasn't a surprise given historical comparables at his age. That experience playing pro hockey against men was promising but the lack of production made it hard to project his ceiling.
Then he crossed the pond for his D+1 year to play with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, and while his 62 points in 53 games as an overager don't necessarily jump off the page—it's not surprising to see players his age push two points-per-game in that league—there is some important context here. Those 62 points led his team and represented 43% of the Giants' total output. While the roster does boast a couple other NHL prospects (Alex Cotton and Zack Ostapchuk), it's not a strong team. They have 24 wins to their 39 losses and just squeaked into the playoffs as t