The Journey: Lundell and Other Two-Way Unicorns

Benjamin Gehrels

2022-09-03

Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way.

In a recent Goldilocks and the Three Skaters article, Rick Roos outlined a series of very realistic concerns about Anton Lundell's ability to replicate his 56-point pace rookie campaign moving forward. Those concerns include the relative lack of historical precedents for what the 20-year-old Finn accomplished last year, the Panthers likely taking a step back in team scoring after a historic offensive season, and Lundell possibly not having a secure place in the top six.

He also forwarded Jordan Staal, who has never been a prolific producer despite his multi-cat prowess and significant real-life impact, as a potential comparable for Lundell. Poolies do not want Lundell to max out at a 60-point ceiling like Staal did, so the possibility that he could get pigeonholed as a third-line center with little power-play time is very concerning.

Rick's excellent, devastating article—and my resulting feelings of dismay about Lundell, who I've been high on—got me thinking about this perception in fantasy about players who are "too complete." It can often feel like a kiss of death in fantasy.

Sure, Jamie Drysdale can run a power play, for instance, but he might lose power-play time to Olen Zellweger in a couple years because he is too all-around talented. Yes, Shane Wright can score, but he is also responsible defensively and will probably get sent out against the toughest competition in the most critical situations—in particular, defensive zone draws and playing shorthanded. Ditto for Alex Pietrangelo, Ivan Provorov, Bo Horvat….the list goes on and on.

True, it is difficult to score when you're starting out 200 feet from your own goal or playing with one fewer teammate. But does the "two-way, complete player" label always have to be a death knell for fantasy value? While it can be in many cases, there is a small group of forwards who represent a different potential outcome than Staal for Lundell and other young complete players (Wright, Matty Beniers, Fyodor Svechkov)—a futur