The Journey examines Dobber’s top forward and defenseman prospect lists and assesses the fast risers in the March rankings.
Andreas Athanasiou – Detroit Red Wings – Up to 20th from 132nd Overall
Another middle round pick by Detroit that has developed into a potential middle six forward, Athanasiou has all the offensive tools to be a quality player at the NHL level. He possesses blinding speed and above average offensive creativity while proving to not be overwhelmed by his short stint in then NHL. After spending less than 100 games at the AHL level, the young forward has been called up to the Red Wings on two separate occasions this season. In 26 games, Athanasiou has ten points (6G, 4A) in a limited role, where he has seen less than ten minutes of ice time per night and no power-play time. The former fourth round pick is one to watch going into next season, to see if he can nail down more regular playing time and a spot on the Wings powerplay.
Joseph Blandisi – New Jersey Devils – Up to 52nd Overall from 167th Overall
Blandisi has been a pleasant surprise in an overachieving season for the Devils this year. After finishing his junior career and spending just 24 games with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate in Albany, the former sixth round pick has been solid in a small NHL sample size this season. Coach John Hynes has not been shy to insert Blandisi into a situation where he can succeed, regularly penciling him into the Devils top line, and rewarding him with power-play time. Fantasy owners in deep leagues who snagged Blandisi midseason have been validated with his solid contributions in points (17), SOG (36), PIM (20), hits (30) and powerplay points (6) in just 32 games this season.
Evgeny Svechnikov – Detroit Red Wings – Up to 103rd Overall from 229th Overall
Svechnikov is the second Red Wings prospect on this list, and the one with a bit more pedigree. A first round pick last season, the Russian winger has been brilliant this year for the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, with 79 points in just 50 games. Throw in Svechnikov’s 97 PIMs and you have the makings of a player who could help in multiple fantasy scoring categories moving forward. His shot and scoring instincts are NHL ready now, but like many prospects, he needs to improve on the defensive side of the puck. When he does reach the NHL, it will likely be in a top six, offensive role.
Nick Cousins – Philadelphia Flyers – Up to 118th Overall from 207th Overall
After scoring at close to a point-per-game pace over his last 100 AHL games, Cousins has proven that he is worthy of a spot in the Flyers lineup in the near future. In his 24 games at the NHL level this year, he has produced eight points, while chipping in with solid hits (20) and shots (26) totals as well. Although his shooting percentage is unsustainable at 19.2%, Cousins should earn more than his 10 minutes a game in the coming seasons as he gains added responsibility from his coaches. Likely to end up in a bottom six center role moving forward, Cousins should provide secondary scoring for the Flyers with a chance for second line powerplay minutes.
Nikita Soshnikov – Toronto Maple Leafs – Up to 126th Overall from 202nd Overall
The undrafted Soshnikov has been a part of the Maple Leafs late season youth movement that has made Toronto a potential spoiler of opponent’s playoff hopes down the stretch. The undersized winger who was signed as a free agent last spring has never been overwhelmingly dominant in any league he has played in (AHL/KHL), but has brought a ton of energy to the Leafs lineup since his call-up 10 games ago. In those 10 games, he has tallied four points, while adding 28 SOG and 33 hits, as well as a few highlights that make Toronto fans excited for the future.
Connor Carrick – Toronto Maple Leafs – Up to 13th Overall from 17th Overall
Moved in a deadline deal from Washington, Carrick’s jump in ranking has a lot to do with his new fit in Toronto. He has always had multi-category fantasy potential, but has been stuck behind players in the Capitals blueline pipeline; an issue he will not have with the Maple Leafs. Since the trade, Carrick has played in 10 games for his new team, scoring a goal and adding two assists. For those looking for added value for a cheap price next season, Carrick is averaging over two hits and near a shot block per game and has not been afraid to drop the gloves in the past, proven by his 197 PIMs in 133 AHL games.
Adam Clendening – Edmonton Oilers – Up to 38th Overall from 56th Overall
Another player who has moved up the prospect rankings due to fit is Clendening, who was signed off waivers from Anaheim shortly after he was acquired from Pittsburgh in the Carl Hagelin trade. In 15 games since he was claimed, the former second round pick of the Blackhawks has been a decent multi-category contributor for the Oilers. Clendening has spent most of his time playing alongside rookie Darnell Nurse on Edmonton’s patchwork blueline and has seen sporadic power-play time. In his handful of games for the club, Clendening has put up three points, while adding 25 blocked shots and 27 shots on goal. Tread lightly if you are looking to the New York native as anything more than a short term fix at this point, as he as already been a part of five organizations before his 24th birthday.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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