The Journey examines Dobber’s Top 50 Prospect Defensemen list, and assesses the fast risers in the March rankings. There have been some major changes among the Top 50, with some new additions to the list.
Charlie McAvoy – Boston Bruins – 19th Overall, Up from 30th Overall
McAvoy was the fourth defenseman selected at the 2016 NHL Entry draft behind Vancouver’s Olli Juolevi, Montreal’s Mikhail Sergachev and Carolina’s Jake Bean. Looking back on the draft down the road however, we may wonder how McAvoy slid to the middle of the first round.
Just last night, the Long Island native scored the winner in double overtime to send his Boston University Terriers into the final of the West Regional in Fargo. In 36 games this season, McAvoy posted 24 points in the regular season, missing time for the 2017 World Junior Championships which he won with the United States. Once his season at BU has completed, McAvoy is one to watch for signing his entry-level contract and turning professional. If he’s not in the NHL by the end of this season, he likely will be to start next season.
Dante Fabbro – Nashville Predators – 39th Overall, Up from 62nd Overall
Taken three spots later at 17th overall in the 2016 draft is McAvoy’s Boston University teammate Dante Fabbro. Although Nashville has one of the best bluelines in the league, and it will only be bolstered in the coming years by the talents of a player like Fabbro.
After posting just six points in his first 15 college games, Fabbro took a near month long hiatus that included the World Junior Championships. Since returning from Canada’s silver medal winning squad, the former BCHL standout has posted 11 points in his last 19 games, playing his best hockey at the most important time of year. Fabbro is still a few years off from being an impact player for the Predators, but he projects as a top-four talent in the future for Nashville.
Philippe Myers – Philadelphia Flyers – 40th Overall, Up from 194th Overall
After being passed over in his draft year, there may not be another player who has risen through the ranks from an unknown to a stud prospect then Myers. The 20-year-old rearguard was signed by GM Ron Hextall in a shrewd move before the start of the 2015 season, in what could prove to be one of the best free agent signings in recent memory.
Myers is a 6’5”, all-around defenseman who can skate, handle the puck, distribute and shoot, and will play a large part in the renaissance of the Flyers blueline over the next few seasons that started with Ivan Provorov this season. After being hit from behind by Team USA’s Luke Kunin at the World Juniors, Myers suffered a concussion that kept him out until mid-February, but upon his return, Myers posted 17 points in his final 15 games of the regular season. In his first playoff game for Rouyn-Noranda on Friday night, he put up a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss against Halifax.
Luc Snuggerud – Chicago Blackhawks – 42nd Overall, Up from 131st Overall
After being drafted 141st overall by Chicago in 2014, Snuggerud completed a three-year career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha this month, agreeing to a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.
After increasing his point total from 16 as a freshman to 18 as a sophomore, the former fifth-round selection had an offensive breakout season this year as a junior. Snuggerud’s 11 goals this season for Omaha led all college hockey defenseman, and his 31 points finished tied for ninth. He has reported to Rockford (AHL) for the remainder of the 2016-17, and will likely spend next season with the IceHogs as well.
Samuel Morin – Philadelphia Flyers – 44th Overall, Up from 61st Overall
Our second Flyers defensive prospect on this list is Morin, who unlike his counterpart Myers, was a blue-chipper drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft. After posting back-to-back seasons for Rimouski in his draft year and his draft plus-one year, Morin turned professional and has played two full seasons for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Although he has not matched his point production as a professional, there is a lot to like about Morin’s game from a multi-category fantasy perspective. In his last two seasons, the 6’6” has averaged 17 points and 114 penalty minutes per season. Morin projects as a player who can carry that type of an edgy, physical game to the NHL level. His size is a huge asset, and should fit in nicely with the Flyers more offensively developed defensive prospects over the next few seasons.
MacKenzie Weegar – Florida Panthers – 50th Overall, Up from 97th Overall
Weegar’s road to the NHL has been a winding one, jumping to professional hockey after two starring seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads. He spent a split season in 2014-15 with Florida’s AHL and ECHL affiliates, and has played the last two seasons in the AHL for Portland and Springfield.
The 23-year-old seventh round selection from 2013 has been solid for Springfield, leading all defensemen in scoring for the Falcons with 29 points in 51 games. He has fired 158 shots on net, averaging just over three per game and has scored 12 goals on the season, six more than any of his defensive teammates. Weegar earned his first call up to the NHL this month, but has yet to feature in any games. If Aaron Ekblad’s sore neck becomes a bigger issue, look for Weegar to again be the first call up for the Panthers.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.
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