Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack
While all the focus in fantasy hockey is usually squarely on first round picks, that doesn’t mean value can’t be found in the later rounds, often for very little cost. Here are a few such names that could pay dividends down the line.
For all of the progress that has been made when it comes to overlooking size among defensemen, there still seems to be a bit of a bias towards forwards of the same stature. Take Aiden Dudas for example. Projected to be gone in the second round, Dudas slid to the fourth where he was snatched up by the L.A. Kings and it’s not difficult to understand why. He stands at just 5-07, 165 pounds so while there may be perceived issues about his size, one thing that is undeniable is his ability to put the biscuit in the basket. Playing on the Owen Sound Attack, Dudas was stuck behind Nick Suzuki on the depth chart, but that didn’t appear to have a huge effect on his ability to produce as he feels just shy of the point-per-game mark. In 68 contests for the second year OHLer, Dudas tied for second on the Attack with 31 goals and finished third in scoring by amassing 65 points. He would go on to add another seven points in 11 playoff games before bowing out in the second round. Where Dudas really shone was at the CHL Top Prospects Game. Originally not selected to participate, he was added as a late replacement and proceeded to shine. He was one of the best players for Team Cherry, scoring twice and adding an assist en route to a 7-4 victory, solidifying his draft status along the way.
Despite his stature, he’s not afraid to challenge bigger defenders and get to the dirty areas of the ice. And while not the fastest skater in the world, his top gear is fine and won’t be what holds him back. This kid loves the toe drag, coupling it with a quick release to beat goalies. It’ll be really interesting to see what Dudas can do with veteran Kevin Hancock departing and, potentially, Nick Suzuki. With his skillset, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Dudas hover around the upper echelon in OHL scoring this season.
Mathias Emilio Pettersen
If the name sounds even tangentially familiar to you, there’s a good chance you’ve made a visit to the HFboards over the past decade as Pettersen’s exploits have been well documented ever since video emerged of him carving up his eight-year-old competition with his puck wizardry. Everyone expected him to become the Norwegian Gretzky is probably more than a little surprised to not see him selected until the sixth round by the Calgary Flames, but such are the perils of getting hyped up about someone at such an early age. Despite being born in Norway, Pettersen has been playing in North America for the past four years, the first two as a teammate of fellow 2018 draftee, Joel Farabee at the Selects Hockey Academy. For the past two seasons, he’s been playing in the USHL first with the Omaha Lancers and most recently with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. His production in that league has been respectable.
This past year, Pettersen registered 14 goals and 32 helpers for 46 points which placed him in a tied for third on the Lumberjacks in scoring and tied him for 25th overall. One interesting point to note is that of all the players that finished ahead of Pettersen in league scoring; only one was younger than him, Jack Hughes. He’ll attend the University of Denver in the fall, a school that he’s been committed to since he was 14. With all the big guns from the 2017-18 team turning pro, there figures to be some scoring line opportunity up for grabs. I, for one, will be keeping close tabs on the Calgary property.
The Toronto Maples Leafs seemingly made a concerted effort to add undersized, skilled defensemen to the fold this offseason with Jordan Subban signing and securing Sean Durzi at the draft. Mac Hollowell certainly fits the bill as well. The Leafs selected the 5-09 defender in the fourth round, 118th overall, in his second year of eligibility after he had a career year with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He racked up more points in 2017-18 than he has in his previous 2+ seasons combined. Hollowell led all Greyhounds blueliners in scoring by posting a dozen goals and 44 assists, besting his next closest d-man, fellow Leafs draft pick Rasmus Sandin. His 44 helpers were second most on the team and tied for the third-best mark in the OHL among defensemen. His 56 points were good for fifth in the league and he also finished with the third best plus-minus ranking coming in at a plus-39. As far as primary point production is concerned, Hollowell placed fourth among blueliners in with 39, third in primary assists with 27, and sixth in primary points per game, averaging 0.62 per game. During a post-season run that saw the Greyhounds advance all the way to the OHL final, Hollowell added another 16 points in 24 playoff contests.
Leafs management is very familiar with Hollowell as he was the second to last draft pick current GM Kyle Dubas made during his tenure with Sault Ste. Marie. It remains to be seen where he’ll compete this fall. He could head back to junior where the Greyhounds would be a heavy favourite to compete for an OHL crown, but could also go to the AHL and play for the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies if they feel he is ready to take the next step as he is a little more advanced defensively compared to a lot of other defensemen his age.
As always thanks for checking out this week’s edition of The Journey. Thanks to eliteprospects.com and prospect-stats.com for the statistics. Give me a follow on Twitter @BradHPhillips!
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