Managing a fantasy hockey team can sometimes be just as much about playing the market as day-to-day investing is. This week’s edition of The Journey looks into the prospect world to dust off the names of some once-budding youngsters to see what their status is, and if it’s a good time to go shopping.
Henrik Borgstrom, Florida Panthers
The University of Denver allum had seemingly crossed the threshold of prospect status last year as he emerged with the Panthers’ as a reliable middle-six pivot. The year prior, Bogstrom had been highly touted as a potential Calder candidate, and the hype really didn’t ever go away. At the end of last month, however, the Finn was reassigned to the organization’s farm team in Springfield where he’s since put on a lackluster performance, resulting in a goose egg in his stat line.
His ownership in Fantrax has dropped 0.2% over the last week indicating that there are owners who perceive his value to be dropping, but if you’re able to find the right seller, Borgstrom is still a player who is certainly worth owning in most involved fantasy leagues. The fact of the matter is that Borgstrom’s slow start to the year was an extremely small sample size, and in all likelihood the centerman will rebound shortly.
Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings
Nineteen-year-old Joe Veleno is off to a modest start in his first ever season of professional hockey. With three goals and five assists through his first 21 contests on a mediocre Grand Rapids team, Veleno’s perceived value is slumping. What seems to be forgotten by many fantasy owners, however, is that Veleno is playing in the AHL a year sooner than many Canadian Junior players would be eligible to.
He has recently been placed in a second-line center position alongside Evgeny Svechnikov and Matthew Ford where he’s being relied upon to maintain his 200-foot awareness while also developing his game against strong matchups. As the 30th overall selection that he is, Veleno should still be considered to be meeting expectations, and as such should be bought from anyone who believes he is on a trajectory to underachieve.
Rasmus Kupari, LA Kings
Yet another forward prospect who has been fortunate enough to embark on his North American professional career at an age earlier than most fellow prospects is 19-year-old Rasmus Kupari. The Finnish forward signed his ELC with the Kings shortly after being drafted in the summer of 2018, however, he was quickly loaned to Karpat of the Finnish Liiga where he broke out alongside fellow countryman Alexi Heponiemi.
Despite having a fair amount of experience and even success against professional-level competition, Kupari hasn’t demonstrated the same kind of flair in the AHL with Ontario. With the adjustment from an overseas style of play coming gradually for Kupari, an opportunity for him to explode back onto the prospect radar is quickly approaching. So long as the Kings’ organization agrees to a loan, Kupari is the odds-on favorite to center the first line on the Finn’s U20 team this Boxing Day. Potential bidders would be wise to pursue his fantasy services prior to him having the opportunity to make a statement on the world stage.
Anton Lundell (2020) is likely to miss the #WorldJuniors because of an injury. He was the No. 1 center in my projected lineup for Team Finland 🇫🇮, so here's my updated projection without him.— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) November 23, 2019
Rasmus Kupari (LAK) just became hugely important to the success of this team. pic.twitter.com/ZJFASRrf6r
Vitali Kravtsov, New York Rangers
A turbulent debut in and subsequent departure from North America for the Russian forward seems to have put Kravtsov owners into a tizzy. Prior to the 2019-20 campaign beginning, the top Russian prospect had been widely expected to make at least some type of a tangible impact in his first stint within the New York Rangers organization. When the former ninth-overall selection, along with several other of the Rangers top prospects were quickly demoted to Hartford, questions began to emerge regarding his ability, or for that matter, inability to make an impact for the Rangers. Not long after being demoted, Kravtsov exercised his European Assignment Clause, diving fantasy owners into further misery and skepticism.
While it may be difficult to envision him reviving his prospect status while following Kravtsov from Russia, it should be noted that continuing to develop his game in the KHL as opposed to the AHL might be seen as a better option for both he and the team. There is absolutely no reason to think the 19-year-old Kravtsov can’t come back from this and continue to fulfill any and all projections made for him in the past.
Gabriel Fortier, Tampa Bay Lightning
The former second-round draft-selection was singled out by the Lightning in his draft year for strong 200-foot play and a foundation of strong fundamentals that the team was confident would translate to the NHL one day. It wasn't until his D+1 campaign that Fortier truly emerged as a potentially lethal offensive weapon – a trait that otherwise hadn’t been used to describe the center. After earning a 1.2 points per game scoring rate last year, Fortier’s production has dipped back well below the point-per-game mark, due in large part to the team’s overall stammering offense.
With the Baie Comeau Drakkar lurking the depths of the QMJHL’s Eastern Conference, there’s a mild chance that the team eventually decides to ship out their 19-year-old captain, and with that provide him an opportunity to revitalize his struggling offense. If your league is deep enough to justify owning a player with projection of a mid-second round pick, Fortier’s perceived valuation has likely dropped to a point where acquiring him should come at a low cost, while his true trajectory has changed very little, if at all.
Find me on Twitter @olaf1393 and let me know who you’ve bought low on over the last year. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and it’s given you some motivation to start kicking tires around your league.
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