Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, we look at some of the more significant prospects moved last week and how their changes in scenery could help or hinder their development
Curtis Lazar, Calgary Flames
Lazar, a 2013 first round pick of the Senators who to this point had not made many waves at the NHL level was moved to Calgary on deadline day. He showed improvement from his rookie season in 2014-15 to his second professional season in 2015-16, finishing the year with 20 points, 118 hits and 47 blocked shots while playing just under 14 minutes per game.
However, this season under new coach Guy Boucher has been a nightmare for Lazar. A bout of mono zapped a good amount of playing time for him and he never has gotten into a groove within the Sens’ forward group. Prior to the trade, he had produced just one point in 33 games. When he has played, it has been sparingly, averaging under nine minutes per night. Lazar was sent down to Binghamton (AHL) for a stretch of 13 games where the Sens would have expected him to dominate, but he put up just four points during that stretch until he was called back up due to Ottawa’s injury woes.
Calgary is taking a chance on Lazar’s pedigree and apparently still feels he has the tools to be a middle-six forward at the NHL level. Complicating things further is that the still 22-year-old must be protected for the expansion draft in June, but from GM Brad Treliving’s comments on the player after the trade, it appears the Flames will look to protect him and feel he will be with the team long-term. Lazar could still be fantasy relevant in multi-category leagues if he can break out of his long-standing scoring slump in a new uniform.
Nikolay Goldobin, Vancouver Canucks
With his team on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in, GM Jim Benning did the logical thing and moved out older expiring contracts for young, capable prospects who have the chance to become impact roster players for the Canucks in the future.
In Goldobin, Vancouver gets a forward prospect who can eventually fill the void of the player he was traded for in Hansen. Despite projecting as a top-six player with a pretty high offensive ceiling, Goldobin was not going to find playing time among the Sharks’ top forwards anytime soon despite his 85 points in his last 106 AHL games. He will have much more opportunity in Vancouver to slot into the lineup in a spot that will benefit his skill set. Goldobin has always had offensive ability with crafty playmaking skills and a NHL level shot, but this season has become more well-rounded in all aspects of the game. He should be given every opportunity for the rest of this season and next to prove that he belongs in an NHL lineup.
Jonathan Dahlen, Vancouver Canucks
The Trade: To Vancouver Jonathan Dahlen; To Ottawa Alex Burrows
With an eye towards the future, Benning made another move to solidify another high-ceiling prospect for an aging veteran. Alex Burrows had played 14-plus years for one organization, and I’m sure it was a tough day for all involved to see him go. Luckily for Vancouver fans and brass, in return they picked up an exciting player in Jonathan Dahlen, who could be a star down the road.
Dahlen, who was drafted 42nd overall by the Senators back in June, has been terrific this year for Timra in Sweden’s second division this season. He has posted 44 points in 45 games as a 19-year-old, good for a tie for fifth in league scoring, and first for players under the age of 20 in the league. His skating and strength should be given ample time to develop and improve, but his creativity and offensive instincts are already at a high level. Whether he stays in Sweden for a SHL season or plays in North America next year, Dahlen is still a few years from cracking an NHL roster. When he does, he should be ready to step into a top-six role and provide a scoring punch.
Erik Cernak, Tampa Bay Lightning
In one of the more impactful deals around the NHL trade deadline, Ben Bishop was moved to Los Angeles, returning former second round pick Erik Cernak to the Lightning.
As a big, strong, stay-at-home style defenseman, Cernak is currently helping to anchor the Erie Otters’ defense in the Ontario Hockey League. At 6’3” and nearly 230 pounds, Cernak is a physical presence along the boards and in front of the net. He currently ranks fourth among Otters’ defensemen in scoring with 18 points in 42 games, and does not really have any offensive or fantasy upside at the NHL level. He joins a system in Tampa Bay that is crowded, but he should be able to break into the AHL starting next season. Cernak is a steadying force whose real-life value trumps his fantasy value aside from potentially leagues that put a high emphasis on shot blocks and hits.
Dylan Heatherington, Dallas Stars
The Trade: To Dallas Dylan Heatherington; To Columbus Lauri Korpikoski
In one of the last trades of the day before the 3 p.m. deadline, Lauri Korpikoski was moved to Columbus to provide veteran presence and depth to a young Blue Jackets’ team with their eyes set on making noise in the NHL playoffs. In return, the Dallas Stars picked up AHL defenseman Dillon Heatherington, who was drafted 50th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Heatherington is a big, strong defenseman who projects as a consistent shutdown-type guy at the NHL level who can be used at even strength and on the penalty kill. He’s never going to be a big offensive producer, but does make a good first pass and has a good, hard shot if he gets the opportunity to put one on net. Dallas has quite a collection of defensemen that are at the same development point as Heatherington, but the big-framed blueliner brings a winning pedigree with two gold medals in international junior competition for Canada and a Calder Cup championship last season with the Lake Erie Monsters. Like Cernak above, his real-life value likely outweighs his fantasy value, but he could add some peripheral stats if he gets consistent playing time with the Stars.
Colorado stays put
After being the talk of the NHL from a player movement perspective for weeks up to the trade deadline, the Avalanche made only a couple minor deals, moving out Jarome Iginla and Andreas Martinsen. It was always going to be an uphill battle to move players like Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog in season, and matters were made worse when Wild GM Chuck Fletcher railroaded other GMs by vastly overpaying for Arizona’s Martin Hanzal a couple days before the deadline. I am, however, surprised that Colorado GM Joe Sakic wasn’t able to move on from some of the other dead weight on his roster via retaining salary on veterans. Maybe there just wasn’t interest.
Either way, expect the Avs to be a player over the summer, moving out roster players for assets as they undergo what should be a long and necessary rebuild.
Carolina loads up for the 2017 Draft
After moving Ron Hainsey and Viktor Stalberg at the deadline, the Hurricanes now have 11 overall selections at the 2017 NHL Draft and seven in the first three rounds. In a rebuild process under GM Ron Francis, the team has accumulated picks over the last few seasons, hoping to build organizational depth from the ground up. Hopefully next year the Canes will start to see some payoff as many of their top prospects will move to professional hockey from junior.
The picks also give Francis the ability to strengthen the NHL roster this summer via trade. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the picks packaged together to make a move for a top-six forward or a goaltender.
Prospect injuries abound
Recently, it was announced that potential top-five and in some scout’s eyes, top-three prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft Michael Rasmussen would miss multiple months with a wrist injury. It’s been a strange year for potential top of the draft prospects such as Rasmussen, Nolan Patrick and Timothy Liljegren, who have all missed significant time in their draft year with injuries. This should lead to differing opinions among organizations and will make for a fun first round at the 2017 NHL Draft, where many teams could go in any number of directions after the first two picks.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.
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