Ramblings: Rookie Projections & A Minor Trade (July 17)

by Cam Robinson on July 16, 2019

 

The Blackhawks and Senators pulled off a deal on Tuesday afternoon. Russian pivot, Artem Anisimov was sent to Ottawa in exchange for Zack Smith. Chicago saves a 1.3 million off of the cap and should now be able to sign Brendan Perlini. Ottawa receives a player who just had his signing bonus paid yesterday (2M) and somehow owes less real dollars to despite the cap figure. This is how an extreme-budget team operates to get to the cap floor. 

 

 

The 31-year-old, Smith can be a useful role player on fantasy squads – often providing 25-plus points, 80-plus penalty minutes, and nearly two hits per game. Players of his ilk seldom age graciously, so keep that in mind. Anisimov was supposed to be a point-producer but it's just never come around. He's had spins next to Patrick Kane for prolonged periods and would flash some upside, but never consistently. In Ottawa, his main competition for the top pivot spot is second-year forward, Colin White and Chris Tierney. There isn't a whole lot to work with on the wings yet, but whoever gets Brady Tkachuk is probably winning. 

 

I'm not counting on much more than 40-points for the 31-year-old, Anisimov. 

 

 

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It’s mid-July and nearly everyone is at their summer cabins. The media, the Hockey Ops folks, and the agents. Hell, even some of the players are ripping around on their speed boats with their less important comrades on the tube being hung out to dry. It’s difficult to find overly deep and tangible news at this time of the year, so I’ve decided to toss some easily digestible quick hits to wet your fantasy whistles. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to do it again next looking at some breakout candidates.

 

So, what can we expect the rookie class in 2019-20?

 

 

I sent this tweet out on Monday and the results have been a bit more runaway than I expected. The write-in ballots were vast and interesting. But let’s begin with the named names.

 

Jack HughesHis spot in New Jersey’s top six and on their top power-play unit is already written in stone. The only question that remains is on which line he’ll play. Will he center his own line behind Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall? Will he get the plum 1C spot next to Hall? Or does he transition in as a winger to relieve some of the defensive responsibility that comes with being an NHL pivot? Each one of those scenarios will impact his even-strength output in year one. However, that spot on that top PP should more than makeup for it.

 

He's a tremendously gifted player, and even though his slight of stature, his skating, skill and mind for the game are sublime. He'll be knocked off in more than a few board battles, but it won't slow him down much.

Conservative 82-game pace: 59 points

 

 

Kaapo KakkoAnother player with a dialled in top-six gig just waiting for him. I’d also venture to posit that a spot on the top power-play unit will be there as well. Physically, Kakko is much readier for the NHL than his counterpart, Hughes. He’s bigger, strong, and already comfortable playing against adult competition. His transition should be fairly fluid.

 

On which line he lands is still up in the air. He will have every opportunity to snake one of the creamiest gigs in the NHL if he can pry the top right-wing job next to Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. If that fails, a partnership beside Filip Chytil and Chris Kreider sounds alright as well.

Conservative 82-game pace: 62 points

 

 

Cale Makar – The 2017 fourth-overall selection stepped right out of his Hobey Baker winning sophomore campaign at UMass Amherst and into the Avalanche top-four for 10 playoff contests. His skating and splendid skill were on full display. With Tyson Barrie out of the way, quarterbacking that delicious Colorado top power-play unit is firmly within his grasp. He may need to fight off Samuel Girard at times, but that spot will be his before long. And with it, some big-time production.

 

Rookie defenders rarely dump major totals, but Makar will be 21 in October and has the wheels, the mind and the opportunity to buck that trend.

Conservative 82-game pace: 45 points

 

 

Maxime Comtois – The Anaheim winger is a power forward moulded for today's game. He brings a heavy, dogged pursuit of the puck but also generates scoring chances with his feet, hands and mind. His 10 NHL games last season resulted in two goals and seven points. He only put nine shots on goal in that time, but also skating in a depth role and adjusting to the game.

Comtois projects fairly safely into a top-six left-wing spot. His place on the Ducks top power-play unit is far from assured, but he brings the net-front presence that many teams search high and wide for. The 20-year-old is physically mature and has proven capable of producing at the NHL-level in a small sample size. On a team with limited sing options, this could be juicy. 

Conservative 82-game pace: 45 points

 

 

Vitaly Kravtsov – Another Ranger graces this list – we’ll see at least one more in next week's article as well. Kravtsov crosses the pond after two successful KHL campaigns. His biggest issue is the Rangers lottery luck. The right-winger will now forever be trapped behind Kakko for top deployment on the right side. He also has fellow Russian, Pavel Buchnevich to compete with.

 

For my money, he’ll be a down-the-lineup player in 2019-20 with some tangible second unit power play deployment. The flashes will be there, but the transition will mimic the traditional hiccups that most players endure compared to the very elite. His upside longterm remains high, but opportunity is king.

Conservative 82-game pace: 39 points

 

 

Quinn Hughes  – The Canucks have been searching for a true power-play quarterback on the backend since, well, forever. They have one now in the form of the 2018 seventh overall selection. Much like Makar, Hughes stepped out the NCAA and into the NHL lineup last spring and was not shy in showcasing his spectacular skating and offensive awareness. Hughes, like his brother Jack, is at best with the puck on his stick and boasts some of the best vision around.

 

The potential greatness that will come from being out there beside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser is tangible. However, until we see him lock down the top of the umbrella on PP1, it’s difficult to accurately project a point total. If he receives it from day one (or three) as Pettersson did a season ago, the potential is massive. If he sits behind Alex Edler for PPTOI the results will be far more muted.

 

Call me a wide-eyed optimist but I think he ends up leading the blue line in PP minutes next season and begins solidifying himself as a must-see-tv young defender.

Conservative 82-game pace: 35

 

 

Filip ZadinaIt is not easy being a teenager in the AHL, and Zadina quickly discovered that. It’s a difficult league to score in already, let alone as a first-year player. His play elevated throughout the middle portion of the season, eventually concluding with recording 18 points in the final 29 games  – including the playoffs. A brief stint in the NHL and a sub-par WJC were splashed in.

 

Zadina is far from a lock to even play the full season in Detroit next season, but if he does, it’ll be a dog fight to peel prime ice. Anthony Mantha (more on him next week) will eat up the top right-wing minutes. Fortunately for Zadina, he’s comfortable on the left-side as well – a spot that is far more open in Detroit. Hoping for middle-six and second power-play unit deployment seems fair and the muted results that accompany it safe.

Conservative 82-game pace: 36

 

 

Martin Necas – The world is sleeping on the 12th overall selection from 2017. Necas skated in a single NHL game as an 18-year-old and another seven games last season as a draft-plus two. But the real story was how he performed as a 19-year-old in the American League during the 2018-19 campaign. 16 goals and 52 points in 64 regular-season games with Charlotte and another five goals and 13 points in 18 playoff games on route to a Calder Cup Championship. 

 

Those regular season totals are second only to Mikko Rantanen’s 60 in 52 by a U20 skater in the last decade of AHL action. That type of production is nothing to sneeze at.

 

Necas is the heir to the second line centre gig on an up and coming Hurricanes’ squad. Speaking with someone close to the organization earlier this year, they felt the brass had earmarked Necas and Andrei Svechnikov as a pair to supplement Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teraivainen. If indeed that ends up being the case, Necas will be feeding a very real 30-plus-goal threat and taking secondary defensive pairs – a juicy proposition in fantasy. Carving out a role on the top power-play will take time, however.

 

The boom is likely at least a year off, but he’s one to watch.

Conservative 82-game pace: 30 points

 

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