Fantasy Pool Look: WJC report card

Another exciting World Junior Championship is over. Here is what keeper-league fantasy owners can take from some of their prospects:

Team Sweden
The biggest news here is the fact Nicklas Backstrom, the best fantasy hockey player to own outside of the NHL, did not score a goal. He did, however, tally seven assists in seven games, which is promising in the sense he has a future as Alex Ovechkin‘s centerman. As such, there are many NHL assists in his future, so do not take the lack of goals too hard.

St. Louis prospect Patrik Berglund and New Jersey farmhand Nicklas Bergfors produced just three and two points. To say the two highly-touted prospects were disappointing would be an understatement.

Undrafted 19-year-olds Linus Omark and Martin Johansson were second on the team in points with five apiece and they can expect to be drafted this coming summer.

Team Czech Republic
Boston draft pick Vladimir Sobotka was the most impressive offensive player on this squad with eight points in six games. His offensive game has really picked up this year in the Czech league, as well. He is a little on the small side, but has added some bulk and his play this season has moved him up the Bruins’ depth chart.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta’s top prospect, put forth a rather weak performance, sporting the second-worst save percentage in the tournament.

With his four assists and steady play, future Detroit rearguard Jakub Kindl showed why he is developing into one of the best offensive defenseman prospects out there.

Florida’s Michael Frolik was also impressive with four goals and six points to finish second on the team, while Phoenix prospect Martin Hanzal was mediocre in picking up just three points. Hanzal was leading the Western League in scoring before the tournament, so more was expected of him.

Boston’s Petr Kalus did not play in the tournament because his sore knee had not sufficiently healed.

Jakub Voracek, potentially the first-overall pick this coming summer, had a goal and two assists, but was a minus-4.

Team USA
All the hype on this team went to the two Johnsons on the point – Erik and Jack. This was deserved, given Erik’s four goals and 10 points as well as Jack’s three goals and fantastic shootout performance.

The two players who jumped onto my radar the most, however, were Pat Kane and Peter Mueller.

Kane recently turned 18 and is ranked to go in the top 20 this summer. After his five goals and nine points in this tournament, however, his stock has likely moved up into the top 10. He is more of a long-term prospect for keeper league owners.

Mueller, however, is not. The Phoenix Coyotes farmhand picked up six points in the competition and displayed incredible hands and excellent poise. The Coyotes are desperate for big pivots and already seem to be clearing the way for him this fall with the recent trade of Mike Comrie.

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Jack Skille, one of Chicago’s top prospects, added a goal and six points.

Team Canada
The biggest positives on this team from a fantasy standpoint were clearly Jonathan Toews and Kris Letang.

Toews increased from an upper-tier fantasy prospect to pulling himself up to Backstrom’s territory. The clutch goals he scored, the on-ice vision he displayed and those incredible hands certainly opened this fantasy poolie’s eyes. The Chicago Blackhawks will do everything they can to sign him out of college and bring him on board next year.

Letang is a Pittsburgh prospect. I could just leave it that and his value would be high simply from the potential power play he will help anchor. However, besides making the Penguins out of training camp this year and tallying two goals during his audition, the 19-year-old rearguard has been tearing up the Quebec League and carried that into the WJC. He was also Team Canada’s captain, which goes a long way to paving the road to the NHL for him. You will not have to wait long for him – he will step into Sergei Gonchar‘s shoes when the latter moves on.

Gold medal game aside, it would have been nice to see more out of Bryan Little. The Barrie Colts forward and Atlanta prospect picked up just two points.

Team Finland
Washington Capitals 2006 fourth-round pick (97th overall) Oskar Osala, a big, hulking power forward, opened a lot of eyes with his five-goal eight-point performance. He also stayed out of the penalty box for the most part and was one of the best players on the team. He is definitely one to watch.

Perttu Lindgren (Dallas) and Mikko Lehtonen (Boston) added 10 points each. Lindgren could be in the Dallas lineup within two years.

Team Russia
The most impressive player on this team has not even been drafted yet. Alexei Cherepanov should go in the top five this summer – especially after tallying eight points in six games in a tournament such as this one. Edmonton prospect Alexander Bumagin also put on a good show with his eight points, while Chicago prospect Igor Makarov added two goals and four assists.

New Jersey’s prospect, Alexander Vasyunov, was sub-par. He did play on the third line, however, so his two points should not change your opinion of him from a fantasy standpoint.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league – check out the latest scoop every Monday and Wednesday afternoon. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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