Every year at this time, teams add pieces to their organization puzzle via the NHL Entry Draft. Players are added to different farm systems and poolies watch with interest, gauging fantasy values. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting prospects.
Nail Yakupov, RW, Edmonton, 1st overall
The top pick in the draft almost always plays for the big club right away. Yakupov will be no different. As for what kind of production to expect, look at how the three previous No. 1 picks fared: John Tavares tallied 54 points in his first season, Taylor Hall 42 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 52. That’s a good range to expect for Yakupov, although you will want to lean towards the top end of it given that Yakupov’s skill set is slightly higher than those three players at the same age.
Ryan Murray, D, Columbus, 2nd overall
Defensemen rarely make the jump immediately, but top five picks often arrive in the NHL as 19-year-olds. I would expect the Blue Jackets won’t rush this one and I would also temper expectations about his offense for the foreseeable future. I would be surprised if he tallied 45 points in a season before 2016 with this squad.
Alex Galchenyuk, C, Montreal, 3rd overall
Galchenyuk is a sure-fire first-liner in the NHL and some scouts say he outplayed his Sarnia teammate Yakupov in the post-season. But Galchenyuk is a wildcard because he missed almost the entire Ontario League season with a knee injury. He is probably NHL-ready and has a real shot at a third-line job with the Habs. At worst he’s a year away.
Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto, 5th overall
Rielly is a good sleeper pick because he missed most of the season with a knee injury. Considered by many experts to have the highest upside in terms of pure offensive puck-moving ability, how great will he look in a few years alongside Jake Gardiner? However, since we didn’t get to see him for most of the past year, it’s a bit of a leap of faith. Still, he’s a very good selection in keeper leagues, as he could be on this team as early as 2013-14.
Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota, 7th overall
This is a great fit for Dumba, as Jared Spurgeon is the only other defenseman on the current Wild roster with strong offensive upside. Tom Gilbert, Marco Scandella and Steven Kampfer lean that way as well, but have a lower ceiling. The PP future on Minnesota’s blueline probably lies with Dumba, Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin. Dumba will get a long look in the fall of 2014. He’s still only 17 (not 18 until July 25).
Filip Forsberg, C, Washington, 11th overall
Because defensemen were going like crazy in the first round, Forsberg slipped out of the top 10. Some mock drafts had him as high as third. The Caps tend to give their youngsters at least three years before putting them in the lineup full-time and this potential first-liner is no exception.
Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Buffalo, 12th overall
Experts were wondering if Grigorenko would be the first overall pick instead of Yakupov only eight months ago. So why did he sink to 12th? Several reasons. The talking heads will point to questions about his attitude and consistency and, while those issues exist, the run of defensemen in the draft pushed some talented forwards down. There were also teams scared off by the controversy around his birth certificate (there were rumors he was actually 20, not 18). His play declined at the end of the Quebec League season, but that’s because he was recovering from a bout of mono. And then there is the usual fear of him bolting to the Kontinental League.
But the Canadian Major Junior Rookie of the Year could be a real steal for Buffalo and for your keeper league. After seeing the NHL draft go the way it did, I will be moving Grigorenko back up to second on my list. Prior to the draft, he had slipped behind Forsberg.
Radek Faksa, C, Dallas, 13th overall
With Jamie Benn and possibly Cody Eakin as the one-two centers of the future for the Stars, Faksa will have a couple of years to develop in the OHL. Then he will have a couple of years of apprenticing on the third line before becoming fantasy-worthy. He’s a potential second-liner though.
Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose, 17th overall
Forwards roll off a production line in San Jose. Each year, the Sharks seem to draft one forward with offensive upside for later and promote a forward with offensive tendencies to the NHL roster. Devin Setoguchi (2005) made the jump three years after he was drafted. Jamie McGinn (2006) made the squad three years after he was picked. Logan Couture (2007) also made the team full-time three years later. Charlie Coyle (2010 – now with Minnesota) and Matt Nieto (2011) are well on their way, too. This year they chose Hertl, so I fully expect him to be an NHLer in 2015-16 – if history repeats itself.
Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Chicago, 18th overall
Considered a top-12 player in most mock drafts, Teravainen slipped because of the rush on defensemen. A September-born 17-year-old, he is an offensive specialist who needs to add a lot of bulk to his frame. The Hawks can afford to wait on him, and he’ll need at least three years – preferably with some of that in North America.
Mark Jankowski, C, Calgary, 21st overall
One of the youngest players in the draft (turns 18 in September), Jankowski is a wildcard. From the Fantasy Prospects Report:
“The true ‘sleeper’ of this year’s draft class, Mark Jankowski is subtly climbing up the rankings with his tantalizing 6-foot-3 frame that houses his long reach, strong passing skills and outstanding hockey sense. The latter is one of the reasons scouts feel that Jankowski’s success at lower levels (high school hockey) is not as large a factor as some might think. The understanding of the game he displays and his ability to make his teammates better around him are qualities that translate nicely to all levels of play. Two years ago, he was a 5-foot-8 teenager who was passed over in the OHL draft. Now, Stanstead College’s number one center who plays on the team’s top penalty kill and power play is looking to become one of the top drafted high school players after posting a remarkable 53 goals, 93 points and a plus-51 rating in 57 games. Teams are looking at a raw offensive player with good intangibles and he should continue to develop as a commit to Providence College of the NCAA.”
He is a potential first-liner and has been drafted by an organization in need of more of this type of player in the pipeline. A great fit, you’ll just have to wait.
Tanner Pearson, LW, Los Angeles, 30th overall
Pearson’s fantasy value takes a bit of a hit here. The Kings are flush with forward prospects, to the point where they have lost several good ones to European leagues because the prospects in question didn’t feel they would get a favorable chance to make the big club. Pearson will stick it out because he’s North American and should forge a successful NHL career. The wait would have been shorter had Pearson been drafted by another team, though.
Sebastian Collberg, RW, Montreal, 33rd overall
From my Fantasy Prospects Report (quote from Brendan Ross): “Collberg will venture into the dirty areas to get that goal he covets…a sniper’s mentality…one of the better wrist shots in the draft.”
The Habs have a handful of wingers ready to transition onto the roster over the next two seasons, so Collberg is at least three years away.
Nikita Gusev, LW, Tampa Bay, 202nd overall
If he was “Joe Smith” from the OHL and was 6-foot, 175 pounds, this dynamic player would have been one of the five or six highest forwards drafted. Instead, he’s 5-foot-9, 163-pound Nikita Gusev from the KHL and has already been passed over in two drafts. Tampa Bay made a great pick using a seventh-rounder on him. He’s a long-term project and a “boom or bust” prospect. He’ll either be a high-scoring star, or we’ll never see him in the NHL. Only in the deepest fantasy leagues should you consider drafting him, as he is several years away.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.