Fantasy NHL - Offseason Edition
Fresh Faces in new places.
This will be a two part column. The first part will cover recently drafted players and who might bring an immediate impact to their teams this year as rookies. The second part will cover players who have been traded or signed with new teams and what impact they might have.
Below is a list of every rookie who scored at least 20 points last year.
Below is a list of every rookie in 2014-2015 season who scored at least 20 points.
A few things we can take away:
1. If you are a top 4 pick, there is a strong likelihood you will be producing points.
2015 - Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel;
2014 - Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl and Sam Bennett,
2013 - Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones.
-2015 3rd and 4th overall picks Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner have not made it up yet. Furthermore, every one of these players was playing the pros within 2 years. Only Leon Draisaitl didn't score 20 points in his first year in the pros because he played less than 10 total games. (If you haven't caught on to my heavy hint here, grab Dylan Stome and Mitch Marner late in drafts especially if you are in a keeper league). 20 points as a rookie is something that only a handful of players achieve (average of 20-25) and the likelihood of those players to go on and have a successful NHL career is strong. This may sound obvious but it floors me the number of teams that don't pay attention to a lesser known commodity like Justin Klingberg or Anthony Duclair until it's too late.
2. Beyond the top 4, it really comes down to opportunity with a bit of luck thrown in. When the window opens for a player like William Karlsson who was originally drafted by the Ducks but traded to the Blue Jackets, he took his opportunity and made the most of it. John Klingberg, drafted in 2010, spent much of his time on retainer for various Finnish and Swedish teams but when the Dallas Stars brought him on in the 2014-2015 season he made the most of his opportunity. Dylan Larkin , while tremendously talented, found himself alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the first line as a rookie and almost netted 50 points last year. Finally, both Max Domi and Anthony Duclair found themselves on the top line (2 ROOKIES on the top line!) playing with Martin Hanzel at center. They fed off each other and a down time for the Coyote organization and each scored over 40 points last year.
3. Over the last two years a defensemen always finds his way into the top ten rookies in scoring. Despite Aaron Ekblad being 8th, he was behind John Klingberg who has proven himself as a very solid point producing defensemen for the Stars. Shayne Gostisbehere had to wait a few extra years before the Flyers brought him up but he fell 4 points shy of 50 points last year putting himself in the running for the Calder trophy. Both worked their way onto the power play units which only exacerbated their production further. Look for mobile rookie defensemen who have a solid shot. One will likely creep into the top ten this year and quite often, they are not only a value commodity to trade but players in a lot of leagues aren't watching for this.
4. The #1 overall pick is basically a lock for about 40 points. Auston Matthews has a bit of an uphill climb with a talent porous Maple Leafs team but given his skill and likely vast ice time as a top 6 forward, I'd say he can notch 40 points with no problem, better chance than not he gets at least 50. The #2 overall pick is a heavy favorite to make a roster. This year is no exception to that, Jesse Puljujarvi might be more enticing than Auston Matthews for one simple reason: there are rumors of a Connor McDavid, Jesse Puljujarvi, Milan Lucic line. In all likelihood he sits on the 2nd line with Drasatle or 3rd line with Nugent-Hopkins but if that comes to fruition - you can up his anticipated 40 points up to 50. I am going to skip past Pierre-Luc Dubois for a minute and go to Patrick Laine who has about a 70% chance to make the Winnipeg Jets roster. If he does, it means he's impressing them and they might give him a chance to play alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. I would put him in the 30 point category with the raw skill to be higher but I think his learning curve is steeper than the first two. Coming back to Pierre-Luc Dubois, I don't think he will play more than a handful of games with the Blue Jackets if he plays at all this year.
5. Finally I leave you with my 2016 Rookie Laundry List. Below are the 10 other players who I think have potential to play and excel this year (not already mentioned above). You will see the % chance I think they have to make the roster as well as the points I am expecting from them. Keep in mind this is a lot of throwing darts at a board, there are injuries, roster changes, executive decisions and a plethora or other variables in this but if you've come this far into the article you are either a glutton for reading punishment or you've savored some facet of this.
1. Pavel Zacha talk about a marriage of skill and opportunity. He has size, pure goal scoring and a chance to crack the top line playing next to Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri.
2. Oliver Bjorkstrand - Anyone who watched the Lake Erie's monsters Cup run last year saw his pure scoring abilities. That plus his chance to land in the top 6 this year should give him a chance to be a 40 point player.
3. Alex Tuch - he's from BC, every year they spit out another NHL star. Only he's not a small quick point producer, he's a big able bodied force
4. Kiefer Bellows is a pure goal scorer and if they let him see some time alongside John Tavares or even on the 2nd line with Ryan Strome and Mathew Barzal, he will prove his worth. The Islanders are in need for what he can bring.
5. Travis Konecny he has all the facets to be an NHL star - as long as he doesn't suffer any more concussions. Given the playing time he can get to 40 points but I'm not sure if he'll see a full season.
6. Hudson Fasching has the size and physical presence to play well but more specifically he has the opportunity - RW is weak for Buffalo and he might fit their need.
7. Matthew Tkachuk has the size and physicality to make it much like Max Domi did but without the 1st line opportunity.
8. Mikhail Sergachev is the furthest along progression wise as the prospects go and could be your point producing D-man if they give him ANY time alongside Andrei Markov or Shea Weber he can get some point production.
9. Dylan Shadowy scores goals and scores often, 42 goals last year in the OHL he's playing great in initial camps and could get a chance on a third line along Riley Sheahan and Andreas Athanasiou who I've been outspoken about as a next start for that team.
10. Nick Schmaltz was part of the Championship winning Fighting Hawks team, playing time won't be bountiful but their program has been systematically excellent bringing up prospects over the last 4-5 years.