The 2017 draft wasn’t the most top-heavy but I remember it had me really excited. I remember going through the names and getting excited about this group of players that was going to come in and make a splash. Here we are, about four years removed and some names like Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, Elias Pettersson, and Jake Oettinger are really making a mark. Others that I was optimistic on like Lias Andersson, Nolan Patrick, and Callan Foote, not so much. Some picks shine immediately and others can take form later on. Below are a few who are showing an uptick in their value but are still quite low in ownership.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi. (C, Car, 4% Owned)
The third overall pick in the 2018 draft was underwhelming for the Montreal Canadiens. After time in Liiga, he was brought up to the NHL in 2018-2019 season scoring 34 points in 79 games. He then regressed scoring just 8 points across 36 games the next season. A third underwhelming season of 20 points across 56 games and Kotkaniemi signed a one year $6.1mm sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes (the Canadiens chose NOT to match the offer sheet). Over the last five games though, he is really stepping it up with three goals and 1 assist across six shots. It’s a small sample but it is certainly something! Remember, he’s just 21 and there is PLENTY of hockey potential ahead here. He’s sitting on the Hurricanes fourth line with Jordan Martinook and Steven Lorentz so this is a long-term investment. We might need to see him move up the lines for further production.
Lias Andersson (C, LA, 0% owned)
The 7th overall pick in the 2017 draft struggled to get his professional legs under him during his time with the Rangers. No season with more than 10 points, repeatedly being knocked off the puck and a lot of promotions and demotions brought him to the Kings where he scored 6 points across 23 games last year. An undisclosed injury kept him out to start this year so he’s only been in the lineup for a few games. He is currently manning the third line alongside Trevor Moore and Rasmus Kupari, but I could see a situation where he sees top six minutes. The part I am most optimistic about is that players like Lias can take longer to develop and adapt, so if he can continue to show improvement there is something to be seen here. I will be watching the next few weeks closely to see if he can show some growth.
Philip Broberg (D, Edm, 1% owned)
The 8th overall pick in the 2019 draft spent the next few seasons in the SHL where he had 21 total points across 89 total games. After a brief stint in the AHL, Edmonton called him up where he has risen in minutes played in each of his subsequent games. He netted an assist in his first game followed up by 5 shots on goal in his second game. He’s getting a hit in most games and while he’s not known as an overtly offensive presence, he had 10 assists in 13 games in the AHL and he should be up for a while with both Darnell Nurse and Slater Koekkoek out for a few weeks. There is more potential upside here than one would have thought over previous seasons across the sea.