It’s finally opening week! The season starts Wednesday and I can not wait. I am going to set up some RCL’s later today that draft tonight and Tuesday night so if you haven’t joined a league yet, do so here. To wrap up my team previews, I’m going to look at the prospects in the Pacific Division from the four teams who made the playoffs. Let’s get right to it!
Brandon Montour is the only blue chip prospect in the system. Montour looked excellent in his 27 game stint for Anaheim last season. What excites me about Montour is that he’s progressively offensively every year in his career, peaking last year with 32 points and 34 PIM in 36 games in the AHL. The only problem with Montour in the short term is that the Ducks are loaded defensively. He might get off to a good start due to the injuries but Lindholm and Vatanen should be back in November. Long term, Montour could become a guy who plays on the top pair and first power play unit, especially with Theodore now in Vegas. He’s not near the top of my list as far as fantasy defensemen go but I do like Montour a fair amount.
Sam Steel had a massive year in Regina last season after being drafted with pick 30 in the 2016 draft. Steel finished with almost 2 points per game scoring 50 goals and 81 assists in 66 games. He’ll be with Regina again this year before presumably spending a year in the AHL. A lot of people who are in the know that I trust love Steel so I’m starting to have more faith in his long term projection.
There isn’t really any other Ducks prospects that I like for fantasy. Jacob Larsson is their third best prospect and I like him a lot for real life but that’s because his defensive play is terrific for his age. His offense has a long way to go as he scored only 5 points in 29 games for Frolunda last season. He’ll be in San Diego this year and there’s a chance he puts it together as he’s a confidence puck carrier but Larsson is only a lottery ticket at this point for dynasty leagues.
Despite starting awful for the Edmonton Oilers last year, Jesse Puljujarvi showed his upside once he went down to Bakersfield in the AHL last season. He should be a main stay for the Oilers this year and for the foreseeable future. He has plenty of upside as he fully deserved to go 4th overall in the 2016 draft. He still belongs as one of the first picks in a prospect draft.
Kailer Yamamoto looks like he’s actually going to start in Edmonton at the beginning of this season despite being 5’8 and 150-160 pounds. I don’t expect him to stick past his first nine games but you never know. The offensive ability is massive but he obviously will go through a big adjustment period going through a bigger, faster game. The penalty minutes and hits won’t be there but there’s no denying his potential offensive impact.
Tyler Benson also has a bunch of upside but he has had a ton of injuries. Benson has hurt his groin and back along with additional setbacks to those injuries. Additionally, he suffered from a sports hernia last season. I really like Benson’s hands and ability to use his body when necessary, it’s just a matter of staying healthy.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Most people have Jeremy Roy second in the Sharks system but I like him so much that I’d put him first. The defenseman has excellent skill on top of having excellent on-ice awareness. He reminds me of Duncan Keith at his age; obviously I’m not saying Roy is going to become Keith but he has that kind of upside. I suspect he’ll make the Sharks in 2018-19 after spending a year with the Barracuda. Overall, Roy simply plays a very steady game in all facets.
Joshua Norris is the player most people rank first in the system and it’s not a knock on him that I have him second, it’s just liking Roy that much. Norris was just picked 19th overall in the 2017 draft and will be at Michigan this year. I’ve only seen him briefly playing for the USA U18 team but Norris seemingly made the right decision on a regular basis. He’s a pass first player but knows when to use his shot, one that has a very quick release. Norris was drafted around where he should have been so take him in rookie drafts accordingly.
The Flames don’t have any blue chippers, mostly because their guys have all graduated to the NHL, but they have very nice depth. Mark Jankowski was considered to be a major project when he was selected in the 2012 draft but he’s finally closing in on the NHL. After spending 4 years at Providence, Jankowski spent last season with the Stockton Heat scoring 56 points in 64 games. There are so many forwards in his way in Calgary which makes things difficult for Jankowski to make an impact. He’s already 23 years old so even though he’s the top guy in their system, he’s not my favorite.
One of the best goaltending prospects in the world right now is Tyler Parsons. Parsons was outstanding for London and the USA team in the World Juniors. Parsons will now be in Stockton or the ECHL just to ensure him playing time. It’ll take some time for Parsons to reach the NHL but I do believe he’s the goalie of the future for Calgary. He’s up there with Igor Shestyorkin, Juuse Saros and a couple others as far as long term goalie prospects go.
Juuso Valimaki, a defenseman from Finland, was the first round pick for Calgary in the 2017 draft. He’s playing in the WHL again this year for Tri-City where he scored 61 points in 60 games last year. He’s a great puck handler and puck mover giving him a chance to be an incredible fantasy asset down the line. Look for Valimaki to play for Finland again in the World Juniors on their top pair. I could see him as a guy who makes a jump in prospect rankings next offseason.
Rasmus Andersson makes some head-scratching decisions but the upside is certainly there for him to make an impact in all three zones. The Swede will also be in Stockton this season where he scored 22 points in 54 games last season. I’m hoping that he can take a significant jump and play his way onto the Flames roster in 2018-19. He’s more of a lottery ticket but one worth mentioning because of his willingness to play a powerful game.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be wrapping up the prospects tomorrow with the rest of the Pacific Division, then have a podcast for Wednesday morning with the Western Conference over-unders along with a quick preview of Wednesday’s games. I’ll also be sure to include streamers in the podcast post; the season is upon us! As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below and be sure to join an RCL! Thanks for reading, take care!