Hey everyone! With the season fast approaching, I’m going to put the team previews to the side and instead focus on the prospects. You can find my rankings under the banner at the top of the page and I’ll have an updated top 200 on one page up on Wednesday morning. I’m going to cover the rest of the Central Division in this post and then have an entire post on Pacific Division prospects later in the week. Let’s go team by team looking at their top few prospects and their fantasy potential:
Blue Chip – I have so much faith in Kyle Connor that he made my Top 150 overall for this season. Shot, skating, hands, strength, Connor has it all. His potential is through the roof making him an early favorite for the Calder and a personal favorite in dynasties. If he’s available in your dynasty, do what you can to get him.
Jack Roslovic is a step behind Connor but developed nicely in his first year in the AHL last season. Roslovic doesn’t have the explosiveness of other top tier guys but his shot, skating and hockey sense make up for it. He’s exceeded expectations every year for the past three to the point where I’m not going to doubt him any more. Roslovic is probably a year away but should become a mainstay for Winnipeg sooner than later.
High Upside – Kristian Vesalainen is your prototypical high upside type. The young Finn had an up and down season peaking as the MVP of the U-18 tournament. Last two MVP’s before Vesalainen? Matthews and Keller. The hands and shot are there already and he looks like he’s going to become a physical specimen. He’ll play in Finland this year and is still a couple years away but he’s an excellent lottery ticket in rookie drafts.
I’m not a big Brendan Lemieux fan but there is still a chance he becomes a power forward in the future. I’m more likely to gamble on him in leagues that include hits since we know he’s going to throw the body around. Whether the offense comes around at the NHL level is a whole different story.
Eric Comrie has the best chance to become the goalie of the future among current Jets prospects. I’m still a fan of Hellboy and think it’ll be him but Comrie has flashed some upside. Comrie is a couple years away and should get the majority of the starts for Manitoba this year.
Blue Chip – There are two studs in the Stars system and thankfully for them, they are on the blue line. Dallas was extremely fortunate to move to the 3rd spot in the 2017 draft allowing them to acquire Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen can do everything you want from a modern defenseman: great skater, puck mover, elite puck skills, throws the body when necessary, etc. He’ll need some time (hopefully just this year) but he has all of the tools at his disposal. I’d probably take Makar ahead of him (more on him later) in fantasy solely because Makar’s upside is insane but I wouldn’t blame you going with Heiskanen as the first defenseman off your board in rookie drafts.
Julius Honka is the other blue chipper and he should be on the Stars roster for the foreseeable future. He should usurp Klingberg as the #1D for Dallas until Heiskanen develops but the question is how valuable Honka can be in fantasy? The offense has progressed over the last few years to where he is putting up solid assist totals along with good penalty minutes. I don’t think he’s high upside but Honka is very safe.
High Upside – The Texas Stars should be an exciting AHL team this season, mostly due to Denis Guryanov and Roope Hintz. Let’s start with Guryanov. At this point, he’s a one-way player but that offensive ability is incredible. You won’t find many guys with his offensive ceiling in the AHL this year. What stands out most to me is how strong he is on his skates to go along with his excellent speed. The shot is close to world class as well. I can’t say for sure that it’s going to click but if it does, Guryanov is going to be incredible.
Hintz has been rising up the Stars system in large part due to his skating abilities. His instincts on the ice are amazing allowing him to go between the playmaker and goal scorer with ease. Hintz’ floor is higher than Guryanov’s because he has non-stop energy. This will be his first year playing in North America so I’m sure there will be an adjustment period but I expect Hintz to be making a regular impact come the end of the 2017-18 season for Texas. As far as NHL impact, he’s probably a couple years away, if not more, but the potential is there.
Blue Chip – Like the previous two teams, Colorado has two blue chip prospects. Cale Makar is one of the most unique prospects I can remember. Makar wasn’t even playing top junior hockey in Canada last season but he shot up everyone’s board to being picked 4th overall. His skating is incredible and he rarely hesitates in his decision making. I would bet on Makar being one of the best possession defensemen down the line. Makar’s stick-handling is terrific for a defenseman and he already knows how to play to his strengths. If I was doing a rookie draft, I’d probably take Makar second because of his insane upside. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against better competition this year when he takes the ice for UMass in the NCAA. Makar could become the defenseman Colorado has been desperately lacking in a couple years.
Tyson Jost will be in the top 6 for Colorado this year and going forward. Jost is a dynamic offensive player who plays at an extremely high tempo. He’s already on my streamer list this season and should become a hold sooner than later, probably in 2018-19. Jost should become a player who doesn’t surprise you when he scores 30 goals in a season.
Safe Picks – Colorado’s next two prospects in their system are high floor players that might not become great fantasy options. J.T. Compher is going to stick in the NHL for a long time, that I have no doubt. Arguably (at this point in time) the best piece Colorado received from Buffalo in the RoR deal, Compher should center the third line for the Avs this year. His two-way game is strong, especially for his age, and he scored at a nice clip in the AHL last season. My question with Compher is can he ever score at a high enough level to be fantasy relevant? I think he will but he’ll never be a huge difference maker. In super deep leagues, I’m much more willing to take Compher than say, in a 12-14 man league where I’m going high upside with prospect picks.
Nicolas Meloche is the other notable for me in the Avs organization. The former second round pick has flashed some offensive upside in the QMJHL and plays on an edge, one that should provide us with penalty minutes. He’ll make his pro debut this year in San Antonio where Meloche should continue to develop. He’s a couple years away but I see him as a guy who could be ranked higher on prospect lists this time next year.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Wednesday with an updated Top 200 list at the very least, perhaps another post to lead up towards the start of the season. Time is flying by, can’t wait! As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Thanks for reading, take care!