April 14, 2013
In a typical year, the regular season would be complete and we would be discussing who should win the Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year. However, due to the lockout, this has been anything but a typical season and the regular season still has a couple of weeks remaining.
Now on with the prospect news and notes of the week:
Alex Chiasson has exploded onto the scene in Dallas, scoring five goals and adding an assist in his first five games as an NHLer. Chiasson is a power-type forward with good hands and should produce in a top-six role. Look to acquire him in keeper leagues, but don't expect 80 goals next season. But he is certainly capable of 20-25 goals and 45 or so points.
Jake Allen leads rookie goaltenders in most categories, including wins, goals against average and shutouts, and fantasy owners have taken notice. There are a couple of reasons to be concerned, however. In a best-case scenario, assuming he stays in St. Louis, Allen will be half of a time-share in net. More than likely he will be the backup, but could even end up back in the AHL if the Blues keep both Halak and Elliott. The other cause for pause is Allen's very average .904 save percentage, which may indicate his success is more a product of the team playing well in front of him more than Allen being outstanding. Still, he is a top goaltending prospect.
If you haven't yet, you should take notice of Buffalo's Brian Flynn. The former Maine captain has played great hockey for the Sabres since his recall and looks to be up to stay. Nine points in 20 games may not be overly impressive, but add in his plus -9 and factor in just 13 minutes of ice time per game and you can see where I'm heading. Flynn had 16 goals and 32 points in 45 games for Rochester prior to his recall and was a scoring star in college, so he does have some fantasy upside.
It's pretty difficult to figure what the Red Wings are doing with Gustav Nyquist. The talented Swede had a three-game point streak to start the month, but saw just 11 minutes of ice time against Chicago. I understand that Nyquist isn't the most defensively aware forward, but for a team that is near the bottom of the NHL in scoring you would think they would find a way to get him on the ice more.
Still in Detroit, Brendan Smith has had quite a disappointing season from a fantasy perspective. I've never thought that Smith would be a huge point-producer, but I did expect good numbers in other categories, including plus/minus. Instead, Smith on the season is even with only 16 hits and 24 penalty minutes. Smith needs to assert himself physically the way he did at Wisconsin and in Grand Rapids.
Another under the radar type is Antoine Roussel of the Stars. Roussel has come from nowhere (actually France) to put up a solid fantasy line, especially for league that count penalty minutes. The Frenchman has 83 PIMs and 65 hits to go along with 12 points in 32 games with Dallas. Not too bad.
I was lucky enough to nab Tyler Toffoli in the 3rd-round of my keeper league's prospect draft, and I'm pretty excited about his future. He has five points and is plus -3 in his first eight games in Los Angeles and looks like his offensive abilities will play nicely in the NHL.
Jonas Brodin looks like a future stud defenseman in Minnesota. His offense is starting to come around and he leads Wild defenseman in plus/minus. He has only nine points in 38 games, but I think he has 40-point potential and he may realize that potential sooner rather than later.
Nick Bjugstad signed a pro contract with Florida, much to the surprise of nobody. The Panthers immediately slotted the prospect into their lineup, where he has no points in his first two games. I'm not as high on Bjugstad as many, and not because I don't think he's talented. I watched Bjugstad play for the University of Minnesota on many occasions, and always felt that there was more there. It may be unfair to say that a player should have been more dominant at a level than he is or was, but that's how I felt about Bjugstad. He had a few games where he was clearly the best player on the ice, but I really felt he should have been on a regular basis given his physical skills. Time will tell if I'm right or wrong.
That's all for this edition of Rich's Rambling, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.