Happy Friday Hockey Fans…
Since this a fantasy based website and we are nearing the end of the NHL regular season…let us take at the bunched-up rookie scoring race with plenty of fantasy worthy star power….
Jonathan Huberdeau (47GP-14G-14A-28P, -16, 18 PIM, 112 SOG)
The Panthers and fantasy owners of Huberdeau have to be thrilled with the first year’s production as he sits tied with Ottawa’s Conacher for the rookie scoring race. He shows to be every bit the future franchise player that Florida hoped he would be when he was drafted in 2011.
Cory Conacher (45GP-11G-17A-28P, +1, 18 PIM, 67 SOG)
The diminutive rookie standout had to have been surprised to be traded at the deadline for Bishop, a goalie 10 inches taller than Conacher. His early success is promising but I remain a bit conservative in predicting his future offensive upside. I could see him landing in the 60-70 point range during his prime years but it could take a few years to get there.
Brendan Gallagher (43GP-14G-12A-26P, +7, 31 PIM, 113 SOG)
Gallagher gets overshadowed in Montreal by the high draft status of fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk but he’s been as every bit as valuable as #27. His compete level is off the charts and he’s one of those players that just finds a way to get things done based purely on determination. In that way, Gallagher reminds me of a player like Brad Marchand. The Canadiens have a good one in Gallagher and he should become an extremely valuable versatile player…hell, he already is. Gallagher sits third in scoring and second in shots on goal among freshmen skaters.
Nail Yakupov (46GP-12G-14A-26P, -9, 24 PIM, 71 SOG)
Yakupov has been trending upwards recently but his consistency needs to improve…and that will come with time. However, as I said when the Oilers’ drafted Yakupov, I don’t expect big offensive numbers until the team moves some of its tremendous depth up front. He’s a player that needs to be playing big minutes and there’s too many bodies right now. I am a bit surprised that Yakupov hasn’t missed time to injury (it will come) and also that he only averages 1.51 shots on goal (he was a shooting machine in Sarnia last year).
Brandon Saad (45GP-10G-16A-26P, +16, 12 PIM, 95 SOG)
Huge fan of Brandon Saad and I definitely think he is a worthy Calder Trophy candidate…even if he’s skating on a line with tremendous talent (Toews and Hossa). He’s a very smart player and reads the ice extremely well making him the perfect complimentary player for skilled top-line players. Saad is starting to make me look good after I stated post-2011 NHL Entry Draft that Brandon Saad was worthy of a first round selection.
Alex Galchenyuk (47GP-9G-17P-26P, +12, 20 PIM, 77 SOG)
My favourite to win the Calder Trophy is the hottest rookie right now and if it were a full 82-game NHL Season, I feel as though Alex Galchenyuk would finish atop the rookie scoring lead. He’s an extremely intelligent player and he is one of the best students of the game I seen. He has become a complete game player and figured out how the pro game is played….and done so very quickly. Galchenyuk has six goals and 11 points in his past 12 games (going pointless only twice) despite mediocre team success. I remain steadfast that Galchenyuk will develop into the best NHL player from the 2012 NHL Draft class.
Outside the NHL….
I have mentioned this name countless times and I am sure most hockey fans are familiar with him now but Connor McDavid is the next generational talent coming to the NHL ….in 2015-16. Yep, a long wait! McDavid isn’t eligible until the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (that’s three drafts from now) but he is tearing apart the IIHF Under-18 World Championships setting new goals (8) and points (14) that Tavares previously held. His extraordinary play is all the more impressive considering he’s two years younger than most of the tournaments participants. If you are in a league that allows drafting players prior to their NHL draft years then snap this kid up or start acquiring first round picks. He’s the closest thing to Crosby out there and could rival his talents.
Stefan Matteau (New Jersey 2012 1st round pick) was released from his QMJHL team, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, this past week after the big winger decided to leave the team responding to a benching. This is the second team Matteau has left this season after he decided to opt out of playing for the US NTDP to join the Armada. The move was especially surprising because Matteau’s father, Stephane (former New York Ranger), is the assistant coach of the team. Ironically, after the big burly winger left Blainville-BoisBriand, his team was involved in a bench clearing brawl including all four goaltenders. Check out Matteau’s DobberProspects profile here.
Tampa Bay prospect Nikita Kucherov’s team, Rouyn-Noranda, was eliminated in four straight games by the powerful Halifax Mooseheads but the young forward had great playoff success tallying nine goals and 24 points in only 14 playoff games (good for 5th currently). His regular season totals weren’t too shabby either as found the gamesheet with 32 goals and 63 points in 33 games with Quebec and Rouyn-Noranda.
Kucherov’s linemate Sven Andrighetto, an import from Switzerland, is a player to watch. The second-year Q player put up gaudy numbers this post season and leads all QMJHL’ers including MacKinnon and Drouin with eight goals and 30 points (14GP). Adrighetto is undrafted.
Speaking of the skilled duo from Halifax, Nathan MacKinnon picked up two goals and four points while Jonathan Drouin added two goals of his own and another assist in the Mooseheads’ 9-6 win to eliminate the Armada. The top end of this 2013 NHL Entry Draft is ridiculously stacked. Yes, I agree that Portland Winterhawk defenseman Seth Jones is first overall worthy but Drouin, MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov and Valeri Nichushkin could easily vie for that spot in any other year as well. It’s extremely difficult to rank these players.
Personally, my gut says that Drouin becomes the best fantasy option, followed by MacKinnon, Barkov and Nichushkin. However, Seth Jones is the easy choice from an NHL impact standpoint for first overall but I’d seriously consider Drouin there too…he’s that good, in my opinion. He reminds me too much of a Giroux/Kane cross and that’s scary good.
By the way, the Florida Panthers have clinched 30th place. Congrats? They have the best odds to win the 2013 NHL Draft lottery with 25%.
Be sure to check Dobber Prospects often as we continue to profile and update NHL drafted prospects but also introduce you to those players eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and your fantasy leagues.
Thanks for reading,