Fantasy Hockey's NHL Prospect Organizational Rankings
What's the point of a website dedicated to hockey prospects from a fantasy perspective if we can't rank them? After all, fantasy hockey is all about rankings and ratings - DobberHockey's Top 300 Keeper League Fantasy Hockey Players and the Top 215 Prospects are the most popular articles on the site.
DobberProspects has undergone a massive project that has taken a couple of months to compile and complete. First, we went to each writer/scout and had them rank the Top 10 prospects on the team that they are covering - from a fantasy hockey standpoint. If you go to each team page (via the menu along the top), you will see the results of that survey.
Then, the senior writers, managers and myself reviewed everything and ranked the organizations. We considered the following criteria:
1. The amount of fantasy-worthy players. Team X with 12 guys with the potential to be on a fantasy hockey team in the future would score better here than Team Y with 10.
2. The quality of those players. If Team X's 12 guys are all of decent quality, but Team Y has nine guys of similar quality but one guy who is an absolute blue-chip stud, then Team Y's score will reflect that.
3. Upside at the NHL level. We in fantasy hockey prefer that potential 90-point long shot than the guaranteed grinder.
4. The wait time. If the aforementioned Team X has 12 guys, but none of them are expected in the NHL for three years, then the score will suffer. In fantasy hockey, we're not a patient lot.
And the above criteria explains the difference in fantasy hockey versus 'real' hockey. In 'real' hockey, organizations don't mind waiting. In 'real' hockey, organizations love a good grinder or defensive specialist as much as they would a second-line scorer. And in real hockey, they would sooner have the 'sure thing' third-liner than the 'long shot' star.
The panel, besides myself, included Managing Editor Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood), Associate Editor Rich Dillon (@RichDillon17), and Senior Writers Jason Banks, Eric Daoust (@DH_EricDaoust), Nathan Kanter (@NathanKanter11), Andrew Ward (@aWardAvs) and Kevin Won (@flamestalker).
Here are the 30 NHL organizations, ranked by prospect appeal in fantasy hockey (click the team name to see the Top 10 players):
Yes, in fantasy leagues we look at the Flyers with disdain. You look at Scott Laughton and then…the rest of the players. And Laughton is several years away from big points at the NHL level. You 'hope' that Petr Straka pans out. Or Jason Akeson. Or Michael Raffl. But every team has guys with similar 'hope'. The Flyers are covered by Jenn Lardani (@JLardani19).
The track record isn't a great one. The 'Canes drafted Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner…but neither of them were 'developed' by the organization since they were brought in at 18. Elias Lindholm looks like a good one…but again, he's in the NHL at 18. Zach Boychuk was a stud prospect who, somewhere along the line, was ruined as a fantasy prospect altogether. Ryan Murphy is one bright spot and Sergey Tolchinsky looks like a nice find. But too many Drayson Bowman results. And that's not to say that Bowman won't pan out, but if he does it won't be as the first-liner we were hoping for and it's taken far too long (six years and counting). The 'Canes are covered by Andrew Ward (@aWardAvs).
I constantly marvel, over at the DobberHockey side, about this organization's ability to bat 1.000 when it comes to their prospect forwards with fantasy appeal. The Sharks tend to load up on defensive defensemen and goaltenders, plus the odd potential depth forward. And maybe once every year they'll grab an offensive forward. And that guy will become Joe Pavelski, or Jonathan Cheechoo, or Logan Couture. Or Tomas Hertl. I guess you call the depth chart 'top heavy'. As in - you like the first two or three names for your fantasy squad, but ignore the rest. The Sharks are covered by Tim Graveline (@tsgraveline).
Extremely close to the Sharks in terms of the panel's consensus rating and quite similar in the fact that the fantasy prospect depth chart is 'top heavy'. After Jon Merrill, Damon Severson and Reid Boucher, the appeal really drops. One of our panelists actually had the Devils dead last. Myself, I had them 26th.
Four of the panelists had the Blue Shirts in the Bottom 5 and six of the eight panelists had the team in the Bottom 10. Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Danny Kristo are already owned in a lot of keeper leagues, while Jesper Fast, Marek Hrivik and Michael St. Croix have at least warranted consideration. But there are no future point-per-game players here.
One of the best teams in hockey has one of the weaker pipelines (from a fantasy standpoint). Short on offensive forwards, the team has long been focused on defensemen. And why not? Whenever they need a forward they merely trade one of their prize defensemen to land him (think Ryan Whitney/Chris Kunitz or Alex Goligoski/James Neal). After Beau Bennett, you have a handful of very valuable and appealing defensemen led by Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta. The Penguins are covered by Seth Brisendine (@SBrisScout).
Morgan Rielly is the second ranked prospect defenseman on the DobberHockey prospect list. But then the bottom really drops out here. Three members of our panel had the Leafs in the Top 17, with one of them having the Leafs 11th. As a result, the consensus ranking received a boost. Pardon my cynicism, as I had them 27th on my own ballot - so bear my bias in mind. T.J. Brennan continues to sit among the AHL's leading scorers, while Josh Leivo has impressed during his brief NHL tenure. The Leafs are covered by Jason Banks (who incidentally had them 25th on his ballot).
Evgeny Kuznetsov is arguably the best prospect in hockey, but he carries a risk. Were it not for the KHL, his ranking, and by extension Washington's ranking, would be higher. Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick are already on the team, while Philipp Grubauer is a very promising netminder. Andre Burakovsky, drafted 23rd overall this past summer, is already making waves at the OHL level. Nathan Kanter covers the Capitals (@NathanKanter11).
In Darnell Nurse, the Oilers could have their next star puck-moving defenseman. And the undrafted Mark Arcobello is making a huge impression at the NHL level. Oscar Klefbom is a stud, but with Nurse and Justin Schultz already in the fold he may be more of a shutdown guy. After that, the cupboards get pretty bare, unless Linus Omark can find a home somewhere. The Oilers are covered by Franklin Steele (@FranklinSteele).
The Kings have a handful of solid options, led by Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. As with all teams, the Kings have a few 'ifs'. But with the Kings it seems as though they have quite a few more of them then the other teams. Los Angeles is covered by Adeel Ahmad.
Thanks in no small part to last summer's first-round picks Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk, the Canucks are quickly improving what was a pretty weak pipeline. Both Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson are appealing goaltending prospects, while Nicklas Jensen should be a fixture on one of Vancouver's scoring line in three years. Austin Wallace (@austeane) covers the Canucks for DobberProspects.
With eight panelists and 30 NHL teams, the highest possible rating that a team could get is 240. The Blues are the final team, 12 teams in all, to fall short of 100 (they had a 95 score). As great as Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jake Allen and Jordan Schmaltz are, the fantasy appeal falls very quickly after that. The Blues are covered by Eric Daoust (@DH_EricDaoust).
In David Rundblad and Brendan Gormley, Phoenix has arguably the best one-two punch in the league when it comes to offensive prospect defensemen. Add recent first-round draftee Max Domi and the fast-improving Henrik Samuelsson and the team has quite a group coming through the pipeline. The Coyotes are covered by Keith Duggan (@KDuggan92)
Both Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk were not yet graduated as of training camp when the votes were compiled. The next organizational fantasy hockey rankings will see the Canadiens freefall as a result. As solid as Nathan Beaulieu and Sebastien Collberg are in terms of fantasy appeal, they won't be enough to keep Montreal in the Top 20. The Habs are covered by Eric Daoust (@DH_EricDaoust).
As decent as the prospect group looks from a fantasy hockey standpoint, the Flames stand to drop a few spots next year. Sven Baertschi, Sean Monahan and Karri Ramo will have all graduated and the Flames are playing too well to take a run at a top pick. Will the latter situation change? Time will tell. The Flames are covered by Sheldon Curtis.