Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantastic predictions and analysis along the way.
This week is Bubble Keeper week where the writers at Dobber weigh in on tough Guardian decisions, so we’ll be pushing back the next installment of the Exploiting Short Memories series on the thoughtful use of evasion thresholds (read part 1 here) See you next week. Instead, we’ll consider a few prospects who might be on the verge of earning a spot on your farming team.
Dobber’s ratings for each player are included to provide context on how much value they place overall.
Jan Jenik, RW, ARI
Dobber’s Rank: 42nd overall
It’s been a slow but steady burn for Jenik since 2019-20 (his Draft+2 year) when he first appeared on fantasy radars after scoring just over two points per game, albeit in a limited sample of 27 matches. I notice every time a junior player, even an overly old one, hovers around a two ppg pace because that’s such a rare step.
Mathew Barzal, for reference, scored 79 points in 41 WHL games in his D+2 (not quite two points per game) before exploding for 85 points the following year as an NHL rookie. Dylan Guenther, Jenik’s other prospect in Arizona, also hit two points per game, but in his draft year (only 12 games).
Of course, Jenik plays a very different game from Barzal and Guenther. He’s a skilled Ravager who enjoys throwing punches and flailing his opponents while hurting them on the scoresheet with slick hands and a mean wrist flick.
He excels at elevating the tight puck with both his forehand and backhand.
Since spending his draft year in the second-tier Czech league, Jenik is a year or two behind in development compared to what we’d want from a top NHL prospect. He seemed to take a year to acclimatize to the OHL on D+1 before exploding on D+2. Then he showed the same pattern in the AHL: he took a year to adapt, then retired last year for 47 points in 51 games.
One thing that makes Jenik an attractive keeper is that his waiting time is minimal. He’s heading into the final year of his entry-level contract with Arizona and has a decent chance of staying with the big club in 2022-23. He has more pluses than he gets credit for in fantasy and profiles himself as a Max Comtois type who can play in the top six and collect a lot of runs, shots, PIM and hits.
In his brief 13-game NHL audition last year, Jenik recorded three points, 25 hits and 22 shots with just over 10 minutes on the ice per game. Those are 82-game totals of 20 runs, 157 hits and 138 shots.
With more ice time, even if his rates lag a bit, those totals will be even higher. Although he’s been off the radar lately, Jenik could be worth a keeper spot on your farm last year. Even if his ultimate cap ends up being lower than some of his peers (Dobber projects his edge into the 70s), there just aren’t many prospects that can offer his immediate blend of physicality and scoring.
Emil Andrae, D, PHI
Dobber Rank: 50th overall
Standing just 5-9, Andrae endured a predictable gauntlet of doubt in fantasy circles. Increasingly predictable, too, are the counter-arguments that mention “the modern blue liner” relying more on speed and hockey savvy than size to excel.
Both are true for Andrae. His height will be an obstacle that he is more than capable of overcoming with his remarkable speed and next-level hockey sense.
The other blow to Andrae has always been a long wait. He played for HV71 in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier league, last year in their D+2, which is a bit strange to see for a top prospect. But he also played for HV71 the year before when they were in the SHL – the problem was they got relegated after that year and had to earn their way. They did and will play again in the SHL in 2022-23 thanks in part to Andrae’s phenomenal 33 points in 41 games.
Andrae is a great upside prospect to sit on in Dynasty formats. But in a goalkeeping league where places on the farm are limited, you’ll want to look elsewhere for now despite his incredible season and promising trajectory. He’ll likely move to the AHL in 2023-24, then make the jump to the NHL a year or two later, which is a long time to keep a player parked on your farm.
Another consideration, however, is its value as a commercial chip. Andrae has always excelled for Sweden on the international stage, and this year’s World Junior Championship was no different. Heading into Saturday’s bronze medal game, Andrae was eighth overall in tournament scoring, second among defensemen behind Olen Zellweger (ANA), with eight points in just six games.
The WJC buzz is real, and it’s in full effect about Andrae right now.
If you have a free spot on your farm in a keeper format, you may be able to capitalize on the tournament hype by keeping it and flipping it to another manager who sees the skill but doesn’t realize (or don’t care). don’t care) that Andrae won’t see significant minutes in the NHL until 2025-26.
Cayden Primeau, G, MTL
Dobber’s Rank: 15th overall
Outside of top goalie prospects like Jesper Wallstedt and Yaroslav Askarov, I wouldn’t generally advocate filling a farmyard spot with a goalie given their obscene average wait times and low chances of success. However, with the news that incumbent Carey Price will likely miss the entire 2022-23 campaign, Primeau shares have just risen.
Primeau currently sits third on the Canadiens list behind Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault, who have never been reliable options in the NHL. After two glittering years at Northeastern in the NCAA, Primeau went on to have three solid AHL campaigns, including brief glimpses at the NHL level.
Although he was absolutely stellar in his 12 NHL games last year, it’s important to remember that he was supporting one of the worst teams in the league. Take these numbers with a grain of salt.
In fact, don’t read them at all. Just watch him do that sweet, sweet glove, save on Kevin Fiala instead.
Montreal is expected to step up in 2022-23, and Primeau is coming off a dominant playoff run to the conference finals with Laval where he posted 14 wins, 2.17 GAA and 0.936 SV%.
He’ll probably only hurt fantastic teams this year, especially given how thin Montreal’s defense body is on paper, but he makes great speculation, keep moving forward if you can fit him given the uncertainty in the Montreal net with Price may be out of the picture for good.
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