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, we’ll be highlighting several potential low-profile defenders with high offensive potential who might be overlooked in your league. Additionally, we’ll delve into the widespread misconception that Moritz Seider’s emergence negatively impacted Red Wings stalwart Filip Hronek.
It looks like Nils Lundkvist (NYR), like Vitaly Kravtsov, Lias Andersson and others before him, are unhappy with the lack of opportunities with Rangers and plan to skip training camp this fall. A swap would likely do wonders for the 22-year-old defender’s fantastic value, so it’s something to watch closely as the season approaches.
Lundkvist is an offensive-minded power-play specialist with excellent vision and four-way mobility. It was always going to be tough for him to excel in New York with Adam Fox sucking the power play all the time indefinitely and other young defensemen like K’Andre Miller, Braden Schneider and even Zac Jones seemingly all getting past the young Swede for playing time. .
It will be interesting to see what the trade market looks like for a small attacking defender like Lundkvist. This development reminded me of an interesting fact Twitter Thread from Hockey Prospecting.com creator Byron Bader from last month on how little blue offensive defensemen are one of the last inefficiencies in the hockey market:
This whole thread deserves a quick read. The short version is that bigger forwards and defenders with caps in the middle or bottom of the six are usually still drafted long before smaller PP specialists who have more home run potential. If this trend slowly corrects in the coming years as the game continues to evolve in a direction favorable to smaller, lighter players, the value of drafted players who fit this mold should also increase. Here are a few worth highlighting.
Lane Hutson (MON)
Hutson, a product of the USA’s development program, has received an incredible amount of post-draft review and accolades since the Canadians ranked him 62nd overall this year, so I won’t dwell too long on him here. But Hutson is the poster child for market inefficiency to which Bader refers. He’s 5-foot-8, 159 pounds, scored 63 points in 60 games as draft-eligible, and finished the year with the third-highest star potential (60%) in his class — tied with Denton. Mateychuk (CBJ) behind only Danila Yurov (MIN, 71%) and Simon Nemec (NJD, 62%).
At least according to Bader’s HP model, which is based on historical comparables, Hutson is far more likely to achieve stardom than fellow Hab and 2022 first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky. Let that sink in for a moment.
If you want to dig deeper into what makes Hutson so special, here are two great video threads from Dobber Prospects Associate Editor Hadi Kalakeche and DP Writer Sebastian High:
Miguel Tourigny (MON)
Another dynamic but small Habs prospect, Tourigny is an incredible skater who makes efficient transitions with the puck and has a great shot. After every team passed him in 2020 and 2021, Montreal finally rolled the dice on his talent this year in the seventh round (216th overall).
His size and mediocre production the year of the draft (30 points in 61 games in the QMJHL) explain why he was passed the first time. But Tourigny then posted rates of 1.13 and 1.23 points per game the following two years, leaving him with a current star potential of 15% even as an overage – not bad at all for a pick. seventh round.
Of course, the reason teams have generally avoided smaller defensemen like Tourigny is that they tend to struggle on the defensive side of things once they play against bigger, faster NHL players. Indeed, these are the areas where Tourigny struggles and may represent the reason he never makes the NHL.
Check out the statistical portrait painted by QMJHL scout Andy Lehoux:
Tourigny clearly has dynamic attacking qualities. He led all Q defenders last year, including top players like Lukas Cormier (VGK) and Jérémie Poirier (CGY) in scoring and transitions and was second only to William Villenueve (TOR) in play.
But as you can see, his passing, puck battles, physicality, and general defensive play are notable weaknesses. He will have to work seriously in these areas to put himself in a position to take his attacking talents to the highest level. He’s a player to watch over the next couple of years as he transitions into professional hockey, but it’s probably too early to add him outside of the deeper leagues.
Dominick Fensore (RCA)
Although Fensore (5-7, 150lbs) isn’t as dynamic as Hutson, his 0.76 draft year scoring rate with USDP topped Seamus Casey’s (NJD) 0.69 mark. ) eligible in 2022 with the same program. Last year, in his third year of college hockey, Fensore scored 31 points in 35 games, playing a major role for the Boston University heavyweight and leading the entire team in scoring. He will return to BU in 2022-23 before making the jump to professional hockey.
Like the others, Fensore fell in the third round and largely remained off the fantasy radar due to his short stature. Plus, because he’s considered “exceptionally tall,” he’ll likely take 400 games to reach his breakout threshold and show his ultimate edge. But he’s trending for a player that many poolers probably haven’t heard of.
Another prospect to watch in the points-only and Dynasty keeper formats in particular. If he does well in professional hockey in 2023-2024, now would be the time to hide him. Prepare for a long wait, perhaps comparable to Senators prospect Erik Brannstrom.
Filip Hronek (DET)
Moving from inefficiencies to myths for a while, there is a widespread perception in fantasy that 24-year-old Hronek has declined as a fantasy asset given Seider’s dominance and the impending arrival of Simon Edvinsson and Albert. Johansson. But did Seider’s winning season at Calder really have a negative impact on Hronek’s output?
The short answer is no. Hronek has coexisted relatively smoothly with Seider in 2021-22 and will continue to be a fixture in the top four of a rising Red Wings team, even after Edvinsson and Johansson make the jump. In fact, he just broke his breakout threshold, halfway through last year, and is a solid “buying low” player heading into 2022-23.
Here’s why: For most of the three seasons before Seider arrived, Hronek was the benchmark for the Wings, both defensively and offensively. Last year, with the German super-rookie in the fold, Hronek’s power-play share dropped by around 13%, which knocked his PPI total down four points, and he received around a minute and a half less average total ice time last year than the year before.
But with Seider (light blue bubble above) taking on the best players from other teams, Hronek has actually faced a lower quality of competition in 2021-22 than in his previous three years. He also received slightly more offensive zone starts than Seider.
The end result was that Hronek released numbers very much in line with what he produced in his previous three campaigns. Here are his scoring rhythms from 82 games, starting in his rookie year: 41, 39, 38, 40. Incredibly, none of his scoring stats have varied much either. In the same order, here are his points on the power play (5, 10, 11, 7), his shots (1.59, 1.92, 2.04, 1.71), his hits (1.43, 1 .62, 1.2, 0.9) and its blocks (0.7, 1.14, 0.82, 1.04).
Hronek is a fantastic above-average defenseman who will reliably bring a half point, a few shots and a hit and a block per game, seemingly regardless of who else is patrolling Detroit’s blue line. If it breaks out in 2022-23 and sees the expected 25% jump in production, that pushes it into 50-point territory with decent peripherals. Dobber has it at 43 points in the Fantasy Guide. Get your copy here.
Although Hronek went half a season to 200 games, the young defender’s scoring actually went from a 44-point pace to 35 after hitting his projected breakout, which is a little confusing. But as with 2016-17 Nathan MacKinnon and 2020-21 Nico Hischier, which were discussed a few weeks ago, Hronek’s post-BT struggles may have less to do with him and more to do with the poor team that put him there. ‘surrounded.
Detroit came out of the gates strong last year, led by a point-per-game Lucas Raymond, the immediately intimidating Seider and a rejuvenated Dylan Larkin. But they faltered on the stretch just as Hronek passed his BT. From Hronek’s 200th through 245th game, the Wings have won just 16 times, lost 30 times, and been outscored by 60 goals. It was just hard work for Detroit to complete the 2021-22 season, and there’s a good chance they’ll do more consistently this year, including Hronek.