In fantasy hockey, like in reality, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is your No.1 pick out of this year’s crop of draftees. He has the skills, the upside and is the perfect fit for the Oilers. And his odds of making the jump this season are fairly strong. Here are some thoughts on a few other players who were taken.
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado
I like him for the long term, but if you use Chris Stewart as an example of a career path comparison, it will be four years before Landeskog has fantasy relevance. He makes a great pick for the summer of 2012; otherwise make sure your keeper team has the bench space for him.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
A team on the rise in Florida (because they can’t really fall, can they?), Huberdeau becomes the most talented offensive player in the Panthers pipeline. He is not NHL ready, but on a team in desperate need (and Florida is at the top of this list) he may be rushed. An early Calder candidate.
Adam Larsson, New Jersey
He’ll be a stud, but it won’t happen quickly like it did with Drew Doughty. It will be more like Victor Hedman.
Ryan Strome, NY Islanders
I don’t think it could have worked out any better for Strome - what a great team of future stars he has joined. Because he is a right-handed shot, the Isles may keep him at center to play with Nino Niederreiter in a couple of years. Strome will get a long look in camp.
Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa
I would have been happier to see a more offensive player, such as Strome, go here. But Zibanejad is a good one and I would compare his next few years to Washington’s Marcus Johansson, who spent one more season in Sweden after his draft year before crossing the Atlantic.
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg
I really like him in Winnipeg. A big, talented center, he’ll provide the Jets with what they need in a few years. In the meantime, fans will have to make do with Nik Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov.
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia
So the deal turns out to be Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins. Not bad. Six months ago, the discussion was whether Larsson, Nugent-Hopkins or Couturier would go first overall. Is Couturier really a bust already? The answer is no. He’ll be a solid second-line center, but in Philly the wait for him to arrive will be a long one.
Dougie Hamilton, Boston
When he fills out, Hamilton will be every bit as good as Tyler Myers is right now. At 6-foot-5, Hamilton will make a formidable pairing along with Zdeno Chara in about three years.
Sven Bartschi, Calgary
The perfect selection for the Flames. After Jarome Iginla, Calgary’s talent drops off pretty quickly on the wing to Alex Tanguay and after that it drops to Rene Bourque. Then the bottom drops out as we get into the 45-point players. It is my opinion Bartschi has an upside that comes close to countryman Niederreiter and I think he’ll make the jump a year from now. Bold words, I know, but Calgary is so thin at the position he’ll make a splash sooner than you think and he is capable of playing a checking role if need be.
Joel Armia, Buffalo
A lot will depend on how Buffalo develops him. He has the shot and the hockey sense to be a top player, but is the desire there? I won’t be taking him this year, but another season could easily change my mind.
Matt Puempel, Ottawa
He could be the Brett Connolly of this draft. A cracked hip made Puempel’s season a shorter one and that, in turn, drove his stock down. He’ll need next year to (hopefully) dominate at the junior level and if he does he could have an impact in Ottawa as early as 2012-13.
Vladislav Namestnikov, Tampa Bay
If his name was Joe Smith, he would have been a top 10 pick. His talent and upside are high and there aren’t too many GMs who would have more influence over getting a Russian player to choose the NHL over the Kontinental League than Steve Yzerman.
Ty Rattie, St. Louis
I doubt he’ll crack a Blues lineup that is deep with young, skilled talent, but if he does his impact will be felt. Another Jeff Skinner? I like where the Blues are going and for that reason alone Rattie is on my radar.
Rocco Grimaldi, Florida
Like all 5-foot-6 players, Grimaldi is probably seven years away from being fantasy relevant, but he will get there. A player his size does not get drafted in the second round unless he has elite skills. And in Florida, you can shave two or three years off the wait time because they need a player with Grimaldi’s skill-set sooner rather than later. Great fit.
Tomas Jurco, Detroit
The Detroit organization takes its time with prospects, but it’s done right. Jurco is less of a risk now, but more of a wait. His upside will fall somewhere between two other prospects who are on the cusp: Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar.
Alexander Khokhlachev, Boston
Great pick by the Bruins. They are so deep that if Khokhlachev returns to Russia, they can easily brush it off. But if he remains here, they have added a potential star. He’s worth sitting on for two years to see how the situation plays out. This situation is similar to those of Evgeni Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.