Prospect Mailbag: DeBrincat's upside in Chicago, defensemen on the rise, 2018 NHL draft watch

Prospect Mailbag: DeBrincat has Calder Trophy potential with the Blackhawks; young defenders to watch for the Flyers and Jets; looking out for No. 1 in the 2018 NHL draft class & more.
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It’s that time of the summer, where the transactions lay fallow, but the true diehards still want their hockey fix. And I have no problem feeding that urge. So let’s get into some mailbag questions, shall we? As always, the topic is prospects and I got a ton of responses on Twitter, so don’t be surprised to see your initial queries stretched out over a couple of weeks here. Here we go:

@pharmazizasks: Will Alex DeBrincat make the Blackhawks? Is he the new Artemi Panarin?

I am very high on DeBrincat right now and I know Chicago is, too. I believe he will earn a spot on the squad and, if put in the right position, he'll be a Calder Trophy contender. Is he the new Panarin? Well, Panarin put up 77 points as a 24-year-old rookie – I don’t think DeBrincat will do that in his first season. Perhaps in a few years he can match the Russian sensation, especially if he finds himself on a line with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews (which, frankly, would be best for all involved). DeBrincat is a devastating sniper and he rounded out his game in OHL Erie, so he is certainly one to watch.

@drz2112asks: What is the ceiling for a prospect like Philadelphia’s Philippe Myers?

Honestly, I think Myers can be a top-pair defenseman in the NHL. You look at his combination of size (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), mobility and smarts and ask yourself: what else does he need? Strength and experience – two things that come with time. Heck, if he bulked up enough this summer, the strength part might already be solved. And here’s a fun “what if” for you: What if Myers didn’t get hurt at the world juniors for Canada? Does the gold medal game even go to a shootout? OK, I guess that’s not a fun “what if” for anyone north of the 49th parallel, but you get the idea. The Flyers have built up an insane pipeline of defensemen and they are already rolling them out, with Ivan Provorov leading the way. But I don’t see Myers too far behind.

@jjkatz613asks: Was the trade to get Lias Andersson (drafted seventh overall in June) a successful one for the New York Rangers? How will Lias impact the team’s future?

While it’s very difficult to gauge the winner of the Derek Stepan trade before any games have even been played, let me put it this way: I know for a fact that another NHL team was going to draft Andersson very soon after the seventh selection if he was still on the board. So, New York had to strike early if that was their guy. I’m a big Andersson fan. I first saw him last summer at Team USA’s world junior summer tournament and the Swedish coaches were also very pleased, calling him their best center during the first several games (and keep in mind, Joel Eriksson-Ek was also there and playing very well). After another year or two in Sweden, Andersson will come over and be an impact player for New York. I can see him as a 1B kind of center, bringing the same kind of production and two-way play as a young David Krejci or, ironically, Stepan. He’s quick, tenacious and skilled – three great qualities.

@WheresWadlow21asks: What level of prospects are Andrei Svechnikov and Rasmus Dahlin, and who could they compare to in the NHL?

Svechnikov and Dahlin are the top two prospects in the 2018 NHL draft class right now and this cohort looks more promising than the 2017 group. If I was to ballpark the pair’s ceiling, I would say Jack Eichel or Patrik Laine – better than Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, but not at the level of Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. Svechnikov is a beast of a right winger who has already shown he can play the North American game thanks to his big season with USHL Muskegon. Stylistically, I’d say he’s like a peak-era Rick Nash with the way he can drive the net and make magic with his hands. Dahlin is an obvious Erik Karlsson acolyte, which is part of the reason there is so much interest in him right now. His skating is excellent, he has a ton of guile with the puck and he is dynamic offensively. He still needs to work on the defensive side of his game, but that will come with time and his ceiling is incredibly high.

@RMcMurchyasks: Is Logan Stanley of the Winnipeg Jet two years away from playing in the NHL? More? or potentially not at all?

Stanley was always going to be a long-term project for the Jets, so I’m looking at three years before he shows up in Winnipeg. Even though he ended up winning the Memorial Cup with OHL Windsor, Stanley missed most of last season with a knee injury. Getting more reps with the Spitfires next season will help him gain strength in his lower body, which is something the Jets wanted to see from him anyway. From there, you’re looking at a couple years in the AHL, where he will have to get used to playing against competition that is less intimidated by his 6-foot-7, 235-pound frame. And keep in mind, Winnipeg has a pretty good group of blueliners as it is – they don’t have to rush the big guy.



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