Prospect Need to Know: deadline controversy and rising 2019 stars

NHL teams were relatively cautious at the deadline - unless they were going for the big fish. Our prospect expert weighs in on some deadline moves, while also keeping up with the movers and shakers for the 2019 draft and beyond in our weekly wrap.
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In terms of prospect excitement, I would give this year’s NHL trade deadline a ‘B’ grade. Yes, we saw a couple big names get moved and some first-rounders (with conditions), but buyers were pretty savvy in 2019 and it’s worth noting. San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson, for instance, acquired Gustav Nyquist from Detroit without sacrificing a youngster or a first-rounder and that was very much by design. Of course, not everyone can pull that off, especially when a top name like Mark Stone is involved. For this week’s list, I’ve included a couple intriguing kids who have new NHL teams thanks to the deadline, plus the usual compendium of prospects from around the world.

Erik Brannstrom, D, Belleville Senators (AHL): The jewel in the deal that sent Stone to Vegas, Brannstrom is now property of the Ottawa Senators and he’s gonna be a good one. An elite puck-rushing defenseman who propped up a wretched Swedish team at the world juniors, Brannstrom had 28 points through 41 games for AHL Chicago and now brings his talents to the Baby Sens. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Jonathan Dahlen, LW, San Jose Barracuda (AHL): One of the most controversial moves of the day was Vancouver sending Dahlen to San Jose for teenager Linus Karlsson. Dahlen is a proven scorer who was doing pretty well on a decent AHL Utica squad, but Canucks upper brass wasn’t happy with his development. Yes, his skating can improve, but did they give up too early? NHL arrival: 2020-21

Brayden Tracey, LW, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): The Dub’s player of the week with 11 points in four games, Tracey has been a revelation for the Warriors, using his great hockey sense and anticipation to thrash the net for 31 goals. The 2019 draft prospect has been getting more power play time as the season wears on and that has been a boon for Moose Jaw. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SHL): Soderstrom is having an excellent year for Brynas and the 2019 draft prospect is playing big minutes for the men’s team. A mobile blueliner with great puck skills, Soderstrom is playing on the second pairing and the second power play unit. His seven points puts him second in the SHL among junior D-men behing Rangers pick Nils Lundkvist. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): The Quebec League’s player of the week, Veleno earned the honor with seven points in three games. The Detroit Red Wings pick is riding an 11-game point streak and has been a fantastic producer all season. Veleno is now tied with Alexis Lafreniere for the ‘Q’ scoring lead with 96 points in 50 games. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Dustin Wolf, G, Everett Silvertips (WHL): Though Wolf doesn’t have ideal size for an NHL goaltender, it’s impossible to ignore his numbers - and scouts like him anyway. The 2019 draft prospect leads the league with a 1.77 goals-against average and .933 save percentage, while scouts adore his power, speed and flexibility in the crease. NHL arrival: 2023-24

Jeremy Swayman, G, University of Maine Black Bears (Hockey East): The Black Bears will need a Hockey East tourney title if they want entry to the Frozen Four, but with the way Swayman is playing, anything is possible. The Boston Bruins pick has gone 4-0-1 in his past five, surrendering just five goals total in those four victories. NHL arrival: 2022-23

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph Storm (OHL): The Storm loaded up for a run this year, but one of their original draft picks has been just as important. Ratcliffe, the towering Philadelphia Flyers pick, netted back-to-back hat tricks in his past two games as now has a very impressive 43 goals through 55 games. Can he hit 50? It’s possible. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Hugh McGing, C, Western Michigan Broncos (NCHC): Undersized but never outworked, McGing is now up to a point-per-game as the Broncos try to lock up a spot in the Frozen Four. The St. Louis Blues pick leads the conference with three shorthanded goals and now sits top-five in scoring through 30 games. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Kristian Vesalainen, LW, Jokerit (KHL): The Winnipeg Jets managed to grab Kevin Hayes at the deadline without sacrificing a top prospect like Vesalainen, who scored in Jokerit’s playoff opener and has been very solid since coming over from the AHL. A big dude who can get up the ice and produce, Vesalainen had 17 points in 31 regular season games. NHL arrival: 2019-20

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