The Journey examines Dobber’s Top 200 forward prospects list, and assesses the fast risers in the January rankings. Check back next week when we will take a closer look at the fastest rising defensemen in this month’s rankings.
Anthony Mantha – Detroit Red Wings – Up to 7th from 19th Overall
In the past, Mantha has teased his potential upside with his physical tools and ability, but lacked the consistency necessary to stick at the NHL level. This season, however, it appears he is starting to put it all together.
Through 27 games, the 6’5” power forward has 19 points (11 G, 8 A) and is currently riding a streak of 12 points in his last 11 games. Mantha has played primarily with Tomas Tatar and Henrik Zetterberg both at even strength and on the teams first power play unit. The former first round pick’s shooting percentage is likely to regress from 17.5%, but the fact that he is putting over two shots on goal per game is encouraging. For his size, he doesn’t throw the body around a ton as he is averaging under a hit per game, but his deployment should lead to decent scoring numbers moving forward.
Kevin Labanc – San Jose Sharks – Up to 18thfrom 32nd Overall
Labanc has had an atmospheric rise since the Sharks drafted him in with the 171st pick of the 2014 draft. He broke out offensively in the Ontario Hockey League with 107 points the year after being drafted, and proved it was no fluke with a 127 point performance in his overage year.
The New York native spent just eight games at the American Hockey League level to start the season, before being called up to the Sharks where he has posted 12 points in 29 games. He has been used up and down the lineup for Pete DeBoer and has proven he can play in multiple roles; an important skill at age 21. Over his last 20 games, Labanc is averaging nearly .50 points-per-game, with all but one of his points coming at even strength. The Sharks tend to shuffle their lines with some regularity, so if he catches on in a scoring role, you could be looking at some consistent point output from the rookie.
Mark Jankowski – Calgary Flames – Up to 41st from 94th Overall
After finishing a four-year career at Providence College, Jankowski has proved that his production translates to the professional game.
In 37 AHL games to start his career, the 2012 first rounder has been nearly a point-per-game player with 31 points for the Stockton Heat. Given that he is an older prospect at 22, Jankowski is unlikely to spend a ton of time at the AHL level before he is given an opportunity as a full-time NHLer. With Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund likely set as the Flames top two centers for the foreseeable future, Jankowski could provide a valuable asset as a strong face-off man who can chip in with secondary scoring. If any of the Flames centers go down with injury, Jankowski is likely the one from the AHL who will fill the void.
Alex DeBrincat – Chicago Blackhawks – Up to 55th from 97th Overall
There was a lot of noise made when Team USA skipped over DeBrincat for a roster spot at this year’s World Junior Championships given the type of season that the young forward has produced to this point.
The Michigan native, who signed his entry-level deal with the Blackhawks earlier this season, is on pace for his third straight 100-point OHL season, and is currently leading the scoring race with 69 points in just 35 games. Although he is prolific on the power play (18 points), DeBrincat has done most of his damage at even strength with nearly 74% of his points coming five on five. He is another up and coming offensive threat that the Blackhawks will add to their system in Rockford following this season.
Ryan Hartman – Chicago Blackhawks – Up to 80th from 108th Overall
Another prospect for the Blackhawks who appears to be making his mark at the NHL level is Hartman, who has admirably filled the void left by Andrew Shaw’s departure in the offseason.
Hartman plays the game with an edge, averaging over 100 penalty minutes at the AHL level the last two seasons. However, his offensive game has turned the corner recently with 10 points in his last 11 games. That hot streak included his first career hat trick in a win over Nashville on January 8th. Hartman is a high-volume shooter averaging more than two shots-per-game, and is willing to lay the body with 64 hits in 39 games despite averaging just under 13 minutes per game.
Denis Guryanov – Dallas Stars – Up to 105thfrom 121st Overall
A year ago at this time, Guryanov was a bit of a question mark despite being drafted with the 12th overall selection in 2015. His development was in question playing sparingly for his hometown KHL team, in a situation where he was not growing as a prospect.
Fast forward a year later, and Guryanov looks to be back on track, coming off a solid World Juniors where he won a bronze medal with Russia. In seven WJC games, Guryanov put up seven points, including three big goals in the medal round. He has moved on from the KHL to the AHL’s Texas Stars this season, where he has posted 13 points in 26 games as a 19-year old.
Kirill Kaprizov – Minnesota Wild – Up to 113thfrom 284th Overall
If you didn’t own Kaprizov in your dynasty league prior to the World Juniors, you may have missed out. The Minnesota fifth rounder slipped a bit on draft day due to being an undersized Russian, but showed NHL execs and fans that the Wild got a steal with their late-round chance.
Kaprizov led the World Juniors in goals (9) and was tied for the lead with Buffalo’s Alex Nylander with 12 points in seven games. Many could have seen this breakout coming, given that the 19-year old has 35 points in 39 KHL games, a league that favors older players. He is on pace to challenge Evgeny Kuznetov for the best under-20 season in KHL history needing just seven more points on the season to overtake the Capitals star. His current contact runs through 2017-18, so it will be interesting to see if Minnesota puts pressure on the prospect to make his way to North America sooner.
Julien Gauthier – Carolina Hurricanes – Up to 151st from 249th Overall
Coming into his draft year, Gauthier was known as one of the best goal scorers in junior hockey. His play most recently in the World Juniors did nothing to dismiss this idea.
The 2016 first round pick scored five goals in seven games for Canada, showcasing his ability to drive the net in transition and one-on-one situations to create scoring opportunities. He also showed a willingness to go to the net in search of deflections and rebounds. Although he's unlikely to be a volume assist man at the NHL level, he should provide solid goals numbers both at even strength an on the power play. Gauthier was one of the top players moved at the CHL trade deadline, after being shipped to the Saint John Sea Dogs for the duration of the season. He's now on a team with the chance of playing long into the playoffs, potentially even to the Memorial Cup.
Anthony Cirelli – Tampa Bay Lightning – Up to 193rd from 258th Overall
Cirelli finished tied with Gauthier with seven points in seven games during Canada's run to a silver medal finish at the World Juniors. He was one of the teams most consistent forwards, constantly setting the tone with his relentless effort and forecheck.
Although he was taken in the third round of the 2015 draft, Cirelli has the intangibles needed to play up and down an NHL lineup. He has never been a big scorer at the junior level, with 59 points as his career high prior to this season, but he has shown the ability to play his best hockey when the most is on the line. He may end up as a prospect who is more valuable to his NHL team then from a fantasy perspective but he is one worth watching to see if his offensive game can blossom over the coming seasons.
Give Kevin a follow at @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.
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