This week in The Journey we look at some of the important prospects that were acquired during the NHL’s trade deadline period, and examine how they will help their new teams prospect groups.
Marko Dano, F – Winnipeg Jets
To Winnipeg: Marko Dano, 2016 1st Round Pick and a 2018 3rd Round Pick*
Most times when a prospect is traded twice in a year, it means that they are running out of chances in the NHL. Nothing could be farther from the truth for former first round pick Marko Dano. Teams continue to trade for him because he is a coveted asset. As an NHL ready that was having trouble breaking into the Blackhawks top nine forward group, Dano should get more substantial playing time in Winnipeg moving forward. The injury to Bryan Little and the trade of Ladd have opened two spots in the Jets top two lines, providing an opportunity for the young Slovakian forward to come in and produce. He has yet to show his scoring touch in three games with the Jets thus far, but the points will come for Dano.
Hunter Shinkaruk and Brett Pollock, F – Calgary Flames
To Calgary: Hunter Shinkaruk
To Vancouver: Markus Granlund
To Calgary: Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and a 2016 2nd Round Pick*
To Dallas: Kris Russell
Vancouver’s trade deadline dealings have been a topic of hot discussion in Western Canada over the last week. That discussion started after the Canucks moved former first round pick Hunter Shinkaruk to Calgary in exchange for Flames forward Markus Granlund. Undoubtedly a move that was executed in order to give more flexibility to the Canucks up and down the lineup, as Granlund is a player who does not have to be consistently in the top six forward group in order to produce. However, giving up a point producer like Shinkaruk when you are trying to build for the future is a bit puzzling. For Hunter, it is a chance at a homecoming. The Calgary native will be another piece in the Flames rebuild, an organization that has had success with undersized, offensively talented prospects over the last couple years. Shinkaruk will continue playing this season in the AHL, now with the Stockton Heat. In 45 games in Utica, he had produced 39 points pre-trade.
Pollock is farther away from being NHL ready, but has shown some flashes of an exciting future with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. The former second round pick of the Dallas Stars has progressed each season with the Oil Kings, and is currently ranked among the WHL’s top-20 scorers. Pollock is a versatile forward, who can play multiple positions and is an asset in the offensive zone. He needs to continue to develop his defensive game, but he does the offensive skills necessary to have an NHL career.
Phillip Danault, F – Montreal Canadiens
To Montreal: Phillip Danault and a 2018 Second Round Pick
Danault is a player who plays the game with enthusiasm and intensity. By far his best attribute is his ability to play a straightforward two way game. Projecting likely as a bottom six player, Danault should inject some much-needed energy into the Canadiens lineup. He could continue to evolve into a secondary scorer at the NHL level, but his ability as a shutdown player could limit his offensive opportunities and in turn, his fantasy upside. He has averaged over a shot per game in the NHL this season, but until he starts producing in other statistical areas, his value to his NHL squad will greatly outweigh his value towards your fantasy squad.
Aleksi Saarela and Valentin Zykov, F – Carolina Hurricanes
To New York Rangers: Eric Staal
To Carolina: Aleksi Saarela, 2016 2nd Round Pick, and a 2017 Second Round Pick
To Los Angeles: Kris Versteeg
To Carolina: Valentin Zykov and a 2016 5th Round Pick*
The Hurricanes trade away two of their veterans who by all accounts would have preferred to stay in Carolina for the long haul, but return a couple of solid prospects with high upside. Saarela, a third round pick last year, tallied seven points in seven games en route to a World Junior Championship gold this winter. He has had a breakout season with Ässät this year, posting 32 points in 48 games. The young Finnish forward is a player who was highly regarded prior to last year’s draft, however slipped to the third round on draft day. He will be another exciting addition to Carolina’s prospect group moving forward.
Zykov on the other hand, is a player who showed great promise in his junior career but his progression is believed by many to have stagnated over the past couple seasons. After scoring at over a point per game pace in the QMJHL over the course of his 162 game career, Zykov’s scoring touch has not yet carried over to the AHL. He will get a renewed chance to make a difference with the Charlotte Checkers for the rest of the season, and has a much better chance to break in to the NHL in a role beneficial to his playing style with Carolina compared to Los Angeles. The return for Carolina on deadline day (weekend) was very good, and could get better if Staal, Versteeg or Liles prove to be true rentals and re-sign with the team over the summer.
Shane Prince, F – New York Islanders
To New York Islanders: Shane Prince
To Ottawa: 2016 6th Round Pick
I have written about Shane Prince in this space a couple of times, and have a high opinion of him as a prospect. Clearly I’m not alone, considering the Islanders plucked him out of Canada’s capital for next to nothing, and immediately inserted him on to a line with John Tavares and Ryan Strome. Prince was one of a handful of players with a positive plus-minus rating with the Senators, a team with one of the worst goal differentials in the NHL. He scored his first goal with the Islanders in his second game with the team, a 4-3 win over Winnipeg. Continue to monitor Prince’s usage over the next couple weeks. If he is able to hold his position in the lineup next to one of the games best players, his value will obviously increase. However, until he gets significant powerplay time, temper consistent offensive expectations.
Conner Bleackley, F and Kyle Wood, D – Arizona Coyotes
To Arizona: Alex Tanguay, Conner Bleackley and Kyle Wood
To Colorado: Mikkel Boedker
Some good business by Arizona and Colorado in this one. Colorado appeared intent on not re-signing their 2014 first round pick Conner Bleackley, and by moving him to Arizona, they were able to keep picks in the 2016 Entry Draft. If Arizona decides to walk away from the sniper currently playing for Red Deer in the WHL, they will be awarded a compensatory second round pick in this upcoming draft. Bleackley has had a tough year in Red Deer, scoring only 13 times in 47 games after putting up seasons of 29 and 27 goals in his last two years with the Rebels. He is a prospect that still has upside, but at this point is not as much of a sure thing as expected when the Avalanche drafted him 23rd overall in 2014.
Kyle Wood has broken out this season with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. After never having a season eclipsing 20 points, Wood posted 40 in 67 games last season, and has continued his offensive progression with close to a point per game pace this year (35 points in 41 games). At 6-4 and nearly 200 pounds, Wood uses his frame to his advantage, proving to be a tough player in the defensive zone with an all-around game that continues to develop. Although he is a project and likely will need a couple seasons of at the minor league level, Wood could be a solid addition for the Coyotes in the future.
Connor Carrick, D – Toronto Maple Leafs
To Toronto: Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick and a 2016 2nd Round Pick
To Colorado: Daniel Winnik and a 2016 5th Round Pick
One of the non-draft picks that the stockpiling Leafs got back at the deadline was Connor Carrick, a talented defensive prospect that was stuck in a logjam of blueliners in Washington. If he can produce offensively at the NHL level the way he has in the AHL, Carrick could be a prospect to watch for fantasy purposes. In his last 120 games in the AHL, the Illinois native has compiled 68 points and 182 penalty minutes. He has started his Toronto career with a bang, dropping the gloves with Tampa’s J.T. Brown in his first game in a Leafs jersey, and adding an assist in his second against his former club. Given that Toronto needs players not only for the rest of this season, but for next year while in the midst of their rebuild, look for Carrick to have every opportunity to carve out a spot in the NHL.
*Denotes Conditional Pick
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