PK Subban and John Tavares sing the Canadian National Anthem during post-game ceremonies after defeating Team Sweden in the gold medal game of the WJC. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Most keeper league owners have at least a couple (or even a couple dozen) junior-aged prospects in their farm system. You can get a feel for what your players are capable of by evaluating them throughout the annual World Junior Championship, because there is no better indicator of what they can do against the best of their peers.
Now that the tourney is over, here are some players whose fantasy stock rose in my eyes.
P.K. Subban, Canada (Montreal) – I like to wait on defensemen because they generally take longer to fully develop. If you draft a defenseman as a teenager you must have patience, not only for them to make it to the NHL, but to start producing fantasy-worthy numbers. If you draft three or four teenaged rearguards this summer, make this guy one of them. He opened a lot of eyes.
Jordan Eberle, Canada (Edmonton) – I expected big numbers from Cody Hodgson and John Tavares and I got them, but Eberle put up monster numbers and they weren’t the cheesy variety, either. His goals were clutch.
Ondrej Roman, Czech (Dallas) – After two years in the Western League, it was disappointing to see him return to play in the Czech League this season. He’s not getting as much ice time over there, but after seeing what he can do in the WJC (eight points in six games) he is on my radar.
Juha Metsola, Finland (undrafted) – All 30 NHL teams passed on the 19-year-old goaltender this past summer, but they won’t make the same mistake again. Harri Sateri (San Jose) was supposed to be the Finn goaltender, but got rocked twice in two losses. Metsola came in and stopped 92 of 98 shots, posting a 3-1 record.
Maxim Goncharov, Russia (Phoenix) – His last name starts with “Gonchar,” but do the similarities end there? He lacks Sergei Gonchar’s size, but the Russian defenseman is skilled and has hockey sense.
Evgeni Grachev, Russia (Rangers) – He may have been a first rounder this past summer if it were not for the lack of a transfer agreement with Russia. Now I see why.
Tomas Tatar, Slovakia (draft eligible 2009) – Easily the most exciting player for Slovakia, he is a big reason why they toppled the Americans in an upset on the weekend. His name is already on my list for the draft this summer.
Mikael Backlund, Sweden (Calgary) – He is buried in the Swedish Elite League and the Flames are disappointed in his lack of ice time. It was nice to see what he can do when he actually plays key minutes. He didn’t disappoint and was the best offensive player on the Swedish team.
Erik Karlsson, Sweden (Ottawa) – The talented defenseman led his team in scoring and the Senators lack what he brings – offense from the blueline. He could be an NHLer sooner than you think.
Kevin Shattenkirk, United States (Colorado) – He has the billing of one of the top offensive defensemen who will be entering the NHL within the next three years and you saw why at the WJC. He tied for the team lead in plus/minus, to go with his nine points in six contests.
Colin Wilson, United States (Nashville) – The Preds were no doubt happy to see this two-way forward post nine points in six games. They need him to be a legitimate second-line center within three or four years and they are hoping he will be capable of handling the top line one day.
We expected greatness from these players, and we got it:
John Tavares (CAN), Cody Hodgson (CAN), Nikita Filatov (RUS).
We expected greatness and although these players did OK, they were still a little disappointing:
James van Riemsdyk (USA), Oscar Moller (SWE), Harri Sateri (FIN), Drayson Bowman (USA).
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 throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.