With the Olympic break underway, it is the perfect opportunity to review the 40 best prospects with fantasy potential.
These are the guys with the most offensive upside down the road.
Ranking players is a delicate mix of trying to blend the uncertainty of when a prospect will make his NHL team along with his potential offensive talent.
However, I have looked at many factors (not unlike my fantasy rankings) and have come up with a top 40.
Here is Nos. 30-21:
30. Stanislav Lascek, Tampa Bay. Out of this group of 10, Lascek is the one with the biggest upside. He's also the one furthest from the NHL, otherwise the 19-year-old would be a lot higher up this list. After the show he put on in the World Junior Championship in January, poolies have been tripping over themselves to get this guy. A 2005 fifth round pick (133rd overall), Lascek's stock has really skyrocketed. He is currently tied for second in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring even though he missed six games for the WJC.
29. Alexei Shkotov, St. Louis. This 21-year-old, 2002 second round pick (48th overall) is playing for Mytishi Khymik in Russia. He is outscoring teammate (and former NHLer) Denis Arkhipov despite playing fewer games on the team that Ilya Kovalchuk began the season with. At 165 pounds, Shkotov is a longshot to make the Blues, but he does have tremendous offensive potential. We'll know more after he has a couple of years in the minors under his belt.
28. Loui Eriksson, Dallas. Eriksson will be a member of the Stars next year. There was a roster spot available this season, but he was beat out in training camp by Jussi Jokinen. Eriksson, 20, still needs to work on his consistency, although he does have nine points in his last ten games for Iowa of the American League. The Hockey News Future Watch has him ranked as the 56th best prospect.
27. Wojtek Wolski, Colorado. The 19-year-old, 2004 first round draft pick (21st overall) played so well in training camp the Avs simply couldn't cut him. He went on to pick up six points in nine NHL games before being sent back to junior before the magical 10-game mark. Wolski would have cracked this list's top 20 if not for Team Canada taking a pass on him for the WJC, citing his inconsistency. Wolski is two years away, but would be worth picking up this summer in your keeper league and sitting on. He's ranked No. 24 by Future Watch.
26. Jeff Tambellini, Los Angeles. He's averaging more than a point per game for Manchester in the AHL and has had a cup of coffee with the Kings. The 21-year-old is still two years away and has an upside of 75 points at the NHL level. He is more of a second-line type of winger, who is capable at both ends of the rink. Future Watch has him ranked as the 42nd best NHL prospect.
25. Aleksander Suglobov, New Jersey. A graph of Sublobov's AHL production shows he headed upwards. The 23-year-old is now averaging just less than a point per game for Albany and he scored in his only game with the Devils. He's still about two years away.
24. Eric Fehr, Washington. He's likely two, but possibly just a year away from making a weak Capitals team. The 20-year-old is averaging just less than a point per game in the AHL and could be an 80-point player when he hits his prime. Whether he becomes a first or second liner in the NHL, he's a sure bet to make it there. Future Watch puts him 30th on their list of top prospects.
23. Robert Nilsson, N.Y. Islanders. The 2003 15th overall draft pick made the squad out of training camp, but after only six points in 26 games was sent to the AHL to get more ice time. He was recalled to play one game before the Olympic break and received a little more opportunity under new coach Brad Shaw. The skilled son of highly talented former NHLer Kent, Nilsson will need another two years of seasoning before he makes an impact on a fantasy squad. Although, it's looking more and more like that seasoning will come at the NHL level.
22. Andrew Cogliano, Edmonton. One of the most offensively skilled players on Team Canada at the WJC, Cogliano is held back only by his size and his hesitancy to drive to the net. Just 18 years of age, he'll put on a few more pounds yet, and he'll shed that hesitation along the way. Playing in the NCAA, he is at least three years away from making the Oilers. Future Watch ranks him as the 75th best prospect.
21. Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Edmonton. This 20-year-old offensive dynamo was either held back or helped by playing on a line with Sidney Crosby last season in the QMJHL. It depends on how you look at it - the playmaker piled on the points, but with Sid the Kid around, poolies may not have given him the credit he deserved. His 34 points in 53 games as a rookie with Hamilton in the AHL shows the ability to put points up on his own is there. The 39th top prospect in Future Watch is still a good two years away, but he has nice upside. Pouliot still needs to grow into his 6-foot-2 frame.
Check back Feb. 22 for prospects 20-11.
Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Hockey 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 Wednesday and Friday. Also find the top 250 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN's Fantasy section.
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