TyRattie

 

Beck, Rattie, Rajala, and more. Rule your pool with these under-the-radar prospects.


 

Many NHL teams are entering this offseason with the mandate to clear cap space, as the salary cap is dropping to $64.3 million for the 2013-14 season. And because of that, there will be a lot of roster openings around the league. Young players are very valuable in situations like these, as their rookie contracts typically come with low cap hits. However, they need to be ready for the NHL game - their development can be damanged if they are thrown in without being ready for it.

 

Look at Josh Bailey, who the Islanders rushed to the NHL. A former top 10 pick, he is only now beginning to establish himself as a top six forward (five years later).

 

Read on for five lesser-known offensive prospects that are primed to make an impact in 2013-14.

 

Skill is obviously a huge part of any success a young player has in the NHL, but an almost equally important factor to said success is opportunity. Each of the five below players have the skill necessary to thrive as rookies, and they also (right now, at least) have the opportunity to earn an NHL roster spot in front of them.

 

Taylor Beck – Nashville Predators


Who?


Beck is a big and strong two-way winger with a nose for the net. In 16 games with Nashville in 2013, he finished with seven points. That kind of production is enough to play on the top line for the Predators, typically. A former 40-goal scorer in junior, Beck has spent the past two seasons in the AHL. Don’t expect him to spend year three down in Milwaukee, though.

 

Why?


As I mentioned above, Beck has a nose for the net. Nashville needs all of the offense it can get, and he brought some excitement to the rink during his stint in the NHL. He has one more year on his rookie deal, so the Predators can contribute some of their cap dollars towards Shea Weber’s private yacht.

 

Nashville liked what they saw out of Beck, and they gave him a chance to succeed offensively, too. He skated on a line with David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist (before he got hurt) during his call up. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t on the team – and not in a depth role – this fall.

 

Frozen Pool – Beck’s most common linemates:

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

33.67%

EV

56 BECK,TAYLOR - 27 HORNQVIST,PATRIC - 11 LEGWAND,DAVID

20.26%

EV

56 BECK,TAYLOR - 57 BOURQUE,GABRIEL - 11 LEGWAND,DAVID

15.63%

EV

56 BECK,TAYLOR - 9 FORSBERG,FILIP - 11 LEGWAND,DAVID


Joel Armia – Buffalo Sabres


Who?


Armia is a lanky winger from Finland – he’s spent his entire professional career in the SM-liiga, but he has aspirations of playing in the NHL and could find his way over to Buffalo very soon. He was picked 16th overall by the Sabres back in 2011. The team needs scoring talent, and they are also looking to get younger – Armia is a right winger, and there are some openings on that side there (with Pominville now in Minnesota, and Drew Stafford still figuring out how to play with any sort of consistency).

 

Why?


Because he’s ready – Armia has 19, 18, and 18 goal seasons for Assat Pori since 2010, respectively. For his size, he’s not really a physical player, but he does use his size to shield the puck and create turnovers. He has the hands and skill you would expect from a 5-10 or 5-11 forward, but he’s 6-3 and over 200 pounds. He’s a bit of a risk and may need some time in the AHL to adjust, but there is no questioning his upside and talent level. A boom or bust prospect if there ever was one, and I mean that as a compliment. A ton of potential (the dreaded "p" word, I know).

 

Nicklas Jensen – Vancouver Canucks


Who?


Vancouver’s 2011 1st round pick spent the past year in the SEL after leaving the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The move appeared to benefit his overall game, as he was relied upon to play important minutes for a below average SEL club (AIK). He finished with Cy Young numbers – 17 goals and only six assists (a reference to baseball pitchers… 17-6 would be a great record).

 

Jensen is big and strong, and his best attribute is his wicked wrist shot.

 

Why?


The Canucks want to get younger, bigger, and cheaper. Jensen hits all three. He saw two games for the big club in 2013, and looked pretty good, too. He’s great along the boards and plays a responsible two-way game (thanks to his time in the SEL). He’s not going to hurt the Canucks in a third line role, and the team would love to see him come to camp and earn a spot on the final roster. His offense may not come right away, but he has 25-30 goal upside. Imagine if he finds a way to stick with the Sedin twins? He could score 15-20 as a rookie, even if he plays only 50-60 games in the show.

 

Ty Rattie – St. Louis Blues


Who?


One of the most offensively talented prospects in hockey. Rattie isn’t the biggest prospect in the world (his HockeyDB listing of 6-0 is very, very generous), but he is a phenomenal talent. He has obliterated the WHL during his four year career in Portland (including 110 points in 2013 and 121 points in 2012), and he had 20 goals and 36 points in 21 postseason games in 2013. He will be a very good NHL player.

 

 

Here are some more thoughts on Rattie:

 

Rattie thinks he’s done everything the Blues asked of him this season. “No. 1 was (improving on) the defensive side of the puck and I’ve done a really good job with that,’’ he said. “They trusted me on the PK (penalty kill) on Team Canada and I showed them I can be a defensive forward. That was a big thing fror me, and so was my weight.


I’ve put on about 4-5 pounds since the beginning of the season. Just weighed in at 177. Last year by the end of the playoffs I was like 168, 169, I was a stick. If I keep the weight on and work hard this summer, I think I’m going to like where I am.’’


Why?


The numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but in Rattie’s case, they do. He’s incredibly talented and will find a way to continue to excel against bigger and stronger defensemen. The only thing working against him is the depth in St. Louis, but many expect the Blues to move some of that depth out in a trade for a top line winger (Vanek) or proven starter (Luongo, Miller).

 

Let’s assume Backes, Oshie, Perron, Steen, Stewart, Berglund, Tarasenko, and Schwartz are around. That isn’t even including McDonald (UFA) or Sobotka (more of a checker). Not much room there for Rattie, is there? As I said above, expect the Blues to move a forward or two in a quantity for quality trade. For example, the Blues could dangle Berglund and Stewart for Thomas Vanek (again, just an example). A move like that would free up a spot for Rattie, potentially. 

 

 

Toni Rajala – Edmonton Oilers


Who?


Edmonton’s 4th round pick from 2009 (101st overall) has had a great North American debut in 2012-13 with the OKC Barons – 17 goals and 45 points in 46 games. And that came after he dominated the ECHL with Stockton (18 goals and 38 points in only 29 games). Rajala isn’t very big (5-10, 170 pounds), but he is incredibly talented and has top six upside.

 

Why?


Rajala’s numbers are no fluke – his 11.2 shooting percentage is very sustainable, and Oilers fans and management have to be ecstatic with how quickly he has adjusted to the North American game. He’s older than a typical rookie, which probably helps from a physical perspective. Rajala may need to do the usual “get bigger and stronger” before he  gets an NHL shot, but don’t forget his name. He’s a special player – the world “electric” is very applicable to his game. And the Oilers could use that. After Hall, Eberle, and Yakupov, they received almost zero offense from any of their other wingers in 2013.

 

***

 

The 2013 DobberHockey Prospects Report will be released on June 1st. More information on all of the above players (as well as hundreds of other prospects you need to know about) will be in there. And for only $2.50 more, pick up the 2013 DobberHockey Keeper League Pack, which includes the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide and the 2013-14 Draft List.

 

KLFP


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