A look at Danny Kriston, Nick Bjugstad, and Jacob Trouba.
This week I take a break from looking at players who will be drafted in a few months. Instead, I'll take a closer look at three great young prospects who recently signed contracts this week after the completion of the NCAA season. Of course, the focus will be on what fantasy owners should expect this season and next.
Danny Kristo - Montreal Canadiens
The Habs were quiet on deadline day, opting not to make any trades after acquiring defenseman Davis Drewiske the day before. However they did sign University of North Dakota’s Danny Kristo to a two-year deal worth $1.75 million.
The 5-11, 187 pound winger from Eden Prairie, Minnesota was drafted by the Canadiens in 2008, 56th overall. Kristo finished the season tied for second in the NCAA Division I scoring leaders, tied with Ryan Walters with 52 points. Unsigned Rylan Schwartz, the younger brother of St. Louis Blues prospect Jaden, finished on top with 53 points.
Kristo is somebody who has been on fantasy owners radar for the past couple years. He has an impressive resume including a NCAA (WCHA) championship win, an NCAA (WCHA) rookie of the year award, a world junior gold medal from 2010 and top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award this season.
In four years at the University of North Dakota, he played 157 games, scored 68 goals and added 93 assists for 161 total points for an average of 1.03 points per game.
Kristo will now get a chance to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL. Known for his speed and hockey skills, the small forward could end up in the NHL this season or next depending on his performance in the AHL or if there are injuries with the big club in a top-6 role. Chances are he will need to spend time in the AHL adding size to his frame. Fantasy owners in shallow leagues don’t need to rush out to the waiver wire, but he is worth keeping tabs on. If you have room to stash him, your investment could pay off if he makes it to the NHL and sticks.
Collection of Kristo highlights:
Nick Bjugstad - Florida Panthers
Bjugstad left the University of Minnesota early, signing a three-year deal with the Panthers valued at $2.7 million.
The first thing that jumps out when you look at Bjugstad is his size. The 6-6 and 220 pound Blaine, Minnesota born center was drafted by the Panthers 19th overall in 2010.
Bjugstad averaged 0.89 points per game in his college career, racking up 54 goals and 44 assists for a total of 98 points in 109 games. He also had 103 penalty minutes although in each of his past two seasons, he had 28 penalty minutes in 40 games. He picked up a bronze medal with the U.S. under-20 world junior team in 2011.
Fantasy owners don’t need to take a wait-and-see approach with Bjugstad as he will play in the NHL right away. He is expected to make his big league debut tonight. With center Stephen Weiss, out for the rest of the 2013 season after wrist surgery is an UFA at the end of the season, a hole down the middle has been created.
While Bjugstad will start off in the bottom six, he could end up in the top six as soon as next season. He has the size and skill to be a first-line center. He joins rookies Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore as players who will form Florida’s core for years to come. He could be a sneaky pick-up in keeper and dynasty leagues if he is available on your waiver wire. In Yahoo!, he was added to the player pool on April 4. If you have a roster spot or an underperforming veteran, be sure to grab him with the expectation of production next season.
Highlight reel goal from versus Boston College:
Jacob Trouba - Winnipeg Jets
Despite being on a losing skid right now, Jets fans will be pleased to know defenceman Jacob Trouba is one step closer to playing in the NHL. The 9th overall pick of the Jets in 2012 decided to leave college hockey after one season with the University of Michigan Wolverines, signing a three-year $2.7 million deal this week.
The 6-2, 196 pound defenseman is from Rochester, USA. Team USA’s 2013 world junior captain had an impressive tournament with the gold medal winning team, finishing 7th overall in scoring with four goals and five assists in seven games. With the Wolverines this season, he had impressive numbers finishing with 12 goals and 17 assists in 29 games along with 88 PIMs.
While fantasy owners typically must exhibit lots of patience with young defensemen, keeper owners will want to keep a close eye on Trouba. The 6-2, 196 pound defenseman from Rochester, USA uses his big frame to create space. A blend of size and offensive flare give him extra value in leagues that count PIMs.
It’s hard to say exactly what his role will be with the team the rest of the year. He was practicing with the team on Friday, but Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Free Press there would be no guarantee of games this season and ice-time would be up to the coaching staff. He won’t be a dependable fantasy asset this season, but has the chance of playing regularly next season. Now is the time to grab him in keeper leagues.
Trouba demonstrates his big shot from the point:
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