Daoust with some more under-the-radar rookies to keep an eye on.
With the regular season finished, most keeper leagues are dormant and many GMs are more focused on the NHL postseason than their fantasy teams. If your league has farm rosters to store prospects this is a good time to snatch some underrated gems.
The NHL continues to provide us with interesting entry level signings and many of them involve players who are very relevant in fantasy hockey. Let’s take a look at those with a cap hit of less than $1 million for the benefit of those in cap leagues:
Alex Grenier (RW) - Vancouver
Alex Grenier is a mammoth forward standing at 6’5 and weighing 200 pounds. More importantly, his career is trending in the right direction. After being drafted in the third round in 2011 as an overage draft pick, he found his stride in the QMJHL with 64 points in 64 games. Last summer he elected to jump to the Austrian league and played 25 games there before joining Kalamazoo of the ECHL. There, he posted 31 points in 37 games along with 51 PIM.
Even though he is a late bloomer as a power forward, Grenier is making great progress at the age of 21. He still needs some development time at the AHL level but his three-year entry-level deal lasts until 2016. If all goes well he could start seeing action in Vancouver by the second or third year of his term. The scoring may take a while to come around but his PIM total in the ECHL indicates that there could be a nasty side to his game developing. He could be a good roto league player as soon as he enters the NHL.
Anton Zlobin (LW) - Pittsburgh
Anton Zlobin certainly fits the bill as a boom-or-bust prospect. He is a bit undersized and is lacking in the physical and defensive aspects of hockey. His bread and butter will be his immense skill and ability to score goals and set them up as indicated by his 167 points in 127 QMJHL games over the last two years.
Zlobin will make the transition to the AHL next year. The Penguins are generally not in a hurry to call up their prospect forwards, preferring to turn to trades and free agency to fill their key spots up front. This will give Zlobin plenty of time to work on his game in the minors. If he can earn a spot in Pittsburgh, the benefit is obviously an opportunity to share the ice with two superstar centermen. That alone is enough to keep him on your radar.
Frans Tuohimaa (G) - Edmonton
If you have never heard of this goalie, you are not alone. Frans Tuohimaa was recently signed by the Oilers after they selected him in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. His body of work is rather limited – only 31 games played over the last two years in the top league in Finland. It is certainly positive to see his save percentage improve from .898 last year to .912 this season.
As a fantasy asset the main positive is his age (21) which puts his development ahead of the majority of teenage goalie prospects. The Oilers received good goaltending this year and Devan Dubnyk certainly made strides towards closing the door on prospects in the organization stealing his spot so there is a possibility that Tuohimaa will have to move to a different organization to receive an opportunity. He is only worth a claim in very deep leagues but should not be forgotten by anyone.
Jon Merrill (D) – New Jersey
Jon Merrill has been a valuable prospect in fantasy hockey since being drafted back in 2010. In three years at the college level his numbers were underwhelming primarily due to a suspension in 2012 and a fractured vertebra this season. It is possible that he is undervalued at this time.
The Devils have their top-six set for next year so it is possible that we do not see Merrill in the NHL next year unless there are injuries. A full-time promotion in the fall of 2014 is far more likely. He has a lot of development ahead of him to round out his game but if the start to his pro career (eight points in 12 games) is any indication he could be a good one down the road.
Markus Granlund (C) - Calgary
The first thing that comes to mind when evaluating Flames’ prospects is opportunity. Their actions at the trade deadline show that they are moving out veterans and will be giving chances to younger talent. This will help Markus Granlund a lot because his lack of size could close doors in other organizations.
The talent is certainly there – he has a combined 64 points in 97 games over the last two years in the SM-liiga. He will be more valuable in points-only leagues than in roto because of his lack of a physical game.
Previously from Daoust:
- Cheap NHL Labor - Part 1
- Cheap NHL Labor - Part 2
- Cheap NHL Labor - Part 3
- PIM Producers in Cap Leagues
- Under the Radar Rookies - Part 2
- Under the Radar Rookies - Part 1